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The Chris Bumstead Chest Workout!

Chris Bumstead is an IFBB professional bodybuilder and the 2-time winner of the Mr. Olympia Classic Physique contest.

Chris has many standout body parts but many people know him for his unbelievable chest development.

If you want to learn how Chris trains his chest then this article is for you!

Introduction

  • Part 1: Chris Bumstead’s Offseason Training Split
  • Part 2: Chris Bumstead’s Offseason Chest Workout
  • Part 3: Chris Bumstead’s Favorite High-Intensity Techniques

In this comprehensive guide I will show you how the Mr. Olympia winner Chris Bumstead trains his chest for size and strength. 

Chris Bumstead trains his chest using high-volume bodybuilding style workouts. He performs 3-6 exercises per workout and sticks with higher rep ranges to keep his joints healthy and stimulate as much growth as possible.

Chris uses many different training splits but his favorite is the 6-day bodybuilding bro-split. Check it out:

The Chris Bumstead Training Split

  • Monday: Chest
  • Tuesday: Quadriceps
  • Wednesday: Shoulders
  • Thursday: Back
  • Friday: Arms
  • Saturday: Hamstrings
  • Sunday: Off

Chris trains his chest once per week on its own separate training day. Chris found that he builds muscle faster when he has an entire training day dedicated to each muscle group.

Most beginners have a hard time making progress with this kind of training schedule but it works like magic for Chris and many other professional bodybuilders. 

Chris follows 4 main rules for all of his chest workouts:

  • Rule #1: He performs 3-6 exercises per workout
  • Rule #2: He performs compound exercises before isolation exercises
  • Rule #3: He mostly trains in the 8-15 rep range 
  • Rule #4: He performs forced reps to increase the intensity of his sets

Chris doesn’t have a fixed chest training program like other professional bodybuilders including Dorian Yates or Ronnie Coleman. Instead he mixes things up almost every chest workout.

However, Chris almost always follows his 4 golden rules.

Now let’s see how Chris takes these 4 rules to construct a professional bodybuilding chest workout. Check it out:

Chris Bumstead Chest Workout #1

  • Exercise #1: 30 degree incline smith machine press, 3 sets of 8-15 reps**
  • Exercise #2: Flat hammer strength press, 3 sets of 8-15 reps**
  • Exercise #3: Flat machine press, 3 sets of 8-15 reps**
  • Exercise #4: Machine fly, 3 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #5: Dips, 3 sets of 8-15 reps

**Perform 3-5 forced reps on your last set after reaching muscular failure

Here is the training video for this workout:

Chris starts this chest workout with one of his favorite chest exercises: the incline smith machine press.

Chris starts his chest workouts with the incline smith machine press more than any other exercise. It’s not the best choice for a powerlifter but many professional bodybuilders such as Dusty Hanshaw have built their careers on this machine!

Throughout the workout Chris performs forced reps on different exercises to train beyond muscular failure.

Forced reps are basically a high-intensity training technique where your training partner helps you lift the weight up after you reach failure so you can perform extra reps and further fatigue the target muscle.

Forced reps were a favorite of Dorian Yates and they are a great way to eccentrically overload your muscles.

After the heavy incline smith machine presses Chris performs various other exercises such as flat machine presses, machine flys and dips.

Here is another one of Chris Bumstead’s high-volume chest workouts. Check it out:

Chris Bumstead Chest Workout #2

  • Exercise #1: 45 degree incline smith machine press, 3 sets of 8-15 reps**
  • Exercise #2: Incline machine press, 3 sets of 8-15 reps**
  • Exercise #3: Supine machine fly, 3 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #4: Flat machine press, 3 sets of 8-15 reps**
  • Exercise #5: Standing machine fly, 3 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #6: Dips, 1 set to failure****

**Perform 3-5 forced reps on your last set after reaching muscular failure

****Perform 1 set to failure with only your bodyweight

Here is the training video for this workout:

Chris Bumstead performed this chest workout with his training partner Ian Valliere.

Once again Chris starts his workout with some heavy incline smith machine presses. He performs his top set with 365 pounds for 8 reps plus 2 forced reps at the end.

After that he performs a bodybuilding-style cluster set with 315 pounds on the machine. Chris performs 5 reps, rests 20 seconds, performs 5 reps, rests 20 seconds and then reps the weight out for a gruelling 6 reps plus 2 forced reps. Talk about a tough set!

This is almost like a “muscle round” set that Scott Stevenson uses in his Fortitude Training program. You can read more about bodybuilding-style cluster sets in my article “Cluster Sets For Hypertrophy: The Ultimate Guide!

