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Chest Workout for Mass and Symmetry (11 Studies)

Although chest is one of the most frequently trained muscles by most people, it’s unfortunately also the one muscle group that people tend to have the most trouble developing. In addition, there’s a tendency for the majority of people to overly focus on flat pressing movements (e.g. barbell bench press). Overtime, with inadequate volume in other planes of motion (incline or decline for example), this can lead to an “imbalanced chest”.

Thus, when it comes to developing an attractive chest, symmetry becomes more important than sheer size. Meaning it’s vital that you target and train each portion of your chest appropriately.

This is the exact methodology I’ve used when it comes to my own chest training, and here’s where it’s gotten me today:


But in order to learn how to best workout the chest, we need to first understand their anatomy.

The Anatomy of the Chest Muscles

Anatomically, the chest is divided into two main regions. These are the clavicular head of the pec major, also known as the “upper chest”, and the sternal head of the pec major which divides into both the middle chest and the lower chest based on the way the fibres run.


Although it should be noted that all portions will be activated during all chest exercises, certain portions can be emphasized as made evident in the literature.

Since the upper chest fibres run upward, they are maximally activated with chest exercises where the arms move upward (exercises involving shoulder flexion, like the incline press).


Since the middle chest fibres run horizontally, they are best activated with chest exercises where the arms perform horizontally (like the flat bench press).


Since the lower chest fibres run downwards, they are maximally activated with chest exercises that involve the arms moving downwards (exercises involving shoulder extension, like dips).


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43 thoughts on “Chest Workout for Mass and Symmetry (11 Studies)”

      1. I’m wondering, how many times do you do this workout a week? I’m also wondering if you think a workout like this would work or if it’s too much volume. – Chest training 2 days a week- Day 1- flat bench (8-10 reps, 3sets), decline bench, (8-10 reps, 3sets), incline dumbbell bench press (10-12 reps, 3 sets). Day 2- decline bench (8-10 reps, 3 sets), incline dumbbell bench press (10-12 reps, 3 sets), pec dec machine (10-12 reps, 3 sets)

  1. Thanks Jeremy. Awesome complement to the youtube videos. Downloaded the shoulder pdf and it was great, hope you can find the time to put it together for chest as well

  2. Really loving the way you’ve put the science behind your workouts!! Please let me know when your chest and back PDF workouts are done. Keep smashing it bro 👊🏼

  3. These are amazing. Jeremy…so good. Thank you for bringing science into the equation. Work SMARTER and HARDER not just harder!
    Really really good stuff. Thank you so much!

  4. In the lower jest exercise routine;
    Should I go down on the weight after I have done dumbell pushups to incline pushup with dumbells??

  5. Jeremy do you have a push workout ( chest, shoulder, triceps ) and a pull workout ( back, biceps ) Thank you in advance Art

  6. Thanks a lot for the information.
    I am kind of confused after I read your upper and lower body workout plan and this other article. In the upper and lower body workout plan you listed one or two chest workout exercises,but here you listed 4 to 5 chest exercises. Therefore I don’t know which plan should I stick to? And how many exercises should I do in order to train the muscles?

    1. Jeremy Ethier

      My videos for each muscle group were geared towards those who workout one muscle a day, and I wanted to focus the research on each muscle. My upper/lower split applies this research but for a different workout split which is a better program for most people!

  7. Are high>low cable crossovers more effective at building the pecs than dumbbell fly variations? I typically include db flys due to the awesome feeling I get from the stretch in the eccentric movement, but I’m wondering if you research has anything to say about their overall effectiveness at building bigger stronger pecs.


    Great information. I workout at home and I don’t have a bench at the moment. Would weighted decline pushups be a good alternative for the incline press? Also what is your opinion on the floor press? Thanks, Keep up the good work.

  9. Great info and content jeremy, just have one question, can i utilize decline bench presses for my lower chest or will a flat bench already target most of the lower pecs already? I’m asking because I don’t have the strength to perform dips yet.

  10. I mostly feel my shoulders working when trying to work on my upper chest which is clearly my weakest part. Any suggestions, Jeremy?


    1. When I do Incline Dumbbell Press I only feel my delta working.

      That’s also why I’m doing dumbbell presses instead of barbell presses.

    2. Jeremy Ethier

      Try utilizing a lower inline on the bench. I personally have the same problem and stick to the lowest incline possible to help out with this – a long with keeping the chest up and shoulderblades back to prevent the shoulders from taking over.

    How are you? Thanks for all youtube video, As per your message on Jan 2018, you were working on Pdf of other parts of Body, I am looking forward complete pdf, Arms, chest, back, Legs
    Do help to get that PDf as on Net I find your way and presentation is simple and clear in rest of Pdf you get for exercise, Its simple and clear on steps of exercise, waiting forward of your PDF

  12. Hi Jeremy,

    I have just downloaded the PDF’s for Back and Shoulder workouts, do you have links to anymore as I’m sure these will be a great help.


  13. Hello Jeremy,

    I just found your Youtube and Website and I’m very impressed by how much work you put into everything. I’ll definitely follow your plans and tips for a couple months and will show you guys the results. Thank you very much.

  14. Hello, Jeremy!

    I do not have the equipment to perform High to Low Cable Crossovers and Dips. What are good alternatives for High To Low Cable Crossovers? Also, are Bench Dips good alternatives for normal Dips, if not, what are?

    Thank you!

  15. Hello, Jeremy.

    Just been wondering, what are good alternatives for High to Low Cable Crossovers and dips? Are Bench Dips good alternatives for regular ones? Thank you so much for your response. 🙂

  16. For working the Upper chest, instead of doing an incline DB press would an incline BB bench press target this portion of the chest, will it target other portions too? any suggestions for lower chest exercises that don’t require cable machine? Thanks.

  17. Hey! I would just like to thank you for all the helpful advice. Iw as wondering if you were going to make a guide like this for push/pull workouts.

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