Programming For Maximum Chest Development

Regardless of our level of training, it is common that we fall prey to repeating the same movements in the same order workout after workout. There of course is the argument that as long as the workouts are progressive in nature, the body will continue to grow. This holds true to an extent, but at some point in our careers joints and injuries force us down a different path. Below you will see where my current ideas lay for creating the best chest possible.

Start with a joint friendly motion that provides maximal contraction

Ego lifting has left the building. Yes, this does mean we are ditching bench press as our first exercise. After having years of nagging shoulder issues, my training in the last 3 years has lead me to pain free healthy shoulders, and it does not start with bench.

What do I mean by joint friendly with maximum contraction? I consider these exercises that you can feel your chest heavily contract at the top of the motion yet not placing unwanted stress on areas that are not fully warmed up. I do not want this to be a pre-exhaust movement, but more of a compound exercise for joint warm-up.

So that you do not fall victim of repeated workouts, select a few different exercises that fit this pattern and rotate through them regularly. Also rotate through the 10-15 rep range so we can surf the strength curve on these movements. I also suggest to start with just a very light weight and complete 1-2 higher rep sets holding the peak contraction for 1-2 seconds to activate the neuromuscular system in the chest. This will help you feel the chest through the duration of the workout.

A few of my favorites:

  • Banded Machine Press
  • Selectorized Machine Press
  • Flat or Incline DB Press

Execute your power movement after activation of the pec muscles

This is what most trainees look forward to, bench presses. Although bench press fits the bill, we can also include other movements here as well. The key to this movement is to utilize the warm-up and activation of the chest we got from the initial movement, and now move a weight at lower reps with force. Our goal in creating this workout is to use a myriad of rep ranges to maximize our hypertrophy variables, thus we will use some in the 5-8 range, and look for explosive reps.

A few of my favorites:

  • Bench Press with a pause at the bottom
  • Slight Incline Barbell Press
  • Bench Press with Chains

Utilize another less explosive compound movement with a varied rep scheme

Now that we have activated and warmed up, as well as used an explosive movement, its time to work another compound movement. This time its not as much about moving the weight with force, its about grinding out a few extra reps and tapping further into the muscle fibers. With this movement we hit another rep scheme in the range of 8-10. This is also an excellent time for use of intensity techniques.

My Favorites:

  • Flat, incline, or Decline DB Press
  • Smith Machine Press
  • Bench Press or Incline Bench

Finalize the workout with a movement that allows for maximum hyperemia

Now that the chest has been through a myriad of compound movements, we finish with an isolated movement. With the amount of pressing that has been completed the triceps and shoulder are usually starting to fatigue at this point. By finishing with an isolation movement we not only take them out of the movement, but this also allows us to finish with a movement we can get a great stretch on. The stretch movement will allow for expansion and increased blood flow to the area. This exercise should be executed in the 10-15 range and can be varied based upon the rep scheme you hit in the first exercise selected.

My Favorites:

  • Cable Crossover
  • Pec Dec
  • DB Flyes

Sample Workout

  • DB Press w/ Band 2x20reps (warmup), 3×12 (working sets)
  • Incline Barbell Press 5×5
  • Smith Machine Bench Press 3×12, last set drop set
  • Cable Crossover 3×15

About the Author

DSC_9331Marc Snyder is an active NPC Bodybuilder and current 2013 Mr Ohio. Marc has created a balance in his life with the sport he loves and the family of 2 kids and a wife that he lives for. Marc has been involved in many avenues of the fitness industry. He is a certified personal trainer and strength and conditioning coach. He also has experience in clinical exercise physiology working in the field for nearly 2 years.

It is now Marc’s goal to educate and guide individuals through yèt-their health and fitness journey by utilizing the knowledge he has gained over the years. He operates an online nutrition and training website to help people. achieve their goals.

Please follow Marc on his journey of continued progress by following him on his website at , facebook at and twitter at He post his daily lifestyle tips on these feeds for you to access and utilize in your health and fitness journey.