With so many gym-goers heading straight for the flat bench and barbell on Monday – the official ‘International Chest Day’ – you should be planning out the rest of what comes after the bench press.
Having the big, compound lifts are a must within your routine, but secondary movements are just as important with muscle building is concerned. The following exercises will take you beyond the conventional movements you are normally used to hitting on chest day to increase your pec growth!
One-Arm Dumbbell Bench Press
After smashing some bench press, you are then able to focus on parts of the chest more efficiently because of already fatiguing the full chest with the multi-joint movement.
The one-arm dumbbell bench press allows you to hit the medial portion of the chest with a lot more focus because of the one-arm movement. This also allows you to hit all of the secondary muscles or supporting muscles in the shoulder joint and core because of holding the other dumbbell.
a) Set up a flat bench, grab a set of dumbbells and in elevate arms straight above the chest – this is your starting position
b) Keeping one arm straight, begin the normal bench press movement with the other arm
c) Perform all reps on one arm and then switch arms
Sets and Reps: 4 x 10
TOP TIP:Alternate sets on which arm will start the movement first. So for example, start with left arm straight and locked on first and third sets, and then right arm on second and fourth sets. This way we’re continuing to balance the muscles being worked throughout these sets.
The cable crossover may be one of the best exercises to focus solely on the chest flex and squeeze.
Want to bring out the striations of the chest? Want to focus on that upper pec development to look good in a v-neck t-shirt? Get on this exercise and switch it up with different grips and positions to activate different portions of the pec.
a) Set up a pulley cable machine and start in upright position – lean slightly forward and stick the chest out to start the movement
b) Keep the elbows and shoulders locked in the same position and press down like a dumbbell fly motion
c) Press the movement straight out in front of you emulating the dumbbell fly movement
d) Squeeze and contract the chest then slowly return back to starting position
Sets and Reps: 4 x 14-16
TOP TIP:I like to go lighter on these and really focus on the squeeze and contraction of the different parts of the pec muscle.
– Move the cables up to the highest notch and press down to work on the lower to outer portion of the pecs.
– Put the cables all the way to the bottom and have the hands on the underneath portion of the cable handles to push up to eye level and work the upper part of the chest.
Decline Dumbbell Flyes
The v-taper physique is probably something we’re all familiar with. We know it takes big shoulder and a wide back – but what about the front of your frame?
The lower and outer portion of the pectoral muscle actually provides the width to the front of your body that gives the big upper body and small waist illusion. Dips are also great exercise that hits the lower portion of the chest, but to really emphasize it – the decline dumbbell fly is an excellent exercise!
a) Set up a decline bench and select a set of dumbbells about the same as regular chest fly
b) Keeping the elbows slightly bent throughout the movement, slowly lower the weight to where each hand is about eye level
c) Feel the deep stretch through the lower portion of the pec and press the weight back to the top
d) Squeeze for a good one-count and repeat the movement
Sets and Reps: 4 x 10-12
TOP TIP:Feeling like your strength is slipping towards the end of the workout? Sipping BCAA’s and supplementing with creatine will help combat the feeling of muscle fatigue to propel you through the rest of your workout!
Take Home Message
With knowing now that there’s more to International Chest Day than just bench press, you can now attack the gym with a better knowledge of how to work the chest.
Not only that, but you will be able to build a more balanced chest by working isolation movements that compliment the upper, middle, lower and outer portion of the pecs.
Hit the gym next chest day and get to building a balloon chest!