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Last Updated on January 7, 2021

Build a better chest and triceps with these less conventional methods.

1- Reverse-Grip Bench Press

Targets: Upper Chest

Benefits: The reverse grip bench press is a novel way to train the upper chest. A recent Canadian study showed that the reverse gripbench press increased upper pec activation by 30% compared to a traditional, flat pronated grip bench press.  Comparatively, inclines produce about 5% greater upper pec activation over traditional bench presses.

Tips: Make sure you use a spotter to lift the bar off and keep your thumbs around the bar because this is a much more risky lift than a traditional bench press. Push the bar back in arc to emphasize the upper chest.


2- Narrow-Grip Floor Press


Target: Upper Chest

Benefits: Studies show that a narrow grip improves upper chest activation because this brings the elbows in toward the sides, putting the upper chest in an advantageous position to perform its primary functions of flexion and horizontal adduction. Furthermore, this allows a safe way to perform a bench press by taking the legs out of the movement.

Tips: The barbell floor press and the dumbbell floor press are performed with a neutral grip. It is important to mix in neutral-grip-pressing exercises with dumbbells because it not only hits the muscle at a different angle, but prevents wear and tear because it allows for a freer range of motion.


3- Dead Bench Press

bench press

Target: Middle Chest

Benefits: Because the negative phase is eliminated, you have to push the weight from a dead stop. Normally you are aided by elastic-like energy stored on the negative portion of the lift. This builds tremendous power out of the bottom portion of the lift which will aid in the strength of all your pressing movements. Stronger presses equal more size.

Tips: Short-armed lifters start the weight about a half an inch off the chest in the power rack, while long-armed lifters approximately an inch and a half. Only perform this movement for singles.


4- Smith-Machine Overload Bench Press

Smith-Machine Flat-Bench Press

Target: Middle Chest

Benefits: Smith-machine negative overloads provide another way to eccentrically overload your pecs. You are capable of handling up to 60% more on the negative portion of a rep. This movement is performed with a Smith Machine and will require two partners. To maximize muscular development you have to include eccentric overloads.

Tips: Use 10-25% extra weight on the bar sleeves, at chest level. Have a partner on each side pull the extra weight off the bar. Forcefully press the weight into the top position, then take 5–6 seconds to lower the bar, and then forcefully press it back up with the help of your spotters. A good routine is to do that tempo for as many reps as possible. Once you can no longer complete a full rep, pull the additional weight off and do as many reps as possible at an explosive tempo.


5- Board Press

Board Press

Target: Triceps

Benefits: Board presses reduce stress on shoulders and pecs and instead overload the triceps because of the reduced range of motion and heavier weights used than regular bench presses. Board presses are a favorite of veteran powerlifters because the power built in the triceps helps to increase maxes in all other presses.

Tips: One close-grip burn-out workout for your triceps is to complete five full-range-of-motion, close-grip bench presses. Then, without racking the bar, have a partner immediately place one board on your chest. Perform five reps. Then, again without racking, have a partner place two boards on your chest and complete five reps. Then, without racking, have a partner place three boards on your chest and complete five reps. Do this again with four boards. By the end, you’ve done 25 repetitions. As you fatigue, leverage improves, providing a killer triceps workout. Close-grip bench presses and board presses can also be done with bands and chains.


6- JM Press

Target: Triceps

Benefits: JM presses are a direct triceps movement that allow you to use very heavy weight.  This is the go to exercise for many powerlifters aiming to develop triceps strength that directly transfers to the bench press. Essentially this is a hybrid movement that lies somewhere between a skullcrusher and a close-grip bench press.

Tips: Start the bar above your upper pecs with arms extended. Use the same grip you would for a close-grip bench press. As you lower the bar toward your chest, allow your elbows to move slightly forward so they are forward from the wrist. Stop about five inches off your chest, pause for a moment, and then push back to starting position. Make sure you keep your elbows close to your body during the exercise to maximize triceps activation.



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