There’s only one way to do a bench press – right? Wrong. This classic exercise is probably already in your workout routine, but what you may not know is that there are several different variations that you can incorporate into your regimen to boost your results and work different muscles. Some common bench press variations include:
1. Inclined Bench Press
As you may have guessed, the inclined bench press is performed on an incline bench. Make sure the bench is at a 45° angle, and lie down with your feet flat on the floor. With a medium grip, grab the bar and un-rack it with straight arms. Lower the bar to your chest, and then press it back up to your shoulders. Make sure that your lower back is in a neutral position.
If you can’t press the weight, try performing this move in the power rack to avoid injuries.
2. Close Grip Bench Press
The close grip bench press is simply a bench press with a narrower grip. The setup is the same, but you’ll grip the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart instead. At the top, your hands should be above your shoulders. At the bottom, your hands should be near your torso.
Avoid using too narrow of a grip, as this will put more stress on your wrists and put you off balance.
Bench pressing with a closer grip is more difficult than using a medium grip, so keep this in mind before you give it a try.
3. Decline Bench Press
The decline bench press is, essentially, the opposite of the incline bench press. In this case, you’ll be laying down with your hips higher than your head. You’ll need to perform this move with leg attachments, so you don’t slide around the bench.
The move is the same as any other bench press: un-rack the weight, lower it down to your chest, and press it back up to the starting point.
Most fitness experts agree that this bench press is a waste of your time. It doesn’t target any specific part of your chest because it’s impossible to do so. If you’re looking for gains, you’re better off working on your standard bench press.
4. Dumbbell Bench Press
As its name suggests, dumbbell bench presses use dumbbells in place of a bar.
Start with the dumbbells on the floor, and sit at the end of the bench. Pick up the dumbbells while standing up, stopping when the weight reaches your thighs. Sit down again while keeping the dumbbells on your thighs and close to your chest. Keep your elbows tucked at 75 degrees.
Lie down, and press the weights. Keep the dumbbells balanced properly over your shoulders, and your arms straight.
Benching with dumbbells isn’t necessarily the better option, and you typically can’t bench heavier than you would with barbells. But if you’re just getting started, this may be a better option until you can master the proper benching form.
Although there are variations, nothing beats the effects of the classic bench press move. But if you’re looking for variety, these moves can reinvigorate your routine.