Personally I believe the squeeze on each rep is the most important part of an exercise. Focusing your mind to feel the muscle you want to work is one of the most crucial things that many people miss and don't understand its importance. There are a lot of people out there that just go through the motions at the gym, doing what they think is an effective workout pushing weights with little or no struggle, and then moving onto the next exercise. When I'm in the gym I make every rep count. I visualise in my mind how I want to look and I literally believe that every rep I do will get me one step closer to my desired physique and goals. The power of the “mind-to-muscle” connection (MMC) is so important in getting the most out of your workouts. Not just in the gym but with life in general, the thoughts and vibes you think and tell yourself play a big part on your personal mood and motivation. I urge everyone to try to make your mind work for you. Yes, life is tough and many people struggle to get through each day, but when you get to the gym or wherever you're doing your workout, you're only going to get 100% out of it if you focus your mind fully and block out the other distractions. Take out your anger and aggression on the weight and SQUEEZE every rep like it might be the last one you do!
My Top 5 Exercises for Chest Contraction
Flat Dumbbell Press
This is a great alternative from the flat bench press and one of the best exercises that I personally can feel and see working. Starting from the top with my arms extended, I focus on getting a good controlled two-second negative, focusing on that crucial MMC, feeling my chest stretch open but not too low, which can put a lot of unnecessary stress on the shoulder joints. From the bottom I exhale and squeeze as hard as I can up, watching my chest squeeze together until the dumbbells are almost touching. I typically do four sets of these, aiming for 10-12 reps pushing failure on the last set.
Flat Dumbbell Flye
My favourite chest isolation exercise as again I can really feel a good stretch and squeeze with these. I usually do these straight after flat bench or dumbbell presses, as I like to stretch the chest out after pushing on each of my heavy compound lifts. This also gives my triceps a rest before moving on to my next pressing movement after flyes. I personally feel flat dumbbell flyes work better for me than incline flyes, which I prefer to use cables for, But I like using a variety of barbell, dumbbell, machine and cable exercises for all of my workouts. With the flat dumbbell flye movement itself, I focus again on feeling that stretch in the chest and then squeeze the chest hard as I bring them up and in to the top.
Machine Chest Flye
Very similar to the dumbbell chest flye movement, but I like using this machine as I can adjust the weight quickly for drop sets and at times super set these with flat dumbbell presses. The machine allows me to fully isolate the chest without the worry of holding and balancing weights, so I can have my mind fully focused on just stretching and squeezing the chest. These are also great when done at the start of a chest workout to pre-exhaust the chest before compound presses, and you can really feel them pumping your chest full of blood.
Cable Cross Over
I usually finish my chest workout with these while super setting them with bodyweight push ups to failure. A great exercise that you can really feel pumping up your chest while burning out what's left of your chest fibres, and it's a great exercise for adding shape to the chest and getting that craved line splitting the chest down the middle. I usually go a bit lighter on these, aiming for 15 reps. I really focus on controlling my body and only move my arms for the movement, without jerking into the movement with my back or shoulders helping as this takes pressure off the chest, which is all I'm looking to isolate.
Bodyweight diamond push ups
A fantastic exercise for anyone who isn't a gym member or prefers to workout at home or outdoors. I do these at the end of my chest workout and most nights before bed as part of a triple chest push up set. These involve normal wide push ups followed immediately with narrow push ups, with my arms tucked in close by my side to hit my triceps. Immediately followed with these diamond push ups, you can really feel the squeeze of the chest on these and the pump after these three exercises is awesome, with no weights needed at all.
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