I don’t know why everyone hates Mondays, I mean I know it is the start of the work week, but it is also international chest day! Walk in to any gym around the world and I am sure most avid gym goers are flocking to the bench press. While it can be frustrating having to wait, bench press is not the only way to help build a massive chest.


In this article we are going to have a look at 4 excellent exercises to help you develop impressive pecs.


1. INCLINE PRESS


While most people flock to the flat bench, very few tend to start their workout off with an incline press. Because most trainees focus is on flat bench, they tend to neglect incline or do it as a secondary lift which then limits the mass and strength gains both in the upper and middle regions of the pectoral muscles. If you want a bulging, full chest then the incline press is a must!

The incline press can either be performed with a barbell or with dumbbells. The advantage of using dumbbells is that you will have a greater range of motion and will also target stabiliser muscles, however, with the barbell you will be able to go much heavier. I would suggest switching between the two every few weeks.



SET & REP RANGE:


When it comes to rep ranges, I would opt for a range which encourages muscular hypertrophy and strength gains. For big exercise like the incline press, I would suggest performing 4 sets with the following rep range.


Warm-up: 15-20 reps (2 sets)


  • Set 1: 10-12 reps
  • Set 2: 8-10 reps
  • Set 3: 6-8 reps
  • Set 4: 6 reps

HOW TO DO IT:


  • Lie on the incline press with your back pressed firmly against the bench (do not arch your back) and with your feet on the supports.
  • Grab the barbell at a width that will allow you to make a 90 degree angle when your upper arms are parallel with the floor.
  • Lift the bar off of the bench and slowly lower it until the bar touches your upper chest.
  • Pause for a split second and then exhale as you drive the barbell upward using your chest muscles.
  • Stop the bar just before you lock out your elbows.
  • Slowly return the bar to your upper chest and repeat the movement.


2. DECLINE DUMBBELL PRESS


To really target the lower portion of your chest muscle, a decline dumbbell press is the ideal exercise. Using a dumbbell will help you to move through a full range of motion and really stretch at the bottom of the movement and contract the muscle at the top of the lift. The decline angle will help the lower chest to become more full and symmetrical.



SET & REP RANGE:

When it comes to the decline press, it is difficult to go extremely heavy which is why it is very important to focus on form and contraction. I would suggest the following set and rep range.


  • Set 1: 12-15 reps
  • Set 2: 10-12 reps
  • Set 3: 8-10 reps

HOW TO DO IT:

  • Grab a set of dumbbells and sit on a decline bench with your feet hooked in behind the supports.
  • As you lie back bring the dumbbells to the front of your shoulder with your palms facing one another.
  • Rotate your wrists so that your palms are facing away from you.
  • Exhale as you drive the weight upward while keeping your forearms perpendicular to the floor.
  • Lock you arms at the top of the movement and really squeeze your chest.
  • Lower the weight slowly while breathing in.
  • Pause for a moment at the bottom of the movement and repeat.


3. INCLINE DUMBBELL FLYE


The incline dumbbell flye focuses on working both the inner and outer portion of the clavicular, or upper, head of the pectoral muscle. It provides a good stretch and contraction of the chest.



SET & REP RANGE:


The incline dumbbell flye is an isolation move which really focuses on the chest. I would suggest performing 3 sets with the following rep ranges.


  • Set 1: 12-15 reps
  • Set 2: 10-12 reps
  • Set 3: 8-10 reps

HOW TO DO IT:


  • Grab a set of dumbbells and lie on an incline bench of roughly 20-30 degrees.
  • With palms facing hold the dumbbells up above your chest with your arms fully extended (start position)
  • With your arms very slightly bent, lower the dumbbells out towards your sides keeping your arms in line with your shoulders.
  • When the dumbbells are in line with your chest (full stretch), pause for a moment and then lift them back up to the starting position through the same range of movement as when you lowered them.
  • Squeeze at the top of the movement and then repeat.
  • Inhale as you lower the weight and exhale as you lift the weight.


4. UPPER & LOWER CABLE CROSSOVER


Last but not least is one of my favourite exercises to finish off a chest session. The upper cable crossover works the lower, inner region of the chest while the low cable crossover works the upper, inner region.



SET & REP RANGE:


Again, this exercise is about form, so make sure to select a weight which you don’t have to move your torso to lift. Focus on using the chest to drive your arms forward.


  • Set 1: 12-15 reps
  • Set 2: 10-12 reps
  • Set 3: 8-10 reps

HOW TO DO IT:


  • Grab each side of the pulleys in each hand with your arms angled toward its respective pulley and stand mid way between the cables.
  • Step slightly forward so that the pulleys are just behind you.
  • Keeping your torso still, pull your arms together in front of you to mid-chest level and squeeze the muscle tightly.
  • Return to the stretched position.


 



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