If your chest isn’t sore after chest day, there’s a good chance that you’re doing the exercises wrong.
Let’s cover 7 possible reasons why your chest isn’t sore after chest day, as well as ways to fix it.
Chest Isn’t Sore After Chest Day?
In my 10+ years’ experience of working out, I’ve found the following reasons explain why you don’t have sore chest muscles after chest day:
- Too Low Intensity
- Your Chest Muscles Have Adapted To The Exercises
- You Have Weak Secondary Muscles
- Errors In Technique
- You Have Weak Stabilizer Muscles
- Too Low Volume
- Poor Mind-To-Muscle Connection
Let’s explore these in more detail.
1. Too Low Intensity
Soreness after exercise (delayed onset muscle soreness, aka DOMS) is the result of local inflammation in the muscle tissue.
This happens when your muscle tissue is broken down and repaired, giving you bigger and stronger muscles.
(In a process called hypertrophy.)
But for this to occur, you need to be training at an intensity that your muscles find challenging.
If you train at a low intensity, it’s unlikely that your muscle tissue will be damaged by the exercise, and as a result, you won’t feel soreness in that muscle.
Solution: Train To Failure
If you train to failure (i.e., you do reps until the point where you physically can’t do another), then your muscles will have no option but to adapt to the new stimulus.
2. Your Chest Muscles Have Adapted To The Exercises
Some people do the exact same workout with the same exercises every week.
But by training this way, you’re targeting the same muscle fibres in the same order at the same angles all the time. This results in your chest muscles adapting to the exercises. A sign of this is feeling no pectoral pain the next day.
That’s not to say you won’t get bigger and stronger muscles if you do the same workouts. You definitely will if you increase the weight over time.
It’s just that your chest muscles have gotten used to the exercises.
Solution: Mix Up Your Chest Workouts
By mixing up your chest workouts, doing different exercises in different orders, you’ll be targeting a wider range of muscle fibres.
Since some of these muscle fibres won’t have been trained as hard before, there’s a good chance that you’ll feel soreness in these neglected areas.
Changing your chest workouts every 3 weeks or so is a great starting point.
3. You Have Weak Secondary Muscles
Many chest-building exercises are classed as compound exercises. This means they target multiple muscle groups – not just your chest.
For example, the bench press targets your chest, triceps, and deltoids. Likewise with push-ups.
In these exercises, your triceps and deltoids are called secondary muscles because they’re not the focus muscle of the exercise.
But if you have weak secondary muscles, there’s a chance that these reach failure before chest does.
I.e., if you do bench press but have weak triceps, your triceps might fail first, forcing you to stop the exercise before your chest has started to weaken.
If this is the case, you probably aren’t training your chest to its full potential. And as a result, there isn’t enough muscle tissue damage in your chest to cause soreness.
Solution 1: Strengthen Your Secondary Muscles
By strengthening your triceps and deltoids, they’ll be able to keep up with your chest muscles during compound exercises like bench press.
So, you’ll be able to do enough reps until your chest muscles start to fatigue.
Solution 2: Pre-Exhaust Your Chest Muscles With Isolation Exercises
Starting your chest session with isolation exercises like flyes and pec dec is a great way to pre-exhaust your chest muscles.
By the time you get to doing bench press in your chest session, your chest will already be somewhat fatigued so that you don’t have to worry about your secondary muscles reaching failure before your chest.
4. Errors In Technique
Another common reason why you don’t feel any chest soreness is errors in your lifting technique.
The bench press is a great example here because many beginners use the bench press and with a terrible technique.
Common technique errors that I see include:
- Flared-out elbows
- Not retracting your shoulder blades
- Not completing the full range of motion
Solution: Use A Proper Technique
Rather than flaring out your elbows, the elbows should be approximately 45 degrees away from your body. This helps keep the focus on your chest and will reduce the risk of injury.
Also, on the eccentric (negative) part of the movement, you should be squeezing your shoulder blades together to create a stable foundation. This helps take the weight off your shoulders.
Completing the full range of motion by ensuring the bar touches your chest with each rep is vital too if you want to maximize pectoral activation.
(Watch below to see how to do the perfect bench press!)
5. You Have Weak Stabilizer Muscles
Your stabilizer muscles are essential for compound chest exercises, like the bench press.
They’re the muscles which stop your elbows from buckling under the heavy weight of the barbell.
If you have weak stabilizer muscles, you won’t be able to lift enough weight to activate your chest to the point of soreness.
Even if you have a strong chest, it alone can’t handle the force of compound exercises, like bench press.
