The 14 Best Bench Press Alternatives

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bench press alternative

The bench press is definitely one of the most popular and well-known exercises ever. It’s the go-to chest exercise for millions and for a good reason. Bench pressing is super effective. It’s the best compound exercise you can do for your pecs and chest muscles. But for one or another reason we can’t always rely on this amazing exercise. There are plenty of reasons to look for bench press alternatives, such as :

  • Having shoulder problems or coming off a shoulder injury.
  • You want to isolate your chest muscles more.
  • Trying to overcome a bench press plateau.
  • You don’t have access to a bench or it’s just not available.
  • You want to train your chest from another angle.
  • Or you just want to mix things up a little and try something new.

Whatever your reason to search for an alternative to the bench press might be, it’s always a good idea to try and learn new things. We have compiled a list of 14 best exercises to replace the bench press with.

The 14 best bench press alternatives are:

  1. Floor press
  2. Incline bench press
  3. Decline bench press
  4. Landmine press
  5. Machine chest press
  6. Dumbbell bench press
  7. Incline dumbbell press
  8. Decline dumbbell press
  9. Pullover
  10. Cable crossover
  11. Dumbell fly
  12. Push-ups
  13. Dips
  14. Cable press

1. Floor Press

Dumbbell floor press

Floor presses are a great alternative to bench pressing. In fact, it’s almost an identical exercise. Technically the only difference being that instead of lying on a bench you are on the ground.

The motion in this exercise is quite limited and compared to the regular bench press it will put a lot less pressure on your shoulders. And that makes it an excellent bench press substitute if you are having shoulder trouble.

There are a few variations for this exercise. First, depending on what equipment you use for it. You can do the floor press using a barbell, dumbbells, or even just a plate or a kettlebell. Secondly, you can mix up the position of your legs. You can perform it with straight legs, bent knees, or your legs elevated.

How to perform the floor press:

  1. Start by lying flat on your back with your knees bent. 
  2. Hold the barbell or dumbells across your chest. Your elbows touching the ground. If you are using a barbell you should use a shoulder-width grip. 
  3. Extend your arms and push the weight up. 
  4. Pause for a second at the top.
  5. Now slowly lower the weight back until your elbows touch the ground.
  6. Then extend your arms again and push the weight back up.

2. Incline Bench Press

Incline Bench Press Alternative

The incline bench press is probably the most well known and most used variation of the classic bench press. It is performed on an incline bench that is usually at a 45-degree incline angle. This bench press alternative is great for targeting the upper portion of your chest muscles. Also, it trains the front side of your shoulders and triceps more than the regular bench press would

How to perform the incline bench press:

  1. Lie flat on the incline bench.
  2. Place your hands a bit wider than your shoulders.
  3. Lift the bar of the rack.
  4. Inhale and slowly lower the bar until it touches your chest.
  5. Extend your arms and push the bar back up while exhaling. 
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for your desired repetitions.

3. Decline Bench Press

Decline Bench Press Alternative

This is another great bench press variation to use as an alternative to bench pressing. This exercise is performed usually on a specific decline bench that is set at a 15 to 30-degree angle. The angle will place your body on a downward slope, which allows you to target the lower portion of your chest muscles.

It’s a good idea to incorporate this exercise into your workout plan if you want to focus on your lower chest and give your pecs a more defined look. Another benefit of the decline bench press is that it will put less stress on your shoulders thanks to the angle.

How to perform the incline bench press:

  1. Secure your feet and life flat on the decline bench with your eyes under the bar.
  2. Grip the barbell a bit wider than your shoulders.
  3. Lift the bar of the rack and move it over your shoulders.
  4. Inhale and slowly lower the bar until it touches your chest.
  5. Extend your arms and push the bar back up while exhaling. 
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for your desired repetitions.

4. Landmine Press

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Landmine presses are another excellent bench press alternative. The exercise will train your chest and shoulders. It will mostly target your upper chest area.

