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.
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. For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full slate of Eb and Swole workouts. If you want to try an even more dedicated routine, consider Eb’s New Rules of Muscle program.
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