Barbell bench press exercises: all the alternatives for toned pecs

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Louise Hay
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- exercises on the bench press with the barbell they are known to be among the most effective for train the pectorals.

However, they are not the only ones, and if you want to vary your fitness routine slightly, they can be replaced with other equally valid ones, which allow you to build a strong and balanced upper body.



In addition, many allow you to work on individual areas of the chest in a much more specific way than practicing on the bench press with the barbell.

Alternatives to free body barbell pushups

Push-ups on the arms

Pushups are there best alternative without tools to the exercises on the bench with the barbell, because for to push the body away from the floor the same muscles are used to push the bar away from the body.

While performing this exercise, avoid spreading your elbows too far from your hips as this could make this exercise less effective.

  • Get into the plank position, with your core and glutes in traction, your body parallel to the floor and your shoulders perpendicular to your wrists.
  • Bend the elbows and lower the chest towards the floor.
  • As you lower yourself, squeeze your shoulder blades and don't let your shoulders lean towards your ears.
  • When your chest is close to the floor, pull your arms and pecs and return to the starting position.

Bent arm pushups

If you are unable to do the basic version of this exercise, you can opt for this one variant, less demanding but equally valid for strengthening the chest, shoulders and triceps.



  • Place your palms on an exercise bench or chair seat.
  • Extend your legs back until you are on tiptoe.
  • Bend the elbows and lower the chest towards the bench.
  • As you make this movement, squeeze your shoulder blades down and do not let your shoulders lean towards your ears.
  • When the chest is close to the bench or chair, apply force to the arms and pecs and return to the starting position.

Alternatives to barbell pushups with a medicine ball

Use the medicine ball it's a great way to work on the power and plyometric development of the pectorals and upper chest.

  • Plyometric exercises like this one also can increase calorie consumption and improve coordination.
  • Lie on the floor on your back, with a medicine ball in your hands.
  • Bend your knees and place your feet on the ground.
  • Keeping your core in traction and your back flush with the floor, throw the ball into the air directly over your chest.
  • Grip the ball softly on the way down.

If you are a beginner, the first few times it is better to use a light and soft medicine ball, otherwise there is a risk that, failing to hold it with your hands during the descent phase, it will fall on the chest, causing pain.



Alternatives to barbell pushups with dumbbells

By training with the barbell there is the risk of carrying the weight of the body unconsciously more on one side than on the other, depending on the dominant one, in which you feel you have more strength.

The dumbbellsinstead, since they must be held with both hands, promote greater training symmetry. In addition, the pressure they exert on the chest forces the arms to work individually.

That's why dumbbell exercises are a great alternative to barbell bench press exercises for pecs.


Lifting dumbbells from the ground

  • Lie on your back on a training bench or on the floor, grabbing a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Hold the weights with your arms extended over your chest.
  • Rest your feet firmly on the floor and hold your abs in traction.
  • Bend your elbows at an angle of approximately 45 degrees to your torso and lower the weights until they are in line with your chest.
  • Push the dumbbells up and return to the starting position.

Make sure to keep the dumbbells in line with the middle of the chest, rather than the neck and shoulder area.


Fly movement with dumbbells

This exercise with dumbbells strengthens the chest subjecting it to its full range of motion e it also improves shoulder mobility.

As you do this, hold the dumbbells firmly, making sure they are in line with the center of your body and not your shoulders, and slowly lower them with each repetition.

  • Lie down on an exercise bench or on the floor, holding a dumbbell in each hand directly to your chest. The elbows should be slightly bent and the palms of the hands facing each other.
  • Keeping your elbows in this position, lower the dumbbells to the sides of your chest until you feel a slight stretch.
  • Exhale as you reverse the movement and use your chest muscles to return the arms and dumbbells to their starting position.

The exercises for pectorals with tools are also excellent. 

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