1,000,000,001 Different Ways to Train your Chest

A couple of months ago, I posted an article on 1,000,000,001 Different Ways to Squat.

Today, we move on to the chest.

And just like last time, I am pretty sure that I will omit something, so feel free to let me know what I missed and I will add it to the post.

arnold chest 1,000,000,001 Different Ways to Train your Chest

1,000,000,001 Different Ways to Train your Chest

In an attempt to organize the million and one ways that you can train your chest, I decided to organize all of these different lifts into different categories.

Categories

  1. Movement
  2. Unilateral / Bilateral
  3. Stance / Body Orientation / Position of Load
  4. Equipment
  5. Range of Motion
  6. Tempo or Speed
  7. Weight of Load as a % of 1 Rep Max Lift
  8. Lifting Surface
  9. Training Volume
  10. Rest Periods

Movement

  • Press

bench press 1,000,000,001 Different Ways to Train your Chest

  • Fly

dumbbell fly 1,000,000,001 Different Ways to Train your Chest

Unilateral / Bilateral

  • 1 Arm Push-Up / 2 Arm Push-Up
  • 1 Arm Press / 2 Arm Press
  • 1 Arm Fly / 2 Arm Fly

babypushup 1,000,000,001 Different Ways to Train your Chest

Stance / Body Orientation / Position of Load

  • Vertical Body Posititon – Standing / Kneeling / Sitting upright
  • Horizontal Body Position – Supine – Flat Bench
  • Horizontal Body Position -Supine – Incline Bench
  • Horizontal Body Position -Supine – Decline Bench
  • Arm Angle - Close Grip v.s Wide Grip, Elbows tucked tight to the torso or flared out to the side
  • Position of Weight relative to Pectoralex. Presses to the Neck v.s a press where the bar contacts the body at or even below the nipples

 

press to the neck 1,000,000,001 Different Ways to Train your Chest

 

  • Grip – Pronated, Supinated or Neutral Grip

Equipment

  • Barbell
  • Dumbbell(s)
  • Kettlebell(s)
  • Bodyweight only
  • Weighted Vest
  • Band(s)
  • Medicine ball, sandbag, log, tire, rock, person or any other extreme implement
  • Machines – Smith machine, Pec Dec, Chest Press machines, etc….
  • Cable weight machines
  • Benches / Boxes / Stability Ball
  • Stability balls
  • TRX / Blast Straps / Rings & Chains

Range of Motion

  • Full range of motion
  • Extreme range of motion – ex. cambered bar chest press

  • Partial range of motion – board presses, partial presses in the power rack or those partial range presses some guys do to make themselves feel strong


  • 1 and 1/2 reps – lower the weight all the way down, come up half way, lower again and then lift all the way back up
  • Focusing on a specific range – i.e focusing on the lockout of a bench press puts the emphasis on the triceps instead of the chest

Tempo or Speed

  • There are a number of different systems for classifying lifting speed. For simplicity sake, I will stick with the basics: fast, moderate, slow & pause
  • Different speeds of motion can be used for the different portions of the lift: descent, bottom, ascent, top
  • You can mix and match the different speeds with the different portions of the lift depending on your training goals
  • Most benchers lower the bar fast, neglect to pause at the chest, and then lift the weight as fast as possible.
  • Powerlifters (in competition) have to pause at the bottom of their bench presses.
  • Personally, I prefer to lower my weights slowly, pause at the bottom to minimize the stretch shortening cycle, and then lift as fast as possible.

Weight of Load as a % of 1 Rep Max Lift

  • Your 1 Rep Max Lift is the maximum amount of weight you can successfully lift with good form.
  • If you are lifting for strength, you will likely choose a load that is close to your 1 Rep max. A lower percentage load is used when you are performing high reps for muscular endurance or for low reps and high speed in an attempt to develop muscular speed.

Lifting Surface

This category is primarily employed by the Bosu or “functional training” crowd. Most lifters choose to keep their foot on solid ground as it allows them to generate maximum force. However, challenging you balance with various tools/techniques can have some carryover effect to the stabilizer muscles and overall athletic coordination. So, if you’re interested, here are some options:

  • Balance disks - standing cable or band work gets even harder
  • a Bosu – pushups on the bosu
  • a foam roller – I know a guy who performs chest presses while lying on a foam roller to open up his rib cage & thoracic spine. Not sure if I am buying it, but he swears by it.
  • a stability ball - in place of a standard bench

 

Training Volume

  • Depending on your training goals (power, strength, hypertrophy, endurance, speed), you can choose a variety of reps per set, sets per exercise and total sets/reps per workout

Rest Periods

  • This category refers to the length of the rest periods taken between sets.
  • Short rest periods are used as a tool to develop the trainees anaerobic energy system.
  • Long rest periods are used to allow more complete muscular and/or nervous system recovery.
  • And as with tempo and load percentage, there is an almost infinite number of positions in between.

Putting it all together…

If you mix and match all of the options that I have listed above, you can probably come up with more than a million and one different ways to train your chest.

Just don’t try doing all of them in one workout.

And like I said, I have probably missed a buch of different techniques, so feel free to comment and I will update the post.

Have fun.

Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, a social media nerd and a student of nutrition and exercise science. Since 2008, Doug has brought his real-world experience online via his health & fitness blog, Health Habits.

10 Comments

  1. Ryan

    August 6, 2013 at 8:16 am

    Awesome artilce

  2. George Climer

    July 15, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Great article, I’ll have to give this a try!!

  3. Dwen

    March 20, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    How exactly does the trade-off program work? Where you trade body fat for muscle? What program do you follow? Lots of cardio? Heavy weight low reps, or med weights more reps? Any tips welcome

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  5. healthy life guidance

    July 15, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Chest is the most difficult muscle for me to build it…it really hard to make it good looking…thanks to share this tips

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  7. Pingback: A Better Way to Bench Press | Health Habits

  8. Pingback: 1,000,000,001 Different Ways to Train your Biceps | Health Habits

  9. pyjamas

    February 16, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    great tips for getting ripped. keep at it and never give up bro

  10. Doctor

    May 15, 2009 at 6:33 am

    good post, also, i would recommend training all of your muscles not just your chest or you’re going to look silly with a big chest and small everything else.

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