Training

Train Chest Like A Competitive Bodybuilder | Chest And Tricep Workout

For many of us, training chest starts and ends with the bench press. Walk into any gym around the world and you’ll see people bench pressing. But, far too many of us focus our chest sessions on using, or waiting for a bench to become available.

Now don’t get us wrong, when performed right, this compound lift is certainly one of the best moves for building strength and size in the chest. But there are other ways to sculpting those bigger pecs (without a barbell in sight) — just ask Ben Prentice.

We’ve asked online coach and competitive bodybuilder Ben to share his knowledge and chest workout for times like these. This high-volume chest and tricep workout is a great way to build that bigger chest you’ve always wanted and avoid the dreaded plateau.

Ben’s Workout 

Flat Dumbbell Press 

The direct alternative to the barbell bench press. Dumbbells allow for a greater range of motion so, in turn, require more muscles to be under tension during the exercise and allows for more isolation so can help with any muscular imbalances. 

How to: 

  1. With the dumbbells in your hand, raise them to your chest and shoulders as if you’re about to press, this is the starting position.   
  2. Squeeze your chest and contract your triceps to push the dumbbells up and away. Contract hard at the top.  
  3. Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position in a controlled manner. This is one rep.   

Recommended reps:   

5 sets of 5-8 reps. 

 

High Incline Smith Press 

Having the added element of an incline here is perfect for targeting the upper chest more than a flat bench would. For those struggling with plateaus targeting different sections of the chest is a great way to breakthrough. 

How to: 

  1. Select a bench and raise it to a level that suits you, around 45 degrees 
  2. Take a bench to the squat rack – ensure there are safety pins and adjust these to around two inches off your chest. Place the barbell across the safety pins so it is suspended above your body.   
  3. Lay down on the bench and get under the bar. Forcefully grip the barbell and prepare to press it.   
  4. Explode the bar upwards, with as much force as you can.   
  5. Lower the bar to the rack in a controlled manner and let the rack take the weight. This is one rep.   

Recommended reps: 

4 sets of 10 reps.

 

Neutral Grip Dumbbell Press 

The neutral grip here focuses more on the triceps and is a great substitute for anyone who is struggling with any shoulder injuries because it reduces the strain on the shoulder joints. 

How to: 

  1. Lie flat on a bench with dumbbells in your hand. 
  2. Hold them over your chest with your palms facing each other. 
  3. Squeeze your chest and contract your triceps to push the dumbbells up and away. Contract hard at the top.  
  4. Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position in a controlled manner. This is one rep.  

 Recommended reps: 

3 sets of 8 reps.

 

Cuffed Cable Flys 

This exercise is both great for the lateral deltoids and the upper chest but the use of cuffs is good for taking pressure off the wrists which can be an issue for some people when benching or dumbbell pressing so much. 

How to: 

  1. Set a bench at a 20-30-degree angle.  
  2. Attach cuffs to the wrists from the cable machine. You want to be pulling across the body so you should attach your right wrist to the left side and vice versa. 
  3. Move the arms outwards till you are parallel with should width height 
  4. Slowly lower the arms back down without bringing them together 

Recommended reps: 

4 sets of 10 reps.

 

Tricep Pushdown 

The triceps are an important part in chest training as they’re the secondary muscle when any sort of pressing is involved so you must build strong stable triceps. 

How to: 

  1. Face the cable machine with either the rope or straight bar attachment. 
  2. With an overhand grip pull the cable out slightly till your arms at a 90-degree angle  
  3. Push down keeping your elbows close to your body till you can lock your arms out. 
  4. Contract the triceps and slowly return to the starting position. 

Recommend reps: 

 3 sets of 12 reps.

 

Overhead Tricep Extension  

This is one for targeting the long head of the triceps and is effective when trying to grow those triceps as it allows you to work different muscles. 

How to: 

  1. Attach the rope to the cable machine and place the pins at the top of the pole  
  2. Face away from the pulley and step half a step away with your shoulder-width apart 
  3. Lean forward whilst holding the rope in both hands with the palms facing each other 
  4. Push the rope forward keeping your elbows together and head down. 
  5. Slowly bring the rope back until your elbows are at 90-degrees. 

Recommended reps: 

3 sets of 12 reps. 

 

Take Home Message 

The chest is an impressive showpiece muscle but you may find it difficult to develop in that area if you don’t switch up your routine. Trying alternative exercise to what you’d normally do or increasing your rep ranges or sets will help smash through any problem areas.  

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.



Isaac Syred

Isaac Syred

Writer and expert

Isaac has a passion for all things fitness, he's always been interested in football, playing at a high youth level, and has also enjoyed 4 years of competitive kickboxing. Over recent years Isaac has dedicated himself to continually improving in the gym, enjoying both functional fitness and bodybuilding styles of workouts.

He strongly believes that you should always have balance and likes to spend his time at the weekends socialising with his friends.


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