We all have our go-to chest exercises we love to revisit. But, when your results are stagnating doing the same things over and over again just aren’t going to cut it.
The TRX and other Suspension Trainers are highly versatile and effective pieces of kit. Not only are they portable enabling you to workout at the gym, at home or even outdoors, but studies have shown them to be highly effective too.
Specifically, studies have shown some TRX Chest Exercises to be more effective than their bodyweight equivalents in increasing pectoral muscle recruitment, while also achieving higher levels of core activation!
Here are some effective ways to incorporate a TRX in your next chest training session to build bigger pecs.
1 // Eccentric TRX Chest Flye
The Eccentric TRX Chest Flye combines the muscle-building benefits of eccentrics, with the chest-isolating ability of flyes. During the concentric (lifting) portion of the exercise you’re performing a strict Push-Up, whilst on the Eccentric (lowering) portion you’re transitioning to a Flye-type movement.
Why it works
Your eccentric strength can typically be up to 30-40% greater than your concentric strength. By performing an ‘easier’ chest exercise during the concentric part of the movement, and transitioning to a Flye during the downward phase, you’ll be overloading the eccentric portion in a unique way.
Overloading the eccentric part of a movement provides a significant growth stimulus, caused through a high amount of mechanical stress and tissue breakdown.
2 // TRX Pike Push-Up
The upper pectoral muscles – known as the Clavicular Pectorals – are optimally worked at pressing angles around 30-45 degrees. By elevating your hips above chest height you’re able to create and angle that will recruit both your upper pec fibers and shoulders.
Why it works
The pike position provides a significant challenge to your core musculature, while the incline pressing angle effectively recruits your upper pec and deltoid muscles. The pressing angle also does a great job at activating the serratus anterior and training scapular upward rotation. So, for overall shoulder health and balance a good option.
Tip: Just be sure to keep your hips stable and locked in to position throughout the movement, lead with your forehead or nose to the floor, and on the way up allow for a full range of motion and upward rotation of the scapula.
3 // TRX Chest Press-Flye Combo
The TRX Chest Press-Flye Combo is one of those exercises that you HAVE to try. Once you do, you’ll get a better understanding of exactly why I decided to include it in this list of best TRX chest exercises.
Why these work
The TRX Chest 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 combined, plus the bonus of the additional core work whilst holding the Plank-like position throughout – Push-Ups are just moving planks, after all.
This exercise works great as a finisher towards the back-end of your chest workout. Start with 2-3 sets of 5-10 reps on each arm.
Tip: If you struggle doing these on your feet then start on your knees. Alternatively you can shorten the TRX and start from a more upright standing position.
4 // Reach-Out TRX Chest Press
Don’t knock this one before you try it! The Reach-Out TRX Chest Press may look a little funky, but there’s a method in the madness.
Why it works
As you lower yourself down to the bottom of the movement you’re going to hold a challenging isometric position. It’s this isometric position that adds to the effectiveness of this TRX chest builder.
Isometric positions cause a small amount of blood flow restriction and metabolic stress, causing a cascade of events including the release of anabolic hormones.
The isometric position is held whilst one hand reaches out towards the side. This adds to the challenge for both your chest and rotational stability.
Tip: Set the TRX a little higher than what you normally would during a Press-up-type exercise.
5 // The Suspended Grappler
Where the majority of TRX Chest exercises tend to apply the most resistance in a ‘stretched’ chest position (e.g., at the bottom of a Flye), the Suspended Grappler applies a large amount of resistance in the fully contracted position.
Why it works
Give yourself a big hug and pinch your pecs together. See how easy that it? Thats because you’re taking your middle pec fibers to a shortened position. Now imagine loading that at the same time. Enter the Suspension Grappler.
The intense squeeze you get here is hard to explain, and not like many other exercises. Because of the ability to contract hard you get a lot of localized blood flow and a nice little pump on. As we’ve mentioned before this kind of stress activates some key mechanisms responsible for building muscle.
The Grappler is also useful for those athletes involved in, you guessed it, grappling! Martial artists, rugby players and the like would all benefit from its transfer to grappling-like actions.
Higher repetitions work best for these, focus more on the squeeze rather than just busting out as many reps as you can. Don’t use your body for momentum, and focus on quality of movement over quantity!
6 // The TRX Chest Finisher!
This exercise – or lethal combination of exercises – does exactly what it says on the tin. This method is what’s referred to as a ‘Mechanical Drop-Set’. Simply, you’ll go from your hardest chest exercise to a slightly easier version of the same exercise. The ‘drop’ is via a change in leverage factors rather than weight.
Why it works
You’ll go straight from a Flye, to a Push-Up, to a Push-Up on Knees. The aim is to grind out as many reps as you can in each movement. Since the Flye is the hardest, followed by the Push-Up, then the Push-Up on your knees, you’re able to keep going and acres a bunch of volume for your chest.
Tip: If you don’t have a TRX then this drop-set works amazingly well with some core sliders and your own bodyweight.
TRX exercises offer some fun and variety to your chest workouts. Use these as part of your bodyweight workouts to build a bigger chest, of after your dumbbell and barbell exercises as a finisher-type exercise for stronger and and more stable shoulders.
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Also known as “The Fitness Maverick”, Gareth specializes in smarter training techniques to get you strong and looking great naked year round!