How To Get A Big Chest Fast – Arnold’s Top Tips

How To Build A Big Chest

Arnold’s signature body part was his chest. Find out how to get a big chest fast with Arnold’s favorite exercises, tips, and tricks.

The chest is made up of the pectoral muscles.

The pectoral muscles are shaped like a fan and spread out to cover the rib cage like the plates of an armor.

The pectorals are made up of the:

  • Clavicular, i.e. the upper portion
  • Sternal, i.e. the lower portion

The basic function of the pectorals involves pulling the arm and shoulder across the front of the body.

Franco Columbu Building His Chest

The factors that contribute to the appearance of a fully developed chest are:

  • An expansive rib cage
  • Thick pectoral development
  • Development of inside, outside, upper, and lower areas
  • Prominent striations when flexing
  • A clear separation between lower and upper portions
  • A square look which is achieved by proper upper pectoral development. Lack of upper pec development leads to an appearance in which the chest seems to be hanging down
  • Development to the point where the pecs don’t disappear when you lift your arms over your head

As has been mentioned in previous posts:

Everyone varies in terms of their particular genetic capacities.

(P.S. If you’d like to download 19 tips to radically enhance muscle growth check out my free guide: Macro-Muscle Solution)

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Consider these world-class bodybuilders who had varying genetic gifts in terms of chest development.

  • Sergio Oliva is noted for only doing one exercise for the chest: bench press. Oliva had a chest that would rise out like a loaf of bread.
  • Reg Park had a naturally expansive rib cage which added to the impressive appearance of his pectorals.
  • John Grimek also had a rib cage that amplified his pectoral appearance.
  • Franco Columbu was noted for having insane separation between his lower and upper pecs.


Whether you have been genetically blessed with a great chest or not, you can develop your pecs properly by means of skill, effort, and proper technique.

Masters Of Building Big Chests

From left to right: Sergio Oliva, Reg Park, John Grimek, Franco Columbu

Training The Chest

There are two basic movements when it comes to chest training:

  • Flys
  • Presses

With Flys, the arms are extended and drawn together across the chest in a motion similar to that of hugging.

With presses, the weight is pushed up off the chest and involves the use of the deltoids and triceps as well.

In an exchange between two gym goers the question of “How much do you bench?” usually comes up during the start of the conversation.

Bench Presses, performed with proper technique, work to develop the overall mass of the chest.

By adjusting the angles of the bench from which you perform the bench press you can target different parts of your chest.

For example:

Performing the Incline Bench Press at a 45 degree angle puts more strain on the upper portion of the pecs and the deltoids.

Adding Incline Bench Presses to your routine will prove vital in providing that separation between the upper and lower portions of your chest.

As so many professional bodybuilders have stressed time and time again:

Proper technique is key.

The more intense the muscle contraction, the more your muscle will grow.

Proper technique is especially important when performing Flys.

When doing Flys focus on feeling the maximum stretch in the pectorals. This will add to your flexibility and increased flexibility works to further muscular development as well.

A big chest is complemented by an expansive rib cage.

Arnold claims that he was able to expand his rib cage by performing Dumbbell Pullovers.

This claim has been met with much controversy, but Arnold is convinced that it worked for him.

Arnold recommends doing Pullovers with dumbbells because doing them with a machine puts most of the stress on the lats.

As you progress in your chest training Arnold recommends incorporating supersets of chest exercises with back exercises.

Arnold says that the chest needs to be stretched as much as possible in order to reach its full potential in terms of development.

Arnold recommends, for example, doing Chin Ups directly after doing a set of Bench Press. This will work to add a stretch your pecs. Not only that, but supersets save time by training a different muscle while the one you just hit is recovering. This allows for faster workouts and more calories burnt.

Arnold's Huge Chest

Beginner Training 

Arnold recommends these 5 fundamental chest movements for beginners:

  1. Flat Bench Press
  2. Incline Bench Press
  3. Dumbbell Flys
  4. Dips
  5. Pullovers

Arnold used only these 5 exercises for his first 3 years of training.

Advanced Training

After having developed a good feel for the 5 fundamental chest exercises, it is important to begin focusing on the weak parts of your chest.

Arnold reveals in The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding that after 4 years of training his upper pecs were lagging in development.

To bring out his upper pecs, Arnold began to focus on the Incline Bench Press. He would perform it as his first movement on chest day. He recalls how this boosted his upper pec development to a point where he could stand a glass of water on it when he hit a side chest shot.

Arnold reveals two important lessons when it comes to the development of a lagging body part:

  1. Priority Principle: Put special emphasis on the weak areas of your body and train them at the start of your workout when they are strong and fresh.
  2. Shocking Principle: Alter your training routine so that your body is forced to perform in unexpected ways.

Another important tip from Arnold is to keep your genetic inheritance in mind.

