Most of us have our own go-to chest exercises that we either know, like and and stick to. But when was the last time you asked if what you’re doing right now is actually working for you. Add some variety and see if there are some better options. Try these cruel cruel and unusual chest exercises.
1 // Low Incline Guillotine Press
The Guillotine Press is similar to the bench press, except you lower the bar down to your lower neck area. A wider grip than normal is also used to maximise pectoral muscle recruitment. This exercise can be done on the flat bench, but using a low incline instead really does make a big difference.
Lowering the bar towards your neck allows a greater range of motion and deeper stretch in the bottom position of the press. Taking your chest in to this deep loaded stretch causes a large build-up of mechanical tension. This ultimately leads to more muscle growth. Indeed, the crazy next-day soreness you get from these make them worthwhile.
- Take a grip wider than your normal bench press position, and lower the bar under control.
- Performing slow eccentric repetitions for 4 seconds on the way down can make this exercise more effective, and focus on the stretch at the bottom.
- Use a medium load that can allow you to get 10-15 repetitions, as this exercise works best in a higher rep range or longer time under tension.
2 // Eccentric Dumbbell Flye
Essentially this exercise is a press during the concentric portion and a flye on the eccentric/lowering phase. This allows you to use more weight than what you typically could during a normal dumbbell flye. As a result these overload the eccentric portion of the exercise.
Overloading the eccentric phase with additional weight causes a large amount of mechanical tension, as well as muscle tissue breakdown. Both activate key mechanisms responsible for making those pecs pop.
- Pick a weight about 20% greater than what you would typically use for a dumbbell flye for the same amount of repetitions.
- Perform the eccentric for 2-4 seconds, with the concentric press being around 1 second. Focus on the stretch at the bottom, and keep a slight bend in your elbows throughout the flye movement.
- This can be done effectively on a decline, flat or incline bench depending on the area of the chest you’re targeting.
3 // Far-Away Cable Flye
Like a traditional standing cable flye, however by making a few minor changes to it we make the exercise a completely different animal – and you won’t be sorry for trying it.
If you have trouble ‘feeling’ your chest working during a training session then definitely give this exercise a try! The flye motion is from a high to low angle making this exercise a good candidate for lower chest development.
The sternal portion of your pectoral muscles creates that nice full shape and can have a big impact with your top off. By laying on a bench this variation really isolates the chest, taking out muscles that would otherwise assist. These are one of the best chest isolators around.
- This exercise can be done first in a training session, to develop that ‘mind-muscle’ connection and pre-fatigue your chest prior to moving on to more compound, multi-joint exercises. Or it can be used towards the end to really isolate your chest after a few heavier exercises.
- Choose a moderate weight that you can get multiple sets of 10-20 repetitions with, focus on the quality of each repetition, and squeeze on every rep. It’s a deep burn!
4 // Banded Machine Chest Press
For all those ‘functional training’ people out there that believe machines were invented by the Devil, I’d say ask yourself the question what are you training for? If you want to achieve some muscle growth then machines can often come in very handy, and when you feel like you haven’t got any more to give in workout it can be a good safe option to finish you off!
Most gyms should have some form of chest press machine. By wrapping a red or blue strength band around the back of the machine and on to the weights bar, an ordinary machine can become a super machine.
Adding a high quality resistance band to a chest press machine allows you to be able to compensate for what should be the stronger portion of the exercise; the top two-thirds, by increasing the resistance during this portion. You’re therefore not limited by your lack of strength during the stretched position off your chest, and pectoral muscle recruitment can be maximized throughout the entire movement.
- This is an advanced method of training, and should only be used with some experience. Resistance bands come in a variety of strengths.
- You should choose a moderate resistance, and something that adds around an additional 10-20% on top of the weights you have on the bar. Be sure that the bands you buy are also the right length, and fit the chest press machine at your gym. Multiple sets of 8-12 repetitions work the best for this exercise.
- Aim to ‘power’ through the strength of the resistance band, and resist allowing it to pull you back.
This type of training is referred to as Variable Resistance Training, and can be useful for this purpose, as well as developing strength and power during certain movements, by adding resistance during the stronger portions of an exercise!
5 // Slider Press-Flye Combo
If you haven’t got a pair of core sliders in your gym bag then go and buy a pair. They’re so cheap and versatile, and can inject a bit of life in to your training routine, plus it would mean that you could perform this exercise.
If you think push-ups are easy then this exercise is for you. To be able to get in to double-digit reps with this exercise, nose to floor every time would be impressive. The Slider Press-Flye Combo is essentially a push-up on one side and a flye on the other.
It provides all the great benefits of both exercises, plus the bonus of the additional core work whilst you’re doing it. Therefore this exercise works as a great finisher towards the back end of your chest training session.
- Sliders work best on carpet, but studio flooring also works.
- Multiple sets of high repetitions, or as many as you can handle, work best for this exercise.
- You should include this exercise towards the end of your session as a final way to finish off your chest and get a great pump.