There’s much more to chest day than the bench press. Don’t get us wrong: its status as your number one pec-builder is secure. But to bulk up your upper body faster and more effectively, variety is key. We asked celebrity personal trainer Scott Laidler to pick the half dozen moves you need to supercharge muscle growth up top. Chop and change with your regular workout – or combine all six moves into a single savage routine.
Barbell Bench Press – The classics are there for a reason, but a common mistake is to struggle through your sets with too much weight. “It’s important not to get into the ‘how much do you bench?’ trap,” says Laidler. “Always opt for good technique and a weight that allows you control as well as a full range of motion.” Keep the bench – you’ll need it later.
Incline Bench Cable Fly – Everyone does cable flys, but few perform them on an incline bench, which isolates your chest further. “Cables are great because they allow your muscles to be under tension throughout the movement,” says Laidler. Never allow the weights to touch down and keep your reps slow. You’ll be cursing us tomorrow, but thanking us next week.
Incline DB Bench Press – While the barbell is best for overall strength, shifting a single piece of iron can mask muscular imbalances. And pressing dumbbells also helps improve your form for all benching moves. “The varying angles your body covers with this move allows you to stimulate the muscle in a more thorough way,” says Laidler. If you find your form faltering under less weight than you’d normally shift with a barbell, the dumbbells are doing their job.
Decline Bench Press – “Probably the least used bench variation, the decline barbell bench press allows you to hit your lower chest and draw your back and triceps heavily into the movement,” says Laidler. “This is useful for those interested in powerlifting-style bench strength.” If you’re concentrating on pure strength, stack the weight a bit higher and aim for fewer reps.
Dips For Chest – You can take yur leave of the bench now. Lean into this classic body weight exercise to shift the focus from your triceps to your chest as you lower. “Perform with your own body weight or add a weighted belt,” suggests Laidler. A dip into body weight territory will pay dividends in the mirror.
Press-Up – There’s almost infinite variations of this favourite, but whether you try close-grip, wide-grip, military or spiderman, Laidler advises setting a timer and trying to hit a certain number like 50 (or 100) as fast as you can. Take as much or as little rest as you need to reach your target. Just don’t give up until you get there.