6 Moves That Are More Effective Than the Bench Press-NICK RANA

6 Moves That Are More Effective Than the Bench Press-NICK RANA

Hit up your local gym on any given Monday and you’ll probably run into the cattle call for the bench press station. It’s practically tradition that it’s the first exercise most men think about for upper body strength — how often have you been asked, “How much ya bench?” The truth is, if you’re looking to develop the chest, a healthy functioning upper body, and improve strength, the standard barbell bench won't get you there. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced lifter, you'll achieve greater gains for your chest and total upper body strength with these six moves. 

Low Incline Dumbbell Press

Throwing a mild incline into the mix allows for greater range of motion to attack the chest muscles far more effectively than the standard bench. Moreover, not having your hands tethered to a bar in a fixed position allows the wrists and elbows to move freely as the rep progresses. This can prove to be a shoulder-saver over time, especially for longer-armed lifters.
Program It: Use the low incline DB bench press as a primary lift in your chest workout to substitute the flat barbell bench. Focus on basic hypertrophy ranges of eight to 12 reps. 


Yes, a bodyweight exercise is superior to bench pressing a stack of weights. For one, most people are needlessly bad at groundwork (calisthenics and bodyweight training) because they haven't trained their muscles to work together and lack functional trunk strength. If you can match your body’s weight on the bench for reps but struggle to do 15 push-ups with good form, you should change your training focus. The bench press pins the shoulder blades to the bench. This immobility of the shoulder blades actually makes for an unhealthy environment for the entire shoulder capsule since in an ideal world, there should be movement at the shoulder blade as the arm moves. Using a full-range-of-motion push-up can solve this problem, and engage plenty of core muscles to boot.
Program It: Start or end your workouts with three to five sets of maximum repetitions. 

High Incline Press

Use an incline when you want to hit the upper chest specifically. This positioning will also help your shoulders go through a range of motion that comes closer to the overhead position, which will be a healthy change compared to a completely horizontal press.
Program It: Focus on the same eight- to 12-rep range as the low-incline dumbbell press.

Floor Press

When you eliminate the leg drive that helps your bench press force production, you can isolate the chest and triceps. Another plus regarding this movement — where you literally lay on the floor instead of a bench — is the fact that it’s harder to get “stuck” at the bottom of each rep. Even though the floor press asks for a pause at the bottom, the elbows are blocked from traveling below shoulder level thanks to the ground. The result is a focus on lockout strength and, once again, pain-free pressing. To hit the triceps harder, use a narrow and more neutral grip with a pair of dumbbells.
Program It: Use the floor press as a supplementary exercise to other chest movements. Focus on sets of 10 or more reps.

Decline Dumbbell Fly

Using a decline bench (hips higher than head) drastically reduces the amount of shoulder involvement in any chest exercise — hitting the pec muscles almost exclusively. Remember to use a small “scoop” action by starting the lowering phase of the lift with the palms facing away from you, and then turning the wrists and elbows to scoop the weights into a neutral-palms (facing in) position. Keep a slight bend in your elbows throughout the movement.
Program It: Finish your workout with these flys, performing sets of 10 to 12 reps.

Inverted Rows

A strong upper back is essential for a powerful, prominent chest and a healthy shoulder capsule. All four of the rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder originate on the shoulder blade. Knowing this, you should build scapular stability through pulling movements (like inverted rows). For every one chest movement you do over the course of the week, double up on the amount of back movements you do to build good posture and prevent imbalances and injuries in the future.
Program It: The postural muscles are geared toward endurance, so go for high-rep sets of 12 to 20.

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