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Unsure About DB Chest Workout


My current body fat % is around 22-23% and am planning to cut down to about 15% body fat. Keep this in mind.

I have recently came back from a shoulder/bicep injury and instead of doing flat BB bench, I am going to be doing DB incline, flat and decline press instead.

My question is: If I want to retain (possibly grow strength) while still allow room for possible hypertrophy, what should my program be?

I was thinking of doing 4x11 for each press but this wouldn't help me retain my strength necessarily or help me grow stronger.

Would 3x8 be better? Note that I want to increase either sets/reps or both after every workout and do not want to go that heavy because I'm coming back from a minor shoulder/bicep injury. I am planning on working at 75% of my max but right now

I don't think I would be working at 75% of my max (which is 190-195 flat bench) just yet since I'm still slowly in the midst of recovery.

My 2nd question: Once I know my rep/set scheme, should I do both incline and flat db press on the same day? What about decline? How should my program look like? I would like specifics, thank you.

3rd question: Knowing that my max flat bb bench is around 190-195, what db weight should I use? Please base this off of the appropriate set/rep set up I should have.


A couple fun things to address here:

  1. you’ve already started a thread on this exact topic. I assume you didn’t like the advice you were getting there so you started another one. In your defense, you have included more information and questions here, so it’s KINDA new, but that’s generally not really good practice. Kinda like going to Mom to ask if you can go out and play because Dad said no.

  2. you seem stuck on a few constructs that you absolutely must have: you are insistent that you must do flat, incline, and decline, but in your prior thread when someone asked about including all 3 in the same workout, you worried that was too much volume. Which brings us to another key point:

No one can give you good advice about how to train one specific body part withot knowing what your whole training week looks like.

Asking for advice on how to train chest without knowing whether you do a body part split, an upper/lower, a push/pull/legs, a full body routine…the answer for “how to train chest” - the way you’re asking the question, demanding a specific number of sets, reps, and weights on certain days of the week - requires this knowledge,

If you do a bodypart split, it is perfectly reasonable to suggest that your chest day be entirely comprised of flat, incline, and decline DB presses. 4-5 sets of each seems like it would make a fine chest day.

If you do upper/lower or full body, that might be a little much for one workout and you may want to split them up.

See where this is going? We can’t tell you “how to train chest” in a vacuum.

  1. strength and hypertrophy are not mutually exclusive things. When you say you want the one set-and-rep scheme that will retain strength but allow room for hypertrophy…I mean, just think about how dumb that sounds. You expect that doing 4x11 will make your muscles grow but allow you to get weaker? Huh?

It’s been said many times on this site: train in a variety of rep ranges. Thibadeau posted an article the other day with, like, 22 rep schemes. Go read that article. Pick the ones you like best. Rotate through them every couple of weeks. You don’t have to do 3x8 EVERY SINGLE WEEK.

Final Thought: I’m inferring from your post that you want someone to lay it all out for you, give you THE ONE TRUE ANSWER: “I have run my algorithms and concluded that you should do 3x8 with 60 pounds for incline, 65 for flat, and 70 for decline. That will be 20 dollars. Thanks and have a nice day.”

The problem is that IT’S NOT THAT SIMPLE. Rather than asking for that ONE TRUE CHEST WORKOUT, I suggest that you consider the basic principles of training, your primary goals, your OVERALL weekly setup, and learn to adjust. Some days you might go heavier. Some days you might go lighter, for higher reps. THERE IS NO ONE ANSWER. People have gotten bigger, stronger, leaner with dozens and dozens of different programs. So instead of worrying about whether you are doing the right permutation of sets, reps, and assorted dumbbell presses, how about this: do a handful of sets of DB press (flat, incline, decline) every time you are working “chest” - pick a modest weight (40 pounds?) and do 10 reps. Put them back, rest a minute, pick up the next set of DB’s and do 10 reps. Repeat until you can no longer get 6 reps. You’ll get a blend of volume with the first few high rep sets and “strength” work as the weight creeps up.


My full, current workout plan is as follows:

Monday: Conventional DL (periodization plan) and shoulder- width lat pulldown (3-4 x 8-12 reps) (I will switch to reverse grip later)

Tuesday: Bulgarian split squat (I will start with 3x5 (25lbs)–>4x5 (25lbs)–>5x5 (25lbs)–>6x5 (25 lbs) and then I will add 5 lbs and repeat. I am most likely going to do leg press as well (same set up as lat pull down)

Wednesday: Bench (same set up as the Bulgarian split squat and will start with 30lbs most likely) bent over bb rows (6x5 until I hit 120 and then I will follow the same set up as the Bulgarian split squat and bench).

Thursday: Bulgarian split squat (I will start with 3x5 (25lbs)–>4x5 (25lbs)–>5x5 (25lbs)–>6x5 (25 lbs) and then I will add 5 lbs and repeat.

Friday: Conventional DL (periodization plan) and shoulder- width lat pulldown (3-4 x 8-12 reps) (I will switch to reverse grip later).

Saturday: Bulgarian split squat (I will start with 3x5 (25lbs)–>4x5 (25lbs)–>5x5 (25lbs)–>6x5 (25 lbs) and then I will add 5 lbs and repeat. I will most likely do leg press (same set up as for lat pull downs).

