Welcome to Modify This Move, a series that will provide you with all the information you need to modify a common exercise to suit your needs, your body, and your mood. Each tale explains a fundamental fitness action in detail before offering a variety of variations based on your current level of fitness or energy, any current or past ailments, or the muscles you wish to focus on the most. So leave your ego at the door and make sure every workout is appropriate for where you are right now.
You might have to push your kids in a stroller down the street, push a heavy shopping cart through the congested aisles of your grocery store, and push your couch back into its original position after your crazy dog displaced it during their zoomies all in the same day. The lone factor that links these pursuits together? They all need you to press heavy things with your upper body.
Sal Nakhlawi , a certified functional strength coach and weightlifting instructor in New York City, argues that practicing the chest press (also known as the bench press) can be beneficial. Your pushing strength will increase as a result of the workout that entails lying on the floor or a bench and pressing weight straight up toward the ceiling, she says. This will make ordinary activities easier. According to Nakhlawi, despite its name, the chest press also works your deltoids (commonly known as shoulder muscles), triceps, and biceps in addition to your pectorals.
However, you don’t have to stick with the standard chest press to reap its advantages for increasing strength. In fact, scaled-down variations of the chest press allow both novice and experienced lifters wishing to get back to the basics to practice proper form without having to make any difficult adjustments to technique. On the other hand, those who want to increase the difficulty or achieve specific fitness goals can try chest press variations that test coordination and concentrate on particular muscle groups. Additionally, if you have shoulder problems, you can choose a chest press variation that will help you gain strength without putting additional strain on your joint. You should pick a chest press variant that feels comfortable for your body at the time, is compatible with your level of fitness, and aids you in achieving your goal.
Are you prepared to try the upper-body exercise? Once you’ve mastered the dumbbell chest press, refer to the instructions below to see how to change it up. Nakhlawi presented six distinct chest press variations that are suitable for people of all fitness levels.
PERFORMING A CHEST PRESS A. Take a seat on the floor with your feet flat on the floor in front of you and your knees bent at a 45-degree angle. In each hand, grip a medium-weight dumbbell.
B. Holding the dumbbells in front of the shoulders, squeeze the elbows tightly to the ribs before slowly lowering the torso to the floor and lying face up. With palms towards the feet, extend elbows out to the sides so triceps make a 45-degree angle with the body. Feet should be level on the ground while you engage your core. This is where everything begin.
C. Straighten your arms and press the dumbbells up toward the ceiling until they are directly above your shoulders.
D. Pause until the dumbbells are a few inches above shoulders before slowly bending elbows to lower the dumbbells to chest and triceps to the floor.
6 CHANGES TO CHEST PRESSURE Don’t worry if you try the traditional chest press and discover that it doesn’t suit your physique or level of fitness. Try substituting an activity with a chest press variant that provides you exactly what you want and need rather than staying with one that seems too difficult or doesn’t fit with your goals.
Here are some chest press variations that scale the workout up or down, as well as routines that concentrate on particular muscle groups and address muscular imbalances. Additionally, you’ll discover chest press varieties that are excellent if you have shoulder problems. Whatever you decide, keep listening to your body as you push through your reps. If something doesn’t feel right, try a different activity.
PUSH-UP AS A CHEST PRESS VARIATION TO SCALE DOWN Consider doing a push-up before performing a chest press if the thought of using free weights makes you feel nervous (there is a little possibility of dropping the dumbbells on your face, after all). According to Nakhlawi, the exercise enables you to train the same muscles as the chest press without using bulky equipment. Additionally, you can further adjust the exercise by doing push-ups on your knees, which will make it easier on your upper body and core.
A. Place your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips in a tabletop position on the floor. Walk your knees back until your body is in a straight line from your head to your knees. Then, place the tips of your toes on the ground or in the air.
B. Tuck your tailbone in and move your navel toward your spine to activate your core. Draw your shoulders away from your ears and down to lock in your lats. elbows outward until arms are at a 45-degree angle to the body.
C. To keep your neck neutral and your core engaged, look down and slightly forward. Slowly lower your body until it is about 3 inches off the ground by bending at the elbows.
