Chest and Shoulder Advice for A Beginner


Call to Action:  Help reader, Ryan Baxter out.  He’s just started working out and typical of most beginners, he’s decided to copy what he sees, ask a few questions from resident experts and keep going.

Ryan Baxter Gym

Can You Help Out Ryan Baxter?

You will see his chest and shoulder workout below.

Got tips for Ryan?  Post them in the comments section after you read over his routine.  I’m pretty certain that given the experience of this community, we can give him some pointers.

Ryan Baxter’s Beginners Story:

Hi Marc,

I’ve just started out at the gym and I’d like to share my workout with you so that the good visitors of Body Building Secrets Live can help me on where I’m possibly going wrong. I’ve started to notice some stretch marks which probably means I’m definitely doing it wrong.

I haven’t got a training partner and I’ve had no help devising a workout. All I’ve done is watch what other people are doing and ask them a few questions.

I’m naturally quite a puny guy so everything feels uber heavy to me and it seems like I need to work a lot harder than other people to get some results.

There’s definitely a difference in my body after three months but maybe not as much as there should be because there’s a strong possibility I’m doing it wrong.

The only supplement I use is whey protein which I got for half price when I weirdly stumbled across it by accident looking for gym deals in London.

My arms and back are coming along ok, but it’s the chest and shoulders that I want to ask for your guys’ opinions.

If I explain my workout, do you think you might all be able to give me some pointers about where I’m going wrong and some advice on how to make my workout better? Thanks in advance to any of you that can help out a brother in need!


When I first started going to the gym a guy told me to focus hard on upper chest so that when I start putting on some muscle my chest will be even rather than big round the sides and lower parts of my chest. Maybe he’s right, maybe he’s wrong, I have no idea. So here’s what I do with chest in the order I do it:

Incline Press: When I started I was pushing 12kg dumb bells and I’m now up to 24kg. I do 8 of these for 3 sets – not that I always make it to the eighth push. I incline the bench on the first notch up and I bring my elbows down so that the weights are almost resting on my shoulders.

Unknown Exercise: I don’t know the name of this one but I’ll try explain it as best I can. It’s almost like an incline press with the bench on the first notch up but the weights are twisted 90 degrees like you would hold the weight on a hammer curl. I push up from in line with my lower chest and twist another 90 degrees when I reach the top of the push to get a squeeze in my upper inner chest.

Incline Flies: I’m up to 12kg on incline flies but I’m not sure what angle I should be bringing my arms down. I feel a bit of a stretch in the part between my front delts and upper chest where I’m noticing the stretch marks. Could this exercise be the reason I’m getting them?

Flat Chest Press: I match 24kg on this one and bring my elbows down so that they’re at a right angle. But I see some people not bringing their elbows down as far as 90 degrees, more like 70 degrees before pushing back up. Which angle is most effective?

Flat Flies: I do 12kg on these as well. Again I feel a stretch in the same place I do under my arms when I do incline flies. I normally bring my elbows down further than 90 degrees because I can feel it more in the inner part of my chest that way. But should this affect whether or not I get stretch marks?

Decline flies: I use 10kg weights and decline the bench as far as it’ll go. I don’t feel a stretch under my arms with this one like I do with the other flies, probably because my arms won’t physically go back as far. I give the weights a twist at the top and I can really feel a squeeze in my lower inner chest.

These are the six exercises I do for chest.

Has anybody got any advice for some other exercises that will give me better results?


I do four exercises on shoulders altogether, all with free weights. I’m starting to notice the side of my shoulders getting wider (sorry for the lack of technical terms) but not much mass, just definition really. Here’s my shoulder workout:

Shoulder Press: I just pushed 20kg on shoulder press last night for the first time after starting on 10kg three months ago. I’ve pretty much doubled what I push on every exercise but don’t feel like I’ve gained the muscle to go with it.

Side Raises: I think it may be called drop sets for the exercises I do on side raises. I’ll do eight side raises with 10kg, then straight away pick up 8kg weights and repeat the side raises. I do this four times.

Front raises: I do exactly the same thing with front raises as I do with side raises. 10kg followed by 8kg for four sets each. I’m noticing a lump of muscle appearing at the front on my delts almost like the shape of a small ball. Is that as a result of this exercise and is it normal?

Reverse Flies: I think these ones are called reverse flies? It’s where you’re sitting on a bench and you lean over, bringing your arms away from you. My question on this exercise is, is it better to use a lower weight and bring your arms fully away from your body or is it better to use a heavier weight and not be able to fully straighten your arms?

I hope all of that makes some kind of sense? I’d be really grateful to any of you that can either give me some advice to fine tune what I’m already doing or some tips for new exercises that will help me develop more mass rather than just definition.

Thanks in advance to any of you who can spare a few moments to help a weights weed!


Ryan Baxter

Can we help Ryan out?  Post your tips, advice, critiques below.  You can contact me if you’d like to do something similar with your own particular situation.  As a group, we can help.

Marc David – CPT
“The NoBull Muscle Guy”
Author of NoBull Bodybuilding

Digg Digg

2 Responses to "Chest and Shoulder Advice for A Beginner"

  1. JaSoN:
    January 28, 2012 04:51 pm

    Hey bro. I have a feeling that if 10 people reply to this post you are going to get 10 different answers and leave you lost in the possition you are now in. I personally think you are doing to much to soon and I know it can be costly but you might want to search for a personal trainer who knows what he he doing. Be carefull who you choose and most of them don’t have a clue what they are doing and how to train. There’s tons of info on the net about bodybuilding and I myself get lost in it all and at the end of the day I’m left confused and frustrated. What I’vw decided to do is do 10 week cycles of trying diffent things. Be consistant and stick to it. When your 10 weeks are up the gauge your strengths and weakness’s. If you are seeing results and you are progressing then continue to do that until you stall. Once you stop progressing then you need to change your routine. It’s a personal journey my friend. Don’t just take any morrons advice, hell don’t even take mine. Just keep searching and if you love what you do you will find ways to improve your training. Good luck bro. you can do it!!

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    1. Ryan:
      February 07, 2012 12:20 pm

      Thanks for your help Jason. I think you might be right about doing too much too soon – the stretchmarks are proof. However, I’m comfortable at these weights now so not sure whether or not to drop back down to a lesser weight or continue going heavier and heavier as and when my body lets me. So much to think about for a gym noob!

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