No chest workout has a longer track record of building huge stronger pecs than one involving heavy barbell flat-bench and incline presses. That’s why Air Force Security Forces member Logan Carpenter calls his routine the “Chest Destruction.” workout

Don’t take that name too literally. What he means is, you’ll be (more or less) de-constructing the muscle fibers in your chest, and then building them back up through proper nutrition and adequate rest. “This primal routine will surely test your ‘why,’” says Carpenter. “So buckle in, grind, and reap the rewards!”

Featured Trainer: Logan Carpenter is currently stationed in Grand Forks, ND, serving as an Active Duty Air Force Security Forces member and acting unit trainer. While balancing the life of being a father, accomplished powerlifter, and Active Duty service member, Logan is also an ambassador for Bravo Sierra, Bare Performance Nutrition, and the Get Better Today Brand.

Equipment Needed: Incline bench and bench press station with barbell; dumbbells.

Time Commitment: Around 45 minutes

Workout Overview: Whereas a traditional “big chest” workout would start with flat-bench presses, this one kicks off with inclines, since most people are less developed in the upper pecs than the middle portions.

You’ll be doing seven (yes, 7) total sets of incline barbell presses, but three of those are warmups. Your heaviest set is 4 reps, followed by three challenging sets of 7 reps. After inclines, you’ll move to bench press and do a heavy 5 sets of 5 reps.

After the barbell work, you’ll knock out two compound set pairings (3 sets per) – incline dumbbell flyes and push-ups, and close-grip dumbbell presses and diamond push-ups.

After that? Nothing. Go home, pound a protein shake, and rest up.

Logan Carpenter’s “Chest Destruction” Workout

Warm-Up: “Before I do this workout,” says Carpenter, “I like to work in some static stretching to avoid any unnecessary cramping or even potential injuries.”

“It’s very important to warm up before you train,” says Carpenter. “For this particular workout, I like to do simple stretches to get my upper body, more specifically my rotator cuffs, prepared for the movements.”

‘Chest Destruction’ Workout

Exercise Sets Reps
Incline Barbell Bench Press
     Warmup Sets 3 3
      “Top Set” 1 4
       “Backdown Sets” 3 7
Barbell Bench Press (flat bench) 5 5
Incline Dumbbell Flye 3 10
–Compound Set with–
Pushup 3 To Failure
Close-Grip Dumbbell Press 3 10
–Compound Set with–
Diamond Pushup 3 To Failure

Rest Periods: Rest 60 to 75 seconds between sets. Within compound sets, don’t rest between the first and second exercise. After the second exercise, rest 60 to 75 seconds.

Exercise Notes

  • Incline Bench Press Warm-Up Sets (3×3) – Start light and add weight each set, building up to a weight on the third warm-up set that’s close to your “top set” weight.
  • Incline Bench Press Top Set (1×4) – This is your heaviest working set. On an RPE (rating of perceived exertion) scale of 1-10, this should be an 8. Carpenter advises that “you should only have 1 rep left in tank,” by the end of the set. In other words, stop 1 rep short of failure, which would make the load on this set somewhere around your 5-rep max (5RM).
  • Incline Bench Press Backdown Sets (3×7) – Use a weight for all three sets that’s 25 pounds less than what you used for your top set. “For example,” says Carpenter, “if my top set was 225 pounds, I’d use 200 pounds for the backdown sets.” However, if your top set weight is significantly heavier than 225, and taking off 25 pounds isn’t enough, decrease the weight by 10% (since that’s the approximate percentage Carpenter advises dropping).
  • Barbell Bench Press (5×5) – These are all working sets, as your muscles should be plenty warm after the incline presses. Carpenter again prescribes an RPE of 8, with 1 rep left in the tank per set. Lighten the weight as needed on subsequent sets to preserve the 8 RPE.
  • Incline Dumbbell Flye/Pushup Compound Set (3×10/to failure) – After your last rep on dumbbell flyes, go right into standard push-ups (hands shoulder-width apart). The term “compound set” refers to a superset where both exercises target the same muscle group (in this case, chest).
  • Close-Grip Dumbbell Press/Diamond Pushups Compound Set (3×10/to failure) – On close-grip dumbbell press, keep your elbows in tight to your body and use a neutral grip (palms facing each other). On diamond push-ups, keep your hands close together (index fingers and thumbs touching if possible).
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