We’ve all been there. You’re training chest. You’ve got to the gym and your ready and raring to go. You get to the free weights section of the gym and it’s rammed. It’s so busy there’s no spare bench. It seems like every dumbbell and barbell is being used.
Do you want to be able to train your chest without having to rely or use free weights such as dumbbells and the bench presses? Well its actually very easy to do so using machines and you can still achieve fantastic results just as you would from free weights. The difference between free weights and machines is purely preference for the person exercising. However, many machines do offer an advantage simply due to the fact they do not require a spotter to assist with any movement and you cannot cause injury to yourself by dropping the weight on yourself if you do workout until failure on each set.
Many machines also offer a variety of different ways to target your chest beyond what most people know. Here’s my example of a chest workout using only machines.
1. Chest Press Machine
If you have a standard chest press/flat bench machine this is the one you want to use. Sit with the seat at a position in which your upper chest is at the height of the handles. You will want the back pad seated around a few inches behind the handles so the handles are essentially at chest position and everything is in line. Start in this seated position and your hands will begin right around the position as if you were using a bar and if you were the bar would be touching your chest. Push the machine forward until you are almost extended fully, and slowly release back to starting position. Perform this for 5-6 sets of around 10 reps or so. You want to go as heavy as possible on this exercise and really focus on the squeeze in the chest.
2. Pec Dec Machine
This is also a seated machine similar to the Chest Press Machine. However, instead of a press, it’s a Fly motion. This machine has the same seat set up, but instead of pushing 2 handles forward off the chest, you will bring the 2 handles from the widest position possible, forward until your hands are basically touching or the handles can touch. This is the same motion as performing a fly using dumbbells so the same basics apply. Squeeze the contraction when the handles are touching and hold for 1-2 seconds. Slowly release for around 4 seconds or so. When you release back to starting position, eliminate inertia by pausing for 1 second before pushing for the next rep.
3. Upper Chest Pec Dec Machine
This is a tip I love to give that many people haven’t thought about. The same rules as I just mentioned for the standard pec Dec apply, however, the position will alter in one slight way. When you are seated, simply tip your head forward or lower your head down so your head is basically hanging in front of your chest. By doing this, you shift the chest fibers slightly and with each rep performed this way, you will target the upper chest over the lower chest. Perform this with the same reps and tempo as previously mentioned.
Using either a dip bar or an assisted dip machine or even a weight belt on the dip bar, dips are one of the best upper chest exercises one can perform. Start in a standard dip position, but make sure you tilt/lean your body forward slightly.. By leaning forward, you remove the weight from your triceps to target mostly the chest. Make sure to lower yourself all the way down so your chest is at level with your hands, pause and push up and repeat. Go slow to keep the tension the entire time on the chest and squeeze at the top. Perform for around 4-5 sets of failure with a minimum target of around 10 reps. If you are able to perform 15-20 reps with ease, I recommend adding weight using a weight belt. If you are unable to perform 10 reps, use the assisted dip machine to aid in making the weight load decrease from body weight.
5. Push Up
Simply perform this in any way you desire and try to aim for around 4 sets of either 50 reps of 4 sets of failure. Essentially, this exercise is to be performed at the end of the workout at a high rep total to engage the muscle even further to drive it to fatigue as best as possible. If the 50 reps are way too easy for you, try performing the reps slower. Decrease tempo and go slow on the downward motion for around a 3 second negative for each of the 50 reps or until you can no longer push yourself up off the floor.
Take Home Message
There you have it. A simple and very effective chest workout that doesn’t require any free weights whatsoever. Using only machines and bodyweight exercises still means you are able to activate your chest and achieve fantastic results. The advantage of not using free weights is you no longer need a spotter or someone to assist with helping in case the weight load gets stuck and can result in the possibility of dropping the weight on yourself which can cause serious injury.
Of course, this doesn’t mean I’m saying don’t do free weights, but it is always good to mix up your workouts, so give it a try and see what you think.