When it comes to building a bigger, better chest, there are a few basic exercises that most people focus on…bench press, flyes and cable cross-overs. And those are all good exercises…
Now what would you say if you could get the benefits of ALL THREE at the same time, in one set!
The technique has two major components…the “hybrid” style of training, where you’ll be combining two different forms of resistance into one exercise, and the “in-set stretch superset” style of training that focuses on forcing blood into the muscles then stretching the fascia within the set itself.
Each one of these techniques is very powerful on it’s own…put them together and believe me, it’s INSANELY powerful and will light up your chest like nothing you’ve ever felt before.
And if you have a hard time feeling your pecs working when you train chest, this is going to cure it.
So first, I’ll tell you about the “hybrid” part of the exercise.
Hybrid Training is a very cool concept. You’re basically combining two different forms of resistance into one exercise to help eliminate the weak points of both exercises while better matching the strength curve of the target muscle.
I’ve actually written an entire book of exercises on Hybrid Training…it covers dumbells, barbells, bands, cables, etc. with exercises for every major bodypart. It’s killer info and well worth checking out, if you find you like this type of training.
The example I always like to use for Hybrid Training is the exercise combo that I’m going to show you here today.
When you do a dumbell bench press (or dumbell flye), you’ll know from experience that you get much more tension at the bottom of the movement than at the top. In order to keep tension on at the top, you have to actively squeeze your pecs. That’s ok, but the resistance has diminished to the point where you’re not really getting much resistance – just intra-muscular tension.
Keep that in your head…
Now consider CABLE flyes (or presses) using the low pulley. It’s the same basic movement pattern but you get very little resistance at the bottom and a LOT at the top, as you bring your hands together.
I think you can see where I’m going with this…
We’re going to combine the two resistances into ONE exercise, done at the same time.
When you do that, you get maximum tension at the bottom from the dumbells and maximum tension at the top from the cables. Your muscles get NO break in tension from top to bottom.
It’s at the same time one of the most grueling and effective forms of training you’ll ever do.
Now we’re going to combine the Hybrid Training chest technique with another deadly technique that I call In-Set Stretch Supersets.
That technique is a way to also increase muscle tension while at the same time stretching the fascia (the connective tissue that surrounds the muscles) to allow the muscles more room to grow. I like to compare that to when you pull a pair of jeans out of the dryer and they’re too tight. To loosen them up, you put them on then squat up and down a few times to stretch them and give your legs more room. It’s the same deal with fascia – you fill the muscle with blood then stretch it to give the muscles more room.
Now having looked at these two techniques separately, imagine how good they’ll be when you put them both together…yeah, that good.
First, you’ll need a low-pulley cable cross-over machine (a pair of bands can work for this, too), a pair of dumbells (not heavy – you want to stay moderate in weight – I’m using a pair of 40 lb dumbells in the demo), a bench (or a Swiss ball), and optional are a couple of ankle harnesses.
The ankle harnesses will make the setup easier but it can be done with just cable handles or without any handles at all, which I’ll explain.
So first, set the flat bench in between the cable stacks. Set a light weight on the two low pulleys (just a notch or two or three on the stack) and attach the ankle harnesses to the low pulleys. Set the harnesses for their biggest setting as you’ll be sliding your hands in and out of these at the start and end of the exercise.
If you DON’T have ankle harnesses, you can also get single handle attachments – you’ll have to grip the handles AND the dumbell handles in your hands, though, so it’s not an ideal solution.
Another option is to set the dumbells down right in front of the pulleys, loop the cable once around the db handle then clip it back onto itself. It’ll automatically tighten up on the db handle and you should have enough room to grip the dumbell.
The demo I’ll show is using the ankle harnesses. Slide your left hand in then step over the bench and slide your right hand in.
Now step forward and sit on the bench and grab your dumbells.
Lay back and get into position for the bench press.
Now press up.
As you can see, you start with max tension at the bottom of the db press then as you press and bring the dumbells in, you’re developing tension by lifting the cables up.
Do TWO reps of these…you’re going to be switching to flyes next and I like to do reps of the stronger exercise to every one rep of the weaker stretch exercise.
Bring the dumbells down into a flye and HOLD for at least 5 seconds. Let the dumbells pull you down into the stretch while the cables pull outwards.
Now do the flye back up to the top. It’s unnecessary for me to tell you to squeeze the pecs here because they will literally have NO choice in the matter!
Now go right back into the press for two reps.
Repeat this pattern, doing two reps of the press and one stretch-accentuated rep of the dumbell flye, until you can no longer stand it or fatigue forces you to end the set.
I’ll be honest with you…this combined technique is absolutely brutal. The sheer amount of constant tension being placed on the pecs is unlike any other exercise you’ve ever done.
And the RESULTS you’re going to get from it are absolutely AMAZING.
So if you’re looking for an exercise to really work and target the chest strongly and you’ve got no hesitation trying something new and unique in the gym, this is an exercise combination you’re going to want to use.
And if you’re interested in learning more about Hybrid Training and the other exercise combinations you can do, definitely check out my Hybrid Training book. It covers techniques like this for every single bodypart, using a variety of hybrid methods.