How’s the bench press challenge going? Hopefully you’ve managed to lift something, whether that’s a traditional barbell, or dumbbells or weights of any size. Today we’re looking at another challenge that you might face if you don’t have a fully equipped gym: how to bench press without a bench.
First, you can always get down on the floor. The video below shows how you can do floor presses with a regular rack and barbell setup; a bar that allows for a neutral grip is preferred, if you can find one. You can also do this exercise with a pair of dumbbells; again, hold them with a neutral or hammer grip (with the handle running parallel to your body).
A floor press uses less range of motion than a bench press, since you can’t get your elbows below your body and that means you can’t get the bar all the way to your chest. If you have shoulder injuries in your past, you may prefer this to a bench press.
Exercise Ball Presses
Grab light dumbbells for this one: you can sit on an exercise ball, and then roll your body downward until your upper back is the only thing resting on the ball. Press a pair of dumbbells the same way you would on a bench, and enjoy the extra workout that comes from having something unstable underneath you.
This is not a good setup for lifting super heavy. If you screw up, and the ball slips out from underneath you, bad things could happen.
Don’t forget the good old fashioned push-up. (Remember our push-up challenge?) It’s a similar movement as the bench press — you’re just doing it upside down. If regular body weight push-ups are too easy, stretch a resistance band over your back (hold it in your hands), or ask a friend to add weight to your back. Or just do more reps.
Most gyms have a variety of machines that mimic a bench press, whether you’re lying on a bench and pressing up, sitting in a chair and pushing forward, or standing at a cable machine and pressing away from the machine. It might not technically be a bench press, but your muscles will be happy anyway.