Your quest for deeper, wider, and stronger chest needs an update. Incorporate these science-based chest workout moves and tips in your chest-building program.
Most gym-goers’ chest routine mainly consists of sets of flat bench, incline dumbbell presses, and flat flyes. I had also been following the same Monday program for quite some time without any much modification, so naturally I had hit the plateau. Then I realized that my chest routine was due for adding in some spices so as to bring some new stimuli into my chest training. I did some experimentation and discovered that working my chest muscles with a variety of exercises and angles is the best approach. I am sharing here with you the five movements, which did the job for me.
Have You Hit The Plateau – Increase Your Chest Size With These 5 Movements
The most popular chest exercises to build up the chest muscles are the basic movements such as the bench press, dumbbell press, dumbbell flye, cable crossover, and the push-up. But they’re certainly not the only options. Let’s take your chest workout program a step farther and consider some more advanced techniques to shock your chest muscles into growth mode!
1. 180-Degree Twisting Dumbbell Bench Press: Dumbbell bench press score over barbell bench press as you can also utilize the benefits of a supine or reverse grip by adding a twist. A study has found that when the participants used a supinated grip during an isometric hold of the flat bench press, it resulted in enhanced activity for the upper portion of the pectoralis major as compared to a regular pronated grip.
(i) To workout the twisting dumbbell bench press, select a pair of dumbbells, rest them on your thighs and lie down flat on a flat bench. You can use your thighs to help you push the dumbbells above your body fully extending your arms over your chest, at shoulder width apart.
(ii) At this point your palms should be facing inward towards one another and the dumbbells should be nearly touching. This is the starting position.
(iii) Slowly lower the dumbbells towards your outer chest in a controlled fashion while twisting at the wrists. Continue turning your wrists so that when you reach the bottom of the movement (when your upper arms are around parallel to the ground) your palms are facing forward.
(iv) Pause for a moment and push the dumbbells back to the starting position, twisting at the wrists in the opposite direction than when lowering the weight.
(v) Repeat this movement for desired reps.
Total Fitness Tips:
(i) Keep your shoulders back during the press to maximize pec involvement and minimize delt takeover. This will help isolating your chest muscles.
(ii) Try to use the longest range of motion possible to ensure that the recruited muscle get a good stretch and contraction.
(iii) Don’t drop the dumbbells at the end of the set. You can safely use the weight of the dumbbells to rock up to a seated position.
(iv) To get the optimum results, try to take around twice as long to lower the dumbbells as it does to raise them.
2. Cable Crossover 21s: Cable workout has significant advantage over free weights. It ensures constant tension to the muscle throughout the range of motion. But what about the muscle activation ? – another important factor. A team of researchers from the University of Wisconsin discovered that the bent-forward cable crossover involves nearly the same pectoralis major stimulation as the barbell bench press, which was rated the highest.
The beauty of the cable crossover is that you can adjust the pulleys to any height you want, which allows you to hit the chest musculature from different angles in very different ways than you can with, say, the pec deck machine. With the pulleys in the top position, the emphasis shifts toward the lower pecs; when the pulleys are in the bottom position, the focus is on the upper pecs. There are a number of middle positions on adjustable cables that can also be used to slightly alter the line of pull and the target area.
Here’s how we can use the cable crossover’s unique advantages to create a monster chest muscle gaining move that’ll hit your pecs with a single-joint move from all new directions.
Method: Cable Crossover 21s triset consists of doing seven reps apiece with the pulleys at three different angles for a total of 21 reps. Select a weight with which you can do for about 7-8 reps.
(a) First 7 reps (low position)
(i) Starting with the cables in the lowest position with D-handles attached, grasp the handles and move into a staggered stance with one foot forward and one foot back. Lean forward slightly from the hip. This is your base position for all three movements.
(ii) With the handles out at your sides and an underhand grip, squeeze the cables up and in to eye level using a scooping motion. Perform 7 reps in this position.
(b) Second 7 reps (middle position)
(i) Move the cables to chest height, grab the handles, and get into the base position.
(ii) Push the handles out and in front of your chest with the palms facing each other.
(iii) Resist the weight as you open up in a wide arc. Pause when you feel a light stretch in your chest, then squeeze back to the center with the elbows slightly bent and locked in place. Perform 7 reps in this position.
(c) Final 7 reps (high position)
(i) Move the cables just above your head, grab the handles, and move back into the base position.
(ii) Press the handles down and in front of your upper abdominals with palms facing inward.
