Can I work out my chest everyday?

Wanting a big strong chest is a common endeavor within fitness. While the same can be said for many muscle groups, there’s just a very powerful look to having a bulging chest protrude from your torso, making the bottom half of your shirt look like a loosely fitted dress. 

Unless everything else is severely underdeveloped, having a big chest will help make you look like a tank. And honestly, who wouldn’t want to look like a tank? Adds another layer to the “become a machine” crossfit’ish saying.

This post will outline my reasoning behind working out your chest in the gym everyday for fresh new gains. I’ll also share the very workout I did many years ago, when building a big chest (and big benchpress) was a tunnel-visioned goal of mine. 

The common limitations of getting a massive chest

Building a big chest is no easy task. For many people, it seems like an uphill battle against genetics. Particularly for those of you men and women, who can “easily” develop your arms, more specifically your triceps.

It’s pretty common to see big triceps accompanied by an underdeveloped chest, as often these people will find their triceps doing a lot of the work during chest targeting exercises – particularly the bench press. 

While genetics of course do act as a hindering factor, there’s no reason to just give up on noticeably improving a lacking or stubborn muscle group. There’s a case to be made for specialization – such as working said muscle every day you head into the gym!

Another factor to account for is the common lack of proper “mind-to-muscle” connection for people with lacking muscle groups. Often they will have trouble focusing on feeling the muscle work through the full range of motion, and instead just autopilot into moving the weight from A to B.

The effectiveness of good mind-to-muscle connection has been demonstrated scientifically. I’ll write a post on mind-to-muscle cues later, but for now, a trick I use is to simply extend both arms, and push my hands together, focusing on the contraction of my chest while doing so.

I feel this creates a mental bridge when starting my actual chest exercises, better allowing me to visualize my chest contracting and squeezing during the movement.

The anatomy of the chest

Our chest muscles mainly comprise of the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor. In actuality, it’s a little more complex, but that’s beyond the scope of this post.

The main function of these muscles is to extend/flex and rotate your arms. As for specialization, we’re “lucky” in the way that the chest and it’s functions are thus relatively simple.

Which means we don’t need a ton of different exercises to properly hit our chest – and should therefore be very critical of bros telling us how they “hit their inner chest”, as this is not anatomically possible.

Our chest fibers mainly run horizontal, not vertical, which means we can move the stress up (upper chest) and down (lower chest) – not inwards (inner chest) or outwards (outer chest)!

While this allocation of stress specifically towards your upper or lower chest is backed by studies, I don’t think it’s worth stressing too much about. All parts of your chest is being activated during solid chest movements, so if you execute the most efficient ones, you’re not likely to miss out on any “symmetry”. Besides, if you’re chest is overall lacking size in relation to the rest of your body, symmetry is less of a concern compared to sheer muscle size.

An exception would be someone deciding to only do decline chest exercises for years on end – in that highly peculiar scenario, I’d probably prescribe some variation with incline movements. 

There’s also a genetic component to your overall chest development (yeah, sucks), which for instance is evident when looking at a famous bodybuilder such as Gary Strydom whose chest has been described as “drooby”, that is, lower chest dominant. 

Hey, personally, I wouldn’t mind having that chest, drooby or not drooby. 

Working your chest every gym day to blast through plateaus

Work Chest Everyday For Gains

I am not writing a post on chest specialization without a picture of The Governator.

When I started lifting back in early 2011, getting a big chest was a clear cut goal of mine. While I will be honest and say that I don’t think i’m genetically limited chest-wise, I definitely didn’t feel my chest was growing at the rate I was hoping.

It didn’t help that I was super scrawny when I started working out, weighing 58 kg / 128 lbs on a 5’9-5’10 frame. I remember benching 66 lbs for 4 shaky reps on my first ever bench press workout. 

A handful of non-productive months into my lifting career, me and a couple of friends decided to spend some of the summer holidays (from high school) building a bigger bench press and chest. At this point in time I had recently benched 130 lbs for 5 reps. 

From one day to another, we went from doing 2 regular chest workouts a week to doing 5 to 6, effectively hitting chest on every gym day. On one occasion, we hit chest 7 days in a row. We of course decided to start out safe, cutting our volume to about 1/3rd of a ‘regular’ chest workout.

We also reduced the amount of exercises from 4 to just 2; The flat bench press and cable flyes. Nonetheless, the first week was spent complaining about soreness and muscular fatigue. 

Entering the 2nd week though, things started to bounce back, and by carefully not taking our sets to failure, but keeping a few reps in the tank, we started adding weight to our bench-press on a weekly basis. I remember benching 2 x 200 lbs at the end of the summer. While nothing crazy, it was a vast improvement for me at the time. We also began seeing size gains that our regular routine wasn’t delivering.

While we where quite ignorant back then, and pretty much just wanted to shake things up a bit – the results changed my attitude towards bodybuilding dogma forever. Never again would I take anything as the “truth” up front, such as the old saying of having to meticulously rest 72 hours or whatever arbitrary number of hours between working out the same muscle.

Why does high frequency work for muscle and strength gains?

