The 5 Best Chest Exercise Machines for Maximum Growth in 2024
The 5 Best Chest Workout Machines for Maximum Muscle Growth in 2024
Want to really build your chest and get that pumped, muscular look? Using the right strength training equipment can take your chest workout to the next level. Whether you lift at home or the gym, having access to quality chest workout machines that target different areas of the pecs is key for maximum muscle growth.
In this article, we'll cover why you need chest workout machines, the top 5 pieces of workout equipment for both upper and lower chest, plus tips, common questions, and everything else you need to know to get the most out of your chest exercises in 2024!
Why Use Chest Workout Machines?
Free weights like barbells and dumbbells are great, but adding workout machines for chest allows you to better isolate muscle groups for more focused training. Machines also provide added stability and can enable you to use heavier weight than with free weights alone, creating greater intensity to stimulate pec muscle growth.
Workout machines like the chest press or pec deck put more direct stress on the pec muscles compared to multi-joint free weight moves. They also eliminate the shoulders and triceps from compensating during presses or flyes, allowing you to fatigue and strain that chest muscle more for better results.
And by hitting your chest from different angles with a variety of chest workout machines, you can target the upper and lower pecs more thoroughly for balanced, sculpted muscle development across the whole chest area.
The 5 Best Chest Workout Machines for Maximum Growth
Here are the top 5 machines guaranteed to pack mass onto both the inner and outer pecs when combined together in your training:
1. Chest Press Machine
The chest press machine is arguably the best overall for chest development because it enables you to safely move serious weight in a pressing motion while keeping tension directly on the pecs. Models like the Hammer Strength chest press have angled pads to better target the inner and upper chest.
Be sure to use a full range of motion, touching the handles together at the bottom to get a deep stretch, then pressing back out to nearly straight elbows up top. This puts those pecs under constant tension. Go moderately heavy for 8-12 reps.
2. Incline Chest Press
The incline chest press is a close second for building upper pec mass. The angle targets the difficult-to-train upper chest muscles beautifully. Adjust the seat height so the handles are aligned with your mid-chest at the bottom of the movement, then press upwards to put maximum stress on the clavicular head (upper) pecs.
Use an incline press both on a chest press machine or adjustable bench with dumbbells/barbell. Choose a weight that has you grinding out the last few reps of each set.
3. Pec Deck
The pec deck isolates the pecs for a great Chest fly/crossover movement. By keeping your back supported and arms moving through a fixed path of motion, you can really focus on squeezing and contracting the pec muscles through a fuller range than you could with free weights.
When using a pec deck machine, don't go too heavy. Focus on feel rather than weight - slow negatives, constant tension, and big pec muscle contractions on every rep. Go for at least 12-15 reps per set to get that deep burn and pump.
4. Cable Crossover
Cable crossover machines are also excellent for directly working the pecs through fly-type motions. The cable resistance provides constant tension through the movement, allowing no rest for those chest muscles as you bring the handles together and spread them apart.
Adjust cable height to chest level and keep good posture - don't hunch. Squeeze pecs at the point cables cross over, engaging chest muscles fully. Vary handle heights between sets for complete chest stimulation.
5. Push Up Board
Finally, a simple yet highly effective chest builder - the push-up board allows you to get decline push-ups targeting the lower pecs for full rounded chest development. It also enables more shoulder-friendly range of motion.
Focus on engaging the pec muscles fully by bringing chest down low with elbows flaring out to the sides. Squeeze at the bottom, then press back to the start. Add weight across your back or feet to make them even more challenging.
By combining these workout machines (and similar variations) together into your programming - heavy chest pressing, fly movements, upper/lower angles - you can train the complete chest area for maximum growth from multiple angles.
Now let's cover some tips, common questions, and other things you should know to get the most out of using these machines...
Chest Workout Machine Tips for Best Results
Here are some quick tips to apply when using any of these workout machines or others for chest:
- Slow Down Reps - Use slower eccentric/negatives, hold peaks, and squeeze pecs. Don't just pump out fast reps.
- Full ROM - Always use complete range of motion for muscle development.
- Progress Overload - Increase weight, reps, or sets over time to force adaptation.
- Mind-Muscle - Really focus mentally on pec muscle contraction.
- Train for Pump - Regularly shoot for higher 15-20 rep "pump" sets.
Common Chest Machine Exercise Questions
How much weight should I use?
The amount of weight depends on your goals. To maximize strength, use a 3-5 rep range with near maximal loads. For muscle growth, stick to 6-12 reps with challenging but not crushing weights that keep tension on the pecs. Higher 15-20 reps are great too when focused on muscle pump.
How many sets should I do?
Aim for at least 8-12 total sets for the chest each workout, rotating through different machines and angles. Do 2-4 sets per exercise in the 10-20 rep range for hypertrophy. This ensures maximum mechanical tension to spur muscle protein synthesis.
What muscles do chest press machines work?
