A bench press is a bodybuilding workout and one of the best-known chest-building exercises. You perform the exercise by lying on a flat weight bench holding a barbell or a pair of dumbbells.
Bench pressing involves lowering the weight to chest level before pushing upwards with extended arms. That means you need a bench and a barbell to perform the exercise.
But there are quite a few bench press alternative exercises that can help you target the same upper body muscles, including your triceps and forearms.
Many powerlifters, bodybuilders, and those aiming to build muscle power and strength rely on bench pressing to enable them to achieve their goals.
Bench presses target multiple upper-body muscles, including the chest, shoulders, and arms. These targeted muscles may vary slightly depending on the variant you perform.
Bench press alternatives can help you to achieve your power and strength-building goals without using a bench and a barbell.
Best bench press alternatives for upper body strength and power
Here are some of the best bench press alternative exercises that can help you build a powerful upper body.
Tricep dips are another great bench press alternative exercises that anyone can incorporate into their fitness regimen. Dips can target both the chest and triceps with slight positional adjustments.
You will need a weight bench, any type of bench, or any elevated object, for example, a chair, that is stable for the exercise. And you can do it anywhere.
You can also use a dip station or dip bars for the tricep dips bench press alternatives. Check out our recommended dip bars if you are yet to install one in your home gym.
A power tower is another good gym equipment for the dips exercise. Aside from tricep dips, you can use a power station for many other exercises, including pull-ups, chin-ups, push-ups, etc.
Steps to follow
- Place yourself between the bars of a dip station or parallel bars. Maintain a neutral grip on the bars, with your hands in line with your hips.
- Face ahead while extending your arms to their maximum range of motion.
- Slowly lower yourself by bending your elbows while maintaining a stacking stance for your forearms. Staying upright will target your triceps, while a small forward lean will target your chest.
- When your elbows hit 90 degrees, extend and drive yourself upward until you reach full extension.
- Gradually lower yourself to your starting position. Repeat
Diamond push-ups are another bodyweight alternative to bench press.
The position of the hand makes the exercise challenging. It requires concentration and proper form to go through the steps.
Placing the hands beneath the body and under your torso moves the emphasis from the chest to the triceps, helping you to target the same muscles as the bench press.
Required equipment: Exercise mat (optional)
Steps to follow
- Get into the plank pose, face down, body fully stretched and resting on your toes and hands.
- With your hands under your chest, form a diamond shape with your index fingers and thumbs. Ensure you keep your fingers in that shape throughout the exercise.
- Brace your core and lower your body until your chest almost touches your hands. Ensure you keep your back straight and your elbows tucked.
- Push your chest upward to your starting position, ensuring your toes stay firmly on the floor.
- One rep if this bench press alternative at home exercise consists of pausing for a moment at the bottom, then push yourself back to the starting position.
- Diamond push-ups can be challenging.
- Keep your elbows in to protect your shoulders,
- You can increase the difficulty of the exercise by adding resistance bands.
Resistance Band Push-Ups
Band-resisted push-ups are an excellent way to build strength and muscles, especially in your upper body and arms.
The push-up mimics the bench press by activating the same muscles but uses your body weight and a resistance band. Thus they are one of the best bench press alternative exercises when you do not have access to a weight bench.
Steps to follow
- Wrap a resistance band around your back against your lats. Tuck each end around the thumbs or palms.
- Assume a plank pose with your hands beneath your shoulders.
- Engage your core and push your chest towards the floor while ensuring your elbows remain tucked.
- Stop briefly before your chest touches the floor and pause for a second or two.
- Push your chest back to your starting position
- One repetition consists of pausing at the bottom of the movement and pushing back up to the starting position. Repeat
- You can make the exercise challenging by increasing the strain on the band.
- You will experience the maximum resistance at the peak of the concentric movement, close to the end of the repetition.
Incline Hex Press
Many lifters suffer from shoulder pains when doing bench presses. But you can reduce the stress on your shoulders by opting for the incline press hex press, which uses a squeeze press, as an alternative to bench press.
This often-overlooked auxiliary move works the chest, triceps, and shoulders for a powerful upper body.
The incline position help to focus the exercise on the upper portion of your pectoral muscles.
Steps to follow
- Set the weight bench to about 15 to 30 degrees incline position
- Lying on an incline bench while holding two dumbbells on your chest with an overhand grip. Hold the dumbbells parallel to the body with the knuckles facing each other.
- With the dumbbells together, extend your arms straight up till you stretch them fully.
- Pause, and with the dumbbells still squeezed together, lower them to your starting position. Repeat
For optimal efficiency, keep your elbows tucked throughout the exercise and focus on applying tension to the pecs.
Resistance band standing decline chest press
The workout targets the lower chest, the shoulders, and the triceps. It is a bench press alternative exercise that can target muscles that are difficult to activate with dumbbells or a barbell.
Required equipment: Resistance bands
Steps to follow
- Wrap a resistance band around your upper back and attach the ends to your hands. Ensure you place the resistance band approximately midway on your upper back, extending across the bottom of your deltoids. You can also secure the resistance band to an anchor point, such as a rack or door frame.
- Take a staggered stance with feet a hip-width apart. Ensure you extend your rear leg and bend your front leg slightly at the knee. Keep your elbows at your sides and your fists at chest level. That is your starting initial position.
- Extend your arms down until your arms and the band is parallel to your front thigh. Pause and squeeze.
