Decline Dumbbell Bench Press
The exercise zeroes in on your lower chest, building serious size, says Tyler English, C.S.C.S., author of Natural Bodybuilder’s Bible.
Do it: Lie on a decline bench with your shins hooked beneath the leg support. Hold a pair of dumbbells above your chest with your arms straight. Your palms should face your feet and the weights should be just outside your shoulders. Lower the dumbbells to your chest, pause, and then press them back up to the starting position.
This exercise is a stepping-stone to the coveted one-arm pushup, explains Gaddour.
“It develops your chest, triceps, abs, and shoulders like crazy, and teaches you to stabilize your core,” he says.
Do it: Assume a pushup position with your left hand directly under your shoulder. Fully extend your right arm straight out to your side and place your hand on a medicine ball or low step. Bend your left elbow to slowly lower your chest down to the floor, making sure to keep the brunt of your bodyweight on your left hand. Once your chest is just above the floor, push yourself back up. Do all your reps on one side, and then switch sides.
Band or Chain Barbell Bench Press
Adding chains or bands to the ends of a barbell makes it unstable. The instability forces your core and stabilizer muscles to kick in to a higher degree, according to research conducted at the University of New England. That gives your chest a new stimulus, promoting strength.
Do it: Hang a chain over each end of the barbell, or anchor resistance bands to the bench and place them over each end of the bar. Start without weight, in order to get used to the unstable bar. Grab the barbell and lie on a bench. Using an overhand grip that’s just beyond shoulder width, hold the bar above your sternum, keeping your arms straight. Lower the bar to your chest, and then push it back to the starting position
Do it: Get into a pushup position, your hands just outside your chest, your feet shoulder-width apart, and your body forming a straight line from head to heels. Brace your core. Lower your chest to the floor and then press up explosively so your hands come off the floor.
Single-Arm Dumbbell Bench Press
This exercise hits your chest like any awesome bench variation. But what makes it particularly special is that your other side has to lock down so the dumbbell doesn’t pull you off the bench, says Dan John, strength coach and author of Intervention. The end result: It sculpts your chest and abs to a greater degree.
Do it: Lie with your back flat on a bench holding a dumbbell in your right hand. Press the dumbbell directly over your chest until your arm is straight. Slowly lower the dumbbell to the right side of your chest. Pause, then press it back up. Do all your reps on your right side, and then repeat on your left.