Monday is National Bench Press Day in practically every gym in the world. Regardless of whether you are a weight lifter, powerlifter, or just your average gym goer, the bench press is something that you will incorporate into your training routine at some point.
Depending on your gym, finding a free bench press can often prove difficult. Here are some effective and fun-to-do bench press alternatives that target the same muscles but without needing a bench press!
The TRX (or other suspension trainers) makes bodyweight exercises much more challenging. The increased instability will really put your muscles to work, that as well as an increased range of motion make these excellent for chest and shoulder development.
1. Set the handles to about knee-height and take one in each hand.
2. Walk your feet back until your body is straight. Keep your core tight to prevent your hips from dropping.
3. Bend your arms and lower your chest toward the floor. Descend as far as your mobility allows. Do not let the handles fall outward or inward.
4. Push back up and repeat. Add a weighted vest for extra load if necessary but make sure your suspension trainer and anchor point are up to the task!
The floor press is a very popular exercise and has been around for many years. It is a fantastic exercise for developing the triceps, and it is also a great shoulder saver. There are several different variations, all of which are worth your consideration.
BARBELL FLOOR PRESS
1. Set your barbell in a squat rack or blocks set to around knee-height.
2. Lie under the bar with your legs bent or straight as preferred. Using whichever grip suits your goals (narrow, wide, regular, reverse), unrack the bar and then lower it toward the midpoint of your chest. Obviously, your upper arms/elbows will touch the floor before the bar reaches your chest.
3. Push it back up and repeat.
DECLINE FLOOR PRESS
Very similar to the regular barbell floor press however this variation focuses more on the lower pecs. As above but, with bent legs, push your hips up so you are in a bridged position and your weight is on your feet and shoulders only. This will in turn reduce the range of movement a little and allow for more lat activation.
DUMBBELL FLOOR PRESS
Exactly the same as the barbell version(s) but performed using dumbbells instead. Dumbbell floor presses are actually a lot hard than regular barbell floor presses due to increased instability, this in turn means you’ll have to work harder to keep the weights in the right path.
SINGLE DUMBBELL FLOOR PRESS
Using one arm at a time adds a nice anti-rotation element to the exercise which will challenge your core, especially your obliques. Try tackling this exercise once you have mastered the regular dumbbell floor presses as this one can be a little tricky to master.
BOTTOMS UP KETTLEBELL FLOOR PRESS
Similar to the dumbbell version but using inverted kettlebells to challenge and develop your forearms and shoulder stability. Use two KBs together or one at a time as preferred.
Dips are a fantastic alternative to the bench press. Most people write off dips as a triceps exercise, when in fact they are actually one of the best chest exercises around. You just need to know how to do them right!
Most people perform dips with a very upright torso and shoulder-width grip which tends to emphasize the triceps and reduces the emphasis on the pecs. To focus on your pecs more, you should choose a wider-than shoulder-width grip and push your legs and hips to the rear to produce a more inclined body position. This will in turn work your chest more.
To really get the most out of this exercise, you should descend until your biceps and forearms meet. The deeper you can go the better this exercise is for your chest.
Speed lifts (e.g., box squats, speed deads & speed bench) are essential to increasing strength, acceleration and power.
One of the main reasons we go to the gym is to build muscle mass. The first year we start training we make insane progress, then all of a sudden we hit a brick wall and all progress begins to plateau.