|PowerBlocks sold at http://www.powerblock.com/|
What I did was dumbbell chest presses, or bench press if you will. This is the most fundamental move for building your chest when you start a weight training program. Now you may be wondering why I chose to go with dumbbells and not a barbell, and it was more than the fact that it was my only choice since I was not at a gym. I worked out at a friend's house who has an adjustable bench and some PowerBlocks. These are essentially a pair of dumbbells you can adjust the weight one fairly quickly and I highly recommend them for anyone trying to build a home gym with limited space. The pair we were working with can go from 15 to 90 lbs and take up minimal space. But it wasn't the lack of a barbell that drove me to that choice, It's the fact that dumbbell chest press offers not only the ability to isolate each pectoral muscle thus avoiding any compensation from your dominant side, but you'll also get to work the muscles in that help you with stability during a press. It has also been said that it is safer on your joints than barbell presses, though I've yet to substantiate that claim through any literature. I will say from an anecdotal point of view, barbell bench press always felt a little odd and unsafe for me.
Check out this video by Jay Cutler on Muscle & Strength's YouTube page:
What I really like about this video is the focus on contraction, and good form. A lot of folks I see in gyms are still going for a really big range of motion which is not only not necessary, it can be dangerous for your joints.
Now, this move is very basic but that is specifically why I chose it as my move of the week. I am constantly looking for new movements and training methods but as I said before a return to basics is often just the thing you need. I haven't felt a chest pump quite like the one I felt this exercise in quite a while and that being said it's understandable it's the preferred exercise over a barbell press.
Just to wrap up please note I am not trying to convince anyone to abandon barbell work whatsoever, but I am encouraging those who don't give this a try or those who never have to give it a chance. Specifically though, I encourage the proper range of motion and focus on contraction as emphasized in this video. It truly is a the best move in my opinion. Leave your comments and thoughts below, and since I haven't mentioned it, Happy New Year!