Last updated on February 26th, 2023 at 03:12 pm
Mosy guys are either in the square-pec or round-pec camp.
Personally, as long as my chest is hard, muscular, and bigger than my belly, I’m happy.
That being said, it seems that many guys are now veering toward producing flat and solid square pecs.
Whether your pecs are square or rounded is mainly down to genetics. Unfortunately, you can’t change the pec muscle insertion points that you were born with, but you can of course increase the size of the muscles. With that being said, you should focus your training more on developing your upper chest. The less developed your upper pecs are, the more rounded your pectorals will appear. Plus, the same can be said if you’re carrying extra body fat. Furthermore, don’t simply focus on pressing movements and aim to work the chest from a variety of angles.
That’ll Be 4 Sets of 12 Reps of Genetics Please
Apologies for the sarcasm, but the actual shape of your pecs is largely down to genetics.
Well, to be more precise, you can’t change the shape of pectoral muscle insertions.
However, there is one particular advantage to round-looking pecs.
This will typically mean that your clavicle has a high slope, which in turn will make your pecs look round.
But, most rounded-pec guys will have a decent set of traps.
When it comes to guys who have a flat clavicle they are more likely to have a square chest, although they’ll find it harder to develop a decent set of traps.
So, it is a case of one or the other.
With that being said, traps are often heralded as the “new abs”, and it is a body part that most of us strive to develop.
Nothing says, “I train hard, I’m strong and muscular” like impressive traps.
But for now, back to the subject of square pecs.
You may not be able to completely change the shape of your pecs, but you can certainly give them a more chiselled appearance.
And I’ll explain the best ways to achieve this now.
Focus More on Developing Your Upper Chest
I guess the main reason that most guys are looking for square pecs is because the rounded look makes the chest appear almost droopy.
This is definitely not the desired look that most of us are after.
However, genetics aside, you can give your chest a more aesthetically-appealing appearance.
The main issue is that far too many of us are focused on performing the traditional barbell bench press.
Now, I’m not saying it isn’t a great exercise.
This is especially true when it comes to building overall size in the pectoralis major.
That being said, I know that many trainees claim that they never feel bench press in their pecs anyway.
But, the barbell bench press doesn’t do much for the upper pecs.
And if you want a more masculine-looking chest, the upper pecs is where it’s at.
In fact, overdeveloped mid-to-lower pecs almost give the impression that the upper chest has caved in.
This will immediately give the pecs a more rounded look.
I would hazard a guess that most guys head straight for the barbell bench press of “chest day”.
However, you would be better off training incline variations first.
I would even go as far to say that if your chest looks rounded you should avoid the flat bench press for a while.
Basically, work incline variations until your upper chest “catches up”.
A great chest workout could involve:
- Incline dumbbell chest press
- Incline barbell bench press
- Incline flyes
- Dips (yes, I know dips work the lower pecs, but they’re a fantastic exercise)
- Decline push ups.
This will give you a fantastic pump in the chest, with special priority given to the upper pecs.
The aim is to give you a chiselled, more muscular looking chest.
Once you feel your upper chest has caught up you can reintroduce the flat barbell bench press.
Keep an Eye on Body Fat
Something else you should be wary of is body fat.
You could be as strong as an ox, and benching unbelievably heavy weights.
However, if you’re carrying extra body fat, your pecs will look more rounded.
In fact, even worse, you will probably be sporting a pair of man boobs.
I’m guessing this isn’t the look that you’re going for.
You can even up your volume of chest exercises, hit your pecs from all angles, but you can never escape that “bad diet”.
If your nutrition isn’t on-point, genetics won’t make any difference.
And to make matters worse, if you insist on training your pecs with solely “flat” exercises, you’re going to end up with even rounder-looking pecs.
I would also say that how you’re training will obviously also have an impact on body fat.
If your sole aim is to produce a great set of square pecs you may be ignoring the rest of your body.
I see nothing wrong with specific chest and bench press specialization training, but this should only be done for a short period of time.
However, ensuring that you regularly hit all muscle groups will give you the best overall looking physique.
And once again, how you fuel your workouts is just as, if not more, important.
Don’t Forget Cables and Flyes
There is a tendency to over-focus on pressing movements when it comes to training chest.
In fact, I’m willing to bet that some guys simply train 3-4 different press variations and that’s their chest workout done.
Unfortunately, you’re missing out on a lot of muscle-building by doing this.
Plus, this can leave you with a more rounded and yet less muscular looking pair of pecs.
We all typically isolate other muscle groups when we train.
So, leg extensions for quads, leg curls for hamstrings, bicep curls for biceps, tricep extensions for triceps, etc.
However, for some reason we often avoid isolation exercises for the chest.
With that being said, performing both dumbbell and cable flyes can have a massive positive impact on your pecs.
In fact, this will help to separate the pecs and develop that line down the middle of your chest.
This is the ideal way to create a more muscular set of pecs, irrespective of your genetic shape.
Once again, you can still focus on the upper chest with both exercises.
Incline dumbbell flyes will work the upper chest and help with pec separation.
I would suggest that you perform higher reps with a lighter weight.
This way you can really contract your pecs and get a great pump.
As for cables, I love the low cable chest fly.
Key Learning Points
- The shape of your pecs is mainly determined by genetics, more specifically your pectoral muscle insertions.
- Focus more on working your upper chest with incline varations of chest exercises.
- Dumbbell and cable flyes will help to separate the pecs and provide them with a more muscular appearance.
- Be wary of your body fat levels, as this also plays a role in the shape of your pecs.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.