Chest coaching is a spotlight in most lifters’ routines. It’s both the day they get to throw round massive weight on the bench or the day they get a superb pump with instant (nevertheless short-term) outcomes.

Exercise selection can dramatically affect general outcomes, particularly in relation to coaching the chest. Between myths about “targeting” totally different elements of the chest, coaching too heavy, or over-stressing shoulder and elbow joints greater than pectoral muscle groups, many lifters are fortunate to finish up with a well-designed program. However, luck has a manner of evaporating once you lean on it too usually. Below, we listing 12 of the most effective chest workout routines to construct your chest program round.

Best Chest Exercises

Flat Barbell Bench Press

If you’re studying an inventory of the “best chest exercises” and don’t see the traditional bench press, your intuition could be to shut the web page and transfer on. This founding member of the massive three powerlifts can be a time-tested bodybuilding staple.

The versatility of the bench press, which makes it well-suited to constructing energy in addition to muscle measurement, makes it a key participant in lots of chest-building exercises. Very minor method changes can shift the emphasis in direction of measurement or energy, so it’s vital to know the way and why you’re performing the train to get most outcomes.

How to Do the Flat Barbell Bench Press

Lie on a bench along with your ft flat on the bottom. Your glutes and shoulders ought to by no means go away the bench in the course of the train. Maintain a slight arch in your decrease again. For optimum recruitment of the pec (chest) muscle groups, seize the bar with an overhand grip barely wider than shoulder-width. A better grip de-emphasizes the pecs and as a substitute prioritizes the triceps. (1)

With your elbows barely bent, pinch your shoulder blades collectively whereas staying on the bench. Straighten your arms to unrack the barbell and “pull” the burden from over your face to above your higher chest. Lower the bar to mid-chest degree whereas aiming your elbows at an angle between your ft and shoulders. Briefly pause within the backside place earlier than urgent up. In the locked out place, the bar needs to be above your higher chest or neck.

Benefits of the Flat Barbell Bench Press

  • It trains the chest by an entire vary of movement, with help from the shoulders and triceps, making it an environment friendly higher physique train.
  • It’s sport-specific for aggressive powerlifters and has carryover to any athletes (particularly these involved sports activities) who can profit from higher physique urgent energy.
  • You can load the barbell with a big quantity of weight relative to different chest workout routines, making it appropriate for very long-term progress.

Guillotine Press

The intimidating-sounding guillotine press (typically known as a “neck press”) was popularized by bodybuilding coach Vince Gironda within the Sixties. It applies particular method changes to the usual flat barbell bench press to position much more muscular stress on the pecs.

This elevated muscular stress means much less weight can ship extra outcomes. In truth, the guillotine shouldn’t be carried out with heavy weight, since it will result in extreme joint pressure. It might be a superb addition to a chest-building exercise, however lifters with pre-existing shoulder points might have hassle performing the train correctly.

How to Do the Guillotine Press

Lie on a flat bench along with your ft flat on the bottom. Keep your glutes and shoulders touching the bench. Flex your abs to flatten your decrease again into the bench. Grab the bar with an overhand grip, almost as broad as doable. Unrack the bar by urgent upwards, and pull the bar to a place above your neck.

As you decrease the bar, preserve your elbows pointed instantly out to every facet. This will drastically enhance the stretch on the chest muscle groups. Keep the bar in step with your neck as you decrease it so far as doable. Press upwards instantly after reaching most stretch.

Benefits of the Guillotine Press

  • Targets the chest with out the necessity for comparatively extreme weight, lowering put on and tear on the joints.
  • Emphasizes the chest whereas minimizing recruitment of the triceps and shoulders.

Barbell Pullover

The barbell pullover is likely one of the oldest workout routines a lifter can do, with weightlifters within the late-1800s advocating the train. It’s additionally one of the crucial complicated workout routines. Rarely do lifters argue over which muscle groups are skilled by a particular train, as a result of there’s nearly at all times a clear-cut reply, however the pullover is consistently on the heart of an ongoing “chest exercise or back exercise” debate.

The pullover really works each the chest and lats (again muscle) on the identical time, however many research, together with many anecdotal reviews from lifters over the many years, help the pullover as a really efficient chest train. (2)(3) If your lats “take over” in the course of the train and you can’t really feel your pecs working, carry out the train on the finish of your chest exercise when the pecs are pre-fatigued. (4)

How to Do the Barbell Pullover

Hold a small barbell with an overhand grip barely nearer than shoulder-width. Sit on a bench and relaxation the bar throughout your legs. As you lie flat onto the bench, “kick” the burden right into a place over your face and straighten your arms. Plant your ft securely on the bottom.

