The Spartan Chest Press
There's little doubt that if most young men were asked what part of their body they'd like to develop powerfully first, the chest would only come in behind the biceps.
A large and well defined chest screams strength and fitness.
The Spartan take on the two most common chest presses – the bench press and the pushup gives a quick (but not easy) route to a chest that looks like it's carved from marble.
The exercises we focus on may be common, but our approach to them is anything but that.
Follow these instructions and your pectorals will look great and rarely fail you when it comes to function.
And nearly anything even remotely athletic depends on a powerful chest. I can't think of one sport that doesn't!
Bench Pressing the Right Way
Now for each of our training sessions where we work the chest press we have a few different options.
An honest look in the mirror or once over of your conditioning will determine which choice is best for you. As a result, if you're not sure, turn to the barbell flat bench press.
Barbell Bench Press.
This is the bench press almost everyone in the world has tried at least once.
You lie flat on a bench, lift a heavy barbell off the bench rack, lower it to the top of your chest and repeat for all of your reps.
Take as wide a grip as comfortable. Touch the chest, but don't slam the bar into it for obvious safety reasons.
Always have safety bars / pins set or use a spotter in case you are unable to make a rep. Explode upwards!
An added old-school safety trick: never use collars to hold the weight plates on the side of the bar. In an extreme emergency you want to be able to slide the weight plates off of the side of the bar.
I've been in this situation and, trust me, you'll be glad this is an option with a heavy bar loaded bar across your chest that just won't budge.
Incline Bench Press
The same instructions as the bench press, but with the bench set at an incline.
This helps build the upper chest, an area where many people are lacking. I was one of them.
After a year of almost exclusive incline bench presses my chest looked it's absolute best.
These can be done in place of either flat or incline bench presses.
Less weight is used, but the dumbbells allow for a greater range of motion and are also less harsh on the shoulders.
They make for a nice change occasionally.
The pushup is something that is inseparable from the warrior experience. Spartans did them by the hundreds.
So do our modern military units and amateur and professional combat athletes. You will too.
Place your hands slightly more than shoulder width apart. Feet close together. Body in a straight line. Keep your core tight as you explode up. Pushups are done for reps.
Of course there are dozens of pushup variations. As you increase your strength and conditioning feel free to explore them.
Chest training is much more about working hard and smart than it is about following complicated programs.
A Spartan chest is within your reach, as long as you take action and grab it!
ABS Like A Greek God
When we first think about training the abs and core it's understandable to have the mind flash to the “sexiness” factor of having well defined, visible abs.
Nearly every male sex symbol and more than a few female sex symbols have six or eight pack abs.
While this is certainly a good reason to carve out “abs of steel” we shouldn't forget the role a strong core has in our ability to function well and also in keeping our body injury free.
So when you train your core like a Spartan you're not only working towards looking like a Greek god (or goddess), but you are also building up your ability to act, injury free like a Spartan warrior.
It doesn't get much better than that.
A Mix of Both Dynamic and Static Exercises
Hard earned experience has shown that the best way to build a magnificent looking and powerful, functional core is to do a mix of both dynamic and static exercises.
Dynamic exercises are when your abs are worked against resistance (often just your own body weight) while static exercises are core and ab exercises when your core is held under tension for short periods of time.
Unlike some of our other body parts variety is a good thing in core training. However, the following exercises are ones you can turn to again and again.
The crunch can be thought of as a more effective version of the old high school favorite, the sit up.
- Lie on your back with knees bent feet on the floor, hands at the ears. Hold the neck in a neutral position.
- Curl up the midsection and spine roughly 30 percent towards the knees. Pause, lower back down and repeat.
- The crunch is done for reps. Three to five sets makes it a foundation of most core training sessions.
The crunch can also be done as a “side crunch,” with each rep being done towards opposite knees.
Seated Knee Ups
Sitting on a bench or chair grab the seat and lean back slightly.
- Extend legs in front of you, tensing abs.
- Pull legs in knees touching abs.
- Three to five sets done to failure.
- Lay on the floor in a push up position, but resting your upper body on your forearms and elbows.
Your arms will be in a “L” position elbows in a line with your shoulders.
- Come up on your toes while tensing core.
- Hold this position for time, rather then reps.
This is an example of a “static” exercise to build your core.
Form a “side pillar” by making a plank but only coming up on one elbow and the side of one foot.
- Keep head and neck in a neutral position.
- Keep core tense for time, over reps.
- Do an equal number of sets on each side.
Your total core training should consist of 10 sets to failure, split between as many exercises as you choose. Keep the intensity high!
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