Smell that? It's your stale chest routine. It passed its expiration date a long time ago, but keeps getting pulled out of the fridge every week. Come on, you know it; you're due to replace some of those worn-out movements in your chest routine with something fresh that's going to stimulate your muscles in an entirely new way.
Fortunately for you, five Bodybuilding.com athletes are ready to come to your aid with the unique pec-building movements they use to build their photo-ready torsos.
1. Kizzito Ejam: Incline Pin Press
"The lower portion of the range of motion of any chest press is the hardest for many people," says Ejam. "I always find myself struggling until I reach about midway, at which point the movement seems to get easier."
This exercise is designed to build power and explosiveness over the bottom portion of the bench press. Starting a movement from a dead stop means you'll have to work harder to get it out of the hole, and that's where you're going to dedicate some extra sets building up your strength. Here, it's done on the incline, but it could just as easily be done on a flat or decline bench.
Key Training Tips: Set it up inside a power rack with the safety bars barely above the bottom of the range of motion. As you descend, allow the bar to momentarily settle on the safeties. Drive the bar up explosively, then allow it to resettle on the safeties on the bottom of each rep again.
2. Lee Constantinou: Kettlebell Pull-Over To Press
"Perform this chest finisher after your heavy compound movements," says Constantinou. "By using a kettlebell, you'll be able to push your palms together to create a far deeper contraction within your pecs. The combination of the pull-over with the press opens up your pecs and then focuses on those inner fibers, much like you'd get with a close-grip bench press. This combination will give you a huge pump to finish off your chest session."
Key Training Tips: Use a moderate-weight kettlebell you can handle for 10-15 reps. Hit 3 sets with no more than 60 seconds of rest in between. Hold the kettlebell firmly with your fingers wrapped around the "bulb" and your thumbs tucked inside the handles.
Keep your elbows flexed and tucked when performing the pull-over to keep the tension on your chest. Press the kettlebell over your chest, and think about pushing your palms together as your arms extend to give you that superior contraction. Avoid locking out your elbows on the press so the tension stays on your pecs throughout the movement.
3. Raynor Whitcome: Bent-Over Cable Chest Press
"Most cable exercises for chest are single-joint movements, but here I press them instead, similar to what you'd do on a barbell bench press," says Whitcombe. "This feels unique and quite different from your traditional press movements because your body isn't planted against a solid object, giving you the additional challenge of keeping your balance, which better engages your core."
Key Training Tips: Keep your back straight and parallel to the ground as best you can, but play with the angles and find ones that work best for you. Keep your elbows from coming too far back, to keep tension on your chest throughout the entire movement. Because you're not going as heavy as on your bench press, focus on the mind-muscle connection to really engage your pecs.
4. Michael Gonzales: Omniball Flyes
"This exercise is totally unique, because it's a bodyweight movement specifically for chest, but it also requires a tremendous amount of core strength and balance," says Gonzales. "There's also significantly less stress on the triceps than other bodyweight chest exercises. This is a great burnout move or substitute for cable or dumbbell flyes. You could perform it with furniture sliders, Valslides, or even two towels on a slick floor, but I really like theOmniBalls."
Key Training Tips: Make sure the floor is clean and level. Carpeted floors can increase friction and make the movement more herky-jerky. Use a knee pad for comfort. Push the balls out to your sides. The further out you can extend the range of motion, the greater the degree of difficulty and the stress on your outer pecs. Advanced trainers can perform these from the toes instead of the knees.
5. Lee Constantinou: Alternating Plyo Push-Up
"Use this exercise as a dynamic warm-up for your heavy bench press workouts. By elevating one hand, you'll create a deeper stretch in that side's pec than you would from a regular push-up," says Constantinou. "The explosive plyometric action of this movement will thoroughly warm up your pecs, but you'll also find yourself generating more power in your heavy bench presses."
Key Training Tips: Position your hand at the base of a step with your other hand in line to one side. Lower your chest to the floor under control, then dynamically push yourself up as you smoothly switch hands on the step, pivoting at the feet, and controlling yourself down into the next rep.
This is a continuous movement, using momentum and explosive power to change the tension from your left pec to your right. Perform 2 sets of 10 reps, without going to failure, as part of your chest warm-up for a more explosive workout. If you're feeling hardcore, throw in an extra set to failure at the end of your chest workout, too.
6. Michael Gonzales: Plyo Push-Up On Medicine Balls
"This version of the plyometric push-up alternates two variations in a single movement: close-grip floor push-ups, which hit more inner chest and triceps, and wide-grip push-ups on the med balls, which place more depth and more emphasis on the outer pecs," says Gonzales. "Because it's so explosive, this press uses more fast-twitch fibers than a regular push-up or traditional weight-bearing chest exercise. Since I travel often for work, and hotel gyms have limited weights and pulleys, I add these into my workout to crank up the intensity."
Key Training Tips: These work great at the beginning or end of a workout for a great burnout or stretch. Really explode to get your hands off the floor as you move them in and out from one rep to the next. If this movement is easy, use it on the back end of a superset, or keep rest periods short between sets.
7. Michael Gonzales: Kneeling Two-Handed Landmine Press
"If the angle of push reminds you of an incline press, you're right. But it's not precisely the same, so it doesn't have to replace an incline movement in your chest workout," says Gonzales. "The close grip works the inner chest, an area that's not targeted when doing incline barbell or dumbbell presses with a wider grip. This exercise is normally the last press exercise I do before going into single-joint chest flyes."
Key Training Tips: Kneel on a pad over the standing version, because it restricts bouncing for more controlled reps. Because this movement targets the triceps and anterior shoulders as well as the chest, you can use it to transition into your delt routine if you train chest and shoulders on the same day.
8. Lawrence Ballenger: Incline Dumbbell Press With Svend Press
"This superset pairs two movements done back to back; I picked it up from former American Gladiator Mike O'Hearn," says Ballenger. "When you use a neutral grip like I do in the video, it really targets the inner pecs better than about anything else I've tried, and provides an incredible pump, but it also engages the triceps effectively. With the Svend press, having your fingers spread while you hold the plates together creates a strong isometric contraction that amps up the stress on the chest."
Key Training Tips: Do a full six count on each rep of the dumbbell press: three up, three down. Really try to move the dumbbells straight up and down, rather than pushing them out or letting them tilt. With the Svend press, hold a pair of plates together, keep your fingers spread, and don't lock out your elbows. Control the weight, and keep a constant squeeze on the chest, never letting it relax. Aim for 4 sets of 10 reps with both movements.