Chest training is arguably one of the favourite muscle groups for aspiring bodybuilders to train. Most chest workouts revolve around bench pressing, but there are a number of chest exercises out there that you probably haven’t tried before. In this article we’ll be taking a look at five unusual chest exercises that you can do to bring something different to your chest training and stimulate muscle growth.
#1 Reverse Grip Bench Press
This movement is very similar to the regular flat bench press, but instead of taking a regular grip of the bar, you take a reverse grip. Gripping the bar in this way shifts the focus of the exercise towards your upper pectorals. Make sure to take a relatively wide grip on the bar to stimulate your chest muscles. Gripping the bar too narrow will result in you working your triceps more than your chest.
When completing a repetition, be explosive in the upward movement and slow and controlled as you return the weight to the starting position. You should aim to stop a centimetre above your chest before starting another rep to maximise time under tension.
#2 Single Arm Hammer Strength Chest Press
To do this exercise your gym will need to have a Hammer Strength chest machine. This machine is great for targeting your chest. One of the main benefits of the Hammer Strength is that each side of your body works independently of each other, isolating the right and left of your chest.
When performing the bench press with a barbell your stronger side can dominate the movement, even without you realising it. The Hammer Strength machine means that your stronger side cannot take a great portion of the load, forcing you to work each side of your chest equally.
The single arm Hammer Strength chest press is an even greater way to isolate your pectoral muscles because you will target each side of your chest separately. Instead of sitting straight on, take a seat sideways on, and then perform the exercise. You’ll notice that you will be targeting your chest from a different angle, as you will be pushing the weight across your body as opposed to away from it.
You can use your free hand to grip the seat of the machine to keep you steady, especially if you’re lifting heavy. Make sure to explosively push the weight on the eccentric movement and slowly return the weight to the starting position during the concentric movement.
#3 Partial Reps Bench Press
When performing the regular bench press, the part of the movement that causes most people to fatigue quickly is the lower half of the movement; the point at which you hold the weight just above your chest before pushing the weight back up. To perform partial reps, make use of the power rack at your gym and set the safety bars slightly higher. This means you will lift the weight over a shorter range of motion and in the range of motion where you are strongest.
You will be able to lift much heavier weights than if you were doing a regular bench press, which will help to recruit more muscle fibres.
It is important to note that partial reps bench press should not replace regular bench pressing, as it is still important to work the lower portion of the range of motion, but this is a great variation exercise, which is certainly worth a try.
#4 Incline Bench Cable Fly
The cable fly is a great way to target your chest and it is often performed standing up, however this can often lead to other muscle groups, such as your shoulders, becoming involved in the movement, taking the tension of your chest.
To overcome this problem, set up an incline bench in between the cables. Lie on the bench with your back pressed against it, take the cables in your hands and perform cable flies whilst lying on the bench. Using the bench will isolate your chest muscles and ensure that your chest is doing the work. Make sure to squeeze at the top of the movement and slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
#5 Incline Dumbbell Pull Over
You may have already performed the dumbbell pull over exercise, but probably on a flat bench. It is a great exercise for targeting the chest. It can also be performed on an incline bench, which will actually place more focus on your chest and less on your lats. If you have been performing the dumbbell pull over, but struggling to target your chest, then this is a variation you should certainly try.
To perform this exercise, set the bench at an incline of around 30-45 degrees. Take your position with your back to the bench and then extend your arms over your head, keeping them as straight as possible, with a very slight bend in your elbows to avoid injury. The weight will naturally pull your arms back, so make sure to control this movement and lower the weight slowly. As you lower the weight back you should feel the tension in your chest build. Make sure to feel a good contraction before returning the weight to the starting position.
This is a great exercise to do as a finisher to your chest workout.
Enhance Your Chest Workouts
If you have started to feel that your chest workouts have become stagnated, a bit boring or are simply no longer delivering the results you want, then why not try some of these chest exercise variations to add something different to your workouts. You may just find the exercise that transforms your chest training.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alex Genzel is passionate about health and fitness having been involved in a number of competitive sports from an early age. He has been writing about sports nutrition and training for a number of years, alongside pursuing his passion for bodybuilding and desire to become a certified personal trainer. As well as writing for BULK POWDERS® Alex also has his own blog where he shares his training experiences and advice on supplements.