D. Push yourself away from the ground to go back to where you were.
RECIPROCAL CHEST PRESS AS A CHEST PRESS VARIATION TO RAISE THE LEVEL In this advanced chest press exercise, you will simultaneously raise one dumbbell to the sky and lower the other weight, similar to a seesaw, back to your chest. The dynamic movement tests your coordination in addition to your upper-body muscles, according to Nakhlawi.
A. Take a seat on the floor with your feet flat on the floor in front of you and your knees bent at a 45-degree angle. In each hand, grip a medium-weight dumbbell.
C. Straighten your right arm and press the right dumbbell up toward the ceiling until it is directly over your right shoulder.
D. Pause when the dumbbell is a few inches over the shoulder and slowly bend the right elbow to lower the weight to the chest and triceps to the floor. Straighten your left arm and press the left dumbbell up toward the ceiling so that it is directly over your left shoulder.
INCLINE CHEST PRESS: A CHEST PRESS VARIATION TO TARGET THE UPPER CHEST Want to make your upper chest muscles stronger? Try an incline chest press variation, which Nakhlawi advises will better target your upper pectorals than a regular bench press.
A. Hold a medium-weight dumbbell in each hand, resting the weights on the bench as you sit on it at a 45-degree angle with your feet flat on the floor. What are you resting? thighs, andgt;andgt;.
B. Holding the dumbbells in front of the shoulders, squeeze the elbows tightly to the ribs before lowering the torso slowly to the bench’s backrest. With palms towards the feet, extend elbows out to the sides so triceps make a 45-degree angle with the body. Feet should be level on the ground while you engage your core. This is where everything begin.
DECLINE CHEST PRESS: CHEST PRESS VARIATION TO TARGET THE LOWER CHEST Practice the decline chest press variation to strengthen and develop the lower pectoral muscles, advises Nakhlawi. The movement pattern will be the same as the standard bench press, but you’ll be gripping a glute bridge instead. You can perform this exercise on an adjustable exercise bench ( tilted at a -15-degree angle ), or you can do it without one by entering a glute bridge hold to simulate the drop. The advantage of the later choice is that it works your glutes as you exercise your chest.
B. Holding the dumbbells in front of the shoulders, squeeze the elbows tightly to the ribs before slowly lowering the torso to the floor and lying face up. With palms towards the feet, extend elbows out to the sides so triceps make a 45-degree angle with the body. Feet should be level on the ground while you engage your core.
C. While exhaling, slowly push through both heels to raise the hips off the floor while keeping the core tight and the tailbone tucked. As high as you can without letting the lower back arch, raise the hips. This is where everything begin.
HAMMER PRESS AS A CHEST PRESS ALTERNATIVE FOR SHOULDER PAIN Choose a hammer press instead of the standard chest press if you currently have any shoulder problems or soreness. According to Nakhlawi, in this chest press variation, your palms should face each other rather than your feet. She says that as a result, the weights put less strain on your shoulder joints. (Do you adore the hammer press? Additionally, you should try the hammer curl.
B. Hold the dumbbells in front of your shoulders with your hands facing inward, squeeze your elbows tightly to your ribs, and then slowly lower your torso to the floor so that you are lying face up. Feet should be level on the ground while you engage your core. This is where everything begin.
SINGLE-ARM VARIATION OF CHEST PRESS TO CORRECT MUSCLE IMBALANCES PEARL PRESS Although it’s normal to have a stronger side of your body than the other, major imbalances can result in compensatory movement patterns and an elevated risk of injury, according to the American Council on Exercise . The good news is that since you can concentrate on working out and strengthening just one side of your body at a time with a single-arm chest press, your muscles will stay balanced.
A. Take a seat on the floor with your feet flat on the floor in front of you and your knees bent at a 45-degree angle. In your left hand, grasp a medium-weight dumbbell.
B. Hold the dumbbell in front of your left shoulder while keeping your elbows close to your ribs and slowly lower your torso to the floor so that you are lying face up. Left palm facing feet, open left elbow to the side so triceps make a 45-degree angle with the torso. Place your right arm out to the side with your palm flat on the ground. Feet should be level on the ground while you engage your core. This is where everything begin.
C. Straighten your left arm and press the dumbbell up toward the ceiling until it is directly over your left shoulder.
D. Pause when the dumbbell is a few inches over the left shoulder and slowly bend the left elbow to descend the dumbbell to the chest and triceps to the floor.
Artist and photographer Jenna Brillhart Sal Nakhlawi, a fitness model and stylist SET Active