I’m a hardgainer when it comes to packing on pec mass. What’s your advice for breaking down the barriers to building a bigger chest?


In my earliest days as a competitor, I thought my chest was a weak point and wanted seriously to bring it up. At the same time, I knew that simply pounding it with the heaviest weights I could handle would be a waste of energy.

I decided to attack the problem systematically and analytically, and the outcome was finding three or four effective exercises to address the specific areas that needed the most improvement.

With the goal of adding heaps of mass to your pecs, here are the exercises — both presses and flyes — that will help you past sticking points.


Exercise Solution: Incline Presses

I’m no fan of flat-bench presses, as they rely too much on the power of the front delts. Incline presses do a fine job of stimulating the muscle fibers of the upper pecs.

Set the bench at a 30-degree angle to ensure that the resistance is placed on your pecs. A steeper  incline will shift the emphasis to the front delts. Be sure to complete each rep with strict form.

Begin with a light warm-up set of 20 reps, then perform three all-out max sets of six to eight reps. Keep the movement slow and precise on the way down. Use an ordinary lockout at the top. In other words, as soon as you reach full extension, bring the weight back down in one continuous motion.

Dorian yates chest press


Exercise Solution: Hammer Strength Seated Bench Presses

This exercise works as a multi-joint mass builder much like standard barbell bench presses, but the unique angle (the arms come across or inward at the end of the movement) provides a better contraction and allows you to target your inner pecs.  

The Hammer Strength machine offers more safety and stability than a free bar, which requires balancing the weight. Press out to the extended position and focus on getting a burn as you contract your pecs.

Typically, I do one heavy working set of six to eight reps, plus one or two forced reps. I suggest three working sets for you. If your gym does not have a Hammer Strength machine, use a comparable seated bench-press machine.


Exercise Solution: Dumbbell Flyes

Dumbbell flyes, both flat and on an incline, are the number-one exercise for stressing and building the outer pecs. Developing the outer pecs to their max adds width and density to the whole pectoral region. For maximum effect, go for a complete stretch at the fully extended position. Don’t bring the dumbbells together at the top, because there’s no significant  muscle resistance gained by doing that.

For full effect and for safety, flyes must be performed in a slow and controlled manner. Use the heaviest weight with which you can complete three sets of six to eight reps.


My own version of this exercise program brought up the lagging areas of my chest early in my career, and it continues to pay dividends today.

Hardgainers and pro bodybuilders have more in common than you might suspect. The goal is always to improve mass and muscularity at the quickest possible rate. At the end of the day, that’s what my recommended chest workout for hardgainers is all about. – FLEX


Incline Barbell Presses | SETS: 3* | REPS: 6-8

Hammer Strength Seated Bench Presses | SETS: 3 | REPS: 6-8

Flat Dumbbell Flyes or Incline Dumbbell Flyes | SETS: 3 | REPS: 6-8

* Precede the workout with a light warm-up set of 20 reps of incline barbell presses.