The Best Bench Press Alternative Exercises

The Barbell Bench Press is a basic multi-joint exercise that involves a large number of different muscle groups. Depending on its execution technique, you can use certain muscles to a greater or lesser extent. The Bench Press is also an independent sports discipline. There is no such variation in technique in any other exercise. The Barbell Bench Press can be performed with different arm, leg, and body positions. But when it comes to an alternative to this exercise, it usually means that we need to feel the same pumps and muscle insults as in the classic version of the exercise.

Why Look for an Alternative option to the Bench Press?


Injuries are a common reason to search for a Bench Press alternative. Moreover, the injury does not have to be new, since it can also be a chronic injury. Within this phase, the athlete can not normally innervate the muscles in a particular position. Unfortunately, people often neglect this reason and pain, and continue to persist and thus, end up harming themselves further.

The presence of an injury is a valid reason for excluding the exercise from your training program. If the damage is new, it is best to leave it alone and let it heal. And if the injury is chronic, then it is definitely not worth tormenting it any further and since it is inconvenient for you to perform the Bench Press, you will never be able to reach your maximum potential in it. As a result, this exercise will become useless.

Muscular Feeling

Many do not feel the chest while performing the Barbell Bench Press. This is due to the structure of the skeleton and muscle structure. It is also possible that triceps and deltoid muscle are much weaker, so they get tired earlier and cannot keep up with the pectoral (chest) muscles. There may also be a reverse option, in which the chest is weaker than the triceps and other stabilizing muscles, so your chest muscles will not be included in the process of this exercise.

It is necessary to use pre-fatigue during the strength period. If the chest does not work, then it is necessary to pre-tire the small muscle groups first. And if triceps and deltoid muscles do not keep up, then you should tire your chest muscles first via other smaller exercises.

barbell bench press alternative

What is an Alternative for the Bench Press?

Dumbbell Bench Press

The Dumbbell Bench Press is the first thing you can try if you have genetically poorly developed pectoral muscles. But you can only use dumbbells instead of the barbell during this bulking exercise. You will never be able to innervate the muscles with dumbbells as powerfully as with the barbell, but you can use dumbbells when it comes to pumping the chest muscles. This should be done with a lighter working weight and with higher repetitions. Remember the form is key, using light weight Dumbbells with the correct technique, can help you to isolate the check muscles and pump them full of blood until you are reaching muscle hypertrophy. Using this alternative method will also strengthen your other smaller stabilizing muscles.


The benefits of this exercise are:

  • Deeper depth of motion;
  • The ability to shift the load to the target muscle group and isolate the muscles.

You should only use the dumbbell alternative, if you have poorly developed pectoral muscles during training, this will increase your chest and muscle volume ready for more intensive exercises.

Incline Bench Press

Incline Bench Press is performed with dumbbells or a barbell. Depending on what your goal is:

  • It is better to use a barbell if you want to raise your power indicators quickly;
  • Use dumbbells if you want to pump the muscle well and grow your pecks from this exercise using higher reps, which will also include a lesser risk of injury.

The purpose of the Incline Bench Press is to innervate those muscle fibers that are located at the top of the chest and are attached to the joint at an angle that does not allow them to load enough when performing the exercise on a horizontal bench. Therefore, it makes sense to use the Incline Bench Press only if you have already sufficiently hypertrophied the pectoral muscles and you need to adjust its proportions.

Other Exercises

This group includes various exercises on machines, Parallel Bar Push Ups, Dumbbell Flys and more … They are hardly a full-fledged alternative for the Bench Press. But if we are talking about an injury, then performing Hammer Strength Chest Presses may be more relevant and effective in this case.

Basic exercises are not replaced by formative ones, so Dumbbell Flyes will not be particularly effective. But if your goal is to pump your chest, and you don’t feel it in the Barbell Bench Press, then you have to use dumbbells as the alternative to isolate the check muscle and force it to grow through the pump of the muscle.

You will not be able to pump your chest well in such exercises as the Parallel Bar Push Ups and Head Down Bench Press. However, these exercises are worth trying, as there is an individual feature of the structure of the skeleton and muscles of each athlete. For this exercise, it comes down to the level of the athlete and the “trial and error” process.

alternative to bench press


You should urgently seek out a Bench Press alternative if you have a new or chronic injury. Choose a different exercise so that you do not interfere with the healing and not to contribute to the aggravation of the injury.

You should also use alternatives at different levels of chest strength compared to triceps and deltoid muscles. There is also the opposite case. Remember, before trying to break any records, first you must learn to isolate the muscle within the exercise while avoiding any pain of injuries. Once the muscle is isolated and is growing effectively, then you may start to think about the more intensive exercises. 

The exercise should be replaced in any case, if it is painful or uncomfortable for you to perform it.


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