So you want to build a stronger chest? While you probably understand this requires dedication to strength training for at least two nonconsecutive days per week, it’s the actual training routine that confuses beginner exercisers. The bench press exercise is among the most popular and effective chest exercises, and it may be implemented into your strength training program from day one.
Weight Machine Routine
If you’ve never set foot into a gym, or it’s been years since you last pumped iron, weight machines will be your new best friend. Weight machines are ideal for beginners because they operate within a fixed pathway. That is to say, the lifting and lower action of the bench press is partially controlled by the machine. For beginners, this mode of training teaches proper technique and reduces the risk of accidental injury that dumbbells and barbells carry. Bench press exercises are available in all major weight machine designs, such as plate loaded, cable and selectorized machines.
Weight selection determines how much bang you get for your lifting buck, so to speak. Lift too little weight, and your muscles aren’t challenged and you won’t experience significant strength increases. However, lift too much weight and you could injure your muscles or joints. Therefore, choosing a weight that will fatigue muscles within the required sets and repetitions is essential. Perform a practice lift. Select a weight amount, and execute eight repetitions. If you feel as if you could do more reps, add 5 to 10 percent of resistance. But if your muscles feel fatigued, stick with this weight load. Reduce the weight by 5 to 10 percent if you can’t complete eight repetitions with perfect form.
Sets and Repetitions
Promoting strength gains requires a very specific number of sets and repetitions. As a beginner, personal trainer and fitness expert Jaime Girard suggests lifting eight to 12 repetitions for two sets. Rest 30 to 90 seconds between each set, and take your time while pressing the weight up and lowering it back down. When you can successfully complete the sets and reps without feeling full exhaustion in your muscles, increase the weight by 5 to 10 percent.
As you progress, you must alter the exercise to continually challenge your chest muscles. The American Council on Exercise suggests working with weight machines for 10 to 12 weeks. After three months, perform the bench press exercise with dumbbells or barbells.
Jonathan McLelland has been a professional writer since 2005. He has worked as a story writer and editor for the international sitcom, “Completing Kaden,” as well as a proposal writer for various production companies. McLelland studied communication and theater at St. Louis Community College.