The first thing every man does on chest day and the one piece of equipment you can’t wait to use… Check out these 4 ways to jazz up your bench press exercises.
If you are a guy who noticeably works out, you have undoubtedly heard the following question: “So, how much do you bench?”
The bench press is to the weight room what cheeseburgers are to McDonalds; in both cases, they are forever linked and thought of in the same breath.
Since it’s so ingrained in the culture of the health and fitness industry, you don’t find many people switching up their approach to this classic exercise. As you probably know, the more variation you deliver to your muscles, the harder they have to work to compensate for the new stimulus. And if you’re muscles are working hard, then you will eventually see pretty awesome results.
In that sense, we felt it was time that we laid out some bench press variations that could take your favorite exercise to the next level. These small changes will do just enough to hit your pecs in a way that they have yet to experience. Put them to use and watch how tight your favorite t-shirt will become.
There’s Power in Pacing
To kick this thing off, you literally won’t change anything about your form, your posture, or grip on the bench press. The only thing that you will change is your pace.
Instead of letting gravity bring down the bar, bouncing it off your chest and back up towards the ceiling, you’re going to start taking your time. You may have to lessen the amount of weight you’re using, but the fire that you will feel brewing in your pectoral muscles will be worth it.
When you get under the bar, consciously count the number of seconds you spend bringing the bar down and pushing it back up. At this point, you probably spend a fraction of a second moving it in either direction, but I want you to slow it all the way down to 3 seconds each way–with a pause at each stopping point. It will go a little something like this:
• Take the bar off of the rack.
• Count 1, 2, 3 while bringing the bar down to your chest.
• Pause for 2 seconds.
• Count 1, 2, 3 while pushing it back up to starting position.
• Pause at the top for 2 seconds.
• Rinse and repeat.
Allowing for this much control and patience with the movement of the bar will test your mental and physical muscles. Just stick to the plan and a lighter weight and your chest will flourish under this variation.
Reverse-Grip Bench Press
For this next variation, all we’re going to change is how you hold the barbell. Rather than holding the barbell with the traditional grip, you’re going to flip your hands so that your palms will be facing your face.
By grabbing the bar in the opposite direction you are creating a new and unique challenge for your chest. Just by pressing the weight up off your chest, you’re going to experience a pump from the bench, but once you flip your hands to the underneath grip, you will experience a burn that you’ve never felt.
Notice that we’ve removed “bench” from the title of this variation. That would be because we are literally going to remove the bench from the exercise. The floor press is a cool way to switch up the traditional bench press because it mimics the same movement, but targets your muscles in an entirely different way.
Since you’ll be laying on the floor to complete this press, your arms won’t be able to lower down as much as they do on the bench, causing your triceps to come to the rescue. With the bench press that you know and love, since the bar can be brought all the way to the chest, your chest muscles are one of the biggest heroes in getting it back up to starting position. With the floor press, however, your range of motion is cut down, so your chest takes a back seat to your triceps in terms of being the main muscle group to get the bar back to it’s starting position.
Kettle Bench Press
We’ll end where we began, back on the bench with just a minor adjustment to the traditional press that you’ve grown up using. With the kettlebell bench press, you simply use kettlebells to weigh down your barbell rather than stacking a plate or two on each side.
This may seem like a strange variation, because due to how gravity works, you would think that putting a 45 pound kettlebell on both sides of your bar would do about the same as a 45 pound plate.
But you’d be wrong.
By using kettlebells rather than plates, you are introducing a nuance of stability and balance to the exercise. What was once a very uniform lift becomes an awkward one. This variation sort of feels like moving furniture.
When you move a 100 pound dresser, you think yourself, “I’ve lifted 100 pounds at the gym before, this should be easy.” But then you pick it up and feel how strange the weight distribution is and barely get the job done.
Doing a kettlebell bench press is a lot like that. You’ve put 45 pounds on each side of the bar before, and you probably lifted it with ease. But once the kettlebells get on there with all of their awkwardness, that press begins to feel a whole lot different.
You don’t have to keep doing the same ol’ same ol’ to get results on the bench press. In fact, I’d argue that your lack of variety is the reason that you’re not experiencing the growth that you’d like to. Give these variations a try and let us know which one challenged you the most!
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Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.