Barbell bench press is what comes to everyone’s mind when they want to get upper body strength. But did you know that there are better options out there?
“Hey bro what do you bench?” That is one of the most commonly asked questions between males at the gym or outside the gym when talking about fitness.
For some reason, to which I have no idea why, the barbell bench press has long hailed as the king of all exercises. This is especially true amongst young men.
But why is this? Is it a great exercise for chest gains? It must be great for your shoulder health too, right?
Wrong and wrong.
I’m here to tell you that you should ditch the barbell bench press. I will also provide you with some different alternatives that are way more effective and safe.
With all that said, I used to be obsessed with the bench press. So obsessed that I entered powerlifting competitions to compete against others to see who could bench press the most.
This means I have met a lot of people who do this lift quite a bit. Guess what? Almost every person I met had shoulder problems, with most needing surgery.
I myself started to get severe shoulder pain, which lingered for a while until I had the thought “Hey, how about I stop bench pressing?”. After some time the issues completely went away!
The barbell bench press puts your shoulder joint at a compromised position loading on a ton of additional weight, and you are almost always going to get an injury.
On top of this, they have done studies where they analyze different exercises and how they affect different body parts. The barbell bench press barely activated the chest muscles. It hit more your triceps and anterior deltoids.
The funny thing is most people use the bench press as their main chest exercise without even knowing this! So what should you do?
Alternative Exercises To Barbell Bench Press
Ditch the barbell bench press and give the alternative exercises a try. You will see better results with no pain in your shoulders’ joints.
1. Dumbbell Bench Press
Dumbbell bench pressing is far superior to the barbell. It lets your body move in a more natural way instead of being restricted with the bar.
I can guarantee that if you give these a try you will feel so much better than using a barbell. If you happen to have wrist issues you can also try pressing with a neutral grip.
Push-ups are a great alternative as well. Often times I see people who can’t even perform 10 basic push ups with good form go right over to the bench press and start pushing away.
Why add external resistance if you can’t even master your own? You should work on getting up to at least 20 push-ups before you start adding any weights to your workouts.
For a challenge try ring push-ups or push-ups with a weighted vest. I personally like using mini parallettes to perform neutral grip push-ups.
The barbell bench press needs to be ditched. It is a recipe for disaster on your body and it does not even hit your chest muscles well. There are far better alternatives out there that don’t compromise your body and work more efficiently.
This is a guest post written by Nathan Robinson, an ACSM certified personal trainer who helps people reach their fitness goals with his personal training program at Elev8 OPT.