You’re not always going to be able to spend untold hours in the gym. Whether you’re running low on equipment, time, or motivation, there are some days when you’re going to have to adjust your routine.
On those occasions, you can tailor normal exercises to serve your particular goals — in this instance, getting as much work done in as little time as possible. Men’s Health Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. uses this incline chest press challenge to maximize his chest days when he’s in a rush. “If you have time for only one weighted chest exercise, this is the move you should be doing,” Samuel says.
You’ll challenge you chest, shoulders, and core in one go, giving you the biggest possible bang for your workout buck.
To perform the challenge, you’ll need dumbbells and an adjustable or incline bench, so this is probably best for the gym. You should be pressing heavy weight here, but not so much that your can’t support the dumbbell hold portion of the movement.
Eric Rosati/Men’s Health
- Sit on the incline bench with the dumbbells raised to be pressed.
- Press the weight up with both arms overhead. Perform 2 more reps with the left arm, while keeping the right arm extended overhead.
- Repeat with 2 reps with the right arm, keeping the left arm elevated overhead.
- Perform 2 reps with both arms. That’s 1 cluster.
Do 4 sets of 3 to 4 clusters to finish the challenge.
This is such a useful exercise because it allows you to narrow in on each side of your body, while also keeping you balanced. “We’re blending unilateral reps with traditional reps here,” Samuel says. “The sequence will challenge both core and shoulder stability while also giving you the benefit that comes from moving heavy loads and working your entire body as hard as possible.”
The single-arm reps shake up the typical incline press by forcing you off-balance. To compensate, your body will try to rotate to push the weight upward. Don’t let it, and your abs will thank you.
“The blend of moves keeps your body off-balance for the entire set, forcing your core in particular to continually adapt to changing situations,” says Samuel. “On the traditional reps, your core can ‘relax’ somewhat, although it needs to stay strong to help you transfer force from your legs to drive the weight upwards.”
For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full set of Eb and Swole workouts.
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