Build A Superior Chest

A superior chest doesn’t only consist of perfect chest muscles. Chest, shoulders and traps should be proportional build. It all has to fit into the total picture. Bodybuilding originally was about aesthetics, proportions and symmetry. Wide shoulders and a small waist. I think Old School is superior on these criteria. I posted a lot on this subject and many will agree and many will disagree. But.. I think a small waist will make your shoulders look wider and your chest look bigger.


Most people and thus also top bodybuilders have different genetics, on the picture on the left you see Roger Callard and Mike Mentzer. Both men have a different body-shape. Just look at the shape of the chest and the nipple placement. Also the length and the attachment of the trapezius is very different.

What Mike has in lesser way as the guy in the second picture is asymmetry of the chest. These deficits are often repaired through cosmetic surgery. Some top-bodybuilders use implants, more on this later.

On the third picture you see that cosmetic surgery performed on the nipple immediately improves the look. If the nipple is located on the bottom of the chest-muscles, it looks like gyno and when a guy with a genetic low nipple placement really develops gyno, it looks real sad.

Fat Grafting

Fat is an excellent choice for repair of soft tissue defects of the extremities (arms and legs) because it can be used to fill in defects of any size and shape, and the healing properties of the inherent stem cells often improve the look of the skin (color and texture) overlying the injury, and can improve the look of associated scars as well. Fat grafting can be used to correct deformities, soft tissue defects caused by such things as animal bites, traumatic injuries, surgery and steroid injections. Fat grafting can also be used to enhance the size of an area, such as a man’s forearm, or to shape a calf.

On the picture left you see the top-bodybuilders Dennis James and Samir Bennout with small implants. Looking carefully at pictures from competing athletes you can easily find more athletes. Especially the ones in top-shape after leaning out and drying out (diuretics) the implants become better visuable. Sometimes they need it due to genetics sometimes because of an injury.


Different muscle groups react differently to anabolic androgenic steroids, and by example trapezius grows more than most muscle groups. That’s why you should train all muscle groups individually to create a nice complete view.


We all know that it’s very hard to build a symmetrical chest, with the muscles in the right proportion. Most people just have a lagging upper-chest and think they can’t get it in the right shape. The therefore use Synthol to do the job. Me and other guys wrote so much about it, that it becomes rather boring, for those interested I made blog-posts on Synthol and other oils and also on implants and surgery.

Isolation Training

This is where you perform exercises that work muscles individually instead of in groups -- addresses both the separation of muscles and the tightening of the skin. Localizing training by using exercises specific to the muscles you're trying to tighten and separate will help make these changes much quicker. When training, think in terms of body parts such as traps, front-shoulder and biceps. Upper and lower body workouts and compound exercises are too general and broad. Stick with isolation exercises that involve as much of the working muscle as possible.

Muscle Separation

Like a sculptor, molding a muscle into a more solidified structure will give it more separation and distinction relative to the other muscles. This means dividing muscles up and working them separately. For example, the chest would be trained by itself with the use of three or four exercises specific to this muscle group. Use the same approach for other body parts that you are looking to change. Pairing muscle groups will further localize training and optimize muscle separation. During training sessions, muscles should be split into these body part groupings.

Expand your rib-case for a bigger chest

In early bodybuilding there was a pose that consisted of inhaling deep , pull the stomach vacuum and pulling the ribs up with the hands (see picture left) Arnold and Franco where adapts of rib-case expansion as Arnold writes in his encyclopedia book. You can also find many pics on the net of them doing the classic pull-overs.

You almost never see the rib-cage development on bodybuilders today that you did on the bodybuilders of 50 years ago. Most of the current champions tend to concentrate more on their pectoral muscles and less on their rib cage. It’s a shame, too, because enlarging the rib cage can do more to deepen the chest than thickening the pectorals can ever do. One secret to these classic bodybuilders’ rib-cage expansion was not only combining squats and pullovers, but the specific way that you were recommended to breathe during the exercises. They are called breathing squats and breathing pull-overs. I’ll post a post on these classic bodybuilder trainings methods later.

Chest Exercises

The most popular beach muscle and also the reason why v-neck shirts exist, you never have to nag anyone to train their chest! Technically called the Pectoral muscles, the chest is well liked for a good reason: it looks good! It is the first muscle people notice when they look at you since it sits so close to your face, and it's also the main muscle used in the Bench Press, a very popular lift. Another very nice thing about the chest muscle is that it’s the most common place where people have striations, making it look like string cheese when they flex it!