There are many different versions of this exercise but there are two main types of landmine presses. First, we have the one-handed version. The one-hand landmine press focuses more on your shoulder muscles than your chest. But it’s a great exercise to fight muscle imbalances. Secondly, the two-handed landmine press witch focuses more on your chest and upper body muscles.

The landmine press can be done by using a specific device for them or by simply placing a barbell in a corner.

How to perform the two-handed landmine press:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width.
  2. Hold the weighted end of the barbell with both of your hands.
  3. Start with the end of the bar lowered to your middle chest.
  4. Press the weight up and extend your arms.
  5. Pause for a second and then lower the bar in a slow and controlled manner.

5. Machine Chest Press

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The chest press machine will provide a lot more stability than using free weights. Which decreases the risk of injury and also makes it an easier move to master. They also stress your shoulder joints less and focus on your chest muscles.

It’s a great bench press alternative for beginners and for people who are recovering from a shoulder injury.

How to perform the exercise machine chest press:

  1. Sit comfortably on the machine with your feet firmly on the ground and about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Grab the handles of the machine.
  3. Extend your arms to unrack it and pause for a second.
  4. Then lower the weight slowly until your hands are leveled with your chest.
  5. Extend your arms and push the weight.

6. Dumbbell bench press

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The dumbbell bench press is one of my favorite bench press alternatives to use. To mix things up, I often replace bench pressing with this in my workout routines.

The dumbbell bench press trains exactly the same muscles than the regular bench press would. The dumbbell press has a lot greater range of motion than the barbell bench press. That means you can work your pecs muscles harder during the exercise.

How to perform the dumbbell bench press:

  1. Lie down on the bench with a dumbbell in each hand. The dumbbells should be resting at the chest level.
  2. Fully extend your arms and push the dumbbells up.
  3. Pause at the top.
  4. Slowly lower the weight back down to shoulder level

7. Incline Dumbbell Press

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The incline dumbbell press is a variation of the dumbbell bench press. Similar to the incline bench press it is done on a 45-degree bench. It focuses mainly on your upper chest muscles

How to perform the incline dumbbell press:

  1. Lie down flat on a bench set at a 45-degree angle with a dumbbell in each hand. The dumbbells should be resting at the chest level.
  2. Extend your arms straight up and push the dumbbells up overhead.
  3. Pause at the top.
  4. Slowly lower the weight back down to your shoulder level.

8. Decline Dumbbell Press

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The decline dumbbell press is another variation of the dumbbell bench press. Just like the decline bench press, this is done on a declined bench that is at a 15 to 30-degree slope. It allows you to target the lower portion of your chest muscles.

How to perform the decline dumbbell press:

  1. Lie down flat on a bench set at a decline. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, resting at your shoulder level.
  2. Extend your arms and push the dumbbells up.
  3. Pause at the top.
  4. Lower the dumbbells back to your shoulder level.

9. Pullover

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The pullover targets your chest in a completely different way than the bench press but that doesn’t mean it would be a bad bench press alternative. In fact, the pullover is a great chest exercise to add to your routine for multiple reasons. First of all, it strengthens and stretches your chest muscles. Secondly, it also works out your back muscles and your tricep. Thirdly, it’s amazing for your stabilizer and core muscles.

There are a few different ways you can do the pullover. It’s mostly done with a dumbbell but you can use any barbell, plate, or even a kettlebell for it. The exercise can be performed lying flat on a bench, by leaning your back on a bench or even a fitness ball.

How to perform the dumbbell pullover:

  1. Lie down on a bench with your back flat.
  2. Hold the dumbbell above your chest with your hands fully extended. 
  3. Bring the dumbbell down over your head until it’s about head level. 
  4. Then bring the weight back up over your head.

10. Cable Crossover

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The cable crossover is a good bench press alternative that targets the lower portion of the pecs. It’s a really good isolation move for your chest. The cable crossover allows you to work out your chest from a new angle which is great for muscle growth. Also, it stretches the chest muscle.