If you have read my post on how to get bigger biceps with high frequency training, you will know that for anything but beginners, the time-frame for which muscle protein synthesis (new muscle tissues being built) is elevated after a workout is much shorter than most people think. We’re talking most growth having occurred within 24 hours

So despite having a sore chest for 3-4 full days after an intense chest workout on Monday, your chest is very likely not growing for that amount of time. And to further elaborate on this point, there’s growing evidence that muscle damage (causing the soreness, or “DOMS”) does not correlate with muscle growth. This is also speculated by esteemed hypertrophy expert and phD Brad Schoenfeld in his book, Science and Development of Muscular Hypertrophy (you can find it here). You can also read more on this topic from Schoenfeld on his website here.

To sum these factors up, we can efficiently tweak our workout frequency to overload the chest with more total volume divided into more frequent workouts. That way, we also benefit from increased motor-unit recruitment, as our body effectively becomes “better” at certain movements, the more we do them. 

That is also why we where able to greatly increase our bench press strength; by doing it all the time – so yes, you absolutely can work your chest everyday – as well as most other muscles!

Workout routine for hitting your chest every time you go the gym (which might be everyday!)

Work Chest Everyday For Gains

Pretty straight forward workout schedule, huh?

In hindsight, I would probably do things a bit differently if I where to do a similar bout of super high frequency chest specialization. Finishing off with cable flyes would either be removed, or only included on days before a rest day.

This is because the cable fly is a classic isolation movement where people love to push the set to failure – and while that isn’t too fatiguing on the central nervous system, we’re probably better off just avoiding it, and allocating the majority if not all of our volume to a main exercise.

I would therefore still pick either flat or incline bench press with either dumbbells or a barbell as the main exercise to build the routine around. There would be no rigid set progression, just a switch up between light and heavy days, as well as daily cues to establish when a day is either of those.

This means that on days where the warm up sets are just firing away and you feel super energetic, it makes sense to go heavy – and vice versa, go light on days where everything just feels a bit off. Luckily, some science suggests this day-to-day non linear evaluation might be comparable or even superior to strict periodization! 

So, whats heavy and light?

  • Heavy – 4-6 reps, with 1 solid rep left in the tank. 
  • Light – we’re in the 12-14 rep range with 2-3 reps left in the tank.
  • Heavy single – Close to your 1 rep max, but should be within reach. A weight you might be able to complete a second, very ugly repetition with. We want to avoid failure or long grinds on this heavy single.

Routine example 1 – Fitting into existing program

Now for the first routine, adjusted to fit a cookie-cutter PPL (Push/Pull/Legs) 3-split – which includes my suggestion for how to approach the switch between heavy and light;

Week 1-2 Primer;

  • – Day1; Push (3 x 4-6  Bench press)
  • – Day 2; Pull + (3 x 12-14  Bench press) 
  • – Day 3; Legs + (2 x 4-6  Bench press + 1 Heavy single + 1 set of high rep cable flyes)
  • – Off
  • – Day1 ; Push (4 x 4-6  Bench press)
  • – Day 2; Pull + (4 x 12-14  Bench press) 
  • – Day 3; Legs

Our primer week will help us establish our beginning strength in the bench press exercise of our choice, and give an overview of what weight ranges we expect to use going forward. If you bench press regularly I would only prime for one week, but if you are switching from a low frequency routine where you hit chest once a week, two primer weeks might be the safer bet.

Week 3+;

  • – Day1; Push (3 x 4-6  Bench press + 1 Heavy single)
  • – Day 2; Pull + (4 x 12-14  Bench press) 
  • – Day 3; Legs + (2 x 4-6  Bench press + 1 Heavy single + 2 sets of high rep cable flyes)
  • – Off
  • – Day1 ; Push  (4 x 4-6  Bench press + 1 Heavy single)
  • – Day 2; Pull + (4 x 12-14  Bench press) 
  • – Day 3; Legs + (3 x 4-6  Bench press)

In the above example, we’re at 20 weekly sets of bench press, not counting the heavy single. A good spot for hypertrophy. There are multiple way to increase the volume – but as we’re already doing quite a lot of sets, the most natural thing would be adding more weight to the bar for each week.

Alternatively you can add a set, initially to the light days, then to the heavy days, whenever you feel you’re ready to ramp up the volume that way as well. You’d be surprised how much work the body can cope – and adapt to – if sound measures are taken.

These sound measures include throughout warm up of the muscles and joints involved in the lift, proper form, good nutrition and adequate rest.

When to quit? Well, when you feel it isn’t churning out good results anymore, of when you simply grow bored of it. 

Routine example 2 – Emulating the “squat everyday” setup

Well, I guess this isn’t a set routine, but rather guidelines – Here, bench press is prioritized above your regular routine, and you simply bench on all your gym days, doing doubles (2 rep sets) and triples (3 rep sets) with the goal of working up to a heavy single representative of your 1-rep max, each and every day.

Some days you might get 230 lbs, other days 235 lbs – some days even 215 lbs if you feel really used. After the heavy single, you’ll do a few back-off sets. 

It goes without saying that this setup can be very taxing on your body and central nervous system, and adequate nutrition and rest n’ sleep is mandatory. Doing heavy maximum effort lifts day in day out takes a toll on your ligaments and connective tissue, so thread cautiously. 

If done correctly however, this approach can be brutally effective, albeit it’s more geared towards maximum strength than maximum size.

The same principles of throughout warm up, proper form, good nutrition and adequate rest naturally also applies here!


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