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The Body Consultants

Pec Popping Presses

Today piece is about the classic bench press and a few variations to throw into your training mix to achieve some serious results.

If your pecs are flatter than a surfboard yet you always seem to be benching, chances are you just aren’t targeting them effectively.

Most people we see in commercial gyms are overly dominant through their shoulders when pressing, meaning those pumped up pecs you so desire are not really getting what they need to grow, this means 2 things, 1: V necks are out, and 2: You’re shoulders are more than likely not thanking you for grinding your connective tissue into dust.

Let’s explain the set up first and foremost, be it dumbbells or a barbell, we want to have our chest high and shoulder blades squeezed tight. Our shoulders should not raise above our chest, this will change the recruitment of the muscle groups placing more emphasis on the delta. There should be a moderate arch in the lower back and we would try to remain in this position throughout.

Check the photo’s below to see the difference in a poor vs great set up.

Bench Comparison

The top photo is where we want to have the shoulders set. The bottom photo is where we don’t want to have the shoulders positioned.


In terms of variations, we are going to cover 3 today and explain how we might use each of them for different goals.

1: Floor Press: This is a bench press variation where you are lying on the floor. This is great for improving the lockout of your bench, if you find yourself getting stuck half way up, you may want to rotate these into your program, they will improve the strength of your triceps and help you to finish the moment.

Floor presses are also fantastic for people with poor shoulders, due to the limited range from your triceps hitting the ground, we are not taking the shoulder through an extreme range of motion, thereby leaving it as a safe alternative to still work the chest, even with dodgy or injured shoulders.

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2: Guillotine Press: My absoloute favourite in terms of really working the chest. This is a regular bench, albeit with a twist. Instead of slightly tucking the elbows to your side and bringing the bar to the nipple line or around there, we are going to flare the elbows and bring the bar to our clavicle or very upper chest.

This is going to induce an amazing stretch through the chest, and you will begin to feel a searing line along the upper chest, this is exactly where we want to emphasise development, so we are not left with a pair of sagging tits from too much lower and middle pec work. The goal is to create a shelf upon which you could rest an assortment of goods.

This is a fantastic movement to perform 1-2 exercises into a workout once a pump has already been established as the goal is to really open the chest up. Due to the more extreme range we would want to only perform this if our shoulders are in good health, and have adequate range, if you perform this and feel pain in the shoulders it is probably wise to leave this until you have gained more mobility through the shoulder girdle.

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3: Incline Press: This is also once again a fantastic movement to help bring up to par a lagging upper chest. The problem is that a lot of  people go to heavy, and end up lifting their hips up off the bench, or over arching, effectively creating a hybrid flat bench.

The level of the incline will dictate the recruitment of the muscle. The higher you go the more shoulders you will hit and the less chest. Personally I favour a small 10-15 Incline, as I find it rips a perfect searing line across my upper chest, while at the same time, not putting to much load on the shoulders. This is achieved by simply sliding a small step or weight plate under a flat bench to create a gradual incline.

Set up can be done guillotine style, or conventional, with the elbows slightly tucked.

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We hope you enjoyed these pressing variations and can find a way to work your chest with something other than the classic bench press.

If you would like to learn more ways you can mix up your training, or improve your technique then apply below for your free 2 week training pass to be set up with a personal trainer and ensure you are getting the most out of your workouts.

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