Chest and overtraining go hand in hand together, since virtually everyone wants a big chest and thus do a bazillion exercises for this muscle. I know people that do more exercises for their chest than they do for their legs, which is a much bigger muscle; how does this make sense?

Let me first explain how the chest muscle is split up:


There is a big misconception about how the chest is actually split up. Some people seem to believe that the chest has an inner part, an outer part, a lower part, etc, and will come up with silly exercises for you to hit these parts, but in reality they don't exist! The truth is this muscle is made up of three parts: the Pectoralis Major (which is further split into two other parts) and the Pectoralis Minor which isn't actually visible (see diagram below).

The Pectoralis Major is made up of the Sternal Head and the Clavicular Head, also commonly known as the Lower Chest and the Upper Chest respectively. Here is where these muscles are located:

The other muscle is not visible from the outside but that doesn't mean it isn't important. Here is where it is found:

So there you have it; the next time someone comes up with the next best thing to hit the "inner chest", remember the information found in this post and do your best to ignore him.

Something I want to show you before I move on to the next section is a split chest. People with good muscular development and low bodyfat will sometimes have a split between their upper and lower chest, which is very nice to look at. A very prominent example of this genetically predisposed to have this, is old-school bodybuilder Franco Colombo (see pic), who had a split so deep you could run a credit card through it.

Another muscle I would like to mention is the Serratus Anterior, also known as the Serratus Magnus, Boxer's Muscle , or simply Serratus. This muscle is closely related to the chest and in fact part of it sits underneath it.

Only a fraction of this muscle is actually visible from the outside (which is shown in the diagram left), the rest is hidden beneath your Chest, Obliques, and Lats. Although it isn't very important to know, this muscle is split into two heads: the Superior Head and the Inferior (or longer) Head. Only the Superior Head can actually be seen.

Having a well-developed Serratus muscle is important for all front poses, as can be seen in this Front Double Bicep pose:

Let us now move on to some chest training exercises:

Bench Press

The bread and butter of chest training, the Bench Press is a well-known exercise with lots of variations. This entry is for the flat Bench Press which mainly focuses on your lower chest, but it will also work loads of other muscles such as the Front Deltoids and the Triceps. To do this exercise simply lay supine on a Bench Press, grasp the bar with a wide overhand grip, and lower it down onto the middle of your chest. Doing it with free weights is the best approach in my opinion since it works a larger range of muscles, but the Smith Machine is quite a popular alternative.

Some tips:

• Don't go too wide on the grip; this will limit your range of motion.

• Don't go too narrow either; although some people claim this will work your "inner chest", it will simply work your triceps more.

• Try not to lockout on each rep; this will harm your joints and remove stress from your pectorals.

• Use a spotter whenever possible to help you unrack the weight and also just in case you get stuck during the set.

• Keep your back firmly against the bench; don't round your back in order to lift more weight.

• Keep your feet on the ground at all times; there is no need to place your feet on the bench like many people do.

Although I sincerely hope this never happens to you, if you ever get stuck under the weight while doing the Bench Press make sure you utilize one of the following techniques in order to safely get up:

• Get help! The most obvious and safe route is to simply call for help. Unless you are training at home or in a really deserted gym somebody will come help you, but if you are then have a close look at the following points.

• Roll the bar. If you realize you cannot complete the current rep, don't waste your energy trying to push it back up in vain. Slowly lower the bar down to your chest and then roll it down to your thighs. At this point you can simply stand up and drop the bar on the floor. Here is a good video demonstration of this emergency technique.

• Dump the weights! This method is the most dangerous and can only be done if you are not using clips. To do this lower one end of the bar until the weights slide off, at which point the other side will simply take over and fall to the ground. This can hurt you and/or people next to you, and will also do a lot of noise, so only do it if it's absolutely necessary.

Something I want to show you which isn't very common is reverse grip (or underhand grip) Bench Pressing. I saw this technique for the first time during a recent Brandon Curry training video where he explained that although this technique is harder, it helps him a lot in terms of shoulder pain. It might be worth a shot if you have a shoulder injury and/or shoulder pain and want to Bench Press anyway.

Guillotine Bench Press

An old-school bodybuilder once mentioned this exercise to me, and now I pass on the torch to you guys. The only difference between this exercise and the previously mentioned one is where you lower the bar. Here the bar is lowered onto your neck, hence the name, allowing your arms to travel in a perpendicular path to your torso. This will greatly reduce your Front Delt involvement in the exercise allowing you to focus more on the pecs, but as you can probably guess not a lot of weight can be lifted this way. Also, it's generally a good idea to utilize a spotter during this lift. Just like a regular Bench Press, the lower part of the chest is emphasized.

