In their struggle to develop huge, full and maximally striated chests, many bodybuilders are willing to try anything and soon end up lost and confused in the wonderland of fancy, over-the-top complex chest movements that claim to offer superior benefits when compared to the classic exercises used by the legends of the Golden Age of bodybuilding. While there are plenty of effective chest developers out there, there are a few essential chest exercises that should never be forgotten and neglected because they have helped build some of the most impressive physiques of all time in this game. So if your pecs are lagging, going back to the basics can help you tap further into their growth potential.
Here are the 6 must-do exercises that carry the reputation of the ultimate builders of full, round and thick pairs of muscular squares!
#1. The bench press
No matter how often the opponents of the bench press demand from lifters to give up their faith in this classic move, some of the greatest chests of all time have had this movement at the centerpiece of their chest training toolbox, so it can’t be that bad. Needless to say, you can’t build an attention-grabbing chest by bench pressing alone, but nonetheless, the high level of effectiveness of this exercise has been proven countless times and therefore it should have an eternal mandate in your chest training regimen.
#2. Reverse-grip bench press
As great as they are, regular bench presses also have a reputation of causing joint pain. To overcome this problem, alternate between regular bench presses and reverse-grip bench presses or use the reverse-grip variant for the warm-up sets.
This modification can help your joints heal and improve your pressing strength, but the slightly awkward position demands a certain amount of practice before you become able to use the exercise in its full potential. A great tip in regard to optimal hand positioning is to keep your hands should be slightly angled instead of fully rotated to the point where they’re in line with the bar – think of it as similar to grabbing the bottom half of a steering wheel with both hands.
#3. Cross-bench dumbbell pullover
The bodybuilding gem was a staple in the Arnold-era for a good reason – this exercise is pretty much unreplaceable when it comes to chest building. It hits everything from the bottom of your pecs to your abs, lats and triceps, working all of them in the most effective way.
Over the past decades, many bodybuilding legends such as Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman and Frank Zane have repeatedly stressed the greatness of this exercise but unfortunately, new-age chest training routines tend to neglect it, perhaps because it has the reputation of a shoulder killer. Nevertheless, if you perform them correctly and focus on getting a proper stretch, cross-bench pullovers are absolutely safe and are guaranteed to provide plenty of noticeable improvements in chest size and strength.
For best results, keep them light in the 12-20 rep range and perform the entire movement in a slow, controlled manner, within a full range of motion.
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