Chest day is, for some, the best day of the week — but you’re wasting a perfect opportunity for extra gains if you spend your entire session on the bench with nothing but a barbell.
Men’s Health Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., programs most of his workouts to hit multiple muscle groups, rather than isolating one single area. For this routine, that means pounding the chest and abs with rep after rep for an even more sculpted torso.
“There’s a lot of volume in this workout, so bring your mental A-game,” Samuels advises. “The final superset in particular will tax and define your abs as much as it finishes off your chest.”
To perform the chest and ab session, you’ll need a weight bench, a barbell, dumbbells, and resistance bands, so your best bet is to save this for the gym.
The Chest Day Ab Repper Workout
Dumbbell/Barbell Bench Press
2nd IG Slide; 4 sets of 8-10 reps, dropset to barbell half-full bench press to technical failure
Start with a dumbbell bench press. “You want to move big weights early on, so challenge yourself on the dumbbell presses (with good form),” says Samuel.
After each set of dumbbell press, get yourself under a barbell bench for a drop set until failure. These aren’t standard reps, however — perform two half reps for every full rep there until you fail.
“Go light enough on the barbell end of this that you can really pay attention to what your ribs are doing on the bench,” Samuel says. “Your ribs shouldn’t flare here; flex your abs tight to handle this.”
Standard-to-Single-Arm Incline Press
3rd IG Slide; 4 sets of 6 pairs of reps
- Get on an incline bench with a set of dumbbells.
- Perform one regular rep with both arms, then one rep with just your right arm.
- Perform one regular rep, then one rep with your left arm.
“A lot of the ab “work” in this workout is about your core counterbalancing against ever-changing rotational forces, and that starts here,” says Samuel. “You’ll need to press that heavy weight upwards, but you want to keep your core tight as you do this. If you find your torso rotating a ton throughout this exercise, you’re going too heavy.”
Resistance Band Kneeling Pause Flies
4th IG slide; 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps
- Attach two resistance bands to a power rack or tower, parallel to each other.
- Kneel between the platforms, gripping a band in each hand.
- Squeeze your pecs and brace your core to bring the bands together.
Don’t worry if you don’t have bands — a cable machine works too — but Samuel contends you’ll getting better work with them.
“You’ll be able to get a better squeeze on your pecs with bands; they offer greater resistance when stretched and your chest will respond to that feedback,” he says. “Own the squeeze, and own that tall kneeling body position, too; flex your glutes and contract your abs to stay upright.”
5th IG slide; 3 sets
Perform one full superset at a time with each arm. That means you’ll go straight from single-arm press to single-arm fly without switching sides.
Eccentric Focus Hollow Body Single-Arm Press
10 to 12 reps
- Lay on the ground in a hollow body position and a dumbbell in your left arm, extending your right arm for balance.
- Perform 8 press reps, squeezing your core to stay balanced.
“For your chest, it’s all about focus and mind-muscle connection,” Samuel says. “Really control the tempo as you’re lowering on the eccentric hollow body press. You want your core and chest to have to fight through these, not to have an easy go of things.”
Hollow Body Resistance Band Single-Arm Fly
- Attach a resistance band to a low anchor.
- Lay on the ground in a hollow body position, holding the band with your left hand.
- Squeeze your chest to pull the band back through your chest, bracing your core to stay balanced.
“Work to really squeeze your chest while simultaneously firing your obliques in that hard to maintain the steady hollow body position,” Samuel advises. “There’s a lot going on for your body in this final superset, so stay mentally focused.”
By Brett Williams