How to perform the cable crossover:

  1. Position the weights and cables at the top level of the machine.
  2. Stand in the middle of the cable machine with one foot in front of the other.
  3. Hold the handles with an overhand grip, so your palms are facing each other.
  4. Lean forward and bend your hands slightly.
  5. Pull your hands together until they touch each other.
  6. Pause for a second and then release the weight. Bring your arms back into the starting position.

11. Dumbbell Fly

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Dumbbell flyes are one of the best chest exercises to target and isolate your chest muscles. And that makes them excellent bench press alternatives.

Dumbbell flyes also target more specific muscles in your chest area called sternal fibers. They are the muscle fibers that attach directly to your sternum. Working out that area will create a more defined look for your chest.

The exercise should be done with lighter weights because it can put a lot of pressure on your shoulder joints. Also, there is a risk of overstretching your chest muscles. So always choose a moderate weight, that you know you can handle.

How to perform the dumbbell fly:

  1. Lie down flat on a bench.
  2. Start with your hands extended straight up, with a dumbbell in each hand.
  3. Drop your arms down to each side until the dumbbells are shoulder level. 
  4. Pull the dumbbells back up into the starting position with your chest muscles.

12. Push-Ups

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Everybody is familiar with good old push-ups. Pushups are the best at home bench press alternatives. They are the number one bodyweight exercise for your chest muscles and also the best bodyweight exercise to replace the bench press.

Push-ups are great because they are a super simple exercise to perform and they don’t require any equipment. You can literally do push ups anywhere you want, be it at your home, the gym, outdoors, or even in your hotel room.

There are tons of different push-up variations to choose from. There are one-handed pushups, superman pushups, wide stance pushups, banded pushups, weighted pushups and so on.. the list is too long to go through here.

How to perform push-ups:

  1. Place your hands on the ground, a little wider than your shoulders.
  2. Take a high plank position. Your body should form a straight line.
  3. Bend your elbows and lower your body until your chest is just an inch or two off the ground.
  4. Pause there for a second and then push your body back up.

13. Dips

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Just like the bench press, this alternative targets your chest, triceps, and somewhat your shoulders. They are an excellent exercise to build upper body strength and mass.

When doing dips you can easily alter your body’s position to target and focus on different muscles. For example, by leaning forward you will recruit more of your upper chest muscles and by being more upright you will target your lower pecs. The only drawback for dips is that it puts a lot of pressure on your shoulders. It might be a problem if you have bad shoulder mobility.

Dips can be done using a dip bar, using the power station, the dip machine, or even using a bench. Although the main two different variations for normal dips are weighted tips and bench tips.

How to perform bench dips:

  1. Sit on a bench with your hands placed on the bench on both of your sides.
  2. Extend your legs out, so they are parallel to the ground.
  3. Now, lift your hips off the bench and extend your arms.
  4. Lower your hips and body. Move your body in front of the bench, while supporting your weight with your arms.
  5. Lower your body as far down as you can
  6. Pause and then push yourself back up with your arms.

14. Cable Chest Press

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The cable chest press is a super simple exercise that works out all the same muscles as the bench press. And that is exactly why this is an awesome alternative to the bench press.

It really helps you focus on your chest muscles and pump them. It also puts a lot of good pressure on your whole body. In order to keep you straight, all of your small muscles will work their hats off to stabilize you.

Like with all good exercises, there are tons of different variations for the cable chest press. For example, you can do it one-handed, two-handed, while on a bench, on your knees, and so on.

How to perform the one-handed cable chest press:

  1. Start by positioning the cable about chest high.
  2. Place one foot in front of the other.
  3. Start with the handle on your shoulder.
  4. Push out and extend your arm.
  5. Hold it for a second then bring your arm back until it’s at the chest level.

In conclusion

When you are searching for a bench press alternative you should look for exercises that are heavily chest focused. A good alternative exercise should try to mimic the bench press. The movement should be similar, and it should train the same muscle groups, like your chest, shoulders, and triceps.

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