When your workout plan includes the Barbell Bench Press and time is limited, your patience can be tested when you walk in a gym to find every bench in use.
This article provides 10 Barbell Bench Press alternatives that not only blast your pectoral muscles, but also boost sports performance by enhancing things like lower-body strength, core strength, muscle mass, power, endurance, flexibility and balance!
- Sets/Reps: 3x10
- Rest between sets: 30-60 seconds
- Perform exercises on non-consecutive days for adequate recovery
1. Med Ball Side Lunges and Press-Outs
This combo movement is particularly optimal for basketball passing and shooting, football blocking, pushing off in wrestling, and checking in ice hockey.
- Assume an athletic stance and hold the ball close to your chest.
- Lunge laterally right and simultaneously explosively press the ball outward.
- Return to start position and repeat nine more reps.
- Without rest, perform 10 left Side Lunges and Ball Press-Outs.
2. Explosive Push-Ups and Squat Thrusts/40-Yard Sprints
- Assume a Push-Up position and explosively press up with your hands (so much so that your hands leave the floor or mat) on each of the 10 reps.
- Immediately follow with those 10 reps with either 10 Squat Thrusts or a 40-yard sprint.
This combo not only builds upper- and lower-body power, but also has sports-enhancing applications, especially when having to quickly rise from a prone position and chase after an opponent on the ice, court or field.
3. Supine One-Arm DB Presses
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor or mat.
- Hold one dumbbell with either a neutral or prone grip close to your chest. Keep your free hand and arm extended at shoulder heigh on the floor throughout the set.
- Press the db over your chest and slowly lower.
- After 10 reps, immediately switch and repeat with the dumbbell in your other hand.
4. Weighted Dips
- Affix a weight belt around your waist and attached as many plates as you see fit.
- Set up on the parallel bars and lean slightly forward to effectively target pectoral, shoulder, back and arm muscles.
- Descend slowly, pause at the bottom, and quickly press up to start position on this old-school upper body size-builder.
5. Supine or Standing Ball Throws/Catches
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor/mat.
- Hold the med ball close to your chest.
- Explosively throw it upward, catch it, slowly lower it back to the chest and repeat nine more times.
- Assume an athletic stance facing a wall (standing a few feet away).
- Hold the ball close to your chest and throw it against the wall, catch and repeat for 10 reps.
- For both versions, lift one foot off the floor while throwing and catching the ball to improve balance.
6. Inchworms and Push-Ups
This combo movement simultaneously promotes upper- and lower-body flexibility and upper-body size and strength.
- Assume a Push-Up position.
- Perform a Push-Up and walk your hands as close to your feet as possible.
- Pause, and then walk your hands to start position.
- Repeat nine more times.
- Immediately do a Push-Up and walk your feet toward your hands.
- Return to Push-Up position and repeat nine more times.
7. Standing Flys and Press-Outs
This combo pumps up the pectoral muscles by doing compound sets. Single-joint and pre-exhausting chest-targeting Flys are performed for 10 reps and are immediately followed with 10 multi-joint chest, shoulder and arm-building Press-Outs.
- Begin in an athletic stance holding the dbs with neutral grips slightly spread apart and your arms slightly bent (away from your chest at chest level).
- Slowly bring the dbs laterally wider apart, pause, and quickly return to start position and squeeze the pectoral muscles (as if hugging a tree trunk or Swiss ball).
- After nine more reps, immediately explosively press the dbs outward at chest level with either a prone or neutral grip, pause, and slowly return them close to your chest and repeat nine more reps.
8. Med Ball Push-Ups and Multi-Directional Ball Roll-Outs
Good for building upper body size, power, flexibility and core strength.
- Begin with both hands atop the ball in a Push-Up position.
- Slowly lower and explosively push up 10 times.
- Immediately go on your knees and roll the ball forward and then diagonally (left and right) totaling 10 reps in each direction while contracting your abdominal muscles.
9. Staggered Push-Ups
This challenging exercise targets pectoral muscles from different angles.
- From the Push-Up position with your hands shoulder-width apart, place your right hand slightly ahead of the other (beyond your head).
- Do one Push-Up.
- Advance forward with your feet and your left hand ahead of the right hand and do another Push-Up.
- Continue moving forward and alternating hand position with Push-Ups totaling 10 reps.
10. Lateral Walks on All Fours
This exercise effectively measures upper- and lower-body muscular endurance.
- Assume a Push-Up position and use a timer or count 60 seconds while walking laterally to the right with your hands and feet (make sure you have ample space away from objects).
- Immediately walk sideways to the left with the hands and feet for 60 seconds.
- Rest, hydrate and repeat twice more.
Photo Credit: svetikd/iStock
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