As covered earlier, compound exercises recruit multiple muscle groups, not just your chest.
Solution: Strengthen Your Stabilizer Muscles
To strengthen your stabilizer muscles, you should focus on free weight exercises rather than cable or machine exercises.
This is because free weights require you to control the weight as you exercise, rather than relying on the machine to do this for you.
Once your stabilizer muscles are up to speed, you’ll then be able to increase the weight and work your chest harder.
6. Too Low Volume
Simply doing too few sets and reps can be another reason why your chest isn’t sore after chest day.
Each rep you do activates your chest muscles somewhat.
By doing a small number of sets and reps, your chest will experience less overall activation in your workout.
But to feel soreness, your chest needs to activate to the point where the muscle tissue is damaged and in need of repair.
Solution: Increase The Volume
If your chest workout currently consists of 6 sets of 8 reps, you’re only activating your chest muscles 48 times.
By increasing this volume to 9 sets of 12 reps, you’re activating your chest muscles 108 times!
So, by increasing the volume of your chest workout, you have more opportunity to target your chest muscles which will increase the likelihood of soreness the next day.
7. Poor Mind-to-Muscle Connection
One of the most ignored and underappreciated aspects of training is the mind-to-muscle connection.
This phenomenon describes the deliberate effort of contracting a specific muscle.
If your mind-to-muscle connection is subpar, you’ll recruit less muscle fibres when completing a certain exercise.
Obviously, the less muscle fibres you recruit, the less opportunity you have to work your chest to the point of soreness.
Solution: Dial In Your Mind-To-Muscle Connection
There are many ways you can improve your mind-to-muscle connection for chest exercises.
For example, when doing dumbbell flyes, rather than thinking of moving the weights from point A to point B, imagine that you’re hugging a wide tree.
Or when doing bench press, rather than thinking of pushing the bar vertically, imagine that you’re driving the weight up with your chest.
While this may seem a bit woowoo, research shows that it actually works.
In one study, 30 subjects were split into 2 groups. One group were told to simply move the weight, and the other group was instructed to focus on contracting the muscle.
The results showed that after 8 weeks, those who were instructed to focus on muscle contraction experienced significantly more bicep growth than the other group.
Is Your Chest Supposed To Be Sore After Chest Day?
If your chest workout was intense and of high volume, you should expect it to be sore the next day.
That being said, everyone is different, and our muscles all respond slightly differently to the same stimulus.
If your chest isn’t sore, that doesn’t necessarily mean your chest workout was ineffective, it could just be that your chest has adapted to the exercises.
Why Doesn’t Your Chest Hurt After Bench Press?
The most common reason why your chest doesn’t hurt after bench press is using a poor technique.
Most people flare their elbows out when doing bench press which takes some of the load off the chest muscles.
Also, many people do bench press with their shoulder rounded, which puts a lot of tension on their deltoids.
Using incorrect technique on heavy compound lifts is not only ineffective, but it can significantly increase your chances of injury, so should be avoided at all costs.
Where Should You Feel Sore After Chest Day?
This depends on what exercises your chest day comprises of.
If you do only isolation exercises like flyes and pec dec, you should only feel soreness in your chest muscles since these exercises don’t recruit other muscle groups.
Whereas if your chest workout is heavily focused on compound exercises, like bench press and push-ups, then you should expect soreness in your chest, triceps, and possibly deltoids.
That being said, you may not feel pain in your chest muscles at all due to the reasons outlined in this article.
Will Your Chest Still Grow If It Doesn’t Get Sore After Chest Day?
This depends on why your chest didn’t get sore.
If it’s because you’re not training at a high intensity and you do too few sets and reps, then your chest won’t have enough stimulus to grow.
Whereas if it’s because your chest muscles have adapted to the exercises that you do on a regular basis, you can expect muscle growth as long continue to increase the weight.
It’s incredibly frustrating when you wake up after chest day, and your chest muscles feel like they haven’t even been trained. Luckily, there are several solutions:
- Train To Failure
- Mix Up Your Chest Workouts
- Strengthen Your Secondary Muscles
- Pre-Exhaust Your Chest Muscles With Isolation Exercises
- Use A Proper Technique
- Strengthen Your Stabilizer Muscles
- Increase The Volume
- Dial In Your Mind-To-Muscle Connection
That’s all for chest, but why aren’t your legs sore after leg day?
Thanks for reading!
I’ve been in the fitness and strength training industry for nearly a decade. In that time, I’ve gained 30 pounds of muscle, written hundreds of articles, and reviewed dozens of fitness supplements. As for my educational background, I’m a currently studying for my Active IQ Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training.