Next chest day, think beyond the burst of strength you use to lift a weight during a press exercise. Get more out of your workout by focusing on every stage of the movement instead—particularly the eccentric (lowering) portion.
This chest-centric series from Men’s Health Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. forces you to really concentrate on each individual part of an incline press, giving your chest, triceps, and core an intense trial. You’ll need balance and patience for isometric holds, too—you won’t be quickly pumping through these reps.
To perform the eccentric-focused mixed-style incline press, you’ll need an incline bench and a set of dumbbells. You can err on the heavy side for this—but make sure that you use a weight that you can control on the way up and, importantly, down.
- Sit on the incline bench holding the dumbbells in each hand.
- Press up with both hands, just as you would in a standard incline press. Pause and hold the weights above your chest.
- Lower the weight in one hand down slowly, counting for 2 beats until its about 2 inches away from your chest. This is the eccentric portion of the lift.
- As you lower one arm, brace your core to keep the other weight steady and your arm elevated.
- Once the first arm is down, lower the opposite side down to the same position in the same manner.
- After both arms are down, press both dumbbells up explosively to the starting position.
- Repeat the lowering series, this time starting with the opposite arm that you did for the first reps.
The series is so effective because it makes your muscles contract in three different ways. First, Samuel says that your chest has to deliver a “strong and steady” eccentric contraction to control the weights on the way down. Each rep also includes two moments of isometric contraction—as you lower one dumbbell, you’re holding the other in a steady position; then, when you’re also holding the dumbbells in the lowered position, you should be contracting chest, shoulder, and back muscles to control and fully stabilize the dumbbell. Add in that explosive press to round out each rep, and your chest won’t know what hit it.
You’ll also depend on your core to finish the reps with proper form. “Don’t let your torso rotate from side to side; work to keep it as steady as possible,” Samuel advises. “Especially when you’re in that imbalanced position with one dumbbell at your chest and one overhead, [you] will want to rotate downwards toward the dumbbell at your chest. Fight that by turning your obliques on.”
Add this crusher to your next chest or push day with 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps.
By Brett Williams