- Bend your elbows slowly while maintaining a tucked position until you reach the beginning position. That is one repetition.
- Maintaining proper form is key to maximizing the effectiveness of this workout. Adjust the intensity by altering your hold on the resistance band.
Chest Press with dumbbells
The dumbbell chest press is an alternative to the standard bench press for those without a barbell.
You may use a bench or the floor for this bench press alternative exercise. The chest and shoulders are the primary movers during the chest press, but the triceps, biceps, and back are also engaged.
Steps to follow
- Lying on your back and on a bench, grasp two dumbbells with an overhand grip. Stretch your arms fully towards the ceiling or the sky, and palms facing your feet.
- Engage your lats and stabilize your core, then slowly bring the dumbbells down to your chest with your elbows tucked in.
- Pause at the chest level, contract your muscles, and push the dumbbells to full extension to complete a rep.
Chest fly with dumbbells
The dumbbell chest fly is another bench press alternative exercise that can target the muscles in the shoulders and chest to help you build a well-toned upper body.
You will need a pair of dumbbells and a weight bench for the exercise.
Steps to follow
- Lie flat on your back on a weight bench
- Plant your feet firmly on the floor on either side of the bench
- Pick up a pair of dumbbells of appropriate weight in each hand
- Lift your hands up till they are stretched and pointing towards the sky or ceiling. Ensure your hands have a slight bend at the elbows. Your palms should face each other, and so too should the dumbbells.
- Breath in, then, while trying to form an arch with your hands, lower the dumbbells slowly and bring them in line with your chest. Do not bend your elbows or extend your arms completely as you lower the dumbbells. And, do not drop your arms below your shoulders.
- Breath out, and following a similar arc motion, move the dumbbells up to your starting position.
Dumbbell chest pullover
Dumbbell pullovers are some of the most popular strength training exercises bodybuilders do. They are also some of the best bench press alternatives for building your lats and chest.
You can include dumbbell pullovers in your resistance training plans, even if you are not a bodybuilder.
Start with a lower weight and gradually increase the resistance with a higher weight as you gain confidence.
As with all the dumbbell exercises on the list, you will need a dumbbell and a weight bench. These are two must-haves in any home gym setup.
Steps to follow
- Holding a dumbbell of appropriate weight with both hands, sit at the end of a flat weight bench.
- Keeping your feet firmly on the floor, drop backward and lie flat on your back on the weight bench
- Ensure the bench is supporting your head, neck, and back
- Hold one end of the dumbbell with both hands
- With your palms facing each other, stretch your arms towards the ceiling to bring the dumbbell above your chest. Ensure you bend your elbows slightly to get the boney part pointing outwards and towards the sides of the room. Keep your back neutral, and don’t push it towards the bench.
- Breath in, and keeping your hands stretched, move the weight over your head and behind you. Ensure your hands don’t go past your head. But try to get your upper arms by the side of your ears.
- Breath out and return dumbbells to your starting position
Floor press with dumbbells
The floor press is a variation of the bench press. You use the floor for the exercise instead of a bench.
Doing the bench press while lying on the floor, however, reduces the range of motion. That is because the floor acts as a barrier to the depth below where your elbows can go.
A reduced range of motion reduces the activity on your shoulders and chest. The exercise will still target these muscles indirectly so long as you try and squeeze your pecs when at the top of the movement.
But the floor press is an effective way to target your triceps while reducing the stress on your shoulders. It is a great bench press alternative exercise for those intending to build and tone their triceps.
It is best to use dumbbells for the exercise as that allows the shoulders to move freely, compared to using a barbell. Using an exercise mat will reduce the strain on your back and allow you to exercise comfortably and
Steps to follow
- Sit upright on the floor with legs fully stretched in front of you. Have dumbbells of appropriate weight on each side
- Using a tight grip, pick a dumbbell in each hand and bring them up to your hip crease
- Drop backward to lie on your back, bringing the dumbbells close to your chest as you do so. Lift your knees and move them towards you to form a 45-degree angle. Lift your feet slightly as you lie on your back as well
- Engage your chest and triceps, and press the dumbbells up until your hands are fully extended
- Pause and slowly bring the dumbbells down, stopping when your elbows touch the floor.
- Return the dumbbells to your starting position
Do not drop the dumbbells forcefully when you finish the session. Instead, put them back on the floor slowly and in a controlled movement.
Incline bench dumbbell Press
The exercise is like the bench press, except that you use an inclined bench, instead of a flat bench.
The inclined position shifts the focus of the movement to the front of your shoulders and the upper section of your pectoral muscles. Perform the exercise regularly in the incline position and you will see significant growth in your upper chest muscles.
The incline bench dumbbell press is an effective way to increase the size and strength of your chest. It is a great bench press alternative exercise to include in your strength training plans.
You will need a weight bench, set to about 45 degrees incline for the exercise
Decline dumbbell press
The decline dumbbell press puts the focus of the movement on the opposite side of the incline press. That means the movement focuses on the muscles in your lower chest. It’s another popular chest workout for strength builders and a great bench press alternative exercise
You will need to set the bench to 15-30 degrees decline. The downward slope of your upper body will help activate the muscles in your lower pecs and the anterior deltoid as you go through the movement.
the decline dumbbell press is the exercise to go for if you are looking for well-defined pecs without putting much stress on your shoulders and back.
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