Primarily works the pectoralis major and minor chest muscles. Hits all heads - upper, middle, lower. Secondary emphasis on front delts and triceps.
Can I build muscle only using machines?
Yes you can. But for best overall development, be sure to combine multi-joint free weight presses, flyes, and push-ups with machine work. Mixing it up ensures you train muscles through multiple planes with full range of motion.
Chest Exercise Machine Summary
Using chest workout machines is a gym-goer's secret weapon for faster muscle growth and strength in the pecs. When performing pressing, fly, and crossover exercises with workout equipment like the chest press, pec deck, and cables, you can directly target the hard-to-train chest muscles.
Focus on progressive overload by adding weight over time, full range of motion, and peak muscle contraction. Combine machine work into your programming alongside presses, flyes, and push-ups for high intensity chest stimulation from multiple angles.
Put these tips into action with the top 5 machines outlined above for developing thicker, dense slabs of chest meat in the next few months!
Once you understand which machines can take your pecs to the next level, the next factor to address is proper programming. There are a few keys to maximizing muscle growth by using workout equipment strategically:
Step #1: Train Chest First When Fresh
To get the most out of pressing/fly machine exercises and lift heavier weights, always train chest at the start of your workout when energy levels are highest. As fatigue sets in from subsequent exercises like shoulders or back, you won't be able to overload those pecs as much.
Step #2: Alternate Between Compound & Isolation
Be sure to alternate pressing machines like the chest press with fly/crossover isolation movements. This allows heavy compound work to rip into larger muscle fibers maximally, then flyes to really isolate, fatigue and provide that deep burn.
Step #3: Target All Pec Heads
Target upper chest with inclines, middle chest with flat pressing, and lower chest with decline movements. This ensures even, balanced muscle development across the entire pectoral area.
Step #4: Frequently Change Exercise Selection
Your body adapts to any exercise you do for long enough. That's why it's critical to rotate new machines and angles often to keep those pecs guessing and spur new growth. Never rely only on bench press for example. Use pec decks, cables, and others.
Step #5: Allow Proper Rest Between Sets
Around 60-90 seconds rest between sets ensures you're fully recovered strength and energy wise for the next intense set. Shorter rest periods when training chest can compromise your max performance.
Now that your understand how to strategically work chest machines into your regimen, let's cover one final way to take chest development up yet another notch...
The Key is HIGH VOLUME
Volume = sets x reps x load. The higher training volume you can handle and recover from, the more muscle growth stimuli occurs. When using workout equipment strategically, aim for a minimum 20-25 sets per chest workout if muscle building is the goal
High Volume Chest Workout Machine Sample
To give you an idea of what a high volume chest workout could look like, here is a machine-focused sample workout:
- 5 minutes treadmill fast walk or rowing
- Band pull aparts - 3x15
- Push-up circuit x 10, 8, 6
Incline Chest Press Machine - 4 sets
- 12 reps, 10 reps, 8 reps, 6 reps
- Focus on squeezing upper pecs
Flat Bench Chest Press Machine - 3 sets
- 10 reps each set
- Full ROM, controlled tempo
Pec Deck Flye - 4 sets
- 15 reps, 12 reps, 12 reps, 12 reps
- Emphasize stretch and chest squeeze
Low Cable Crossover - 3 sets
- 15 reps each set
- Get deep stretch at bottom, flex pecs
Dips (bodyweight or machine) - 3 sets
- 10-12 reps each set
- Lean forward to target lower chest
That's a total of 21 working sets just for chest in that one workout! Mixing heavy strength rep ranges with higher volume pump work ensures you fully fatigue all pec muscle fibers.
Follow this up with 24-48 hours rest before training chest again to allow full recovery. Implement this type of high volume approach and your chest will have no choice but to blow up!
More Advanced Chest Training Tips
Here are some additional tips to take your chest development up another level:
1. Train Chest Twice Per Week
After getting accustomed to higher volume, experiment with hitting chest two times per week instead of just once. This doubles your weekly training volume and further accelerates growth.
Just be sure to program these sessions differently:
Workout 1: Heavy Pressing Focus
- Flat bench variants
- Low Reps (3-5)
- Heavy loads
Workout 2: Isolation/Pump Focus
- Fly movements
- Higher Reps (12-20)
- Chasing pump/fatigue
2. Occasional Triple Drop Sets
Drop sets involve back-to-back-to-back "drops" in weight after completing initial heavy reps until you essentially hit muscle failure.
Though brutal, incorporating the occasional drop set finishers will shock those pecs into new growth.
Example triple drop set on chest press machine:
- 8 reps with heavy weight
- Reduce weight - get another 6-8 reps
- Reduce weight again - grind out 8-10 more reps
By the final drop set your pecs will feel ready to burst through your skin!
3. Forced Reps
Forced reps involve a training partner helping you grind out extra positive repetitions beyond the point of muscle exhaustion for maximal mechanical tension.
