The question most often overheard in the gym is, "How much do you bench, bro?" But though the Bench Press allows people to press the most weight, it is not necessarily the best choice for everyone.
If you've ever had a serious shoulder or elbow injury requiring surgery, or play an overhead sport such as baseball or tennis, using a standard Bench Press will probably not serve you best.
Instead, using these two Bench Press alternatives is a good way to have a chest press in your program while maintaining your health and optimizing your performance.
Simply wrap a 1-inch band around a kettlebell, so the bell and band combine to form a length barely above bench height. Then place the band around a dumbbell toward the outside of the handle, and grip the dumbbell handle just inside the band. Because this is a hanging band technique press, make sure the hanging kettlebell is heavier than the dumbbell you use for pressing.
Perform this press like any Single-Arm Press; however, because of the hanging band, you must withstand extra resistance in multiple directions. To do so, completely tense and brace your core to fight the rotational pull of the bell and band. Furthermore, to help fight against the pull of the band, perform this press in a slow and controlled manner. If you try to go fast, the band will bounce, possibly forcefully enough to pull you off the bench. Overall, this press forces you to maintain pristine form throughout the press, which is ideal for maintaining health.
This is a great alternative to the traditional Bench Press for athletes in both rotational and overhead sports like tennis and baseball because of the single-arm and anti-rotational nature of the movement. Additionally, for the hypermobile population, the band gives a great external cue to avoid pressing into hyperextension.
Offset Single-Arm Bottoms Up Kettlebell Bench Press With a Bridge
The name is long and complicated, but this is actually a simple press that can be regressed easily to accommodate those who find this movement a little too hard initially. "Offset" simply refers to placing half of your upper body off one side of the bench, and this is the arm that is pressing. Having a bridge means only your scapula will be on the bench. You perform a Glute Bridge to get into proper position. By combining offset with a bridge, only the scapula of the non-pressing arm and the head can rest on the bench. Additionally, this is a bottoms-up press, so you will be using a kettlebell upside down.
Once you are in position to execute the lift, brace tightly through the core, keep your hips up and in place, and squeeze the kettlebell tightly so it doesn't fall over. From there, press like a typical press; however, you must move slowly and with controlled form or else the bell will fall over. Also, you will fight rotational pulls from placing most of your body off the bench, so you must keep your hips up and shoulder stable. Because you are pressing with the arm that is off the bench, you allow for optimal scapular movement while also stabilizing your shoulder.
Due to the nature of this press, it is also very beneficial for rotational and overhead sports athletes.
Both of these movements allow for easy progressions and regressions, and their single-arm nature allows for anyone to perform them. They are great substitutes to the traditional the Bench Press for those who have had a serious injury in their elbow or shoulder, and they're great ways to give overhead or rotational sport athletes a chest press.
Give these two alternatives a try to build your upper-body strength with more than the traditional Bench Press. Feel free to follow me on Instagram and Twitter to see more exercises you can add in to your regimen.
- Training the Overhead Athlete
- Baseball Exercises: Should You Lift Overhead?
- Why Baseball Players Shouldn't Bench Press
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