How to do the machine chest press exercise to work your pecs

THE CORNERSTONE SUPPORTS Every successful chest workout is a heavy exercise. There’s a pretty extensive list of pressing exercises to add to your routine.

One of those options is the powered chest press, a versatile and underrated piece of equipment that can make a great addition to many lifters’ daily chest checklists. The device allows lifters to charge heavy and push with confidence without the need for a spotter in case of a mistake. You can also end a workout with a high-rep finishing set that will absolutely set your pecs on fire.

But is the machine chest press a great exercise for everyone? Not quite, says men health Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel, CSCS For newcomers to the weight room, whose early goal should be to master technique as well or better than lifting heavy loads, it’s best to learn the basics of bread-and-butter early and often. Focus on bench press with barbell and dumbbells.

“If you’re a beginner, I want you to do the dumbbell press and barbell press and learn that because we need to transfer that to the machine press,” says Samuel. “We have to transfer this good form to the machine press in order to really be able to use it.”

Who Should Use the Machine Chest Press?

The machine chest press is best for experienced lifters who have already mastered barbell and dumbbell movements, or at least have a good working knowledge. Bodybuilders and athletes can obviously benefit from the machine press, allowing them to stack heavier weights to build more size and strength.

Functional athletes can use the machine press as a challenging alternative to dumbbells and barbells. The machine press allows you to more confidently press each set to fatigue and failure, if needed.

But again, beginners are better served if they get used to barbells and dumbbells. Improve your form on all the essential movements — like the bench press, dumbbell press, and even push-ups — to get a better understanding of how your body mechanics should feel. Nailing down these mechanics early on will help transfer your form to the machine press.

What muscles are suitable for the machine chest press?

When you do machine chest presses, you’re targeting the same muscles that you would work with dumbbells or barbells. These include:

Advantages of the machine chest press

One of the unique benefits machine presses offer that you don’t typically get with other equipment is the difference in the force curve. Unlike dumbbells or barbells, the machine chest press gives you more resistance at the top of the movement. This is a great way to do extra pressing work.

Another benefit is that machine presses offer greater arcuate motion, as opposed to the straight A-to-B motion that free weights give you. This arc flows with the body’s chest fibers, providing better muscle development for the user.

Common mistakes when setting up the machine chest press

Despite what you might think, performing the chest press on the machine isn’t as simple as just sitting down and moving the weight. There’s a little more to it than that, and that starts with your positioning. Two common mistakes are:

Adjusting the seat too low

    You may find it easier to get a few extra reps or lift a heavier weight when the seat is lowered to the floor, but these minimal gains come at the cost of providing much-needed range of motion in your chest and transferring some of the work Your shoulders what you do not want.

    Move your butt

    Your glutes should be secure in one place: firmly on the seat, with your lower back against the rear pad. Lifters often cheat and start sitting too far forward to find a spot that’s nice and comfortable to create a better angle or arc to push more weight. Range of motion will be compromised and your chest muscles will lose again in the long run. Remember that there is no one to track your maximum chest press – this is all about muscle growth.

      Two fixes

      1. Higher is better for bench position. Your best bet is to raise it to about a notch higher than you probably want. From there, clip yourself into the machine and keep your butt firmly in the direction of the back pad.
      2. Grip the handles firmly. Your best position is to have your shoulders about an inch or two above the handles. Also, think carefully about holding your butt against the pad.

      How to do the chest press on the machine

      • Adjust your seat so that the handles are about two inches below your shoulders.
      • Keep your shoulder blades firmly pressed against the back pad and your glutes and lower back also locked into the pad.
      • Push your elbows down and tight as you push into the floor with your legs.
      • Push forward and squeeze up. This is a repeat.

        How to integrate the machine chest press into your training

        Machine presses are not intended to be the primary exercise for Chest Day. Stick to dumbbells and barbells for this. However, machines are a great option towards the end of your session when you want to lift even more weight and push yourself to the point of exhaustion. Three sets of 12 to 15 reps—perhaps even to failure every now and then—should be the final formula.

        When you are in the early stages of your workout, pause briefly on the machine press. Focus on other movements like dumbbell presses, incline bench presses, and even push-ups. Getting your form right early — from squeezing glutes and shoulder blades properly — will be the stepping stone to better chest gains.

        Jeff Tomko is a freelance fitness writer who has written for Muscle and Fitness, Men’s Fitness, and Men’s Health.

        Headshot by Brett Williams, NASM

        Brett Williams, fitness editor at Men’s Health, is a NASM-CPT-certified trainer and former professional football player and technical reporter who divides his training time between strength and conditioning training, martial arts, and running. You can find his work elsewhere at Mashable, Thrillist, and other outlets.

Leave a Comment