Everyone wants a big chest. And everyone bench presses. But what you may not know is that not everyone with a big chest bench presses!
Yes, that may defy common logic that we’ve become accustomed to over the years, but it is a fact. The bench press, while a highly effective movement for adding mass to the upper, middle, lower out outer chest areas of the pectoral muscles, is not the end all and be all of overall chest development. Many people, through limitations in equipment, injuries to rotator cuff, or other reason will discover that weekly bench pressing sessions are just not in the cards for them! When this happens, they often resort to either walking away from the iron game completely (very rare) or to making adjustments to their training methodology in order to facilitate continued muscle gains without dependence upon bench pressing. Let’s look at once such chest workout which could deliver a full stimulus package to the pectorals without touching upon the holy grail, the bench press!
Incline Dumbbell Press
The upper chest is the shelf upon which everything else in the bodybuilding universe sits! The great Arnold used to be able to stack a glass of water upon his pecs – can you do the same? If not, then it’s time to knock out 3 to 5 sets of incline dumbbell press using a heavy enough weight that only allows you 5 to 8 repetitions per set.
Flat Dumbbell Press
Drop down the angle of the bench, and move on over to the flat dumbbell press! This movement will stimulate more of the lower pectoral region, which is essential for complete delineation of the abdominal/pectoral border. You can lower the weight a bit and keep your repetition range in the 8 to 12 area for your 5 sets of this movement. Build some mass with these!
Incline Hammer Strength Machine
Your balance may be starting to elude you as the stabilizer muscles utilized for sets number 1 through 9 or 10 have been thoroughly torched, so it’s probably time to move on to the machines which allow you to just press away without a need to balance. Plow through 4 sets on the incline hammer strength machine variant in your gym. Lift as heavy as you can until you fail.
Decline Nautilus Press
The lower pectorals are often overlooked, but should be trained with 2 to 4 sets each workout. Not only are they important for aesthetic reasons for the competitive bodybuilder, but they also deliver a level of safety valve from injury which can result from an imbalance in pectoral muscle development.
Seated Butterfly Machine
This last exercise will target the sheen of muscle which connects the shoulders, or deltoids, with the pectoral (chest) muscles. You’ll want to complete 5 full sets of this exercise, even though at this point you will be starting to see signs of complete muscle group failure. Keep the repetitions high and the weight low, and you will not sustain any risk of injury.