5 Unique Chest Exercises
A lot of people come to the gym and whine about having small pecs, lack of strength, and complain about having a pathetic bench press. These athletes are wondering how they can increase the size of their pecs and increase the amount of weight on the bar when bench pressing in all its variations. There are a lot of factors that go into play here.
One factor is that the athlete needs to get stronger in the upper body. They need stronger pecs. Getting stronger from the anterior perspective, the athlete can grow. The stronger the athlete is the bigger the muscular hypertrophy that can be obtained. It is important to understand that increasing strength is paramount, but also recognize that people who struggle with coordination in the pecs need to do pre-fatigue exercises to increase coordination when performing movements that can really stimulate growth in the chest.
Just know that pre-fatigue means doing a simple isolation movement for an area that will be followed up by a big compound movement. Athletes want a slight bit of fatigue and tension, give thirty seconds of recovery, and then get on the big lift and stimulate some serious sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.
5. Powerlastic Band Standing Flies & Slowed Down Bench Press
For chest growth, wrap the Powerlastic band around an immovable object. Now do the banded flies standing. Have the band wrapped right around the elbows around the upper arm. Perform the fly and really squeeze the fists together at the front to feel the movement in the interior pecs, right around the sternum. As the movement continues and the flies get deeper, the movement will be felt in the external pecs.
A lot of flies depend on what the humerus is doing. People forget that the humerus is a key factor behind how much lengthening we can get out of the pecs. Getting the humerus nice and deep will lengthen the pecs and do an ample job of initiating the needed pre-fatigue.
Perform ten reps, rest around thirty seconds, and then proceed to the compound movement.
Play around with bench press grip. We recommend not going super wide because it puts a lot of stress on the shoulders. Perform a nice, slow eccentric focusing on the shoulder blades squeezing the bench, noticing where the humerus is located to get a good pec pump.
Try to hit ten reps for two to three sets. Remember that the pre-fatigue will help target the muscles for growth and help develop size in the musculature.
4. Powerlastic Band Incline Flies & Incline Dumbbell Flies
This movement is awesome. We recommend doing this movement being performed by coming up from the bottom to target the pec minor and major. Going from the top is mainly the pec major. It really depends on where a person struggles to feel what their chest is doing. Hit ten reps and then for twenty seconds.
Now pick up some dumbbells and perform some dumbbell flies. Think about hugging a large tree while performing the movement. It is best to have the eyes looking straight up at the ceiling. The big thing here is that the dumbbells will cause the stretch in the deep position. The bands will create the most tension at the top, full range.
The combination of the two movements being super-setted together leads to a great pec pump and chest growth.
Go ahead and do three sets of the incline dumbbell flies for ten reps, just make sure to proceed them with the banded incline flies.
3. Dumbbell Fly Press
A lot of kids who struggle with bringing the dumbbells back as they lay onto to the bench, who need someone to pick the dumbbells up for them, indicate they have extremely weak pecs.
This movement calls for a narrow distance between the dumbbells for the eccentric and then cranks the dumbbells out a little bit to perform a fly press. Thus the dumbbell fly presses.
Start in the bottom position and move the dumbbells out a little bit and then press. At the top end, bring the dumbbells in slightly and come down nice and slow to overload the triceps. As the dumbbells reach the chest have them come out to a fly into a press. This will help with the lockout in the bench and will also help improve coordination to lead to bigger chest growth, stronger pecs, shoulder girdle, and overall pressing capabilities.
This movement can be performed for five sets of eight to twelve reps.
2. Ring Push Ups & Gorilla Push-Ups
The absolute best way to light up the chest is by combining an explosive movement in conjunction with a movement that demands more stability.
That’s why we will start off with ring push-ups. Ring push-ups are more unstable which will result in the body recruiting more high threshold motor units from the prime movers a lot quicker. The trunk will be flexed as well to provide more stability. Make sure to go nice and deep and squeeze at the top.
With the rings, we can get a deeper range of motion. There is no need to have the rings super low. Have them at a position where it can hit the pec minor as well as the pec major. Make sure to squeeze at the top. Do anywhere from six to ten reps and then rest for twenty to thirty seconds.
We like to use an implement to jump over when doing gorilla push-ups. A rope works fine. The whole goal with gorilla push-ups is to be explosive while going on a side-to-side angle. When catching, we have to decelerate and change direction off of each pec going side-to-side. This makes the muscles more explosive and has the body fully recruiting high threshold motor units.
Again, do six to ten reps. The combination of these two movements will create a serious chest pump. Go ahead and do anywhere from three to five sets of this combination of movements.
Utilizing pre-fatigue goes a long way in developing strength and increasing muscle size. Bands are great tools to pre-fatigue a muscle before picking up the weights to execute compound movements. Additionally, we want to train the body to recruit the maximum amount of high threshold motor units to trigger a powerful, explosive strength response. Performing the movements above, like the banded flies, the slow downed bench press, incline dumbbell flies, gorilla push-ups, ring push-ups, and the dumbbell fly press are all great exercises to increase strength and achieve that all too real swole feel of the sarcoplasmic pump.
Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of clients on building comprehensive programs for fitness and nutrition. Several times a year he leads a workshop for coaches, trainers, and fitness enthusiasts.