Keep your glutes on the bench. Lower the burden in direction of your head, descending almost in step with the bench in case your shoulder mobility permits. Pause very briefly within the stretched place earlier than pulling again to the beginning place. Maintain a barely bent elbow place throughout every rep and don’t actively bend on the elbows to decrease the burden.

Benefits of the Barbell Pullover

  • Targets the chest, lats, and shoulder muscle groups.
  • Emphasizes the chest with restricted triceps recruitment.
  • The pullover is an efficient stretch for the lats, in addition to the shoulders, and might enhance shoulder mobility over time.

Low Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

Chest coaching usually incorporates a wide range of angles to optimally tackle each the “upper chest” (clavicular head of the pecs) and the “mid or lower chest” (sternocostal head of the pecs). These totally different elements of the chest muscle can be extra totally addressed in a later part.

Inclined chest workout routines will goal the higher pecs. However, a comparatively low angle is right as a result of an excessively inclined angle (extra vertical than horizontal) will cut back chest activation and enhance shoulder activation. (5) Dumbbells enable a deeper stretched place and/or extra vary of movement at lockout, in comparison with a barbell.

How to Do the Low Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

Set an adjustable bench to a low incline — the second gap on an adjustable bench or place two bumper plates below one finish of a flat bench. Grab a pair of dumbbells and sit on the bench with the weights resting in your legs. Lie again onto the bench whereas “kicking” the weights right into a straight-arm locked out place above your chest.

Angle your fingers barely in direction of your ft by rotating your wrists outwards. Neither your palms nor your thumbs needs to be instantly pointed in direction of one another. Maintain this hand place all through every rep. Lower the weights below management, reaching a stretched place with the weights close to your chest. Press upwards, bringing the weights shut collectively within the high place.

Benefits of the Low Incline Dumbbell Press

  • The incline angle optimizes higher chest recruitment with out extreme shoulder activation.
  • Exercise selection (incorporating angles and totally different implements) has been proven to enhance coaching outcomes. (6)
  • Dumbbells enable extra freedom for the wrist, elbow, and shoulder joint in comparison with a barbell, making the train much less disturbing to the joints.

Decline Dumbbell Press

Decline bench press variations are sometimes believed to emphasise the “lower pecs” because of arm place. However, the “lower pecs” aren’t one separate muscle, they’re solely a part of the bigger pectoral (chest) muscle.

A decline angle has been proven to activate the chest comparably to the flat bench press, whereas recruiting much less shoulder muscle, so decline urgent is a superb choice for lifters with shoulder ache (7) Using dumbbells as a substitute of a barbell additionally permits a higher vary of movement which might translate to a higher muscle-building stimulus.

How to Do the Decline Dumbbell Press

Adjust a flat bench to raise your hips above your head. Take a pair of dumbbells and sit on the bench with the weights resting in your legs. Lie again onto the bench whereas “pulling” the weights right into a straight-arm locked out place above your chest. Be certain to hook the bench with the again of your knees to forestall your physique from sliding downwards.

Angle your fingers barely in direction of your ft by rotating your wrists outwards. Maintain this diagonal hand place for every rep. Your elbows ought to preserve a slight angle between your shoulders and ft. Pause briefly within the stretched place earlier than urgent to the start line. On the final rep of any set, decrease the weights into the stretched place and carry out a “curl” by bending on the elbows to decrease them to the ground earlier than getting up from the bench.

Benefits of the Decline Dumbbell Press

  • Dumbbells cut back joint pressure by permitting extra individualized motion of the wrists, elbows, and shoulders.
  • The decline angle trains the chest with restricted shoulder stress.

Decline Dumbbell Flye

The dumbbell flye is an efficient isolation (single-joint) train to activate solely the chest muscle with minimized involvement of the shoulders and triceps, in comparison with compound (multi-joint) bench press variations which recruit all three muscle groups. This makes it a superb addition to any exercise targeted particularly on coaching the chest.


The decline place takes benefit of gravity within the locked out place for elevated muscular pressure. On a flat bench, the weights supply restricted resistance on the high. With a decline bench, the muscle groups are extra extremely activated to help the load.

