No physique is complete without a big, full chest.
As stated in my previous workout finisher articles, the big compound movements are where it’s at when it comes to adding size, strength, and density to a natural physique and chest is no different. Its the big multi-joint moves like bench presses, weighted dips, and my personal favorite as of late the low incline dumbbell presses that give that are best for packing on size and recruiting the most upper body muscles at once.
There’s times of course, that periods of higher rep and isolation work can be beneficial, whether to add some volume and bring up a lagging muscle group, or simply to satisfy the inner bodybuilder pumping you up so that you feel swole and huge leaving the gym that day. Whichever the goal, my chest workout finishers work perfectly to get a lot of extra work done in a minimal amount of time. And like my other workout finishers, all of these are tried and true workouts that I and workout buddies have experimented with in the past. Enjoy.
1. High rep or slow and controlled push ups
As simple as a movement push ups are, you can’t deny the power they hold for strength and development in the chest!
Bodyweight movements like push ups are pretty versatile, giving you the freedom to change rep speeds, hand speeds, and foot elevation to make them as hard or as easy as you need them to be for your goal of the workout.
For muscle strength and density, I like to take them super slow especially on the negative portion of the rep and pause at the bottom for a second or two. I’ll keep the tempo slow on the positive portion of the rep as well, holding at the top and really giving the pecs a good squeeze. Keeping your chest muscles under tension like this is a sure fire way to bring new life to a movement that can be performed anywhere at any time.
Another good way to use push ups as a finisher is to bust them out like a piston, pumping out rep after rep similar to how I use prison squats as a finisher.
If pumping them out, I like to shoot for 100-200 reps. Now of course, this doesn’t have to be all in one big set, just keep rest periods to no more that 20 seconds before going back to rep out more. This should leave your whole upper body feeling more pumped than ever! I always feel my most pumped up after hitting a lot of push ups.
Along with a sick pump, knocking out so many push ups with such short rest periods will also get the blood flowing and lungs working, adding a bit of cardio to your workout. So not only will your entire upper body be feeling huge, but you’ll be burning some fat at the same time.
2. Weighted push up tear downs
Throwing a weight on the back will add even more intensity to my push up finisher!
Get into the push up position and have a workout partner put a weight plate on your back and bust out a good set of push ups. Stop one rep before failure because so you don’t get stuck on the floor. Have your training buddy pull the plates off of your back taking each set to near failure until you get down to bodyweight alone. Now, pump out as many reps of bodyweight push ups as you can!
This finisher can even be taken one step further and once you hit close to failure drop the knees and do a set of modified push ups. Your pecs should be toast!
3. Wheelbarrow walks
My first thought when I hear wheelbarrow walks is something more along the lines of something that elementary school kids might do in gym class, wheelbarrow walks can actually make for a really effective chest workout finisher.
You’ll need a workout buddy for these of course, to hold up your feet and guide where you’re going.
To perform this exercise, get into the push up position and have your training partner hold your feet above your body. Now walk forward on your hands, keeping a tight core and moving in a straight line. Simple and effective.
The last time I did these the guy I was training with and I took turns going the length of a basketball court for 3 sets.
These work great with the current upper/lower split I follow. Not only are they killer for the upper chest muscles, but are also great for working and strengthening the delts, triceps, lats, and core making it a fun new challenge for the whole upper body!
4. Chest fly to close grip bench press
This exercise is actually one that I did when taking a couple month break from the gym to give myself the challenge of making gains with only bodyweight and a couple of light dumbbells (35lbs to be exact).
To perform these, grab a moderately heavy dumbbell and lie down on a flat or incline bench. Perform a chest fly, and at the top of the movement touch the dumbbells together. Keeping them together, bring the dumbbells down slowly to the upper chest before pressing them back up. That is one rep. I like to go for at least 12 on a movement like these.
The key to making these effective is to grind them out slow, especially on the pressing portions of the movement. In my experience it also helps to use the hex shaped dumbbells on these because the circular weights tend to roll on one another causing my hands to be uneven on the close grip bench. Hex dumbbells for the win on these.
5. Big chest tri-sets
Like some of my other body part finishers, the chest is no different in the fact that I used a lot of tri sets as finishers back when prepping for my past competitions. Picking 3 exercises and doing them back to back with only as much rest as it takes to get from one machine to another is a great way to keep the muscles under tension for a long period of time and get them nice and full.
- Bodyweight dips 3×10-12
- Chest flyes 3×10-12
- Dumbbell pull overs 3×10-12
This exact routine was one that I used pretty regularly with training partners while prepping for my second bodybuilding contest. Can’t remember exactly who came up with it but it worked!
Sample chest dominant upper body workout:
I follow more of an upper/lower split opposed to a body part split, so if I’m going to focus on bringing up a muscle group specifically, I’ll just add a couple more exercises that isolate more of that body part I’d like to work. So since the goal of the day is to bring up my chest, my main lift is the incline dumbbell presses. Weighted chin ups, dumbbell military presses, and dips are used for assistance, followed by a couple chest workout finishers to really get the chest working for the day.
- Incline Dumbbell bench RPT 3×5,6,8
- Weighted Chin ups RPT 3×5,6,8
- Dumbbell Military Press 3×8-12
- Bodyweight Dips 2×12-15
- Wheelbarrow walks 3x length of basketball court
Thanks for the read and God bless! Be sure to share with a friend looking to add some extra work to their pecs. What are some of your favorite finishers for big chest day?
Check with a physician or qualified healthcare provider before embarking on any changes made to lifestyle, training, supplementation, or eating.