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The best chest workout for beginners

Looking to pump up your pecs for a fuller, more three-dimensional upper body? Start with these five moves.

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Man doing bench press exercise
Frazao Media / Getty
Man doing bench press exercise
Frazao Media / Getty

If you desperately want huge, defined pecs but your chest is basically concave—or if you’re struggling to get rid of your man-boobs—this chest workout is the perfect starting point.

“A beginner’s chest workout needs to be well-rounded,” says Simon King, P.T., owner of Cre8 Fitness gym in London. As a beginner, you’ll want to use barbells, dumbbells, cables, and your own bodyweight—the full range of gym implements, basically—to challenge your muscles not only with varying degrees of weight but also different stabilization demands, ranges of motion, and levels of difficulty.

This routine hits all those marks. It comprises some of the best chest exercises for beginners.

“You hit all areas of your chest because each exercise targets a different angle—leaving no gaps in your muscular development,” King says.

Directions

During the workout, rest 90 seconds between exercises and 60 seconds between sets. Start off with lightweight dumbbells, no or very little weight on the barbell, and light weight on the cables. Focus on perfecting the movements before adding weight.

Once you find you’re not getting the same stimulation any more, shock your muscles with these 10 supersizing chest exercises to develop the best pecs in the gym, and/or start rotating through these 10 chest day workouts. For more mass-building options, try the ultimate dumbbell-only routine to build a colossal chest, the best bodyweight exercises for your chest, and the top full-gym chest workout.

Routine

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The best chest workout for beginners

5 moves to pump up your pecs

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 1 of 5

Pushup

Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
8-10
Rest
90 sec.
How to
Exercise 2 of 5

Bench Press

Equipment
Barbell
Sets
3
Reps
8
Rest
90 sec.
Exercise 3 of 5

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
8
Rest
90 sec.
Exercise 4 of 5

Cable Crossover

Equipment
Cable Machine
Sets
3
Reps
8
Rest
60 sec.
Exercise 5 of 5

Partner Medicine Ball Chest Pass

Equipment
Medicine Ball
Sets
1
Reps
As many reps as possible in 2 minutes
Rest
0 sec.
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