One of your main training goals is to pack on muscle – especially on your chest. Let’s face it; a well-developed chest is one of the hallmarks of a great physique. Even under a t-shirt the chest exudes masculinity, power and self-confidence. Having such a reputation begs that your training be effective each and every time you step into the gym. Leave no stone unturned and no technique unexplored.
Here’s an important question you must ask yourself: Is my current routine giving me the results I’m after?
Bench presses, dumbbell presses, flyes and cable work are all tried and true chest builders. They should be a part of anyone’s routine to pack on the beef. But let’s be honest. Have you progressed in the last three to six months? Are you on the right road to a better, more massive chest?
Aside from the obvious and crucial elements to any workout (compound, multi-joint movements and a deliberate plan of progression) maybe you need to add a little something unique to your same-ole chest routine. Maybe you need to go a little outside of the box and experiment with some crazy-looking but effective exercises to get you growing again.
5 Crazy (But Effective) Chest Exercises
Below are five crazy chest exercises that will do just that – get you outside of your comfort zone and spur some new muscle growth.
1. Reverse-Grip Incline Bench Barbell Press
Yes, long name, but wickedly effective upper chest builder. Taking a reverse grip on a bench press has shown to stimulate the upper chest area more effectively than an incline press using a traditional grip on a barbell. Of course you can perform these on a flat bench as well but combing the reverse grip with an inclined angle will put the kibosh on your upper pecs and leave every fiber fully stimulated.
This one will require a partner assist since it will be virtually impossible to get the barbell in position. Take a reverse grip a little wider than shoulder width on the bar and have your partner help you steady the bar off the rack. Lower the bar under control until it reaches about mid-chest level. Without bouncing raise the bar under control until you are fully extended up over your upper chest.
Be sure your partner’s hands are close to the bar at all times especially if you are new to this exercise. Some experimenting may be needed to find the right width of grip and angle of the bench. Practice with lighter loads for the first few training sessions and always use deliberate and safe technique and form. You can also start on a Smith machine for a while until you get used to the exercise.
2. Svend Press
It doesn’t get more unique regarding chest exercises than the Svend press. This movement utilizes the act of self-imposed stress. Much like an isometric contraction the Svend press has you flexing your pecs while pressing one or more plates in a pressing motion. Why does this work and what’s in it for you? Firstly, it has an uncanny way of targeting an inner pec contraction like no other. This motion also isolates the pecs while taking the injury-prone shoulders out of the movement. Secondly, it will benefit you with not only a new stress to apply to your chest but will also give you an intense mind-muscle link so you can work your chest with other exercises more effectively.
Stand holding one or two small, manageable plates clasped between your palms. With your elbows out to your sides and your fingers pointing forward, contract your pecs and press forward straight out. Focus, control and keep tension on your chest the entire time. Under continuous tension return the plates back to your chest never relaxing the contraction throughout the entire set.
You also have two variations that can be applied to the Svend press: Lying Svend press and dumbbell squeezes. With the lying Svend press simply lie down on a bench and perform it as stated above. For dumbbell squeezes you will perform the same motion lying on a bench but with two hexagonal dumbbells (you will need the bells to be flat on their sides for stability). Both versions can be performed on a flat or incline (if you want to focus on upper pecs) benches.
3. Alternating One-Arm Dumbbell Flat Bench Press
Another seldom seen chest pounder is the alternating dumbbell press. Since this is a unilateral movement it requires great core and shoulder stability. Lifting one side at a time can provide many benefits not only besting barbell presses but traditional dumbbell presses as well. Since the dumbbells are put into an instability position, this simple shift will have your pecs working overtime to keep up. More muscle action equals more stimulation for growth.
Lie down on a flat bench with two dumbbells pressed over your chest. Lower one side down while the other stays in the up position. Complete an entire rep for one side returning to the top position before descending with the opposite dumbbell again completing the entire rep. Keep alternating each side while using the top position as a pause while the other side is pressing. Your cadence will go something like this: Left arm – down, up, right arm – down up, and so forth.
For an even crazier stimulation and to make things that much more interesting use the bottom position as a pause while the opposite side presses. This cadence will look like this: Left arm – up, down, right arm – up, down, and so forth. Of course as with most chest exercises all variations can be performed on an incline bench as well.
4. Standing Two-Arm Landmine Press
Landmine devices are popping up in gyms as of late and for good reason. These diverse pieces of equipment allow for myriad exercises for all body parts and for full-body work as well. With the ability to help build muscle, develop power and, of course, increase balance and stability the landmine is one cool tool.
It can also help with packing on chest mass in a very unique and intense way. Mainly hitting the upper pec region the standing two-arm landmine press doesn’t look to be a chest-building contender so you will have to try it out for yourself.
Stand facing a loaded landmine. Grasp the outside of the collar at the end of the bar with both hands – this can be an alternated grip or with both hands clasped together. With the end of the bar against your chest and with an upright posture and core stabilized (you may also want to stagger your stance) press the bar up and away focusing on your pecs for the entire movement. Return to the start position under control and repeat. Try to avoid heaving the weight up – that will only take the stress off your chest and onto your shoulders.
Want to up the ante? Loop a band over the bar against the plate and again under your forward foot. This will provide what’s called linear variable resistance for one intense experience. Instead of “resting” at the top of the movement after you get through the sticking point, the band will only increase resistance as you press.
5. Twisting Dumbbell Flat Bench Press
Last and certainly not least we have the twisting dumbbell press. You may see some of your fellow gym-goers perform a variation of these by slightly twisting the dumbbells as they press the weight up. For this article I am talking of an extreme twist on an old favorite. Twisting the dumbbells will provide your pecs with one serious contraction while trying desperately to steady and stabilize the dumbbells as the movement progresses.
Lie down on a flat bench with a pair of dumbbells in the traditional starting position – thumbs in and your pinkies out (as if you were about to perform a barbell bench press). Lower the dumbbells as you would with a normal press however, when you press back up, twist the dumbbells while rotating your wrists as if you were breaking the weight in half going from palms facing your knees to them facing toward your head. Squeeze your pecs hard before rotating back down to the bottom position.
Remember when I talked of the reverse-grip bench press and how they affect the upper pec area to a great degree? The top of the twisting motion with the dumbbell press has a similar affect. Be sure to use a weight you can easily handle and go slow at first. Once you create a comfort level then add weight.
For an even crazier (not to mention stricter) version try performing twisting dumbbell presses off the floor. The concentration required, contraction and shorter range of motion will be the ultimate challenge when it comes to applying something new to your chest.
This isn’t an exhaustive list so feel free to add your own personal spin on some of the exercises above. Whether you adopt one or more of these movements into your routine, the fact is that they will definitely add a heavy dose of intensity as well as challenge your mettle on your quest for a larger, more muscular chest.