The 8 Best Chest Exercises (NO BENCH OR DIPS!)


What’s up, guys? Jeff Cavaliere, ATHLEANX.com. So I’m sure you’ve been told to do lots of
incline bench press if you want to build your upper chest. Of course, if you want to get that lower chest
you’re going to want to make sure you do lots of decline bench presses as well, and you
don’t want to forget the all-important flat bench press to work the overall development
of your chest. And of course, don’t forget to do dips because
dips are a great way to build your chest. Now that’s all great, but what if you’ve already
done all those exercises? You continue to do them, but you’re not happy
with your chest. Today I want to show you 8, non-bench, chest
building alternatives that you can start using to get better results from your chest training. So first, it makes sense to look at what might
be wrong with the other exercises that you have been doing, and why they’re not working
for you. The fact is, you can look really easily and
see that when we do, say, a dip here, look at the position of the hands. At no point do they get closer to each other. They’re fixed on the handles, and you’re simply
moving up and down. No matter what variation of the bench-press
I’m doing, whether it be incline, flat, or decline my hands don’t really get that much
closer together. Especially if I’m using a barbell that’s literally
fixed on the bar. But even when we do the dumbbell variations
we’re not getting them anywhere more than to each other, or meeting each other in the
middle. They’re not going across each other. What I’m going to argue for you is, it’s not
always about the weight that you’re pushing, but the amount of activation that you’re getting. Simply getting more activation by getting
a full chest contraction is going to provide a much better stimulus for you to start seeing
better results, and guess what? It’s going to make those even better. By the way, I’m going to show you a way you
can make your bench-press even better. I’m going to hold that for the end of the
video. Let’s start with our firs exercise. Let’s start with a simple one. It’s a bodyweight exercises that we can all
start doing right now, and actually start feeling the difference. It’s a twisting pushup. What you’ll see here is, we can get that arm
more across our body. Not by changing the position of the hand,
or the fact that the arm is actually still fixed in place on the ground, but by changing
the position of our body, in relation to the arm. So you can see that a regular pushup here,
I’m fixed in space, but with this twisting pushup I’m actually turning into the arm. So as I turn in, look what’s happening here. If I hold my arm out in front of me, and I
turn my body into it, I’ve got this relative adduction. I’ve got the crossover that I’m looking for. You can literally alternate sides, left and
right, and feel the difference in the contraction, and I promise you, if you’ve struggled to
see your chest grow, do these – to at least get yourself activated and have your chest
start working more – and you’re going to see better results from doing them. The next one here is called the plate squeeze. This is actually really fun to do. We can do it either as a chest activator right
before the workout, or you could even do it in drop set fashion after some of those big
bench exercises. Remember, we’re not going to abandon them
completely. We’re trying to make them work better for
you. In the plate squeeze, what I’m trying to do
here is, yes, I’m only getting the plates to be able to touch in front of me, in the
middle, but I’m thinking about trying to push them through each other. If I can crush them right into each other
that would be ideal. What we’re doing is, we’re getting maximum
chest activation here because we have this very strong isometric, and again, the heavier
the plates you use, the stronger you’re going to have to push because that weight is going
to want to slide and drop down. For an added challenge, you turn the plates
around. Make sure you use the smooth sides on both
and that’s going to make you really have to push hard. Again, no matter where you program it, this
becomes a great option for you to get better chest activation. Okay, I kind of lied on the next one here
because you do need a bench for this one, but not to do a bench-press. We’re doing a dumbbell pullover. Again, you might think “Wait! Dumbbell pullover? A back exercise?” No! It can be a great upper chest exercise because
look at how I’m doing it. The key here is not to pull with your elbows. You’re not trying to lead with your elbows
and let your elbows stay flared out on the sides of your body because that becomes a
great lat exercise. But what I can do is, I can take my hands
and squeeze them together. I’m actually trying to turn them in like this,
as I pull down. So I’m squeezing my hands together, trying
to adduct my hands into each other, to pull the dumbbell forward. And I don’t come all the way up. I’m trying to maintain that tension on the
upper chest. That happens in that fully stretched position,
and then up, only about 30, or 40 degrees. If you’ve never tried this exercise with the
intention of using it for your upper chest, try it. I promise you guys, you’ll be surprised at
how much you can recruit the area of the chest that usually seems to be hard to recruit for
a lot of people. The next exercise up here is a dumbbell floor
fly. Now you’re probably saying “But I’ve done
lots of flys before.” But if you’re not doing them on the floor
you’re losing an opportunity to create a stimulus for more growth. Here’s the deal: when you do an unsupported
chest fly on a bench your shoulder becomes instantly jeopardized, and the health of your
shoulder becomes a high risk for doing that exercise because it’s simply too much load
for it to handle. With this arm in this outstretched, unsupported
position. But when we do it on the floor we don’t
just get support, and therefore a safer alternative, but we get a better option for building a
bigger chest, and better recruitment. We know we can still take advantage of the
benefit of the fly. Meaning, the adduction component of the exercise
that’s lacking in the dip, and the bench-press; but we can do this here with a heavier weight. Because we have the floor to absorb our arms
on the way down we can eccentrically overload each, and every rep. And if we have to, even cheat the dumbbells
back up by pressing them to the top, and continue to work on the eccentric portion of that rep