How to Do the Decline Dumbbell Flye

Set an adjustable bench to a slight decline angle. Take a pair of dumbbells and sit on the bench with the weights resting in your legs. Lie again onto the bench whereas “pulling” the weights right into a straight-arm locked out place above your chest. Be certain to hook the bench with the again of your knees to forestall your physique from sliding downwards.

Maintain a slight bend in your elbows all through the train. Begin along with your palms dealing with one another. Lower the weights in direction of the bottom whereas preserving your fingers in step with your elbows. Don’t enable the weights to rotate your arms in direction of your head. In the underside place, the weights needs to be close to chest-level. Contract your chest to “pull” your fingers again to the beginning place.

Benefits of the Decline Dumbbell Flye

  • Isolates and emphasizes the chest with restricted activation of the shoulders and triceps.
  • Decreased shoulder joint pressure in comparison with urgent.


The dip, together with the pull-up, have each been known as “the upper body squat” due to their potential for constructing measurement and energy. Makes you suppose {that a} program targeted on squats, dips, and pull-ups could be nice for including a bunch of muscle and getting actually sturdy, proper? Yep, proper.


Dips, particularly, are a superb solution to goal the chest, shoulders, and triceps utilizing solely your body weight, making it excellent for lifters with restricted tools. It works the muscle by a protracted vary of movement and has the potential for including vital weight by utilizing a weighted vest, dip belt, or dumbbell held with the legs.

How to Do the Dip

Begin on the high place on a set of dip bars along with your arms locked out. To guarantee optimum chest recruitment, lean your higher physique ahead in the course of the motion. Keeping an upright torso will cut back chest exercise and enhance concentrate on the triceps.

Bend your arms to decrease your physique so far as your shoulder mobility permits. Pause briefly within the stretched place to additional enhance muscular stress earlier than urgent as much as lockout.

Benefits of the Dip

  • The body weight train might be carried out with minimal tools.
  • Assesses and builds shoulder mobility in the course of the train.
  • Bodyweight workout routines are sometimes seen as extra “functional” than utilizing free weights or machines, contributing to total-body efficiency and joint well being. (8)

Sliding Push-Up

The fundamental push-up might be an efficient introductory train for brand spanking new lifters, however it may be tough to progressively overload. Rather than including weight, particular push-up variations can present an efficient coaching stimulus for continued measurement and energy.

The sliding push-up is a complicated variation which permits the pec muscle groups to work by an especially lengthy vary of movement, transferring the arms inwards in the course of the train slightly than remaining static. This inward movement has been proven to considerably enhance muscle activation within the chest. (9)

How to Do the Sliding Push-Up

Take a pair of furnishings sliders, or towels on a tile or wooden flooring, and arrange in a push-up place along with your fingers on the sliders and almost touching one another. Maintain a straight line out of your heels to your neck.

Lower your physique below management till your chest nearly touches the bottom whereas permitting your fingers to “slide” outwards. In the underside place, your arms needs to be properly past shoulder-width. While urgent upwards, pull your fingers collectively till they almost meet within the beginning place.

Benefits of the Sliding Push-Up

  • Increased chest activation in comparison with fundamental push-ups.
  • Allows intense coaching with restricted tools.
  • Push-up variations practice stomach and complete core stability whereas additionally focusing on the chest.

Hand-Release Push-Up

The hand-release push-up was popularized by CrossFit as a solution to obtain constant, unquestionable depth throughout high-repetition push-ups.

The hand-release push-up manipulates the “stretch-shortening cycle,” which is a manner muscle groups are recruited to offer drive in response to being in a stretched place. (10) While the hand-release push-up does require a full vary of shoulder mobility, it additionally recruits the chest muscle groups extra considerably than customary push-ups.

How to Do the Hand-Release Push-Up

Begin in an ordinary push-up place, in your fingers and toes along with your fingers simply exterior shoulder-width. Maintain a straight line out of your heels to your neck. Lower your physique till your chest touches the ground.

Briefly raise your fingers off the bottom and pull your shoulder blades collectively, permitting your whole higher physique to relaxation on the bottom. Immediately substitute your fingers simply exterior shoulder-width and press as much as lockout.

Benefits of the Hand-Release Push-Up

  • Increased chest activation in comparison with fundamental push-ups.
  • Allows intense coaching with no tools.
  • Push-up variations practice stomach and complete core stability whereas additionally focusing on the chest.

Cable Crossover

The cable crossover is a time-tested chest train, usually utilized by bodybuilders to “carve detail” into the chest muscle groups. That’s not really a factor as a result of “detail” is simply achieved by reducing physique fats to disclose muscular growth.