He provides the examples of particular bodybuilders who had varying aptitudes:

  • Nasser El Sonbaty had a huge chest but very short arms.His short arms kept him from getting a full range of motion and his pecs would never get a good workout without putting a lot of weight. Arnold says that people with short arms should focus more on Incline Presses or do Dumbbell Bench Press in order for the chest to get a full range of motion and proper contraction.
  • Ken Waller, another famous bodybuilder who was also featured in the documentary Pumping Iron, had overly developed deltoids. When he did a bench press his shoulders would be doing most of the work. Ken focused on Decline Dumbbell Press for a proper contraction.

Overtime you will begin to get a feel as to what type of training methods your body best responds to. Adjust your training methods overtime to develop your chest to its full potential.

Weak Point Training 

The following are a list of exercises that Arnold recommends based on your particular weak points.

Upper Pecs

  • Incline Press with barbell or dumbbell
  • Incline Flys

Lower Pecs

  • Decline Presses with barbell or dumbbell
  • Dips
  • Decline Flys
  • Cable Flys

Inner Chest

  • Cable Cross Overs
  • Presses or Flys holding the contraction at the top
  • Bench press with narrow grip

Outer Chest

  • Dumbbell Flys with full stretch at the lower portion
  • Dips
  • Incline Presses and Bench Presses with a wide grip
  • Dumbbell Flys

Rib Cage

  • Dumbbell and Barbell Pullovers

Arnold’s Favorite Chest Exercises

In The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding Arnold reveals the exercises he used to create one of the greatest chests of all time.

Barbell Flat Bench Press

The Bench Press is a fundamental movement for the upper body.

It works to build strength and muscle density in the chest, front deltoids, and triceps.

Building Chest With Flat Bench Press

Barbell Incline Bench Press

Adjusting to a 45 degree puts added stress on the upper portion of the chest as well as the deltoids.

You will probably be able to lift less weight for this than for the flat bench.

Arnold Building Chest With Incline

Dumbbell Flat Bench Press

The Dumbbell Flat Bench Press is effective at developing the mass and strength of the middle and outer portions of the pectorals.

Dumbbells allow for a greater range of motion and strengthen the stabilizer muscles as well.

Arnold Flat Dumbbell Press

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

The Incline Dumbbell Bench Press works to develop the middle and upper pectoral muscles.

The angle of incline will determine what muscles are worked more.

The more upright the angle the more the deltoids come into play.

A 45 degree angle is effective at balancing the amount of upper chest and deltoid involvement.

Parallel Bar Dips

Dips are good at targeting the whole chest as well as the triceps.

As a beginner start with your bodyweight.

As you develop strength you will be able to add extra resistance by holding a dumbbell between your legs or using a weight belt.

Focus on the full range of motion.


Dumbbell FlysFlys To Build A Bigger Chest

Flys are great for developing overall mass in the chest.

Flys work to mimic the basic function of the chest:

To pull the arms and shoulders inward across the body.

You can even perform these on an incline bench to bring further focus on the upper pectorals.

Standing Cable Crossovers

Arnold Building his chest with cross oversCable Crossovers work to bring out the inner portion of your chest.

This is a specialized exercise that is effective in bringing out the cross striations as well as developing the middle and lower pectoral region.

You can adjust this movement by bending forward. This brings further focus onto the middle and lower portions of the pectorals.


Straight-Arm Pullovers

As mentioned earlier, Arnold claims that Pullovers helped him really expand his rib cage.

They also work to build up the muscles at the side of the chest.

Pullovers For wider Rib cage

Arnold’s Chest Workout

Arnold was always varying his training methods.

This allowed him to experience sustained muscle growth over the long term.

That being said, here is a sample of what Arnold’s chest workout looked like according to

Arnold's Chest Routine









How To Build A Big Chest At Home

So you don’t have access to a gym but you want to build a big chest?

The best thing to do is to start by doing 100 pushups a day.

Once you are comfortable with that, start making the movement more difficult with variations such as:

  • One leg push ups
  • Clapping push ups
  • Diamond push ups
  • Weighted push ups

(P.S. If you’d like to download 19 tips to radically enhance muscle growth check out my free guide: Macro-Muscle Solution)

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What Does This Mean For You?

Where you are in terms of training experience and where you want to be will determine what training methods you should incorporate.

If you are just starting out focus on the five fundamental movements as mentioned above.

If you want to bring out a lagging body part, check out this massive chest workout I put together.

Arnold has revealed his top tips on how to get a big chest fast.

Now it is up to you to take his advice and put it into application!

Want More?

Check out Arnold’s Top Tips on:

Complete Back Development

Complete Shoulder Development

Complete Bicep Development

Complete Leg Development

Complete Calf Development

Complete Abs Development

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