Chest presses can be used to describe a few different exercises such as dumbbell chest presses, machine chest presses and bench presses. When doing chest presses, vary the rep ranges you use. Be prepared though -- if you're used to lightweight, high-rep sets you may be in for a shock to find this might not be doing you as much good as you thought.
Performing high-repetition sets is often thought to be best for burning fat and toning your muscles. This is far from the case, though, according to trainer Todd Hargrove of Better Movement. High reps with a lighter weight are effective for building muscular endurance, however, you still need to use a weight that you find challenging for sets of 15 to 20 reps.
When you lower your reps, you need to increase your weights to make sure your chest presses are still tough. Fear not, though, this won't lead to big, bulky muscles, according to strength coach Nia Shanks. Heavy training with low reps will boost your strength, notes Shanks, who advises performing four sets of five to eight reps when lifting heavy.
Rather than sticking to just high reps or just low reps, change them up for an even bigger workout challenge. A favorite method of female bodybuilder Stephanie Foley is to perform peel sets or drop sets. After a warmup, perform your first set using heavy dumbbells for four repetitions. After this set, jump up and grab the next lightest set of dumbbells and knock out eight reps. Go lighter again for 12 reps and repeat this process, hitting 16 and 20 reps in the last two sets. By the time you finish this even the 3-pound dumbbells will feel like boulders.
Don't get penned in to just one rep range -- that's a surefire way to kill your progress and make your workouts boring. Work in phases -- complete a three- to four-week training block using high-rep chest presses, trying to add extra reps or use a little more weight each workout, take a week off, then switch to low-rep chest presses using heavier weights, but still striving to improve each session. For a change, experiment by doing your chest presses on an incline or decline bench, too.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.