Incline Bench Press

A variation of the standard Bench Press, this one will put emphasis on your Upper Pecs rather than the lower ones. Everything stays the same except the bench's angle (which is now 45 degrees) and the position on which you lower the bar, which is now your upper chest. Some people change the angle of the bench. Incline Bench press can be done with barbell and dumbbell.

Because the upper portion of your chest is much smaller than the lower one, the weight used here will be less than when you are doing a flat Bench Press for example.

Decline Bench Press

The last variation we will be looking at for the Bench Press, this one will put emphases on your Lower Pecs and in my experience will use a lot more chest than a regular bench press. I also find myself stronger here, lifting more weight than a regular flat Bench Press. Where you lower the bar during this exercise is subjective; some people prefer to lower it over their Lower Pecs while some people go all the way back and lower it over their Upper Pecs. There is no right or wrong way so I suggest you try out both varieties and see which one you like the most.


Although I cannot find the source, I remember Dorian Yates saying that this version of the Bench Press is better than the flat one because it puts more emphasis on the chest and has a lesser chance of injuring you. Again you can use dumbbell’s (as in the graphic) or a barbell.

Bench Press (Dumbbell)

A variation of the Bench Press using dumbbells, you can do these on a flat, inclined, or even declined bench emulating one of the above exercises. While lying supine on a bench, position the dumbbells at the side of your head at upper chest level, then push up until your arms are fully extended. The weight should also be moved inwards on the positive, resulting in the dumbbells being right above your shoulders at the very top. On the negative make sure you go down enough for you to feel a stretch in your chest/shoulders as this is very important.

The best thing about this exercise is that you get a very good squeeze right at the top which you don't get on a regular Bench Press. A word of warning though, make sure you use a good spotter when doing heavy weight because if one of the supporting muscles goes out (especially near the end of the set) you can have the dumbbell fall on your face. This almost happened to me once when my left Tricep gave out right at the end; if it wasn't for my quick reflexes I could have been seriously injured!

And a final thing, please don't throw the dumbbells on the floor when you are finished. This is not only stupid, but it also damages the weights and can hurt other people. You don't need to slam the weights in order to look tough! If you want to see the proper way for mounting and dismounting the dumbbells then check out this video. You can also get a spotter or two to hand you the dumbbells of course, which is safer.

Chest Press

A very good machine to do drop sets on, this one resembles a flat Bench Press but has you stay seated instead. As you can probably guess it targets your Sternal Head and comes in either plate loaded or selectorized format. When adjusting the seat make sure the machine's handles are just below your Upper Chest for maximum effectiveness.

There are many varieties of this machine, but the best one in my opinion is the Hammer Strength Chest Press. This kind of machine is found in a lot of gyms so give it a go if your gym has one.

I like to include this machine at the end of my chest workouts, but you can use it at any other time as well. Note that there are also flat, incline, and decline variations of this machine but I prefer the seated one.


A great body-weight movement that hits your Sternal Head. The most important part of this exercise is to make sure the chosen dip bar is wide and not shoulder width, otherwise you will hit your triceps instead. If you have ever done Tricep Dips, these are just like them, but you must lean your body forward a bit instead of keeping it vertical. Your hips and knees should also be bent a bit to facilitate this movement.

If the movement is too hard you can get someone to help you by holding your legs or you can even use an Assisted Dip Machine. If it's too easy you can add weight using a Dip Belt or by holding a dumbbell between your legs.


A good movement that should be included in all of your chest workouts, the Fly will greatly stretch out your Pecs and can be done in many ways. The flat bench Dumbbell Fly is done as follows:

1. With elbows slightly bent, hold both dumbbells right on top of your chest.

2. Lower both dumbbells to your sides, keeping your elbow bend fixed, until you feel a good stretch in your Chest and Shoulders.

3. Push your arms back up in a hugging motion until the dumbbells nearly touch each other.

4. Your grip should not rotate at all during this movement.

The flat and decline variations will hit your Lower Pec mostly, while the inclined variation will focus more on your Upper Pec.

Flyes can also be done on the cables for great effect and in a variety of positions. In order to hit the Lower Pec you need to do one of the following:

Decline Fly - Using a decline bench and setting the High Pulleys at the very bottom, raise both attachments over your abdomen.


