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3 Chest Exercises Even Better than the Bench Press for Muscle and Strength Gains

Build a bigger and better chest.

The bench press is a great exercise, but sometimes it is a sensible idea to mix things up and stimulate your body in different ways rather than creating an overreliance on a single movement.

These alternative movements have been selected and explained by Tron Adashun.

What are the Disadvantages of the Barbell Bench Press?

While the barbell bench press is a popular exercise for building chest strength and size, there are also some potential disadvantages to be aware of. These include:

  • Risk of Injury: The barbell bench press is a compound exercise that involves multiple joints and muscles. However, it is also a high-risk exercise that can lead to injury if not performed with proper form and technique. Common injuries associated with the bench press include shoulder strains, rotator cuff injuries, and pec tears.
  • Limited Range of Motion: The bench press is a movement that involves a limited range of motion, particularly when compared to other chest exercises such as push-ups and dumbbell flyes. This limited range of motion can lead to muscle imbalances and reduced overall chest development.
Fitness benchmarks Biggest Bench Press Mistakes to Avoid Barbells vs Dumbbells for Muscle GrowthSource: Courtesy of CrossFit Inc.
  • Over-reliance on Triceps: While the bench press is primarily a chest exercise, it also involves the triceps and shoulders to a significant extent. This can lead to over-reliance on these muscle groups, which can limit chest development and lead to imbalances in overall upper body strength.
  • Lack of Variability: While there are many different variations of the bench press, including incline, decline, and close-grip variations, the exercise is still limited in terms of its overall variability. This can lead to boredom and reduced motivation to continue training.
  • Requires Equipment: Finally, the bench press requires access to equipment such as a barbell, bench, and weights. This can be a barrier to entry for those who do not have access to a gym or home gym setup.

Troy Adashun is an American fitness expert, author, and entrepreneur. He is the founder of SuperHuman You, a fitness and nutrition coaching company that helps people achieve their fitness goals through personalized training and nutrition plans.

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Adashun has over 20 years of experience in the fitness industry and has worked with a wide range of clients, from beginners to professional athletes. He is known for his straightforward and no-nonsense approach to fitness and nutrition, and has been featured in several health and fitness publications, including Men’s Fitness and Muscle & Fitness.

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The Muscles of the Chest

The muscles of the chest, also known as pectoral muscles, are a group of muscles located in the chest area. They are responsible for movement of the arms and shoulders and contribute to breathing.

There are two main muscles in the chest:

Pectoralis Major: This is the larger of the two chest muscles and is responsible for the movement of the arms. It is divided into two parts, the clavicular head and the sternal head. The clavicular head attaches to the clavicle and the sternum, while the sternal head attaches only to the sternum.

Pectoralis Minor: This is a smaller muscle that lies underneath the pectoralis major. It is responsible for the movement of the shoulder blade and helps to stabilize the shoulder joint.

Both of these muscles are important for upper body movements such as pushing and pulling, as well as for maintaining good posture. Strengthening these muscles can help improve overall upper body strength and reduce the risk of injury.

What are the Advantages of a Strong Chest?

Having a strong chest can provide many advantages, including:

  • Improved Upper Body Strength: The chest muscles are a major component of the upper body and are involved in many upper body movements. Having a strong chest can improve your upper body strength, making it easier to perform tasks such as lifting heavy objects, pushing or pulling heavy loads, and carrying objects.
  • Better Posture: A strong chest can help improve your posture by pulling your shoulders back and keeping your spine in a neutral position. This can help reduce the risk of developing poor posture and related problems such as back pain.
  • Improved Athletic Performance: A strong chest can also improve your athletic performance. It can enhance your ability to throw, catch, and hit in sports such as baseball, football, and basketball. Additionally, it can improve your ability to perform bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, and dips.
  • Reduced Risk of Injury: Strengthening your chest muscles can also help reduce the risk of injury. Strong chest muscles can provide support and stability to your shoulders and upper back, reducing the risk of strains, sprains, and other injuries.
  • Improved Appearance: Finally, having a strong chest can improve your physical appearance. A well-developed chest can give you a more muscular and toned upper body, which can boost your self-confidence and enhance your overall physical attractiveness.

What are the Best Reps and Sets for Muscle Growth?

The best reps and sets for muscle growth can vary depending on individual factors such as training experience, goals, and exercise selection. However, here are some general guidelines to consider:

Repetitions: For muscle growth, it is generally recommended to perform 8-12 repetitions per set. This rep range has been shown to be effective for hypertrophy (muscle growth) by promoting the activation of type II muscle fibers.

Sets: It is generally recommended to perform 3-5 sets per exercise for muscle growth. This volume allows for adequate stimulation of the muscle without overtraining. However, some advanced lifters may benefit from higher volume training with 6-8 sets per exercise.

Chest-Training-and-Lukas Chest Exercises Ranked BEST to WORST Using ScienceSource: Depositphotos / Stevie D

Rest Periods: Rest periods between sets are also important for muscle growth. For hypertrophy, it is recommended to rest for 1-2 minutes between sets to allow for sufficient recovery.

Progression: To continue to see gains in muscle growth, it is important to progressively overload the muscles. This can be achieved by increasing weight, reps, sets, or decreasing rest periods over time.

It’s important to note that these guidelines are not set in stone, and individual variations in training can also be effective for muscle growth. Additionally, nutrition, sleep, and recovery are all important factors to consider when aiming for muscle growth.

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