Use forced reps cautiously to avoid overtraining. But incorporate them periodically, especially during focused heavy pressing days, to spur strength and size gains.
4. Explosive Half Rep Finishers
After completing your normal chest exercises with full ROM, add in a few high rep half-rep sets with lighter weight.
Only press the weight about halfway down before exploding back upwards. These are fantastic for blasting through strength plateaus while annihilating those pec muscle fibers.
Troubleshooting Chest Growth Plateaus
If you’ve hit a plateau in chest development, it usually comes down to one of these common issues:
Problem: Under-recovering between workouts
Solution: Take an extra rest day. Sometimes less is more for growth. Also check nutrition and sleep habits.
Problem: Program stagnancy from same routine
Solution: Frequently cycle new machines, angles and rep ranges. Keep the body guessing.
Problem: Poor mind-muscle connection
Solution: Slow down reps. Visualize pec contractions. Focus is key.
Problem: Low training volume
Solution: Gradually increase overall sets/reps/load. Push volume threshold upwards.
Problem: Over-relying on bench press
Solution: Incorporate more machine diversity into your programming. Hit the pecs from multiple angles.
Be patient and consistently apply these chest growth solutions over 4-6 weeks. Once you pinpoint and address the issue, those gains will come flooding back!
Prepping for a Photoshoot or Competition?
If ramping up for a bodybuilding competition or fitness modeling shoot, you’ll want to maximize pec striations and separation.
Here is a 7 day pre-competition blueprint:
Chest Workout 1
Flat Bench Cable Flye Circuit:
- 30 seconds moderate weight squeeze hold
- 15 seconds rest
- Repeat cycle for 5 minutes straight
Chest Workout 2
Triple Giant Set Superset:
A1) Pec Deck - 25 reps A2) Low to High Cable Crossover - 25 reps A3) Pushups x Failure
Perform this giant triple set circuit continuously for 30 minutes straight!
This blasts chest with super high volume pump work to swell those muscles right up against skin for wicked separation.
Combine this peaking training with strategic carb manipulation and water restriction and your chest will look razor sharp!
There you have it - a comprehensive guide to using workout machines and equipment to take your chest development to the next level!
By optimizing your programming, recovery protocols, exercise selection, and volume/intensity management, you now hold the blueprint to maximize chest muscle gains.
Remember to train hard, eat right, and sleep well. Do this while applying these machine workout tactics and your chest will have no choice but to pop in the coming months!
Now get to it...here's to new growth on your journey towards an epic chest!
My Journey to Build the Ultimate Chest
I've been training my chest for years trying to really build the ultimate set of pecs. It's been an experiment involving all sorts of workout equipment and trying to figure out exactly which home gym chest exercise equipment works best from various angles. Let me take you through my personal experience and self-proclaimed expertise on crafting the ideal chest workout.
Barbell Flat Bench
Like most, I started out bench pressing with the venerable flat bench and barbell combo. And I made some decent initial gains.
But I found that heavy bench pressing alone didn't fully stimulate the pectoral muscles enough through a full range of motion for maximum upper body muscle growth. My front delts were taking over too much.
Incline Dumbbell Press
So I started playing around more with Incline pressing. This allowed me to take my upper arms through a fuller range hitting the chest from different angles.
It took pressure off the shoulders and put more tension directly where I wanted - right on top of the pecs for that coveted upper chest pop.
But my lower chest lagged behind. So I started incorporating more Pec deck and cable cross-over volume to target the lower/inner pecs.
Who knew you could get such a wicked pump and deep burn using moderate weights on machines? I wish I had diversified from barbell bench sooner! The pec deck in particular helped craft my inner pecs tremendously.
At one point I even trained for 3 straight months using only resistance bands. And I was floored by how much they grew my chest even training from home.
I could manipulate angles, hand position, and resistance curve so easily to make room for more blood flow into the underside of my pecs. They may look flimsy, but don't judge a book by its cover - bands can provide amazing contractions.
I also started playing around with all sorts of pushup grips, widths, hand rotation, and tempo to see how it would grow my pecs. Well let me tell you..pushups absolutely torch the chest unlike anything else I've tried when you find the right groove. I get insane mind-muscle connection from pushups - something free weights never gave me consistently.
I also have access to more unique chest builders like the Hammer Strength Incline Press and the Matrix Dip/Chin Machine.
Talk about blasting the pectoral heads from new angles! I can't get some of these more obscure machines anywhere else. But they spice up my programming and shock my chest in ways I never imagined. Variety is absolutely key.
So through years of experimentation, I now have a collection of my absolute favorite chest workout exercises that enable me to stimulate the pecs to their maximum potential. I'm still learning new tips every year, but I've come a long way!
Hopefully these experiments will inspire you to really explore all the possibilities too for sculpting your best chest ever. Now go pump some iron!
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PS: Make sure you check out the rest of our Chest Training Guides: