8 chest exercises that can be done without a bench
Get off the bench and give these moves a try to pump up your pecs.
How often have you walked into the gym on Monday just to find that just about every work station is packed with guys looking to grow their pecs? Pretty often, we’re willing to guess. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
You don’t have to park our backside on a bench for the entirety of your session just because it’s chest day.
While the bench is used for the most popular chest exercise, the bench press, it also has its drawbacks. For example, using a bench can place excess stress on the delts. This can cause strain on the deltoid muscle, which can cause pain for those with a shoulder injury.
So if you’re looking to grow your chest muscles without the excess strain on your shoulders, or if you’re just sick of waiting for the bench station to clear up on a busy day at the gym, there are several exercises that can be done without a bench. And the best part is we’re willing to bet that none of these moves are being done in the busy part of the gym, so you’ll be able to get your workout done quicker and more efficiently.
Once you start incorporating these chest exercises into your weekly workout routine, you’ll be noticing a thicker, fuller, more developed pecs. And you won’t have to wait for the guy tailoring his playlist to get off the bench to do them, either.
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The landmine press is a simple yet innovative movement designed to mainly target the upper portion of the chest muscles. To setup this exercise, place a standard Olympic barbell in the corner or on a landmine attachment while adding the appropriate amount of weight to the opposite end of the bar. Grab the weighted end with one hand and from a standing position, push the bar upwards. This will place extra emphasis on growing the upper portion of the chest.
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Dips are basic, yet highly effective. Find the nearest dip station and grip the equipment with both hands slightly further apart than the conventional triceps dip. Concentrate on tilting your body downwards as opposed to upright to fully engage the chest muscles. All portions of the pec will be activated when performing this pec-targetted exercise.
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The beauty of cable crossovers is the different variations you can use to hammer the chest muscles from a variety of angles. Place the cables in upright position to focus on upper chest development or place them near the ground for lower chest development. The difference between a crossover and a standard fly is the end of the movement. For the cable crossover, bring the arms towards each other forming an “X” shape at the end of each rep to stimulate the inner pectoral portion of the chest.
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Perhaps the most basic bodyweight exercise around, the pushup is used as a standard marker for overall fitness among military and school children alike. Mix it up by performing the pushup off a medicine ball or elevate your legs by placing feet on steps to hit different portions of the chest. Start with your arms just slightly wider than shoulder width and go downwards until your triceps are parallel to the ground.
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If your bench press has hit a plateau, the floor press is a sure fire way to completely break that barrier down. Simply lie with your back on the floor and get underneath the bar to perform the pressing movement in the same manner as a conventional bench press. The main difference here will be that the repetition ends once the triceps hit the floor. The floor press will aide tremendously in improving the lockout portion of the press if it’s a weak point.
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Pec Fly Machine
One of the oldest yet most effective chest machines in gyms across the world is the pec fly machine. Use this as an accessory movement to really focus on hitting the pec muscles from all angles. While performing this pec variation try not to go too heavy and, instead, focus on making that ever so important mind/muscle connection. Squeeze at the center of the movement to really activate the inner portion of the chest. For a different move, you can try using one arm at a time for a unilateral pec fly variation.
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Much like the standard pushup, the BOSU variation is a great finisher that burns out the pectoral muscles while simultaneously engaging various regions of the core. Place your hands on the sides of a BOSU ball and slowly lower your body towards the base in a 4 second count before bringing it back up again in a slow and controlled manner. This unique variation is a solid way to work the abdominals while improving stability and overall functionality.
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The Svend Press is a unique movement as it involves the use of a plate but no barbell. From a standing position, hold a 45 pound plate (or two 25 pound plates for a greater range of motion) at chest level and begin pushing the weight outwards using two hands, while simultaneously squeezing the chest muscles. Slowly return the weight back to your chest and repeat movement. This form of the press will place extra focus on creating definition in the inner portion of the pec muscles.