5 Best Supersets To Build A Strong Chest

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Here are five supersets to try during your next chest day!

The challenge with chest supersets is to find exercises that don’t involve pushing. 

The benefit of a superset, of course, is to combine movements that allow you to keep moving with no rest. If we do a series of pushing movements with no rest in between, we’ll quickly fatigue.

The key to the superset is to alternate movements. That way when one set of muscles is working, the other set of muscles is resting. Not only is this a time-efficient way to train, but it also produces better performance in the actual exercises, since the process allows the non-working muscles to recover faster while their opposing muscles work. You should be able to jump right into that second exercise without resting.

Fortunately, there are plenty of pulling motions we can do to blast the chest as effectively as our many pushing options. By alternating these motions, we can keep moving without rest between movements or even between supersets. The chest is underrated, studies suggest, when it comes to supporting overall movement.

With this workout, we’re going to do five supersets of two exercises. Do one set of the first exercise, a set of the other, and then a second set of each before moving on to the next superset.

Pete Williams is a NASM certified personal trainer and the author or co-author of several books on performance and training.

Plyoball pushups

SUPERSET 1: PHYSIOBALL PUSHUPS AND KETTLEBELL SWINGS

Physioball Pushups

What it does: Like a pushup, it increases strength in the chest, shoulders, and triceps. But the instability of the ball forces you to work your core and shoulder stability.

How to do it: Assume a pushup position on a Swiss or physioball with fingers pointed down the sides. The shoulder blades should be pushed away from each other. Lower yourself to where the chest barely touches the ball. Maintain control of the ball as you push as far away from the ball as possible. Keep your body straight from ear to ankle.

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps.

Kettlebell Swings

What it does: These don’t directly target the chest, but they provide so many benefits in terms of strengthening the hips, shoulders, and core and burning a lot of calories. So, you’ll inevitably see results in your chest, too.

How to do it: Stand holding a kettlebell with both hands in front of you with straight arms. Squat as you lower the kettlebell along an arc under and between your legs. Drive your hips and swing the kettlebell up until your arms are parallel to the floor. Remember to keep your arms straight and your shoulder blades drawn back and down throughout the swing.

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps.

Chest dips

SUPERSET 2: DIPS AND DUMMBELL FLYS

Dips

What it does: It forces you to use your chest to lift your entire body weight.

How to do it: Position yourself above and between the bars, grabbing them with an overhand grip. Cross your ankles behind you. Lower yourself slowly and push back up in a controlled manner.

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps.

Dumbbell Flys

What it does: Few movements so effectively challenge the pecs while also hitting the shoulders and biceps.

How to do it: Lying face-up on a flat bench, hold a pair of dumbbells over your chest with elbows slightly bent, palms facing each other. Separate the hands and lower the dumbbells to the sides until you feel a stretch in your chest. At the bottom of the movement, your palms should be facing the ceiling. Reverse the motion until you reach the starting point, a movement some liken to “hugging a barrel.”

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps.

Bench press

SUPERSET 3: BENCH PRESS AND PULLUPS

Bench Press

What it does: There’s a reason the NFL tests its prospects on the 225-pound bench at the combine. It tests strength and power in your chest, shoulders, and triceps. You can start with a much lower weight, of course, but the effect will be the same.

How to do it: Lie faceup on the bench with your feet on the floor. Your shoulders and hips should remain in contact with the bench. Grab the bar just wider than shoulder-width, and hold it with straight arms over your shoulders. Breathe in, lower the bar to your chest and then drive the bar back to starting position. Extend your arms and shoulders fully.

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps

Pullups

What it does: No other move makes you feel like you’re building that V-shape torso and with good reason. You’re working the muscles of your upper back, shoulders, biceps, and forearms, along with the chest.

How to do it: Grab the bar with an overhand grip. Hanging from the bar, pull your shoulder blades back and down to lift your body and build momentum. Finish by pulling up with your arms. 

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps. If you can only do five, do five. If the pull-up is too challenging at first, start with a “horizontal” pullup by lying underneath the bar of a squat rack.

One arm, one leg dumbbell row

SUPERSET 4: DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS AND ONE-ARM, ONE-LEG DUMBBELL ROW

Dumbbell Bench Press

What it does: This bench variation stabilizes your shoulders in addition to providing the same benefits as the traditional bench press.

How to do it: Lying faceup on the bench, holding dumbbells at the outside edges of your shoulders, lift the dumbbells straight up over your chest. Lower the dumbbells, touching the outside of your shoulders, then push them back up. 

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps

One-Arm, One-Leg Dumbbell Row

What it does: This is a total body exercise but one that works the chest, too. You’ll get a stretch of the hamstrings and also challenge the lats.

How to do it: Stand on one leg, gripping a stable surface in front of you (perhaps the dumbbell rack) with one hand. Bend by dropping your chest and lifting the leg opposite your free hand. Grab a dumbbell with your free hand. Pull it to the side of your waist and then lower it. Do 10 and switch sides.

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps per side.

Incline bench press

SUPERSET 5: DUMBBELL INCLINE PRESS AND CABLE ROTATIONAL ROW

Dumbbell Incline Press

What it does: It hits your chest at a different angle, forcing you to place more emphasis on your upper chest and the front of your shoulders.

How to do it:  Lying face-up on a bench set at a 45-degree angle. Holding dumbbells at the outside edges of your shoulders, lift the dumbbells straight up over your chest. Lower the dumbbells, touching the outside of your shoulders, then push them back up. 

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps.

Cable Rotational Row

What it does:  This works your entire torso and chest, improving stability and strength. It also improves everyday rotational movements like, of course, starting a lawnmower.

How to do it: Attach a handle to a low pulley. Kneel facing the cable machine with your right knee and left foot on the floor. Reach across your body with your right hand to grab the handle, turning your hips and shoulders to the machine. Rotate your right shoulder back and pull the handle to your right hip. The movement should feel like you’re starting a lawnmower.

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps.

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