THERE IS MORE Achieving an aesthetically complete physique than just lifting heavy weights and bombarding your chest with reps on the bench press. This is especially true when it comes to developing muscle definition and muscle building hypertrophyalong with strength.
You may think that the key to chest training is a great bench, but you’re spending too much time and energy in the wrong place if you neglect additional movements that target how the pecs actually work. Your aesthetic goals will be better served if you spend time improving yours mind-muscle connectioncorresponding men health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, CSCSand celebrity trainers and MH advisory board member Don Saladin. In this case, Convergence – shifting your weight toward or across your body’s midline (adduction) – is the key to a well defined chest.
“The bench press is important for strength development,” says Saladino, “but I also believe that after a period of time you don’t really gain that mind-muscle connection if you just keep doing the same movement over and over again, you can’t.” really experience what it feels like to execute a movement with convergence.
You don’t have to give up the bench press. But if your goal is that ripped inner chest look, you need to add a few more moves to your workout. Here are five of the best complementary chest exercises to add to your routine that can help complete that aesthetic upper-body look.
The 5 best internal chest exercises
crush plate press
2 sets of 10 reps
The Squeeze Plate Press is a solid simulation of a bodybuilder’s posing routine, squeezing a light plate firmly as if you’re trying to crush it between your palms. Because a light weight is enough to create strong tension, the press platen press is often an underappreciated and underutilized exercise. And that is far from true. By straightening your arms while squeezing your inner chest, you create enough tension to tire in just two reps.
“This isn’t so much about the load as it is about the isometric tension you’re creating with just your body,” says Samuel. “It works really well for beginners because it’s not about the strain…the moment you clench your hands, you’re learning how I clench my hands for it.” I’m learning how to create that contraction.”
One arm cable bow tie
3 to 4 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions per arm
Here’s a unique mind-muscle masterpiece move that creates loads of tension at the midline, a big change from your traditional push moves. However, by making this a unidirectional movement, as opposed to the standard fly, you can actually go past the midline and thereby increase the range of motion.
However, a common mistake in cable fly is the tendency to bend too much at the elbow. Instead, focus on keeping your arm long throughout the movement, which maintains tension on your chest.
Tight grip hex press
3 to 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps
Pick up the intensity with a more advanced movement (this might pose a challenge for anyone with limited shoulder mobility). This close-grip press is a great exercise for getting good chest compressions on each rep. It’s essentially a squeeze press, but with a heavier load – but not too much weight that would force you to sacrifice your squeeze at the top.
The focus on the hex press is now to push the load forward, but keep the dumbbells tightly together in a neutral position (palms facing each other). You still want to focus on creating and maintaining tension. Slow and controlled is the way to build a fuller chest while also working your shoulders and triceps.
Machine chest press
3 sets of 12 to 15 reps
The machine press is another exercise making waves among the functional fitness crowd, but certain variations offer a lot of toning and shaping for your buck. We’ve already mentioned the importance of pressing with convergence, or focusing on moving the weight closer to the centerline to increase tension. Machines like a Hammer Strength Press or similar models allow you to push while creating more tension toward the midline. Another benefit of the machine is that unlike dumbbells, you don’t have to focus on stability towards the end of a strenuous workout, but can still work on some much-needed muscle contraction.
Banded dumbbell press
3 to 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps
By adding a resistance band, we’re putting a twist on this traditional breast enhancement staple—and even more excitement. It’s best to go lighter with the band; A light to moderate tension band is more than enough to add even more pressure to your pressure after each rep. The goal isn’t to lift heavy weights per se, but to move slowly and with control to hit your inner chest.
“When it comes to working out your inner chest and attacking your chest, [it’s okay to] Go back on the weight a little,” says Samuel. “Let’s take ownership of the contraction and the five exercises we gave you. You have no choice but to back off the weight to dominate the contraction and that will give you the inner chest you want .”
Want more essential exercises for your major muscle groups? Cash all our muscle musts.
Jeff Tomko is a freelance fitness writer who has written for Muscle and Fitness, Men’s Fitness, and Men’s Health.