Whether your aim is building strength or sculpting muscle tone, there is no exercise better suited for your pectorals than the bench press. Because the bench press is a fundamental exercise, you’re liable to find that your gym’s barbell bench is occupied during your workout time. Don’t despair — there are a multitude of bench press variations to consider that will not only ensure you get your chest day checked off the list, but that might also improve your results exponentially, too.
Dumbbell bench press variations
Using one of the adjustable benches in the free-weight area of the gym, you can incorporate dumbbells into your workout to perform a variety of bench press variations. According to International Fitness Professionals Association-certified instructor and trainer Curtis Shultz, writing for Bodybuilding.com, using dumbbells provides a greater range of motion by allowing you to emphasize the stretch at the bottom of the movement and the contraction at the top of the movement. Depending on how you adjust the angle of the bench, you can use dumbbells to perform sets of flat bench, incline bench and decline bench press, which allows you to work different areas of your chest and build comprehensive shape and strength.
The freedom of dumbbells also enables several variations on the bench. Twenty-year fitness industry veteran Michael Warren, writing for Muscle & Strength, recommends single-arm dumbbell bench presses as a well-rounded choice that builds up your overall bench strength and helps improve core strength in the process. Dumbbells also allow you to perform isometric holds, wherein you push the dumbbell heads together at the top of the movement and hold for three seconds to increase the contraction of the pectorals.
If you want to develop your inner chest specifically, the Svend press focuses solely on the inner pectorals and is a great way to supplement your chest workout. According to Bodybuilding.com, this exercise will see you standing with your feet hip-width apart, chest out and shoulders erect. Press two plates together in your hands with your palms in and fingers facing forward and hold them at shoulder height with your elbows straight out to your sides. Then, focusing on contracting the inner chest, press the weights horizontally in front of you before returning to the starting position. This exercise won’t require heavy weight for a sufficient burn, so start small and work your way up to a weight that allows you to perform around eight reps.
If there are no benches available, you can perform practically any press variation using the cable station. An advantage of performance cable presses is quicker adaptability: If you want to perform a drop set by lowering the weight, you need only adjust the pins, which is much quicker than changing dumbbells on a rack or taking plates off a barbell. Similarly, if you want to perform a super set with chest flies or alternate between overhand and underhand presses, using cables offers the versatility to do so more seamlessly, maximizing your momentum.
While the barbell bench press is a tried and true exercise to implement in any workout regimen, opening yourself up to a wider variety of variations will make you more adaptable during peak hours. It also helps craft a stronger and more developed chest that will have you busting out of your old shirts in no time.
This article is presented by Gossett Mazda.