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Chest Workout: No Bench Press? No Problem.

Build a bigger, stronger, better chest with this complete workout from USPLabs designed to punish the pecs from every angle.

Many years ago, I made my return to the commercial gym setting as a type of informal tour to research the mainstream market. My career previously had been within the private "closed-door" settings of elite level sport, and while I assumed training would not be much different within the mainstream, I thought it best to review the daily training practices of the public.

Obviously I was shocked at not only how little had to do with my needs, but how far the modern exercise community had distanced itself from its "iron-game" lineage. Among the seemingly endless training errors, the basics of the iron-game were either prohibited or provided only a modest amount of gym floor space.

Stripped of lifting platforms and with only a few sporadic squat racks, much of the equipment did not satisfy the "functionality" of a balanced training regimen and had more to do with selling club memberships. As time went on, this gap only increased. The quality of exercise fell and, oddly, went in the direct opposite of the supplementation side, which was making vast improvements.

To take advantage of these modern advancements in supplementation, you need to stock your arsenal with the right tools, including the following:

Beyond The Bench

While training for the upper body seemed to dominate much of the designated training area, many of the best exercises and approaches were rarely seen. Just as deadlifts and squats were not used sufficiently, some of the best approaches to develop the chest were not used, with most lifters focusing upon the bench press.

While the bench press is one of the most common exercises in resistance training, it is debatable to call it the best movement for the chest. Though it is a natural movement to include in the training of athletes and strength-athletes, for virtually every other group a more diverse set of exercises is needed to attack the region. This diverse set is not as complicated skill-wise as the bench press.

I do advocate the bench press, but there are better avenues for those with bodybuilding goals. It is best to use a multi-pronged attack that targets the various regions of the chest.

Total Chest Training


The concentric (raising of the load) action is under control with no "cheating." Cheating only lowers the training effect. After applying the contraction technique, eccentrically lower the weight three times slower than raising. Pause at the bottom of the lift before accelerating the load upward.

Proper Movement Pattern

Technical form is imperative. Individuals must not use momentum to complete raises, or bend backward in overhead lifts.


  • Warm-up sets or lower intensity repetitions should not be counted.
  • Focus upon eccentric action and ensure optimal posture is maintained.
  • Rest is 45-to-60 seconds, no more.
  • Within dips, use a reverse grip with elbows pointed outward. Drop the chin toward the chest, with toes directly under your angle of sight. This will cause the shoulder to roll and have a pronounced impact upon the chest.

    Preferably your exercise facility will have a dip station with a "v" shape. If not, the standard parallel will suffice for most individuals. For larger and more developed individuals, it is unlikely to be wide enough.

  • When performing flyes and pullovers in particular, remember to inhale deeply as you lower the weight with a slow eccentric action.
The Workout

Weighted Bench Dip

4 sets of 6 reps
Weighted Bench Dip Weighted Bench Dip

Decline Dumbbell Bench Press Decline Dumbbell Bench Press


Incline Dumbbell Flyes

2-3 sets of 12 reps
Incline Dumbbell Flyes Incline Dumbbell Flyes


Dumbbell Flyes

1-2 sets of 12 reps
Dumbbell Flyes Dumbbell Flyes


Straight-Arm Dumbbell Pullover

1-2 sets of 12-15 reps
Straight-Arm Dumbbell Pullover Straight-Arm Dumbbell Pullover

This workout fits perfectly within a standard 5-day-split routine, assuming care is given to proper recovery, diet and supplementation.

As with everything in life, do what you do with all your might and unlock the greatness within.

John Davies is available on his personal page on Facebook, Renegade Training™'s Twitter and his daily blog at USPlabs.