If you’re after that lithe, sculpted, sinewy physique throughout your chest and shoulders, crank up the tunes and jam out with the chest press.
Finding its most practical applications in sports that utilize an explosive upper body such as swimming, tennis, golf, baseball, and martial arts, the chest press is a big muscle move sure to make the most of your upper torso.
Serious weightlifters the world over flock to this big muscle move primarily to target their chest pectorals while also working the shoulder’s anterior deltoids and triceps brachii of the upper arm. A strength-training exercise, the chest press is performed by pressing a weight directly over your head from chest level.
As with many press variations, the invention of the chest press has faded into ambiguity over time. However, we do know that it, along with the various other iterations, originated from the traditional floor press.
While the floor press is done lying on the floor and the bench press is completed on an incline or flat bench, all press movements showcase the same joint movements and work the same upper-body muscle groups. Simply performing a bench or floor press while seated on a vertical machine turns the exercise into a chest press.
The first known method of the press harkens way back to just before the turn of the 20th century. Estonian strongman, pro-wrestler, fitness philosopher, and author George Hackenschmidt is credited with performing the first-floor press in 1899 when he decided to roll a 361-pound bar on top of himself and lift it overhead.
This incredible feat of strength held the world record for 18 years.
How to Perform the Chest Press
We’ll be showing you how to do a chest press using the vertical chest-press machine found at most gyms, though there are alternatives to be discussed later.
- Load your desired weight onto the machine.
- Position yourself so the horizontal handlebars align with the center of your chest, making adjustments as necessary. Move the handles forward by pressing the foot bar.
- Grasping the handles, push forward with your arms until fully extended, lifting your feet off the bar so your arms bear the weight load.
- Control the release as you Slowly bend your arms, allowing your elbows to come just behind your chest before pushing out again.
- Repeat the process until the desired number of reps has been achieved.
- When your set is completed, place your feet on the foot bar to take the weight stack before letting go of the handles.
- Builds, sculpts, and strengthens the pectorals
- Enhances a broad-chested V-tapered aesthetic
- Improves functional strength for explosive upper body movement
- Counterbalances pulling exercises
- Restores muscle balance
- Improves sports performance
Whether you are planning to work your pecs at the gym or from the comfort of your own home, here are several variations for the chest press.
- At the Gym: Here, weightlifters can choose from pressing barbells to using a smith machine. Depending on what your gym has to offer, there might be a flat chest press station as well as the seated version. Incline positions place the focus on the upper chest whereas declines target the lower chest. It is advisable to employ a mix of positions for a well-balanced set of pectorals.
- At Home: Flat chest presses can be easily performed with dumbells lying on the floor, or try it on a medicine ball for an instability challenge. This allows you to play with the angle so you can focus more on your upper and lower chest. These exercises can also be done effectively with suspension trainers, cable pulls, or resistance bands.
An Exercise that Pleases the Ladies
As the first press was done lying on the floor, it was initially scoffed at by the best weightlifting community. Up to that point, muscle-building had been done standing upright, focusing on the arms rather than the chest, like a real man.
After it was discovered that many women preferred the broad-chested look one could achieve by using a floor press, it was quickly embraced by all.
If you want to create that powerful V-shaped taper that is said to drive women wild, this is the move for you.