FOR GYM BEGINNERS eager to participate in their first international chest day, the classic dumbbell bench press can be a tantalizing temptation. Yes, it’s the first exercise most people think of when they think of chest training, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best one to start with when you’re a beginner learning to lift weights. . You could end up with problems down the line.
Don’t do the bench press if you’re just beginning to master this strength exercise, at least for now. There are better options for a true beginner chest workout, according to men’s health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, CSCS A perfect starting point for chest day beginners would be a broad but concise workout that doesn’t just involve scampering off to the barbell bench press station and thrashing through the reps, but rather one that hits your entire chest from all areas.
3 mistakes newbies make on breast day
Samuel says that beginner trainees often make three key rookie mistakes when training their chest:
- Many new lifters do not change exercise angles enough (i.e. work from one position during presses).
- You don’t engage your glutes or core.
- Insufficient attention is given to muscle contraction (chest compression) during reps.
Beginner’s Chest Workout of the Day
This three-move routine will help beginners learn how to lift better without resorting to mindless dumbbell bench press reps. Once you follow a month-long cycle of doing this session two to three times a week (with dedicated back work as well), you’ll be ready to move on to bigger and better things.
Incline dumbbell press
4 sets of 10 reps
Normally, you might expect to start with an older standard like the flat bench press, even if you avoid the barbell. You use dumbbells to help build shoulder stability early in your lifting career, which will set the stage for hitting that big bench press later on.
You work on the incline bench, but to change your angle of pressure. Samuel recommends aiming for a 60 degree angle to your torso. While you’re still working on shifting the weight, you should also make sure to peg your glutes to the bench and keep your abs tight during each rep.
As you press, also focus on squeezing your blades tight and not letting your elbows flare out. This should help build strength while reducing unnecessary shoulder stress.
One-arm cable fly at knees
3 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions
An often overlooked factor in early strength training is that you don’t always have to focus on weight for weight’s sake; instead, your workouts should be designed to target how your muscles actually work. In this case, shoulder adduction — or moving your arm inward into your body — is the primary function of your pectoral muscles.
Remember to keep your abs and glutes tight as you perform this exercise. Engaging both muscles throughout the movement prevents the weight from twisting you as you keep your shoulders and hips straight. You don’t need to rest a lot between sets, but take each rep slowly, it’s all about feeling the contraction and creating a mental muscle connection with your chest, which is key to gaining strength and size .
Three-part push-up set
2-3 sets of as many reps as possible
This push-up sequence gives us a chance to expose your body at three different arm angles relative to our torso. First, work at the incline angle with your feet elevated on a box. This will be the most difficult angle. Once you’ve broken the form, switch to a standard push-up — a flat bench simulator in which the hands and feet are on the floor — and start again. Then, raise your hands for a decline pushup for the easiest angle to complete the set.
Jeff Tomko is a freelance fitness writer who has written for Muscle and Fitness, Men’s Fitness, and Men’s Health.
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