I recently had a conversation with a client who just loves chest and in particular bench. I told him the most egregious mistakes I see in the gym are on the bench. The number of injuries caused by overexertion, the irregular shoulder position under load, and the fixed path of the barbell are shocking. Any long term gym goer must know that to stay healthy they must reduce their bench volume. As a programming and posture rule, most PTs should factor a ratio of 3 to 1 for of pull to push movements, limiting the risk of injury on the bench but also promoting good postural muscle strength.
The bench press is the has been the definitive test of the male ego for the past twenty years. Despite its lack of relatively to true athletic performance or overall strength, it remains an ego boost for guys that only train the upper halves of their bodies.
Despite this, it remains shoulder hell, no matter how strong you are.
So here are the top 3 significantly better-pressing exercises that will give you that “bench body” without the risk of injury.
1) Floor Press
Safety First. The great thing about the floor press is that the elbows and shoulders never enter into a range of motion under unnecessary loads; paired with glute activation, you cannot go wrong. Also with the shorter range of motion, you can even up the load on this for greater strength gains.
2) Single Arm Press with glute bridge
The average gym-goer dislikes the bench press because. there is little activation in the core or posterior chain. It is therefore an exercise that is very limited, especially when, as a trainer, I am trying to maximise time.
Enter the SA press with glute bridge, a great exercise for the core, glute activation and anti-rotation. The dumbbell gives the shoulder more to work with when it comes to stability, but it does not limit its range of motion because it is not limited by the bar path. Having the dumbbell in a neutral grip is also great for serratus anterior which is, in turn, great for shoulder health and stability.
3) Press Ups
Tried. Tested. True strength.