(iii) Open your arms back and up until you feel a good stretch across the pecs, pause, and then squeeze back in and under your chest. Perform your last 7 reps in this position.
(i) When doing fly or cable crossover movements, it’s important that you lock a slight bend in your elbows to isolate the pecs.
(ii) Make sure to keep the arms and body stationary so that you perform the exercise from the shoulders. This will help to put the stretch on your chest muscles, thereby maximizing chest contraction of during each rep.
Moreover, don’t restrict yourself to traditional rep ranges. Try pairing multiple angles and rep ranges into supersets or trisets, or even do dropsets. You can not only juice up your training for a monster pump, but also add some much-needed variety to challenge your mind and body.
3. Kettlebell Flye: Kettlebells work better than dumbbells for flyes, because:
(i) Using kettlebells for chest flyes causes the pecs to recruit more muscle fibers to fight the weight hanging below the palms.
(ii) Due to the unique position of the resistance – the pecs remain under load for a greater proportion of the range of motion.
(iii) The kettlebell flye truly works as an isolation exercise as it enhances strength throughout the chest, plus it reduces strain on the shoulders and wrists.
(i) Grab a pair of kettlebells and lie face up on a flat bench. Lift the kettlebells above your chest with your palms facing each other. Slightly bend your elbows.
(ii) Slowly lower the kettlebells in a wide arc down and away from your body, until you feel a good stretch across the chest. Once the kettlebells are almost in line with your chest, pause and contract the pecs against the extra resistance that the kettlebells provide at the bottom range.
(iii) Squeeze your pecs as you bring your arms back to the starting position in a wide hugging motion. Keep your shoulders back through out the motion.
(i) Make sure you keep a slight bend in the elbows throughout the movement.
(ii) Kettlebells are harder to grip than dumbbells, which makes you work harder for each rep. So, begin with kettlebells that are lighter than what you would use on a standard dumbbell flye to ensure proper form and a full-range flye, not a half-flye, half-press.
4. Chest Dips: It’s a tough compound exercise, also known as Forward-Leaning Dips. If you could do just one chest exercise to carve out a titanic chest pecs that you see on the statue of a Greek god, the Hulk or a mythological beast, it would be chest dips. Not the bench press, not pushups, and certainly not dumbbell flys. Chest dips work the entire upper body; really give you that hormonal boost you need to grow muscle.
(i) Place your hands on the bars and push yourself up with both of your arms until your elbows are locked. Cross your legs back with your knees bent, core tight, and hamstrings and glutes braced.
(ii) Lower yourself down in a controlled fashion whilst breathing in with your torso slightly leaning forward (try to maintain your body at approximately a 30-degree angle to the ground) and elbows slightly pointing out. Go down until your shoulders are lower than your elbows, or you feel a good stretch across the chest. Listen to your body and don’t push through shoulder pain.
(iii) Once you feel the stretch in your chest push your body back up, as your breathe out, by extending your elbows to 180 degrees for a full range of motion.
(i) Begin with a small range of motion and listen to your body to determine how deep you can go. Try to do a full range of motion, but not at the risk of injury.
(ii) When you become more advanced at dips try adding a weight via chains or a belt to make it harder.
5. Pushups With Feet On Exercise Ball: While all push-ups activate the muscles in the chest, there are certain push-ups that have higher chest muscle recruitment than others. According to a study performed by the American Council on Exercise, suspended push-ups had the highest pectoral recruitment, with push-ups performed on a stability ball coming in second for pectoral activation and regular push-ups coming in third.
(i) Lie on the floor face down and place your hands about 36 inches apart from each other holding your torso up at arms length.
(ii) Place your toes on top of an exercise ball. This will allow your body to be elevated.
(iii) Lower yourself until your chest almost touches the floor as you inhale.
(iv) Using your pectoral muscles, press your upper body back up to the starting position and squeeze your chest. Breathe out as you perform this step.
(v) After a second pause at the contracted position, repeat the movement for the prescribed amount of repetitions.
(i) Alternatively, you can perform this exercise use a flat bench to elevate your body instead of an exercise ball.
(ii) In a study at Indiana University of Pennsylvania incorporated a BOSU ball and TRX equipment with a push-up, and it was found:
(a) The BOSU ball recruited 41.6 percent greater muscle activation than the traditional push-up.
(b) The TRX recruited 91.6 percent greater muscle activation than the traditional push-up.
(iii) Another great pushups chest version is regular weighted pushups.
Give this training technique a shot at the end of your next chest workout, and let us know how it goes in the comments below! Feel free to share your tweaks and favorite chest finishing moves, as well.