Workout Routines

The Best Chest Workout for Beginners

Pump up your pecs with this targeted chest routine for the rookie lifter.

Dumbbell Benchpress
poba / Getty
poba / Getty
Duration 40 min
Exercises 5
Equipment Yes

Most athletes new to lifting focus on the chest. After all, that’s the most time-efficient way to look stronger and more muscular, whether you're in a form-fitting T-shirt or shirtless.

And while there are plenty of other muscle groups that will create that "dominant" physique, like back and shoulders, there’s no doubt that a strong, V-shaped torso with sculpted pecs is the foundation for a chiseled physique. Many lifters find the chest easier to train than other areas because just about any exercise where you grab a weight or a bar works the chest, at least to some degree. Even on days where there’s more of an emphasis on back, shoulders, biceps—even legs—your chest comes along for the ride.

The popularity of “core” training in the last 15 years has placed more of an emphasis on chest exercises that mimic the movements of sport or everyday life. But guess what? Most any pulling or pushing does just that. However you define the core, it includes the chest.

Some exercises target the chest especially well—and those are the ones we’ll focus on in this ideal chest workout for beginners. But take note: Just because it’s for beginners does not mean it will be easy, so limit it to twice a week to provide for adequate recovery.

Complete a 5- to 10-minute cardio warmup, then perform 2-3 rounds of this circuit. Once you find your chest isn’t getting sore any more, and you’re not progressing, ratchet things up a bit and try this workout for stronger, more muscular legs.

Beginner's Chest Workout Build powerful pecs and triceps

Exercise 1.

Pushup
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
10 reps
30 sec. rest
Keep your body straight from ear to ankle throughout the movement.

Exercise 2.

Pullup
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3 sets
5+ reps
30 sec. rest
Though the pull-up is more of a back or shoulder move, nothing is better for creating that V-shaped torso. Plus, the pulling motion breaks up the push-heavy chest workout, enabling you to keep moving without rest.

Exercise 3.

Dumbbell Flye You'll need: Bench, Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Flye thumbnail
3 sets
10 reps
60 sec. rest
Lower the dumbbells to the sides until you feel a stretch in your chest.

Exercise 4.

Bodyweight Dip You'll need: Dip Station How to
Bodyweight Dip thumbnail
3 sets
10 reps
60 sec. rest
Make sure your torso stays perpendicular to the ground. Maintain this posture throughout. Be sure to lower yourself as far as possible.

Exercise 5.

Dumbbell Bench Press You'll need: Bench, Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Bench Press thumbnail
3 sets
10 reps
60 sec rest
Lower the dumbbells to the outside of your shoulders, and push them back up.
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