For the rest of the workout Chris sticks to his usual chest training principles. He sticks to different machine exercises and performs more forced reps whenever it is safe to stimulate even more muscle growth.

This was definitely a higher-volume workout for Chris – he doesn’t always perform 6 exercises for his chest in a single workout.

Here is one of his moderate-volume chest workouts. Check it out:

Chris Bumstead Chest Workout #3

  • Exercise #1: 30 degree incline DB press, 3 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #2: Flat hammer strength press, 3 sets of 8-15 reps**
  • Exercise #3: Machine fly, 3 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #4: Flat machine press, 3 sets of 8-15 reps**

**Perform 3-5 forced reps on your last set after reaching muscular failure

Here is the training video for this workout:

Once again Chris is training chest with his training partner Ian Valliere. Ian manages to incline press the 200 pound dumbbells for this workout – talk about a strong chest!

Chris keeps things lighter and “only” incline presses the 130 pound dumbbells.

The rest of the chest workout is exactly what you would expect from Chris Bumstead. He performs a variety of machine exercises and uses forced reps whenever possible to further exhaust the target muscle.

One interesting thing about Chris’s chest workouts is he almost always finishes with a compound pressing movement after he performs his isolation exercises like flys.

In fact Chris might be one of the only professional bodybuilders I’ve seen who uses this strategy. Maybe someone smarter than me can contact me and let me know why he’s doing this!?

Throughout his career Chris has suffered from some nagging shoulder injuries. Whenever this happens he cuts back on his chest exercises and tries to stick with movements that don’t bother his shoulders.

Here is a workout Chris performed when he was recovering from a nagging shoulder injury. Check it out:

Chris Bumstead Chest Workout #4

  • Exercise #1: Hammer strength incline press, 3 sets of 8-15 reps**
  • Exercise #2: 30 degree incline barbell press, 3 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #3: Machine fly, 3 sets of 8-15 reps**

**Perform 3-5 forced reps on your last set after reaching muscular failure

Here is the training video for this workout:

As usual Chris performs his favorite forced reps on every single exercise.

Forced reps play such a critical role in Chris Bumstead’s chest workouts. In fact it’s hard to imagine him performing a chest workout without forced reps!

Chris Bumstead’s Love Affair With Forced Reps

So why does Chris like forced reps so much? That is a great question.

Forced reps are basically a high-intensity bodybuilding technique that lets you train beyond temporary muscular failure.

As soon as you fail on your last rep your training partner helps you lift the weight up so you can continue busting out more reps.

Your partner helps you with the concentric range but you have to lower the weight on your own through the eccentric range.

These extra reps help you to exhaust your eccentric strength after reaching failure on the positive part of the rep. This is good news for bodybuilders because the lowering part of the rep is where most of the muscle growth happens!

Here is the 6 x Mr. Olympia champion Dorian Yates explaining the benefits of forced reps:

“You’ve got to warm up to be safe and everything. But the real sets, we’re going to go to absolute failure with forced reps and assisted reps, maybe extra negative reps.

So my thing is to exhaust everything so it’s totally f*cked. You can’t lower it, you can’t lift it, it’s total failure. If you do that once then it’s time to move on to the next exercise.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Forced reps have other advantages besides building muscle tissue. They are also great for stimulating long-term strength gains.

Many bodybuilders find that forced reps help them build muscle mass without having to train in low rep ranges.

Forced reps are also very convenient to perform if you have a training partner. You don’t have to change the weight or switch exercises – you just get some extra help from your training partner and keep busting out extra reps.

If your chest workouts are getting stale then throwing in some forced reps like Chris Bumstead is a great strategy to try.

Conclusion

Chris Bumstead uses a very smart chest training program. He performs several different exercises per workout with an emphasis on incline presses, machines and isolation exercises to keep his shoulders healthy and increase his longevity in the sport.

Whenever possible Chris throws in some extra forced reps on his working sets to stimulate even more growth in his chest.

If you are looking for a solid chest program then Chris Bumstead is a great role model.

I must warn you: his workouts are not for beginners. Most beginner and intermediate level bodybuilders will have a hard time building a good strength foundation training this way.

However, if you already look like a bodybuilder and have a solid strength foundation then Chris’s chest routines are absolutely worth giving a short.

I’m all out of Arnold Schwarzenegger quotes on why “Plan B” is for economic girlie men so here is Chris Bumstead trash talking his good friend Ian Valliere:

“It’s going to be fun because I get to watch Ian lift the 200 pound dumbbells. But the downside is I have to pick up one of the 200 pound dumbbells to spot him because he’s too lazy to pick both of them up himself!”

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck on your strength training journey!