Sunday- N/A

Based on my weekly routine, you would then suggest for me to do incline one day, decline another day and then flat the next time?

Also, if I had a max flat bb bench around 190-195 prior to my minor shoulder/bicep strain/pull injury, what weight would I use for my DB chest workout? 30lbs?

Second question: Does it make sense to add 5 lb after I hit the 6x5 mark? I feel that I will have a new DB bench max by then so it would be appropriate but I’m not completely sure.

I completely agree with what you had said, thank you for the constructive advice and criticism.


I’m not an injury expert, just want to get that disclaimer out of the way.

From the looks of your setup, it looks as though you’re only planning to train your chest on Wednesdays, correct?

If you are willing to do so twice - perhaps Wednesday and Saturday - you could rotate them like so:

Wednesday: Flat Bench 4 sets (ramped up to top set of 6-8 reps), Incline Bench 4x10 (lighter “pump” work)
Saturday: Flat Bench 4 sets (ramped up to top set of 6-8 reps), Decline Bench 4x10 (lighter “pump” work)

Then the following week, reverse it so the incline/decline is the heavy work and the flat bench is your light pump work.

This stays away from your concern about all three in one workout, but still gives you a decent amount of total weekly volume and a nice blend of all three types. Also mixes ramped/heavier work with volume/pump work.

As for the weight, that can be kind of self-regulating. Since you’re coming off an injury, maybe start super light, and test yourself in the fashion I described: start with the 20’s and do 10 reps. Rest a minute or two. Pick up the 25’s and do 10 reps. Rest a minute or two. Go until you reach a weight where you can no longer do more than about 6 reps. Boom. Drop one notch below that and there’s your starting weight.


Ok, so should I not utilize the following plan for bench? : 3x5 going to 4x5–>5x5 and finally 6x5? After the 6x5 weight (say 35lb) I would then bump that to 40 lbs and start over with 3x5.

Also, just to clarify, when you said to find my starting weight by finding a weight I am not able to do more than 6 reps with, this was of course referring to the ramped/heavier work. So for Wednesday, I would say find that weight to be 35lb and then do 4x6. What about fo the light pump work on Wednesday? The Incline bench 4x10 work? Would I bump my starting weight down by 5 lb for the light pump work?

Also, so let’s say that for my 2nd week, I use 35lb for the incline/decline heavy work because in the first week I would have used 30lbs for the light pump work for incline/decline (this is the reversal you were talking about). I understand this…however…what should I do for the third week when I go back to Flat bench 4x6-8, incline bench 4x10?? My first week for flat bench would be say 35lb…this would be my second time doing ramped/heavy with flat bench…would I increase the volume to 4x7, and then continue to do so until I get to 4x8 and then switch from 35lb to 40lb?

Again, when I mentioned my plan above (3x5, etc), I’m thinking that would just correlate to doing the heavy/ramped work and the only difference between my plan and your plan is that I start with less reps/work…

Thanks for your help, I really appreciate it.


I think you’re kind of overthinking, but that’s OK.

If you want to do 3x5 and build to 6x5 over time, I mean, that’s totally fine. Please get rid of the idea that one rep range does one thing and a different rep range does another. Your muscles don’t think “oh geez, we just did our eighth rep, time to fire up the Hypertophy Machine” - so don’t major in the minors there.

My post was more a general structure. Week 1, do “heavy” ramped work on flat bench, with decline/incline done afterwards as lighter, high rep, pump work. The next week, flip them around. If you want to do sets of 5 for the heavy work, great.

As for the weight choice, this will quickly become self regulating. Don’t overthink it. For the heavy work, whatever weight you start with, adjust so the last set or two is really challenging to complete WHATEVER number of reps you’re attempting. Adjust as you go. If you planned to do 5x5 and you did the first four sets with 30’s and they’re all easy, use 35’s for the last set. If you tried 35’s and couldn’t get 5 reps, go back down to 30’s. Contrary to popular belief, not EVERYTHING has to be planned. Hard work with imperfect programming will trump poor effort on the perfect program.

For the lighter work, don’t worry so much about the weight. Pick something you can easily do for 8-10 reps and really focus on good form and feeling your chest working throughout the movement. If you’re using 20’s or 25’s, whatever.


Ok, so if I find my starting weight to be 30lb by doing what you had suggested in your previous post: “start with the 20’s and do 10 reps. Rest a minute or two. Pick up the 25’s and do 10 reps. Rest a minute or two. Go until you reach a weight where you can no longer do more than about 6 reps. Boom. Drop one notch below that and there’s your starting weight.”

I then will do first two sets of 3x5 workout with 30lb (starting weight) and then for the last set of my 3x5, if I found the last two sets easy, then for the last set I will try to do 35lb. If I am able to get all 5 reps, then this will be my next starting weight when I will do the heavy/ramped work again. So I would do 4x5 with 35lb and continue on like this. However, if I cannot do 5 reps with 35lb for the last set on the first workout (3x5), then I will use 30lb again when I will do 4x5. Is this all correct?

Thank you