As you evolve and advance in your lifting career, you become a different lifter, and a greater variety and more advanced stimuli is needed to grow. Today we are going to provide you, the advanced lifter, with that needed stimuli by sharing seven exercises that will help take your chest to the next level.
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Mechanical Advantage Drop Set Incline Presses
Drop sets have been a mainstay technique for bodybuilders for nearly half a century because they allow bodybuilders to extend sets and increase total time under tension. Typically, a drop set consists of two to three mini-sets where each one is reduced 20-30 percent per “drop”. The obvious drawback is after two drops you might be using 40 percent of the weight you started with.
Mechanical advantage drop sets allow you to extend the set, increasing time under tension without decreasing the weight you are lifting.
Mechanical advantage drop sets are taken to failure, and upon failure, instead of reducing the weight you are lifting, you increase mechanical advantage; this is done on the incline press by reducing the angle of the incline upon failure.
Start with a weight you can lift for six to 10 reps on a 45-degree dumbbell incline press. Upon failure, rest 15 seconds and reduce the incline to 25 or 30 degrees, lifting the dumbbells to failure. Finally, on the third and last set, after resting 15 seconds and reducing the incline to 10 or 15 degrees, lift the dumbbells to failure.
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Band-Resisted Bench Press
From Taebo to 8-minute abs, the fitness industry has always been full of flashy trends and extremism.
Since the dawn of the millennia, adding resistance bands to barbells and dumbbells has rapidly increased in popularity. So is it just another passing fad?
Scores of strength sport champions and elite strength coaches both endorse and use resistance bands in addition to barbells and dumbbells in their training. If anecdotes don’t suffice, do a quick pub med search on resistance bands or just corner a doctor at a cocktail party.
In a nutshell, the way bands overload the bench press is they complement its ascending strength curve. What this means is the bench press is most difficult at the bottom and as you lift the weight up toward lockout, progressively your leverage improves as does your ability to produce more force. Bands increase in tension as you lift the weight up; as leverage improves, resistance increases. Instead of just a part of the movement being overloaded, the whole thing is.
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Band-Resisted Dumbbell Flyes
Dumbbell flys have helped construct many championship chests. This movement provides a tremendous stretch at the bottom; with bands you can keep this benefit and add an element of peak contraction, like cables, which will overload the entire movement.
Free weights rely on gravity to provide resistance, so they can only provide resistance in the direction of gravity, vertically. Elastic bands, on the other hand, allow you to add resistance in the horizontal plane which is in a large part where the fly takes place.
By mixing dumbbells and bands, the least amount of overload takes place at the bottom, where you are weakest and your shoulder is most vulnerable; the greatest overload takes place as your leverage improves, resulting in the greatest amount of growth.
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In 2013, out of nowhere, Eric Spoto broke the raw world record in the bench press which had been standing since 2005. Training videos started surfacing of this barrel-chested gargoyle built like a slab stone pressing huge weights.
A close inspection of the videos of Spoto bench pressing showed he never actually touched the barbell to his chest; he would stop the barbell about an inch off his chest. There, while remaining as tight as possible, the barbell was suspended in air at a standstill. This forced Spoto to stay as tight as possible. After pausing the barbell in that position for one second, Spoto would forcefully press the barbell back to lockout. This technique removed any pretense of heaving and forced Spoto to stay tight.
Spoto Presses are all muscle and no momentum and are a building block for one of the biggest, strongest men of all-time, Eric Spoto.
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3, 6, 9
This is a tri-set; this will blast every muscle fiber in your chest and leave you with the kind of pump Arnold lovingly describes in pumping iron. Because of the obscurity of this exercise I have provided detailed instructions as well as a video.
Load the barbell on the bench press with 50 percent of your one-repetition max and load the chains to a weight you are capable of doing 15 flyes with.
With the prescribed weight, perform a bench press for three repetitions, and then rack the weight. Immediately grab the carabiners with chains attached and perform six flys. Upon completion of flyes, do not drop the weight, immediately do nine presses. Now drop the weight and rest 20 seconds.
For set two, everything is exactly the same; however, the bench press will be performed with one board on your chest. After resting 20 seconds, do the same thing for set three but for the bench press you will do it with two boards on your chest. Rest 20 seconds and begin set four doing the same thing with the exception of the bench press, where you will place three boards on your chest. Rest 20 seconds and for the final set do the same thing but place four boards on your chest.
If you are unable to complete the flyes or chain presses, do not stop. Continue with partial reps.
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Bodybuilding O.G. trainer to the stars, Vince Gironda, claims that dips are the most effective chest exercise and upper-body developer, period! Other famous trainers and physique athletes refer to dips as the upper body squat.
Dips are a compound movement that build the entire upper body but with the right technique some additional overload can be allocated to the chest.
To maximize chest overload, perform dips with a slight forward lean and the elbows flared out. Using an upright posture will emphasize the triceps to a greater degree. If you are able, add additional weight to your bodyweight. Dips allow more weight to be handled than any other upper-body exercise, including the bench press.
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Flex the Chest, Iso-tension Contraction
Besides competitive bodybuilders, how many gym rats pose? Very few with any kind of regularity; this is a mistake if the goal is to get as muscular as possible.
In the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, “I squeeze and crimp the pecs as hard as I can from all angles to bring out the height, thickness and shape. This not only gives me better control of these muscles, but it also brings out all the veins and muscular striations, which improves the definition.”
Try this for 10 sets on each side, holding each pose and contracting as hard as possible for 10 seconds. Science has even confirmed the efficiency of weightless bodybuilding posing for hypertrophy. It is great way to get in more work without putting more stress on our joints.