to get better, and better results. Guys, this one should definitely be in your
routine. Especially if you’ve been doing the other
flys and either hurt yourself doing them, or you haven’t seen the results that you wanted
to get from doing them. The next two exercises up here are going to
be in the crossover category. As you can see, right here on the 3D crossover,
we are getting that adduction we are looking for. We’re going beyond midline, which makes this
a great way to get peak contraction of your chest. I like this variation because I can actually
load up here. You can see that it’s not just my chest that’s
powering this movement, but I have a lot of core activation here too, that helps me to
drive through. My hips are rotating as well. This gives me a chance to do an overloaded
crossover. A heavier version of a crossover. For all those that say “But Jeff, you need
the bench for the heavier weights! You need the dips for the heavier weights!” Guys, you can load up any exercise. If you incorporate your body to allow you
to push more weight it’s going to allow you to have the heavy exercise in your arsenal. This is a great way to do it with a crossover,
to get that adduction, and the heavy loading at the same time. Now, on the lighter side of things we have
the X-crossover. So we go lighter on this. The focus here is not to try to move as much
weight as possible, but to get that contraction. Again, this is another one that can be used
like the plates we used, as either an activator, or at the end of a set as a drop set, to try
to burn out. The key here is – what we’re actually targeting
here – is more of the lower chest. We can get down on lower chest. There is such thing as the abdominal head
of the pectoralis muscle. We can get there by letting our hands start
high, and then finish low. Of course they’re crossing over each other. That’s the goal to get peak contraction. But this high, to low works more of the lower
chest the same way that a dip works the lower chest because we know the hands start high,
and they wind up going down low as we finish out the dip. You want to recreate that here. But the goal here is – I don’t care what
weight you need to use – you need to feel the contraction. That is the whole key here, of what this entire
video is about. These are non-bench alternatives and sometimes
that means lightening the weight. But I promise you, the overall end result
is better chest development because you’ve finally activated muscles you haven’t been
able to with the other big exercises. This next one, like the dumbbell upper chest
pullover, is going to help us hit that upper chest. We know that we’re not getting enough of that
contraction, and squeeze from the dip, or even from the incline bench-press. But here, we can. The UCV raise allows us to bring that dumbbell
up, and do what I always say you should try to do. That is, follow the fibers. You see, the upper chest fibers are going
to start here, at our collarbone, and ride down, in this direction. So if we can let the dumbbell come up, and
across in that direction, then we are following the fibers. We’re getting a maximum contraction. We also have that component of getting across
our body because the dumbbell allows us to do that. Now, you can do this as an alternative with
a cable, or a band as well, for a more consistent resistance throughout the range of motion,
but either way, I promise you this is a great exercise, and can be done anywhere in your
chest workout to improve your ability to contract your chest, and in the long run, get better
results from your chest training. Finally, we have the one that’s being called
the “Cavaliere Crossover”. I started to do this years ago. This is now going to leave the delt out of
it entirely. What you’re doing here is, you’re taking that
dumbbell, and you’re going to drive it across your body – as you see – and we’re getting
that all-important adduction, but we’re not getting the elevation from the UCV raise. So let’s say you still feel that your shoulders
are dominating that last movement. Then this becomes your alternative, here. You want to make sure, again, you do this
exercise – I love doing it as a burnout – but it doesn’t mean you have to go light
here. You can take a heavy, heavy, heavy dumbbell
and drive across your body, and try to hold it for even a split second on every, single
rep to really enhance, and to enforce the contraction that drove that dumbbell there
in the first place. If you get better at this guys, I promise
you, with this, and with all the other exercises you’re going to start seeing better results,
and they’re going to compliment those even bigger exercises that haven’t been performing
for you as well. Like, the bench-press and the dip. While we’re on the topic of the bench-press
and the dip, I promised you I would give you a tip at the end of the video that would help
you to get even more out of those exercises. This is it. Don’t think about your hands. Don’t think about what your hands are holding. Whether it be the handles on the dip, or the
dumbbells in your hands during a press. You think about your biceps. If you can take your biceps and squeeze them
together in any variation of that bench-press, or squeeze them together while you’re doing
the dip; you’re going to get way more activation in your chest, and those exercises are going
to become far more productive for you. Especially as you start to combat them with
these exercises. Guys, it’s all about how you do the exercises,
not just the ones that you’re doing. A lot of times you might have to check your
ego at the door and start going for some of the lesser known, big exercises to help those
big exercises get better, and do more for you in the long run. These 8 are some options I want you to start
trying. Guys, if you haven’t already, subscribe to
this channel. You don’t want to miss the videos. Make sure you turn on your notification bell
here, and if you haven’t already checked out one of our programs, we put the science back
in strength in all of them. They’re available over at ATHLEANX.com. Finally, guys, check out any of our newer
videos here. I’m going to link one here for you now to
make sure you keep your education going here. All these videos are meant to help you to
learn more about how your body works so you can get more out of every, single exercise,
in every, single workout you do. All right, guys. I’ll be back here again soon. See you.

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