It is important to work every muscle from every possible angle, so here’s some insight into the grip positions for chest pressing exercises.
Target: Major Pectorals
Benefit: More ROM for Major Pectorals & Anterior Deltoids
This is the most common hand position for chest presses. The depth that it allows you to reach enables you to stretch the pectoral muscles more at the bottom part of the movement. It should be noted that flyes are usually the best choice for range or motion when training chest.
Target: Pectorals Minor & Triceps
Benefit: Less strain on shoulders
Pectorals Minor is a tiny muscle that lives in the middle of the major pecs. It’s main purpose is to stabilise the scaplae during pressing movements. The hammer grip will put more emphasis on this, but will still involve major pecs a great deal. The increased stabilisation of the shoulder means more emphasis on chest. You would think that this would mean that you could push more weight in this position. Unfortunately that is not the case! Shoulders play a big part in pressing, so if you’re looking to go heavier try the false grip (below).
All around the best choice for upper pectorals. Even on a flat bench upper pecs will still be forced to work harder. I also strongly recommend this press if you are looking to build size in the triceps. Supine grip will make the inner head of tris work harder and this is the biggest muscle in the arms!
Target: Major Pectorals
Benefit: Enables you to press the most weight and puts less strain on shoulders
It’s AKA suicide grip because it is considered to be the most dangerous. Although in my 15+ years of training I have never seen anything go wrong with myself, or anyone else, when using the false/suicide grip approach. The grip allows you to keep your elbows under the bar and takes strain off of the hands and wrists. Imagine that you don’t have hands and that you are pressing the bar using the bottoms of your radius and ulna bones (forearm bones). Wrap your palms, fingers and thumbs around the same side of the bar and use a spotter. You can push the most weight when using this technique.
If you’re looking to add some quick size to your pecs then I highly recommend this exercise!
You can use weight that is about 20% heavier than you would for a normal Cable Crossover. The flye motion isolates your pecs more, which will fatigue them more than usual when going into the press. Just be sure to press down towards your navel to maximize the involvement of major pecs.
I’m on a bulking cycle now, so I figured I share some of my foundation moves for quickly adding muscle mass.
You should know already that adding mass to your total physique is done best by focusing on the biggest muscle groups – legs, lats, shoulders and chest.
Clean & Press
This is an obvious one! Clean & Press is a true test of strength and will recruit just about every skeletal muscle in the body for every single rep. I wouldn’t bother doing over six reps per set if you are looking to pack on size. Otherwise you may end up shedding more than bulking. If you don’t already know how to clean & press properly, I recommend getting some guidance from a personal trainer, Crossfit instructor, or experienced power lifter, as it can be fairly dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing.
Sumo Dead Lift
I’ve chosen the Sumo DL over the standard version, because it is designed to hit hamstrings harder. Glutes and lats are still involved, but the sumo position typically puts less strain on the lower back for most, which might enable you to lift more weight, or complete more reps for a given set.
Nothing will make your legs bigger. Period. If you don’t go ass-to-grass then it’s not a squat. ‘Nuff said. Let’s move on.
Pull Up/Pull Down
Standard. If you aren’t strong enough to do pull ups then use the pull down to work up to it. If you are strong enough then use this as your staple lats exercise. You can strap weights to yourself using a dipping belt, or by holding a dumbbell in between your feet.
Most people would recommend the standard press for shoulders with a bar, or dumbbells, but I’m choosing this one from personal experience and also because of how quickly it can add mass to your shoulders. The movement is similar to the Clean & Press, so the traps and deltoids will both get hit hard. No muscle in the shoulders will go missed with this move – not even rotator cuffs! It can be done sitting, or standing, with dumbbells, or kettle bells.
I’m sure you expected to see bench press here, right? Well, I can’t really argue with anyone for relying on the bench press for size. It is a foundation move and should be included in your chest routine, no doubt, but consider this for a second – performing pullovers during the stages of physical development (women up to 21 and men up to 25 years old) will expand your rib cage. And what is the result of an expanded rib cage? Bigger shoulders, bigger chest & back, and a smaller waist! What more do you want?!
Make these moves a part of your weekly routines and you will be packing on size in no time! If you have further trouble then it’s either down to your diet, or your stomach’s ability to absorb the nutrients from your food. I’ll be sure to blog about those issues soon.
This is something that I like to hit up at the end of my chest and back routine after my pecs and lats are past exhaustion and full of blood.
When performing the press-up/push-up, be sure that the band is wrapped around the back of your shoulders and triceps. Keep you back straight and core tight. The benefit of using the kettle bells means that you can go deeper which will stretch the chest muscles, forcing them to work more than the triceps at the bottom of the movement. The band works to create more resistance the further it is stretched, so you will it working more as you press yourself back up.
When rowing, the band will be assisting the movement. Because of this you can go extra heavy with the kettle bells, but you MUST be sure to go super slow on the descent. Keep your lower back arched, chest high, posture just above a 90° angle, and row towards your waist.
Perform once per week, shifting the weight and rep range at least every two weeks, and you will be sure to pack on some serious mass!