Three Alternatives to the Bench Press

Three Alternatives to the Bench Press

When it comes to military training, the bench press is considered the gold standard for building a stronger and bigger chest. However, sometimes, the bench press just isn’t an option. Whether it’s a crowded gym or lack of a bench press in general, there are a few alternatives that are just as effective at building strength and muscle. These 3 bench press alternative exercises are ideal to add to your military training workout when a bench isn’t available, you’re looking to isolate single muscle groups, or you just need some variation. 

  1. Barbell Floor Press

If you don’t have a bench, then don’t use one! The floor press is a great alternative exercise to the bench press because it’s a compound exercise, meaning you’ll be targeting the same muscle groups. The downside, however, is that you won’t be able to get the full range of motion since your elbows will connect with the floor. 

How to do it:

  • Set yourself on the floor in front of a power cage

  • Position the pins so you can take the barbell off the rack while lying on the floor

  • Make sure to keep your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor

  • Perform the bench press movement as you normally would, limiting elbow tucking 

  • Note: dumbbells can also be used if a barbell or power cage are not available

  1. Dips

The parallel bars at the gym are almost always available, and dips are a great bench press alternative. Not only do dips target the chest, but they also strengthen and build your shoulders and triceps. For maximum results, perform this exercise at the beginning of your workout.

How to do it:

  • Place one hand on each of the parallel bars, keeping your arms straight without locking your elbows and your shoulders are aligned with your hands

  • Slightly lean forward while lowering yourself down by bending your elbows

  • Once you feel a stretch in the chest muscles, slowly press back up

  1. Push-Ups

Push-ups are tried and true when it comes to building muscle strength in the chest. Not only that, much like the bench press, push-ups also work the shoulders, triceps, and abs. Not to mention, you only need your bodyweight to perform the effective exercise. Hand placement can increase the challenge of the push-up and target different muscle groups. For example, wider hand placement focuses more on the chest while a narrow hand placement focuses on the triceps. Performing a push-up at a decline will also put more of the emphasis in the pectoral muscles. 

How to do it:

  • Put yourself in plank position with your hands on the ground with arms extended

  • Lower down to the ground then push yourself back up

  • Note: placing your hands on an elevated surface like a step or chair can help place more of the focus in your chest muscle group

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