If you are doing bench presses, incline bench presses or dips you are going to want to watch this video and do the chest exercise I’m showing you here. This is perfect for after bench pressing since it is a variation of the classic exercise but with a strength curve that compliments the original and allows you to take your workout intensity to a whole new level.
This is called the ground and pound press. It is an exercise that I use with my MMA athletes and is commonly done with slightly lighter loads and for the purpose of explosivity and power. It can however be a great hypertrophy option, especially when paired with a bench press, incline bench press or dip in superset fashion.
If you examine the mechanics of the bench press first you will quickly see that the hardest portion of the exercise is at the bottom of the movement (when the bar is down near your chest) and the easiest portion is at the top of the exercise (when the arms are out straight). This is due to the physics of the exercise. When gravity is acting down perpendicular to the humerus as it as at the bottom, the chest is being subjected to it’s greatest amount of tension.
On the contrary, when the arm is fully straightened over the chest at the top of the exercise, the force of gravity is now acting downward parallel to the humerus and the tension on the chest is greatly minimized. Beyond that, each of these compound exercises while incredible mass builders and great chest exercise choices, lack the key element of complete chest activation by virtue of the fact that none of them provide resisted adduction in the peak contracted state.
Enter the ground and pound press. This chest exercise can be performed with either cables as I demonstrate in the video or it can be done at home with a couple of resistance bands anchored to a pullup bar in a doorway. The key is to position yourself down on your knees in a ground mount position. The bands or cables will be angled out to the sides a bit so as to be sure to provide an adduction stress when we need it the most at the bottom of the movement.
The hands are pressed down to the floor to start. You should immediately feel a resistance to keeping your hands pressed down by virtue of the fact that you have the weight of the weight stack pulling your arms and body back up. You must not let this happen. In order to do this, you have to engage your core and the chest to firmly press out in front of you and squeeze your arm inward at the same time. This will fire up your chest without even having to move from this isometric position.
We will however initiate the reps by alternating the replication of the bench press and bringing the arms back and up to the top (as if laying on your back during the press). Each time you want to push your hand back down to the floor and squeeze inward and towards the ground. When you are done with this and cannot perform any more reps you can slightly alter the position of your body by assuming a tall kneeling position and keep cranking out a few more reps.
This killer chest exercise is perfect to be performed as a superset to any of the key staple pressing exercises like the bench press, incline press or dip. Pair these two together and you will ensure maximum activation of the chest and spark a stimulus for new gains that you’ve had the potential to tap into all along.
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Jeff Cavaliere M.S.P.T, CSCS
Jeff Cavaliere is a Physical Therapist, Strength Coach and creator of the ATHLEAN-X Training Programs and ATHLEAN-Rx Supplements. He has a Masters in Physical Therapy (MSPT) and has worked as Head Physical Therapist for the New York Mets, as well as training many elite professional athletes in Major League Baseball, NFL, MMA and professional wrestling. His programs produce “next level” achievements in muscle size, strength and performance for professional athletes and anyone looking to build a muscular athletic physique.