The Little Black Book of Chest Exercises
Everybody loves chest day, especially if it’s Monday. Break out of the bench-press pack with 6 variations of common chest exercises that’ll help add pounds of new muscle on your pecs.
Power-Rack Bench Press
POWER POINTER: This is simply a bench press done with a very short range of motion over the top third of the movement. Doing it in the power rack limits the bottom of the range of motion. Because you’re doing the movement above the sticking point, you can actually use heavier weights instead of full range-of-motion benching, which increases the neural stimulus to recruit additional muscle fibers.
TARGET AREA: Mid-chest primarily; front delts and triceps secondarily
IN YOUR ROUTINE: Do this first or second in your workout. You can do full-range benches first, and then do three sets of partials for six reps using a very heavy weight.
BEST SUBSTITUTE: Smith-machine partial flat-bench press
INTENSITY BOOSTER: Try reverse movements, beginning each rep with the bar resting on the safeties. Much like you would do with a deadlift, let the bar settle after the negative rep, resting it for a second to release the built-up negative energy. That makes the concentric portion much harder.
SET-UP: Set the safety bars in the power rack about 2/3 the way up from the bottom of your range of motion so that you’re benching just 4–5 inches. After warming up, load up the bar; you can safely use as much as 20% more than your full-range one-rep max. The next time you use this technique, move the safety bars down one notch on the power rack so that you’re increasing the range of motion slightly each workout.
POSITION: Center a flat bench in the power rack. Lie back squarely on the bench, feet flat and wide on the floor.
FORM: Maintain a big chest throughout. As the bar approaches your chest, your shoulder blades should retract, swelling your pecs.
GRIP: Grasp the bar out wide, well outside shoulder width. You want your forearms to be perpendicular to the floor when the bar’s in the down position.
EXECUTION: Lower the bar under control just a few inches. Without allowing it to touch the safeties, smoothly reverse direction and power to full-arm extension.