Because the cable supplies fixed resistance, the muscle is labored utterly by the whole vary of movement, in comparison with dumbbell flyes which offer various intensities because of leverage altering relative to gravity. Basic flat dumbbell flyes grow to be more easy as the burden strikes from horizontal to perpendicular. Cable pulleys bypass that limitation.

How to Do the Cable Crossover

Stand within the heart of two excessive cable pulleys with single-handles connected to every facet. Grab the handles and start along with your arms at shoulder degree and your palms dealing with ahead. Keep a slight bend in your elbows whereas pulling your fingers to fulfill at stomach button-level.

Pause briefly to maximise the height contraction earlier than returning your fingers to the beginning place.

Benefits of the Cable Crossover

  • Isolates and emphasizes the chest with little to no activation of the shoulders and triceps.
  • The cable pulleys apply fixed pressure to the chest, rising the muscle’s complete time below pressure and resulting in elevated progress.

Smith Machine Incline Press

The Smith machine has earned a comparatively unfair popularity as being ineffective for muscle progress or, worse, harmful for joint well being. That mindset comes primarily from improper train type or loading, in addition to the machine’s design which makes use of a hard and fast path and requires much less joint stabilization.

The Smith machine press has been proven to activate the chest to an almost similar diploma in comparison with the flat barbell bench press whereas lowering shoulder muscle recruitment. (11) When mixed with an incline angle to emphasise the higher chest, the Smith machine incline press turns into an especially environment friendly chest train.

How to Do the Smith Machine Incline Press

Position an inclined bench below a Smith machine and make sure that the bar is in step with your collarbones. Grab the bar with a wider than shoulder-width grip. Unrack the bar and decrease it till you are feeling a most stretch throughout the chest.

Press up instantly and easily. To preserve muscular pressure, cease simply wanting lockout within the high place earlier than starting the subsequent rep.

Benefits of the Smith Machine Incline Press

  • Allows the higher chest to be focused with decreased shoulder recruitment.
  • The Smith machine permits lifters to bench press safely with out the necessity of a spotter.

Medicine Ball Chest Pass

Medicine balls are sometimes utilized in athletic or conditioning-based exercises, however can serve an vital function for constructing muscle, energy, or energy.

The drugs ball chest cross permits an explosive motion which has been proven to extend chest activation in addition to enhance energy when adopted by heavier lifting. (12)(13) This makes it an environment friendly stimulus for constructing measurement and energy.

How to Do the Medicine Ball Chest Pass

Stand a number of steps away from a sturdy wall, along with your ft shoulder-width aside and legs barely bent. Hold a medication ball in each fingers, with the ball touching your chest. Quickly and forcefully throw the ball ahead, not upwards, into the wall.

Carefully look ahead to the ball’s rebound. Pick up the ball (don’t attempt to catch it). Take a second to arrange the beginning place earlier than repeating. Note: To guarantee explosive energy, use a light-weight drugs ball. For instance, 10-15 kilos could possibly be utilized by skilled lifters.

Benefits of the Medicine Ball Chest Pass

  • Increases chest activation throughout workout routines carried out shortly afterwards.
  • Develops explosive energy which transfers to bench press energy.
  • Recruits the legs, core, and higher physique with an emphasis on the chest muscle groups.

The Chest Muscles

The chest has a number of heads, or sections, which might be emphasised by understanding their goal and selecting particular workout routines to focus on every separate part. Unfortunately, some lifters have misinterpreted the muscle’s design, which has made their chest exercises far more sophisticated than is critical.

Pectoralis Major

The pec main is the first chest muscle. While it’s one particular muscle, it consists of two separate heads — the clavicular head (higher chest) situated within the higher quarter of the chest close to the collarbone and the sternocostal head making up your entire remaining a part of the chest.

Credit: ARENA Creative / Shutterstock

There’s no anatomical proof for a “lower chest,” “inner chest,” or different common subdivision of the muscle. Only the higher pecs have been proven to be emphasised individually, particularly from workout routines carried out at an incline, as a result of separate attachment level of the clavicular head.

The pecs work to convey the arms in in direction of the physique’s centerline, seen when the arms are prolonged in a flye or press and introduced above the chest, for instance.

Pectoralis Minor

The pec minor attaches to the shoulder blade and is closely recruited to convey the scapulae (shoulder blades) ahead, significantly within the lockout place of presses. The pec minor just isn’t seen or usually instantly focused, however performs a key function in general shoulder well being.

