If you find yourself stuck in a muscle or strength building plateau when it comes to training chest, doing the same thing week after week isn’t going to be the answer guys. So, I’m going to share with you 3 exercises that you can add into your routine starting today to help bring results to your otherwise stale chest workout!
Exercise #1 – The Pause Bench
Many of you have probably heard of this exercise, but never really implemented it into your training for one reason or another. But believe it or not, the reason why your conventional bench press has stopped going up could be due to the fact you’re weak at the bottom of the range of motion, most likely due to utilizing a bounce off your chest to initiate the movement after reach repetition.
Now, while this is a great technique to get more reps with heavy weight, you’re still allowing your body to not quite learn how to generate the force it needs to lift heavy off the chest at the bottom of the movement.
This is where the PAUSE BENCH PRESS comes in.
To perform this movement, you’re going to come to a complete stop just as the barbell is touching your chest. NOT RESTING, but touching and maintaining as much tension or stretch in your chest as you can. Then, after a second or two you’re going to EXPLOSIVELY press the barbell back to the top and repeat for reps.
So, how will this help you build muscle and strength? Well, every time you bounce the barbell off your chest or even just quickly go through the bottom part of the range of motion, you’re using your muscles’ elastic energy to move the weight.
You’re definitely stronger that way but you’re not really engaging your chest fibers to the max. So, by REMOVING the elasticity component of the exercise this forces your pecs to do ALL the work.
Exercise #2 – Neutral Grip Dumbbell Press
This isn’t really an exercise I would recommend for “replacing” the Barbell Bench Press, but if you’re having a hard time training with full range of motion this exercise would certainly be helpful.
And I say this because if you’re experiencing shoulder discomfort either due to overall poor mobility or from fatigue from the frequency of how often you’re training your chest, the neutral grip press will be much easier on your shoulders and allow you to keep working towards your upper body strength goals without aggravating the area.
Now, if your goal is overall workout volume, I’d suggest working with dumbbells. But if STRENGTH is your goal you can obviously just use heavier dumbbells. However, if you have access to a Swiss barbell, that could be a better alternative and help you overload your reps with a more weight.
Exercise #3 – Floor Press
Now, the floor press is unique because it’s an exercise similar to the bench press, but takes your lower body almost completely out of the equation. What I mean by this, is that a proper set-up for the bench press starts generating power at the feet as you push on the floor and tense up your entire body.
But with the floor press, you’re no longer able to generate the same kind of tension so all the power is going to have to come from your upper body which means more chest activation.
Also, due to being on the floor, your range of motion will be shorter than a traditional bench press so this exercise is great for overloading for those of you with shoulder injuries or limitations.
But just because you are on the floor doesn’t mean the set-up doesn’t still start at the feet. Now while there might not be that traditional HIGH lower back arch, we still want to try to compress ourselves as tight as we can from our shoulder blades to our heels by planting your heels into the floor, squeezing your belly and glutes, and internally rotating your shoulders.
Once in place make sure you bring the bar down to the floor and lower it slowly so you don’t bang your elbows on the ground, and repeat for reps.
And remember, this exercise is a pure upper body power movement. So if you need help with your lockouts on things like presses or dips, this is the perfect exercise for that.
How To Incorporate These Exercises Into Your Chest Workout
Well, for the Pause Bench, you could use this variation to replace your traditional bench press for a few weeks OR, you could split your sets in half. So, if you are normally doing 6 sets of bench press, perform three 3 sets of the pause bench first to really hammer the bottom of the movement, then finish with 3 sets of the traditional bench, but still try to not bounce the barbell at the bottom.
As for the Neutral Grip Press, if you are suffering greatly from shoulder pain when benching, you might have no choice but to replace the barbell bench press with this exercise for a while and at the end of the day, that’s better than having to skip the bench press all together.
But if you have no pain and just want to avoid overloading your shoulders from multiple days of bench pressing, switching to the neutral grip press on your second day isn’t a bad idea.
And as for the Floor Press, you could utilize this exercise to replace the barbell bench press if you have a shoulder injury and are afraid of training heavy and going too low.
Or, if you simply want to work on the strength of your lockout you could simply just add this exercise into your current chest training routine.