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How To Bench Press Without A Bench

April 3, 2014
Photo credit: Thinkstock

Photo credit: Thinkstock

In the world of fitness, weightlifting is currently king.

From CrossFit to the New Rules of Lifting, people everywhere are learning that they can lift heavier weights to build serious muscle and cut fat.

But in order to make this a success, you need the right form and equipment.

The bench has long been considered an integral piece of equipment when you want to build a chiseled chest. And yet, if you do not have one, you have a lot of alternatives.

Whether you are trying to maximize your workout in minimal space, or you are just trying to break out of the bench rut, these exercises are for you.

Body-weight

Using free weights in bodybuilding is a standard. But, don’t knock body-weight exercises. They are free, can be performed almost anywhere and make a big difference in the mirror.

Push-ups, for example, are great for the beginner and the professional alike. Proper form is key. Establish a plank with your feet perpendicular to your legs. Your body, from head to heel, should be in a straight line. Your arms extend down to the floor directly from your shoulders, supported by your flat hands or fists. Bend your arms until your nose is close to the ground. Then, straighten them.

In this exercise, speed is not necessarily your friend. For the best toning of your arms, upper back and pectorals, take it slow.

Floor presses

Photo credit: Thinkstock

Photo credit: Thinkstock

If you want to have most of the benefits of the standard bench press without the bench, you can try floor presses with dumbbells.

Lay flat on a firm surface. Take your dumbbells in hand and extend your arms straight above your chest muscles.

If you are just starting out, select dumbbells that are more moderate in weight to avoid injury.

Adjustable dumbbells are a great choice for the home gym. They allow you to easily change the weight of the dumbbells and minimize the amount of equipment you have to purchase.

With floor presses, you might notice that your triceps are getting more work and your chest a little less. But if you really want the effect of the bench press, this is pretty close.

Upright chest press

Although the bench provides you with the opportunity to fight against gravity directly, the upright chest press offers a similar workout of the same muscle groups. This exercise can be performed sitting or standing, using dumbbells, cables or a special machine.

If you are using a machine or resistance cables, adjust the setup as necessary. When you take the handles and push out, your arms should move at the level of your chest, not higher or lower. You probably will not injure yourself if the settings are wrong, but you will work different muscle groups.

If you use dumbbells, sit or stand and push out with your hands at a 90-degree angle to your straight body.

Dumbbell flies

Unlike the other exercises, this workout exercises the same muscles but in a different movement.

To do the dumbbell fly, you can either lay flat on the floor or on a seat with a slightly reclined back.

Take your dumbbells and bring them together with your arms extended out in front of your chest. Then, move your arms away from each other until your arms and upper body are in a T formation.

Again, it is important to select the right dumbbell weights. Avoid extending your arms behind your back to prevent injury to your shoulders.

Right along with the six-pack, people want to chisel an awesome set of pectorals when they first start bodybuilding. Bench presses are great, but the bench is not your only option. With these exercises, you can keep it simple or shake things up, and look great when you are done.

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