Bodybuilding Articles

5 Bench Press Alternative Exercises

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Despite the average gym rat’s infatuation with the bench press, and bench pressing on Mondays, it’s not a required exercise. That might shock a few of you, but it’s true.

Perhaps you can’t use the bench press because you don’t have a spotter, or because the bench station is constantly being hogged by the same 3 gym members. Maybe you just don’t like the bench press as a muscle building exercise. Fair enough.

If you’re looking to build your chest there are many great movements to choose from. The following list features 10 quality bench press alternative exercises.

Incline Bench Press

Believe it or not most top bodybuilders consider the incline bench press to be the king of chest builders. When polled regarding their favorite muscle building exercises, you commonly see the incline bench press listed before the flat bench press.

Chest Dips

The chest dip was once considered the upper body squat. These days this important exercises has become an afterthought. Learn proper dipping form and give them a try. Your chest muscles will thank you.

Flat Bench Dumbbell Bench Press

The flat bench dumbbell bench press is a very underrated mass builder. But be warned, low rep sets can feel awkward. Don’t be afraid to blast your chest with 8 to 15 reps sets on this exercise.

Decline Bench Press

Because of the bench angle, the decline bench press usually features a shorter range of motion. While this tends to involve more tricep usage, it also generally allows for the use of a greater weight making it a good chest blasting alternative. Try using a slightly wider than normal grip and concentrate on chest involvement during your reps.

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

It stands to reason that if the incline barbell bench press is a rock solid variation, incline dumbbells would be a good choice as well. Make sure to use a slight angle on your incline presses. There is no need to raise the seat past the 30 degree mark.

Bench Press Alternative Exercises that Missed the Cut

The following chest exercises are quality secondary chest building choices. It is recommended that you perform these lifts after primary movements such as dips or incline bench presses.

  • Pushups with Feet on bench
  • Reverse Grip Bench Press
  • Close Grip Bench Press (More of a tricep-focused exercises, but also great for the chest)
  • Dumbbell Floor Press
  • Cable Crossover
  • Decline Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Dumbbell Flyes
  • Pec Dec
  • Hammer Strength Bench Press
  • Incline Bench Dumbbell Flyes

Have a question about chest training? Leave a comment below.

Steve Shaw

Steve Shaw is the founder of Muscle and Brawn, and a powerlifter with 30+ years of experience. Steve's recorded a 600lb squat, 672lb deadlift and a 382lb bench press.
Steve Shaw

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  • William Mar 26,2014 at 11:30 pm

    I have two problematic herniated discs in the lumbar region of my spine. Looking for alternative way to work my chest without excess pressure to my spine. I am 27 years old, male, 180 pounds… lifting for a while but rather be able to walk then choose to lift. Thanks if you can help or have insight.

    • larry Apr 1,2015 at 9:12 pm

      Re the herniated discs. Get access to a reverse hyperextension machine.

  • Robbie Ellis Feb 4,2014 at 8:04 pm

    I have a doctor’s appointment to check this out, but it’s not for three weeks. I am 71 and have lifted all my adult life. I’ve had some shoulder problems, only one important – rotator cuff surgery several years ago on my right side (I wrestled in college and then, an entirely different thing, wrestled professionally until last year.). I have never regained my strength on that side, so, needless to say, I bench with less. (An alternate question to the one I am posing here is to what extent my weakness might be part of the aging process. I have never stopped lifting but for the six months after the operation for the rotator cuff and even then I started lightweight workouts with a medical trainer shortly after the operation.) Now I have developed some pain in the left upper arm — only when actually benching, rarely otherwise and only very light pain), possibly arthritis from the shoulder. Other exercises bother it very little if at all. I can’t bench with anything over a very light weight due to the current pain (not weakness), so I am doing extra reps. Are there alternative exercises for the chest that do not include bench presses at any angle? Or pushups? I haven’t tried pushups with my arms bent at the elbow and my upper arms from elbow to palm on the ground. Now that I have thought about it, I will. Thanks for any suggestions.

  • Carl Nov 7,2013 at 10:44 am

    I’ve recently recovered from a Pec Major tear and surgery (8 months out). Does anyone have a workout routine I can follow to get back in the game? All I know is I need higher reps 10-12 and should not perform any barbell benching.

    • Mick Madden Nov 7,2013 at 10:47 am

      Hi Carl,

      We have a powerlifter on the forum who just recovered from a major pec tear. Come on over and post your question. I know he’s be glad to help.

      • yancy Apr 2,2014 at 9:07 pm

        This is one of the least informative fitness articles that I’ve ever read, and the internet is cluttered with them.

        Four of the best alternatives to the bench press are……different versions of the bench press. Come on 🙁

        • Mick Madden Apr 3,2014 at 12:06 am

          If you know everything, why are you Googling “bench press alternatives”? Go write an article for us instead of sitting on the sidelines bitching and being unproductive like every other schmuck. Instead of providing readers with your alternatives, or options, you just whine like a bitch.

          • Cutty Apr 3,2014 at 12:10 am

            I support this comment.

          • Rachmaninov May 5,2015 at 5:06 pm

            Probably because she doesn’t know everything and wants to learn, and gave an honest opinion after stumbling on this uninformative article. If only everyone were as cool as you, you wouldn’t be such a douche.

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