Chest

Flat Bench Barbell Press

Exercise Advice: This should be considered a compound exercise. Position yourself on a regular free weight flat bench with a barbell across its supports. Lie flat on your back and grab the barbell above you with a grip slightly beyond shoulder width apart. Lift the barbell off of the rack and slowly lower it to about 3 inches above your chest and then press the bar back to the start position. Try not to touch the bar to your chest, this causes unnecessary stress on your shoulder joints and robs the tension from your pecs, which is where we want to be focusing our efforts. Make sure when you lower the bar that you do so in a slow and controlled fashion. Conversely, when you press the bar upward, you want to do so in an explosive fashion

TIP Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you press the bar up. This will minimize the distance the bar has to travel as well as help place more tension on the pecs.

Incline Bench Barbell Pressincline bench press

Exercise Advice: This should be considered a compound exercise. This exercise is very similar to the regular barbell bench press except that you will be using an incline free weight bench with supports and your upper chest will be the muscle group worked instead of your middle chest. Lift the barbell off of the rack and slowly lower it to just above your collarbone (just below your Adam’s apple) and then press the bar back to the start position. Be sure that when you are lowering the bar that you do so in a slow and controlled fashion. And remember when you press the bar upward, you want to do it in an explosive manner.

TIP Don’t allow your lower back to come off the bench at any point. This will decrease the angle of the incline and de-emphasize the upper pecs, the area you’re trying to target.

 

Decline Bench Barbell Press

Exercise Advice: Lie back face up on a decline bench with barbell supports and grab the barbell above you with a grip that is slightly beyond shoulder width apart. Lift the barbell from the rack and slowly lower it to your chest and then press the bar back to the start position. Because of the angle of this exercise, touching the bar to your chest is actually ok with this exercise as doing so does not cause unneeded stress on your shoulders nor does it take the emphasis away from your pecs. Be sure that when you are lowering the bar that you do so in a slow and controlled fashion, again when you press the bar upward you want to do so explosively.

TIP This is a short movement so you can go heavy, but keep your back flat and use a spotter if you go heavy.

 

Flat Bench Dumbbell Press

Exercise Advice: Lie flat on your back on a free standing flat bench. Have a spotter hand you each dumbbell.  Starting in the top position with your arms extended above you palms neutral, slowly lower the weight under control until the dumbbells come down just outside and above your shoulders. To finish the rep press them upward and together explosively.

TIP Try turning your palms towards each other at the top for a little extra crunch.

 

Incline Dumbbell Pressincline dumbbell press

Exercise Advice: This is exactly the same as the flat bench dumbbell press with the same precautions, however this time we incline the bench to about 30 degrees. More or less than 30 degrees will hit the middle of the pec or recruit the front delts, but the angle is ultimately up to you.

TIP BE CAREFUL

Decline Dumbbell Press

Exercise Advice: This should be considered a compound exercise. This exercise is very similar to the decline barbell bench press, except that you will be using dumbbells instead of barbells and you will use a free standing decline bench instead of a regular decline press bench with supports. Position yourself on the decline bench, flat on your back. Have a spotter hand you each dumbbell and slowly press them upward and together. Be sure that when you are lowering the dumbbells you do so in a slow and controlled fashion. Reverse this when you press them upward, you want to do this in R an explosive fashion. Remember to always try to use a spotter when performing this and most other free weight exercises.

TIP Keep the upper arms at 45-degree angles to the body to minimize stress on the shoulders.

 

Flat Bench Dumbbell Flyesflat bench flyes

Exercise Advice: This should be considered an isolation exercise. This exercise is very similar to both the decline dumbbell flyes and the Butterflies. Position yourself on a free standing flat bench, flat on your back. Start with the weights together palms facing at arms length above you with a slight bend in the elbow. At the bottom of the movement your arms should be stretched out to your sides with your elbows slightly bent and your palms facing upward. When you lift the dumbbells up together, visualize hugging a giant tree trunk. At the peak of the movement, really squeeze your pecs together for a one-count. When returning to the bottom position be sure to lower the dumbbells in a slow and controlled manner.

TIP Keep the slight bend in your elbow throughout, especially the top phase, it maintains the tension on the pecs, remember it’s a flye not a press. Change the emphasis with inclines and declines, cables and machines.

 

Cable Crossovers

Exercise Advice: This should be considered a crossover between isolation and compound exercises. This exercise is performed using the cable pulley machine that has a pulley on two opposite sides. Set each pulley up so that it is locked in the high position (if you are not sure how to do this, ask a trainer at the gym you workout at to assist you). While standing, grab each high pulley using a stirrup handle attachment with each hand. The position your body will be in will look like a giant letter “T.” Slowly bring your arms together in a slow and controlled fashion. While doing so, visualize that you are hugging a giant tree trunk.

TIP At the peak of this movement, really flex your pec muscles together for a one count and then return to the start position and repeat. Keep a slight bend in your elbow throughout.

Pec Deck Butterflies

Exercise Advice: Using a Pec Deck machine, seat yourself accordingly by adjusting the height and reach to target the middle of the chest without over reaching. Perform the exercise by squeezing your forearms and elbows in together so that you virtually touch them together at the peak of the movement. Be sure to really squeeze your pecs at the peak of this movement for a one-count. Return to the start position and repeat.

TIP This is a very demanding exercise if done strictly but some would argue it’s not a mass builder?

PRESS UPS

classic press up

The humble press-up. Used by militaries all over the world to get their soldiers in fighting condition and secondary school P.E. teachers to get children fit. The press-up is the ultimate bodyweight exercise. It requires no special equipment and can be done anywhere, anytime. The press-up often gets overlooked because many men find it too simple or too boring to perform and many women find it too difficult to begin with, by changing your hand and feet positions and adding in a few twists, the press-up becomes a versatile muscle builder and toner that you will leave you wondering how you did without it.

Hands elevated press up
If you struggle to perform a standard pres-up and knee press-ups are too easy, try this one as a trade off between the two. Elevating your hands makes the push-up easier. Place your hands on an elevated surface like a park bench or even a counter top. Place feet on the ground. Perform press-up.

Standard press up.
It’s the one you’ve been doing since your days at secondary school. The standard press-up works your chest and shoulder muscles. Lie down on the floor face down with your feet close together. Place your hands shoulder width apart. While maintaining a straight body, lower yourself down until your chest touches the ground. Push yourself up. That’s one rep. Once you mastered this technique it’s time to expand your press up repertoire.

The perfect press up

Wide grip press up
The wide grip press-up puts more emphasis on your chest. Place your hands wider than shoulder width apart and perform a press-up.

Diamond press up
The diamond press-up is a triceps killer. Place your hands together so they form a diamond shape between your touching thumbs and index fingers. You can either put your hands underneath your chest or your head to hit different muscles. Once your hands are in place, perform a press-up. These are hard!

Feet elevated press up
Elevating your feet from the ground will work your shoulders more when you perform a press-up. Put your feet on an elevated surface. A bed or a park bench works well. Place your hands on the ground. Perform a press-up.

There are lots of other techniques such as the tiger press up and the hindu technique but to be quite honest if the press ups described above become too easy you should be getting down to the gym more.

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