Lying Fly - The most basic of cable Flyes, this is done using a flat bench. Raise the attachments directly over your chest.


Seated Fly - Another Lower Pec exercise, this one requires you to be seated. Set the High Pulley so that the attachments are shoulder height, and while keeping your arms perpendicular to your torso, pull the attachments right in front of your chest in a hugging motion.

Standing Fly - The last Lower Pec exercise we will be looking at, this one is my favorite since you don't have to run around with a bench in order to do it. Set the High Pulley machine so that the attachments are right at the top, then bend slightly at the knees and hips so that your torso is inclined forward. Using a downwards hugging motion, pull both attachments together directly in front of your hips, pulling the weight down instead of in-front of you.

And for the Upper Pec we have the this lineup:

Standing Incline Fly - Another very convenient Fly since it doesn't require a bench, this one will target the upper portion of your Pecs and is done while standing. Starting at the very bottom with your arms extended outwards (at your lower abs levels), pull the cables closer while also moving upwards until both of the attachments come together right in front of your face. Lower and repeat!

Incline Fly - Using an inclined bench set the High Pulley right at the bottom slot and pull the attachments over your Upper Chest.

Here is some more information regarding all of the cable Flyes:

• Go down until you feel a good stretch in your Shoulders/Chest.

• Don't touch the attachments together at the top of the rep.

• The great thing about the cable machine is that it puts constant tension on the muscle no matter where you are position-wise; you will never be at rest like when using dumbbells and locking out at the top.

• Keep your elbows slightly bent throughout the movement

• Make sure the bench is in the middle and perpendicular to the pulley machines.

Last but not least, you can also do Flyes on machines although I don't really like this approach. I prefer the cable and dumbbell variations since you are more free in terms of movement and range of motion, but I guess everyone has his own preferences. These kind of machines usually come in the seated variety, although decline, incline, and flat bench alternatives do exist; can't say I've ever seen one personally though!


Incline Shoulder Raise

There is only one way (that I know of) where you can isolate your Serratus muscle, and that is to do Incline Shoulder Raises. You do this exercise by using a regular inclined Bench Press and your weapon of choice; you can use barbells, dumbbells, or cables, but I prefer the barbell variety. While lying supine on the bench, unrack the bar using a shoulder-width underhand grip and while keeping your arms straight raise your shoulders up as high as possible. Lower down and repeat until failure.


I mentioned in the introduction that a lot of people overtrain their chest by doing too many exercises, but in reality you don't need to do more than 4. I like to do 3 types of compound pressing movements (which I believe are the most effective) and 1 type of Fly movement per workout. I also like to utilize priority training during my chest workouts and always start out with my Upper Pecs since these are weaker than my Lower Pecs (as is the case with most people).

As for the Pectoralis Minor, I believe there is no way for you to isolate this muscle but it works in a lot of chest and back movements so you don't really need to. Although you can isolate your Serratus, you should know that it works a lot as a supporting muscle during almost all Front Delt exercises. In most cases this is enough to have good development, but if it isn't, try doing some direct training every once in a while.

I would also like to mention that your Front Delts and Triceps are also worked a lot during your chest training since these are the main supporting muscles; it will greatly help you if these muscles are fresh and not sure on chest day!

Chest injuries are unfortunately quite common, with the flat Bench Press being the main suspect. If you can't lift a certain weight don't attempt it or at least have a good spotter help you. If you tear your Pecs you will ruin their shape forever. Picture: Scot Mendelson attempting to break his own world record (715 pounds) tore his pectoralis.

One final thing I would like to mention is the bench angle. From decline up to flat you will mostly hit your Lower Pecs, but going over this point the stress will start shifting onto your Upper Pecs instead. The ideal bench angle for training the upper portion of your chest is 45 degrees, but be aware that anything above will start hitting your shoulders instead.


Again something about genetics and injury, as said above.

The chest muscle tends to between person to person: the roundness, the muscle volume, the place of the nipples and the size of the gap in the middle. The perfect chest is perfectly round, with even muscle consistency and close to no gap in the middle. It will also have lots of striations and ideally even a split between the Upper and Lower pecs.

The other, less fortunate people will usually have problems in one or more of the areas mentioned above. They may have a big gap in the middle, or empty areas in their chests resulting in uneven muscle consistency. Some people also have very strange insertions in their chests causing them to look "square".

Some people also have uneven chest shapes which makes their physique look really weird.

 And injuries and necrosis can “eat away” muscle. I covered that earlier in this blogpost. Implants, fat and surgery can do a lot to improve an uneven body.