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The upper-body push is one of the most powerful motions the human body can produce. It's used in almost every sport, from an offensive lineman pushing away a blitzing DB to a hockey defender delivering a devastating cross check to an MMA fighter unleashing a K.O. punch.
If you want to develop a stronger chest for a more powerful push, you'll have to expand your horizons beyond the traditional Bench Press. Get more out of your chest workouts by focusing on exercises that produce strength, stability and power.
Strength exercises allow for more forceful movements. Your strength exercises should be performed at a slower tempo with heavier weights.
Unilateral Dumbbell Chest Press
- Assume Bench Press position and fully extend both dumbbells
- Lower right dumbbell to chest, then push it up
- Perform same movement on left side
- Keep shoulder stable at top of movement
- Widen feet to maintain solid base
Sets/Reps: 3x8-12 at 70-85 percent intensity
By developing stability, you'll be able to deliver a powerful upper-body push even if you don't have a solid base. This is incredibly important in sports, as your base of support is constantly changing.
- Assume Push-Up position with feet on physioball
- Perform Push-Up, keeping core tight
- Repeat for specified reps
Once you've built adequate strength and stability, incorporate power production exercises into your chest workout. Power-producing exercises like plyometrics are designed to make your movements on the field more explosive. After trying out this sample power exercise, check out three more effective plyo chest exercises.
Med Ball Chest Pass
- Facing wall, stand three to five feet away, holding light med ball
- Explosively throw ball against wall by pushing equally with both hands
- Catch ball and repeat
By addressing strength, stability and power in your chest workouts, you'll build upper-body strength that translates well from the weight room to the athletic field. Check out more of the best chest exercises for athletes.
Wray Watkins is the director of strength and conditioning at MVP Sports Centers in Lake Forest, Calif. He has worked with athletes from the NFL, MLB and MLS, as well as several Olympic Gold Medalists. Watkins also runs an international internship program through MVP. He received his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from San Diego State University in 2002.