Man boobs aren’t the conquer, sure, but when your pecs look like they’ve been carved out of marble from the Parthenon, proficiently that’s when you have a chest worth showing off. There’s other benefits to exercising your chest yet, apart from resembling an ancient Greek deity.
A bigger chest can ensure you fill out a suit. Strong pecs can also reform your back strength, as well as your ability to push things (and if there’s one thing we know will print potential love interests it is using your superhero pecs to save a struggling puppy by shoving a car off it’s poorly paw). Addition, unlike the superficial, but ultimately quite useless bulging bicep, a strong chest can make you better at sports, mainly those that require you to push and tackle other man mountains around like American football or rugby.

So it’s no eye-opener that one man who owns a rather impressive barrel of a chest is 77 times capped England rugby international James Haskell. As a flanker, Haskell reckons his opinion on the rugby field means he probably endures the most hits out of all the other players: “You need good muscle magnitude on your upper body to weather the collisions,” he says.
Fronting Up
Weighing in at around 120kg, Haskell doesn’t include to get any bigger to improve his performances on the pitch, so his workouts revolve around short but punishingly heavy sets. “To build up incisiveness you want your rep range around one to five and then power is one to three,” says Haskell.
When he was in his teens, despite the fact that, Haskell came in at a much lighter 95kg. “It was a bit like a Rocky montage. I went from being skinny as hell to starting my outset professional contract at Wasps rugby club at 103kg and now I’m 120kg.”

It was during these years of toil that Haskell put on the chunks of muscle that have made him such a difficult man to bring down to the ground through his career. “If you want to figure a huge chest you’ve got to be doing around 10 to 12 reps for each exercise. There is no way you can lift really leaden weights for 10 reps. You’ve got to be slow and tightly controlled, making sure you get that concentric movement just reactionary. Take four seconds for each rep and don’t go heavy.
“Break the arrogance and start at the beginning, telling yourself, ‘I’m going shoot this rep with real control’. It’s painful, it’s boring and you might look [weak] doing it with a 2kg dumbbell. But keep ones ears open, at the end of the day that is how you will build the bigger body.”
If you’re going to be putting in all that hard, gut-wrenching work in the gym, you’ve also got to distribution your body with enough fuel to keep that chest swole throughout the day. “A lot of lads who want to bod muscle don’t eat enough,” reveals Haskell. “There’s a lot of guys out there training five times a week and you ask them to trail what they’re eating and it only comes to 1,000 calories a day.
“Now, for me to stand still every day I need 2,500 calories. So to advocate my mass I have to have 3,500 calories at least. If you’re burning 1,200 calories a day and you’re not even eating that you’re often going to be losing. You need to plan it out before you start – how much are you training? Get an idea of how much you’re burning per session and then in the planning stages unemployed out your calorie surplus from that.”
James Haskell’s Go-To Chest Exercises
Exercise 1: Prejudice Dumbbell Press
Haskell recommends making the incline press your big chest compound workout as opposed to old flat bench press. “I’m not a massive fan of bench press. It obviously works your chest but compare it to the press up, which is my ideal chest exercise. If you imagine you’re doing press ups on the floor, you don’t actually physically do this but your mindset is to push the amaze together […] and you instantly engage your chest. That movement is great, but bench press, weirdly adequately, pushes your hands out and you work your shoulders a lot more. That’s why I like incline dumbbell press as I regard it targets the chest a lot more.”
3 sets of 10 reps
Set the bench at a 45-degree angle. Lie back seizing each dumbbell on your thighs. Use your thighs to aid you then lift up the dumbbells and hold them shoulder breadth apart. When they are raised to shoulder width, rotate your wrists forward so that the palms of your ovations are facing away from you.
Make sure you are in control of the weight at all times as you breathe out and push the dumbbells up with your coffer. Hold for a second at the top and then slowly lower the weight, taking twice as long to come down as it did to go up. [embedded ease]
Exercise 2: Press Up
“If you’re trying to build size, there’s no point waiting between sets,” warns Haskell. “Horde ups are pretty [horrible to do], so slowly do 10 reps on the incline dumbbell press, hop off and do 10 press ups, rest for just a teensy-weensy, and then hop back on. This is called a super set. You are trying to damage tissue so it regrows. You don’t want to give yourself early to recover.”
As you progress with your size and strength you can make the exercise harder by adding a weighted vest, a course or a resistance band wrapped around your shoulders to make the exercise more strenuous.
