8 Best Chest Exercises You Haven't Tried

Chest training gone stale? Physique champion Jason Poston helps you breathe new life into your pec training with these novel movements to spark new muscle growth!

Sooner or later, all good things must come to an end. That Caribbean holiday on warm, sandy beaches overlooking azure seas. Your streak of luck in Vegas, in which you pocketed a fistful of cash at the blackjack table. And, sadly, your gains in the gym on chest day.

Everyone hits a plateau sooner or later on chest day, and you can attack these slumps in any number of ways. This article considers one of the most obvious: introducing novel exercises into your routine.

Of course, you can't just randomly slap together new movements and hope to grow. It's best to learn from an expert—someone who has overcome chest-day plateaus before and has an arsenal of unique exercises. Luckily for you, MET-Rx athlete and four-time pro IFBB physique winner Jason Poston is here to share some of his favorite novel moves.

Give these exercises a shot on your next chest day to recruit the pecs from unique angles so the muscle fibers fire in a slightly different manner.


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About This Move

Most lifters do incline presses with a barbell or dumbbells. When doing the barbell version, the bench is usually fixed around 40 degrees. That angle hits the chest, yes, but it pounds the shoulders fairly hard as well.

Here, though, the idea is to use a more moderate bench angle, so you'll have to skip the barbell in favor of dumbbells or the Smith machine and use an adjustable bench. By training at an intermediate angle between the flat and more steeply inclined bench, the emphasis also shifts a little on your chest, which ultimately allows for more complete development.

Poston's Pro Training Tip

"Start using the adjustable bench for your inclines with dumbbells or the Smith machine, positioning the bench either one notch up from the flat position or one notch down from your regular incline position," says Poston. "Work several of these different degrees of incline into your chest training routine."


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About This Move

You're probably familiar with high-pulley and low-pulley cross-overs, but this variation entails moving the pulley down a few positions from the top. It allows you to hit the pec fibers from a slightly different angle than what they're used to. Mind you, if you go exactly halfway down, you're getting close to the angle of pull of the pec-deck machine.

Once again, this exercise is all about introducing a new angle that's between two moves you probably do more frequently. While high-pulley cable cross-overs are a single-joint move for the lower chest, adjusting the angle of pull moves the area of emphasis a little higher on the mid-to-lower pecs.

Poston's Pro Training Tip

"Regardless of which angle you use, with a single-joint movement like cross-overs, it's imperative that you lock a slight bend in your elbows that you hold for the duration of the set," Poston says. "If you're pressing the cables, you lose the isolation effect, because now the triceps are working, too. Far too many trainees make this blunder."

About This Move

Even though this movement is done on a flat bench, taking a reverse grip shifts the focus toward your upper pecs, so this is another way to work your pec fibers from a new angle.

Take a wide, underhand grip, and use a spotter for safety to unrack and rack the bar. Lower the bar to your lower pecs and press back up toward your head, much like the movement arc of the overhand barbell bench press.

Poston's Pro Training Tip

"If you do this movement on the Smith machine, you can use all the in-between bench angles offered by an adjustable bench," says Poston. "Be aware that if you change the bench angle on consecutive sets, you have to reposition the bench, since the bar is locked in the vertical plane.


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About This Move

Accidentally pressing flyes is most common among trainees who go too heavy on their dumbbell flyes and have never learned how to do the single-joint move correctly. However, if you can successfully do single-joint cable and dumbbell flyes, you can do a hybrid move by going heavier than normal on your flyes and doing a half press/half fly.

The elbows aren't exactly locked in a slightly bent position—there's some opening and closing, but not to the degree you see with a chest-pressing motion. The rationale here is to utilize movements that work the pecs from new angles for better overall chest development by combining characteristics of both a compound and isolation movement.

Because this is a dumbbell exercise, you'll be using an adjustable bench, so feel free to use every in-between bench position available.

Poston's Pro Training Tip

"This isn't meant to replace dumbbell flyes in your chest workout, but complement them (or other single-joint chest movements)," says Poston. "Since heavier exercises are normally done earlier in your chest workout, this movement can bridge your heavy presses and single-joint flyes."


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About The Move

Chest presses on the Hammer Strength machine allow each side to work independently, which means a stronger side can't take on a greater portion of the load and cover for a weaker one. However, with this variation, you'll target each side separately. Sit sideways on the machine, not straight on, and you'll create an altogether different angle at which to push across your body rather than directly outward.

Brace yourself with your free hand so you don't slide in the seat if you're going heavy. Press the handle to full arm extension, then slowly lower it back to the start position.

Poston's Pro Training Tip

"If you're lucky, your gym has all three seated chest-press machines from Hammer Strength—or any other manufacturer—that let the arms move independently: incline, decline, and flat," says Poston. "As long as you're comfortably able to able to sit sideways on the bench, you should be able to do these movements pushing across your body. Combine these variations with the two-sided straight-on version."

About This Move

Doing your bench presses in a power rack with the safeties set toward the lower end of your range of motion is more than just a safe and effective way to train without a spotter. By moving the safeties farther up, you can train over a shortened range of motion and perform what are called "partial reps."

The sticking point for most people is during the lower half of the bench press, so here you'll set the safeties above that so you're training over a portion of the lift in which you're stronger. Because you're doing the movement above your natural sticking point, you can actually use heavier weights than full range-of-motion benching, which increases the neural stimulus to recruit additional muscle fibers.

Poston's Pro Training Tip

"Heavy partials should be done in conjunction with full-range training so that you're still working the lower portion of the ROM," says Poston.


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About This Move

While this isn't a new exercise, I'd be remiss if I didn't take an exercise you're already familiar with and show you new ways to make it work. Here, you'll put extra work on your inner-pec fibers, which are blasted best when your hands are close together. Choose a weight you can do for about 10-12 reps, and get ready for 4 tough sets of pec-deck flyes.

Your first set should be done normally for 10 reps. On the second, hold the peak contraction for a second—a full second!—on every rep. On the third set, do a full-range rep and then a very short partial, allowing the handles to go only as wide as your shoulders. (Both of these count together as a single rep, often called one-and-a-halfs.)

Do your last with 10 reps just like your first set, and then do as many short partials as you possibly can, continuing on to 20, 25, or even 30 partials to really burn those inner-pec fibers.

Poston's Pro Training Tip

"With machine flyes, your elbows are locked in the slightly bent position, so it's easier to maintain form so you don't end up pressing the weights," says Poston. "Just make sure you set the bench so your hands, elbows, and shoulders are in the same horizontal plane, and be sure not to drop your elbows as you execute the move."

About This Move

The dumbbell pull-over is an uncommon but effective single-joint movement for the chest. The change here is that you do the movement lying on the incline bench rather than across a flat bench, putting more emphasis on the chest—and less on your lats—than you'd get the traditional way.

Set an incline bench to about 45 degrees and lie back squarely on it, holding the upper plate of a dumbbell with both hands wrapped around the handle. Hold the weight at arm's length overhead, keeping your arms as straight as possible during the move.

Allow the weight to pull your arms behind you, stretching your pecs, while keeping your glutes and shoulders against the bench. Smoothly reverse direction by contracting your pecs, bringing the weight directly over your chest.

Poston's Pro Training Tip

"Do this as a finishing exercise on chest day," says Poston. "On your last rep, hold your arms extended for a full count of five and squeeze your chest hard to really finish with a pump!"


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