account My cart 0
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Best & Worst Chest Exercises

You don’t normally see us writing about concepts like body part exercises. That is because we know it goes against how the body is designed to work, but we also know that a lot of people work out simply to look good. The irony is that people think working in more functional terms doesn’t make our bodies look better. It seems completely counterintuitive if you realize that the point of functional training is to train the body as it is suppose to function right? So, that means we can talk about concepts like “chest exercises” but give you a much better perspective. What are some good and not so good chest exercises if we look through both the lenses of function and muscle growth?

The “Bad” Chest Exercises

I hope it is clear by now, when we say an exercise is “bad” that can mean many things…

-It is inefficient

-It doesn’t accomplish what is claimed

-It exposes the body to unnecessary risks

-The risk to reward scale isn’t close to even or much better, largely on the reward side.

People like to say there are no such thing as bad exercises, but if you think about the above variables you probably would agree that there certainly are bad exercises. When it comes to chest exercises what are less than ideal exercises that can easily jump into the class of “bad”?

Bridge Presses

This exercise was actually around before the invention of the bench and therefore bench pressing was even really a thing. It was one of many ways that people would look at training their chest but it was more out of necessity. Isn’t this like better decline bench? If those are our two options I might say yes, but there are two big reasons that I don’t think for most people that bridge presses are good chest exercises.

-Not Enough Load: In the position of the bridge press it is very hard to load the upper body to appreciable levels. We can challenge the upper body through many push-up, cable, and plank variations that load the chest much better. Even if you attempt to load heavy, you do put yourself at risk for a myriad of bad things happening, especially if the situation of getting rid of the weight becomes apparent.

Not Suppose To Be A Chest Exercise: You see us recommending and using bridge kettlebell pressing movements, so aren’t we hypocrites? Well, no:) That is because we aren’t using the bridge press to be one of our chest exercises. Instead, we are trying to tie in the connect of grip, lats, and core to our bridge training. Pressing implements like kettlebells in a bridge also allows us to integrate various core concepts like proper bracing and resisting forces like rotation.

Physical Therapist Jessica Bento shows these PKM bridge presses are more about connecting the body and challenging core/pelvic stability that building a huge chest. We load the core and glutes way more than we can just than the chest.

Floor Presses

Floor presses were popularized by powerlifters that were trying to look how to easily strengthen a specific range of motion of their bench press. Somehow it leaked into fitness and people are benching on the ground. I get some people are using it to work with clients that aren’t strong enough to do exercises like push-ups, but we have better options!

chest exercises

The floor press is on my “not” list because it takes away the influence the core and lower body have in our press, both building strength and shoulder health. That is because our upper body has a strong connection to our core and lower body through chains like the spiral line of the body…

So you see really not just floor presses, but any of the chest exercises that take out our core and upper body are far from ideal! What do we do instead when people aren’t strong enough to perform what we often think of as better chest exercises like push-ups? Well, time to look at good chest exercises.

chest exercises

Suspension units are great because we can work at different angles to make the exercise easier or harder. 

one arm push-up chest exercises

All the way to really advanced chest exercises that teach us proper stability into the ground, core, and basically entire body.

Bands and cables are great tools to still load the upper body, but also integrate the entire body in a way that teaches us to move better and to keep healthy shoulders.

Jessica shows that if you are going to use a bench, this is a smarter way to use them. These types of movements are so preferred because they accomplish so much more than just bigger or better looking muscles (sure it does that), but it teaches important concepts about protecting our spine by bracing correctly, how to stabilize our shoulders, how have strength from the ground up which prevents in appropriate winging of the scapula or movement of the low back.

There are so many progressions we can use just from these concepts. We didn’t even get into how we use isometrics to build great chest exercises and a strong/healthy upper body. Yet, it is the principles we want you to understand because once you do so, the options are endless like we show below.

We teach great progressions like these in our DVRT certifications/courses (like our L.I.F.T. certification) that you can not only check out online but save 2% on this week along with our Ultimate Sandbags with code “sale25” and get 2 FREE follow along workouts  HERE