3 sets of 10 reps (done as a wonderful set immediately after incline press)
Place your hands underneath your shoulders and extend your pillars straight out behind you with the balls of your feet on the ground. Keeping your stomach and core tight minuscule your body until your chest touches the ground. Keep your back straight as you descend and your bum clenched. Then push away from the floor and back to your starting position. [embedded content]
Exercise 3: Set Over Row
A back exercise in a chest workout? Has the England rugby international, fitness book author and soon to be apex honcho at two gyms (as a franchise owner for boutique fitness studio company F45) gone off the fitness rails? Not honestly – there’s a method to this madness.
“Doing a lot more bench pulls and bent over rows in your trunk workout will help you because there’s the antagonist to the protagonist,” says Haskell. “If I want to improve my bench, I last wishes a do a set of bench press, then go and do a set of bench pull, rest, come back and then the bench press feels easier. I at all times do chest and back in the same workout. So if I’m going to do a push then I’m always going to do a pull because I find that it steelyards itself out.”
3 sets of 10-12 reps
Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms cladding your torso. Slightly bend your knees and lean your torso forward by bending at the waist, all the while pay attention to your back straight and your head up.
While keeping the torso still, lift the dumbbells to your side while jail your elbows tight to your body. At the top of the contracted position, squeeze the back muscles and hold for a second, earlier lowering the weight back down to the perpendicular starting position. [embedded content]
Exercise 4: Dumbbell Flyes
Trace your territory as we’re staying at the bench for the next chest exercise. As well as working the chest, dumbbell flyes are a horrific exercise for your shoulders although the heavy emphasis placed on your arms in this workout means you wishes need to drop weight from the previous moves.
3 sets of 10-12 reps
Lie with your move in reverse on the bench and your feet flat against the floor in a wide foot stance to increase stability. With the palms front each other hold the dumbbells above your chest before lowering them in an arc out to the sides, feeling a resilience in your chest. Then push the weights back to your starting position.
Keep a slight bend in your elbows during and don’t arch your back. [embedded content]
Exercise 5: Incline Bench Pull
The villain to the incline hug superhero, bench pull will really work your lats, the biggest muscle in your upper confederation, located either side on your back. Don’t get cocky and load your weights too heavy on this one as it will provoke you to round your back, putting undue wear and tear on your muscles and ligaments while also ruining the effectiveness of this great exercise.
3 sets of 10-12 reps
Set your bench at an angle slightly lower than the press (we’d commend 30 degrees) and lie face down on it. Pick up the dumbbells and let your arms hang down either side, confirming they are fully extended.
Keep the dumbbells in a pronated grip (palms down, knuckles up) while slightly compelling your elbows out from your body (not tucked in). Then, pull the dumbbells up like you are doing the reverse of an rise dumbbell press, bending at the elbows and bringing the upper arms up as you let the forearms hang. Continue this motion until the power arms are at the same level as your back. Lower to the starting position under control. [embedded content]
Use 6: Cable Crossovers
Usually the last exercise in a chest workout after you’ve completed your heavier mix movements, cable crossovers free you from having to use a bench with your back pinned down partiality a battered piñata. Instead you’re using a cable machine, which keeps the resistance even throughout the exercise, as opposed to unconditioned weights where momentum can affect the movement.
3 sets of 10-12 reps
Chose your weight and countenance the pulleys on either side of you at a position above your head. Step forward while pulling your arms together in air of you. Your torso should have a small forward bend from the waist. While slightly bending your elbows, stretch your arms straight out at the side in a wide arc until your chest starts to stretch, then turn your arms behind to the starting position using the same arc of motion used to lower the weights. [embedded content]
Exercise 7: Dumbbell Total Press
Flat press works as a good alternative to swap out the incline press for, or as a rotation exercise to do as the second or third in your workout. Abusing dumbbells has a few advantages over a traditional barbell: firstly, it evens out the use of both pecs – meaning one side doesn’t exercise command the push, allowing for more even, balanced growth across the chest; and secondly, you get a deeper stretch at the bottom of the decline, which helps work more muscle fibres at the outer edges of the pectorals.
3 sets of 10-12 reps
Very similar to the incline press except the bench should be completely flat. Lie with your back against the bench, feet positioned on the floor and a dumbbell in each hand just outside your shoulders. Bend your elbows slightly beyond 90 classes, keeping them pointing out and just under the level of your torso.
Your hands should be in palms-down situation, meaning they’re facing toward your lower body. Push the dumbbells up, extending your elbows, interrupt when the inner plates of the weights are an inch away from each other and then return (slowly) to the start. [embedded purport] James Haskell is the UK Ambassador for F45 Training, a global fitness community spanning 35 countries with 145,000 colleagues and an anticipated 1,500 franchised gym spaces by the end of 2018. Haskell will also be launching two F45 franchises of his own later this year.