The bench press is, of course, a staple in every avid gym-goer’s routine. Especially if they are looking for the perfect balance between lifting heavy weights and exercising a muscle swelling pump. Sure, there might be better exercises to build the upper body more optimally, more inventively, and more researched. But try as we might, most of us just can’t tear ourselves away from the humble bench press. And frankly, I think it’s about time I stopped resisting her attraction.
This chest pump protocol combines three of the biggest bench press variations going, to deliver a satisfying, muscle-bulking, strength-building dose of upper-body goodness. And the good news is, it couldn’t be easier to do.
Using a barbell or dumbbells, warm up thoroughly and find a weight you can incline for about 10 reps, but not many more. Next, start a stopwatch and work your way through this pec-pumping three-move mechanical dropset, which will essentially switch you from the hardest movement to the least, allowing you to keep working and racking up reps, even as fatigue sets in. This high-volume, high-intensity approach will drive an ungodly amount of blood into your chest, seriously challenging your triceps and shoulders as a bonus.
Once you’ve completed your first round by finishing with as many repetitions as humanly possible on the floor, hit watch your clock and rest until the five-minute mark. Then go again. Repeat this five times, for a severely swollen torso in less than 25 minutes.
It starts at 0:00 and starts a new round every five minutes. Complete five rounds total, last round starts at 8pm.
1. Incline bench press x 5
Lie on a bench at a 45-degree angle, holding two dumbbells or a barbell overhead (A). Slowly lower both bells for a count of three seconds, keeping your elbows at a slight angle to your torso, until both dumbbells or the bar touch your chest (A). ANDpress xplosively to return to full block and repeat.
2. Bench x 10
After the last rep, immediately lower the bench angle or switch to a flat bench press. Lie on your back, with knees bent and feet firmly pressing into the floor. Press the kettlebells or bar into the air, locking your elbows (A). Slowly lower yourself until the weights make contact with your chest (b). Keep your elbows at a 45-degree angle and pause there before pressing explosively. Repeat.
3. Floor Press x Max Reps
Finally bring your dumbbells or bar to the floor. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Press the weights above you, locking your elbows (A). Slowly lower them until your upper arms are resting on the floor (b), close to your body. Pause here before explosively pressing backup. Keep repeating until you can’t lift the weights anymore, then stop and rest for the rest of the five-minute window.
With nearly 18 years in the health and fitness field as a personal trainer, nutritionist, breath coach, and writer, Andrew has spent nearly half his life exploring how to help people improve their bodies and minds.
As our fitness editor, he takes pride in keeping Mens Health at the forefront of reliable, recognizable and credible fitness information, both through writing and testing thousands of workouts each year, diving deep into the science behind building muscle and fat loss or exploring the psychology of performance and recovery.
Whilst constantly updating his knowledge base with workshops and courses, Andrew is as much a lover of practice as he is of theory and regularly tests his training by tackling everything from Crossfit and strongman races, to ultra marathons, to multiple bouts of 24 hour training and (extremely unofficial) world record attempts.
You can find Andrew on Instagram at @theandrew.tracey, or just hold up a free pizza sign and wait for it to appear.
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