Ditch the Bench Press: 3 Compound Chest Exercises for Sports Performance

Get more sport-functional in the weight room; leave the Bench Press behind and try these three compound chest exercises.

Compound Chest Exercises

When it comes to building or increasing chest strength, most athletes tend to rely on the Bench Press. Although it's a popular first choice in the weight room, it's not very sports-functional. How often during a game or practice are you lying on your back and pushing a heavy weight away from your chest?

For a refreshing change—and to get more sports-functional—try high-intensity compound chest exercises. Defined as performing two consecutive exercises with no rest between, compound exercises are great time-savers since they combine two exercises into one set. Plus, training at a higher level in a shorter period of time more effectively stimulates muscle growth. (Read more about The Athletic Benefits of Compound Exercises.)

The following sample sets will not only pump up those pectoral muscles, but also enhance your arm, shoulder and upper back strength and size.

Three Sample Compound Chest Sets

Cable Flys with Medicine Ball Push-Ups

  • Assume lunge position while holding cable handle in right hand
  • Hold other handle in left hand slightly above shoulders
  • Pull both cables down across body just below chest, hold and squeeze chest muscles one second
  • Slowly return cables to start position
  • Do 10 reps, then immediately place hands around a medicine ball in a push-up position and do 10 reps
  • Rest 30 seconds and repeat both exercises

Bar Dips with Dumbbell Pullovers

  • Do 10 Bar Dips, leaning slightly forward to target the pectorals
  • Without rest, get a moderately heavy dumbbell, lie on bench and interlace hands under one end of the DB
  • Raise DB above chest, inhaling as you bring it behind head with arms slightly bent
  • Pause for one second; exhale while pulling DB back to start position
  • Do 10 reps, rest 30 seconds and repeat both exercises

Med Ball Press-Outs with Standing Dumbbell Flies

  • Assume athletic stance holding 15- to 20-pound medicine ball at chest level
  • Squat and explosively press ball out with arms extended
  • Hold one second and return to start position
  • Perform 10 reps, then immediately get two 10-pound dumbbells, hold with arms slightly bent at chest level and lunge forward with right leg
  • Quickly bring DBs together, pausing as you squeeze inner pectorals
  • Slowly return DBs out to sides
  • Do 10 reps, rest 30 seconds and repeat both exercises

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