Serratus Anterior

The serratus is a small sequence of muscle groups that sit alongside the ribs. Like the pec minor, they connect to the scapulae and assist to regulate scapular motion. The serratus are additionally closely recruited on the finish portion of the locked out place.

How Often Should You Train the Chest

While chest coaching is common, it shouldn’t be overemphasized relative to different physique elements. Excessive chest or shoulder coaching might exacerbate postural issues until balanced by comparable again coaching. (14)

However, for optimum muscle progress, one to 3 correctly programmed exercises every week might be an efficient method for muscle progress. Ideally, the chest needs to be skilled in a exercise together with the shoulders and triceps, the higher physique, or your entire physique.

Woman performing chest exercise on bars outdoorsCredit: Anton Romanov / Shutterstock

Each coaching cut up would require a special method to complete quantity (units and reps), utilizing decrease quantity for the chest when extra physique elements are skilled in a single exercise. For instance, chances are you’ll carry out a complete of 14 units for the chest, adopted by shoulders and triceps; otherwise you would possibly carry out six units for chest, preceded by again and adopted by shoulders, triceps, and biceps (for an entire higher physique exercise) and repeat that higher physique exercise a number of days later.

How to Progress Your Chest Training

Because the chest might be successfully skilled with a wide range of compound workout routines, it’s doable to progress steadily by including weight to these workout routines every week.

Dumbbell urgent workout routines, for instance, don’t essentially accommodate including 10 to twenty kilos per dumbbell every week. Those weights would shortly grow to be dangerously unwieldy and energy ranges don’t usually progress that quick. Increasing 5 to 10 kilos per dumbbell could possibly be maintained for an extended interval.

The nature of isolation workout routines, being single-joint, doesn’t mix successfully with utilizing heavier weights. To encourage joint security and to keep up stress on the goal muscle, concentrate on including a rep (or a number of reps) on workout routines like flyes or cable crossovers.

Man in gym performing incline dumbbell pressCredit: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

One dependable method with chest coaching is to carry out a compound train (like a press or dip) for decrease reps with a heavy weight adopted by average to larger reps with average weight utilizing a mixture of compound and isolation workout routines.

How to Warm-Up Your Chest

All chest workout routines contain the shoulder joint and, as a result of the shoulders can endure from vital put on and tear, a radical warm-up is an important first step to any chest exercise. Take a light-weight resistance band and carry out this fundamental warm-up circuit earlier than any chest coaching.

  • Cat/Camel: Begin in your fingers and knees along with your arms straight. Look as much as the ceiling whereas sinking the arch of your backbone downwards. When you’ve reached so far as your mobility permits, reverse course by driving into the bottom by your straight arms. Look all the way down to the bottom whereas rounding your backbone in a deep curve. That’s one full rep. Perform 5 reps earlier than transferring to the subsequent train.
  • Band Pull-Apart: Take a resistance band with a palms-down grip, holding the band at arms-length in entrance of your physique. Keep a slight bend in your arms whereas pulling each fingers again. Pause when the band touches your chest. Return to the beginning place. Perform 10 reps earlier than transferring to the subsequent train.
  • Band Dislocate: Widen your grip on the resistance band to properly past shoulder-width. Begin with the band at your waist. Keep your arms straight whereas elevating the band above your head, reaching way back to doable. When your shoulders have reached their full vary of movement, return to the beginning place. Move at a sluggish and managed tempo in every course. Perform 5 reps earlier than transferring to the subsequent train.
  • Push-Up Plus: Begin in a traditional push-up place, in your fingers and toes along with your fingers simply exterior shoulder-width. Maintain a straight line out of your heels to your neck. Lower your physique till your chest almost touches the ground. Press upwards below management. After locking out within the high place, proceed urgent with straight arms and permit your shoulder blades to spherical forwards, earlier than reversing the method to decrease your physique. Perform 5 reps earlier than repeating the primary train. Do a complete of three full circuits.

Building a Complete Chest

Chest exercises don’t should be overly sophisticated with a half-dozen workout routines “attacking” the muscle from each potential angle. However, environment friendly chest coaching additionally shouldn’t be overly minimalistic with only one train to coach your entire pec. By sorting by the train choices you’ve simply realized, you may design an entire exercise that delivers measurement and energy with out losing time within the health club and with out beating up your physique.


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