The Best Way to train the Chest for Hypertrophy (Muscle Mass)

Time to get jacked.

Learn the best way to train the chest for hypertrophy.

In this excellent video, Dr. Mike Israetel from Renaissance Periodization explains some key parameters of training the chest for hypertrophy.

Best Way to Train the Chest for Hypertrophy – Quick Summary

  • Rep per Set: 5 to 12
  • Set per Week: 12 to 20
  • Workouts per Week: 3
  • Exercises: Press, Incline Press, Dumbell Press, Fly
  • Get a heavy workout as well as metabolite effect by ordering exercises: Compound, Isolation, Compound

In the video below, Mike Israetel goes into much greater depth on exactly how to train and what exercises to use in which specific order. Make sure to check it out below.

First, there are also a few important concepts when it comes to training volume.

Best Way to Train the Chest for Hypertrophy – Key Training Volume Landmarks

Mike, explains further:

MV = Maintenance Volume:

“Perhaps around 4 sets per week are needed to maintain chest size for experienced trainers. The chest is a large muscle and experiences a lot of damage and stimulus from heavy training, thus doesn’t require much to maintain its size in many cases.

We recommend 2 weekly sessions for maintenance, so that’s 2 sets per session, but you can probably get away with one weekly chest session for 4 sets and still maintain in an isocaloric state, and can do up to 3 sessions at 1-2 sets each as well.”

MEV = Minimum Effective Volume:

“Most intermediate-advanced lifters need at least 6 sets of direct chest work per week to make gains, and for some, it’s even more than that.

If you’re training twice a week, that’s about 3 sets per session. It’s about 2 sets per session for 3x training, 1-2 sets for 4x training, and 1 set or so for 5x or 6x training.”

MAV = Maximum Adaptive Volume:

“Maximum adaptive volume of a single session of any trained muscle group is still speculative, but research suggests it’s probably no lower than 4 working sets per session and no higher than 12 working sets per session in most intermediates.

When you design your program and progressions, having lots of sessions with much fewer than 4 working sets per muscle group per session for multiple weeks on end might not be very efficient, and you might benefit from combining a few of these lower volume sessions to get the same volume but in fewer weekly sessions.

Chest-muscles-james-newbury Best Way to train the Chest for HypertrophySource: CrossFit Games / Depositphotos

Also, not exceeding 12 sets per session per muscle group for more than a few weeks is probably a good idea.”

MRV = Maximum Recoverable Volume:

“The MRV depends highly on the number of sessions per week. With 2 sessions, the average intermediate MRV for chest might be around 20 sets per week.

With three sessions, it’s closer to 25 sets per week. With 4 sessions, it’s around 30 sets, and with 5 or 6 weekly sessions, it might be as high as 35 sets per week in many cases. 

Individuals who aren’t very strong on pressing movements, lack flexibility in their shoulders to really stretch their chests, or can’t get a great mind-muscle connection with their pecs usually have higher MRVs (and that’s not a good thing)!”

Best Way to Train the Chest for Hypertrophy – List of Chest Exercises

  • Cable Flye
  • Cable Bent Flye
  • Cable Underhand Flye
  • Cambered Bar Bench Press
  • Deficit Pushup
  • Flat Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Flat Dumbbell Flye
  • Flat Dumbbell Press/Flye
  • Flat Hammer Machine Press
  • Hammer Machine Press
  • High Incline Dumbbell Press
  • Incline Dumbbell Flye
  • Incline Dumbbell Press
  • Incline Dumbbell Press/Flye
  • Incline Machine Chest Press
  • Incline Barbell Press Medium Grip
  • Incline Barbell Press Narrow Grip
  • Incline Barbell Press Wide Grip
  • Low Incline Dumbbell Press
  • Machine Chest Press
  • Machine Flye
  • Medium Grip Bench Press
  • Narrow Pushup
  • Narrow Grip Bench Press
  • Pec Deck Flye
  • Pushup
  • Smith Machine Bench Press
  • Smith Machine Incline Press
  • Smith Machine Narrow Grip Press
  • Smith Machine Narrow Grip Incline Press
  • Smith Machine Wide Grip Press
  • Smith Machine Wide Grip Incline Press
  • Wide Grip Bench Press


Learn More

Learn how to add Nordic Curls or the Reverse Hyper into your training.

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