Question: I’ve heard that the bench press is not such an effective chest exercise. Is this true? If so, what’s better?
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Answer: Actually, the bench press is a really good exercise. However, if you bench press properly, there will only be minimal pectoral involvement. In other words, your triceps and front delts will be doing most of the work.
The extent to which your triceps and front delts will be involved depends on each individual person and is based on your strengths and weaknesses, but for the most part, your chest won’t be doing most of the work when you perform the bench press.
To build chest muscle fast try to make the movemement in your bench press target the pecs more by bringing your elbows out wide and lowering the bar further up on your chest.
The way bodybuilding magazines show you how to do it is a shoulder injury just waiting to happen, which means you shouldn’t even consider this an option.
Eventhough your pecs don’t do most of the work during the bench press movement, I still say it’s a great, although somewhat overused, muscle mass builder for the entire upper body. However, if you have shoulder issues, you should avoid the bench press at all costs, but for everyone else it’s one of the best upper-body exercises.
Equally effective, if not even more so, is the dumbbell bench press. The dumbbells give you a more natural range of motion and they are safer. You can use them on a flat or incline bench.
Dumbbells will also give you the option to press with your palms facing down toward your feet much like they do when you press with a bar or with your palms facing each other – inward toward your body. The latter variation puts less stress on your shoulders.
Finally, pushups of any and all varieties will always remain on my list of top chest builders. My personal favorites are weighted blast-strap pushups with straps set five feet apart from each other.
The function of the pecs in this exercise is to draw the arms across mid body. Thus, when you set the straps far apart from each other, you make your chest muscles function in this way as you press/pull yourself back up from the bottom position.
You have to do it to appreciate what I’m talking about, but I think you would be hard pressed to find a better chest exercise than this to build chest muscle fast.