The 10 Best Bench Press Variations 

The bench press is one of the most potent pressing movements you can prescribe to a client. Whether your client is a powerlifter, weightlifter, competitive fitness athlete, or simply looking to improve in general physical capabilities, the bench press is a powerful tool that can improve performance at any level of fitness.  

The bench is the one exercise that will target multiple anterior and posterior muscles. The pecs, triceps, delts, and scapula are all targeted in this exercise which will give you the highest return as you work toward improving a client’s absolute strength or upper body lean mass.

This exercise can be done with barbells, dumbbells, specialty bars, and be performed at different loading angles to build a robust upper body chain. Utilizing the different variations of this movement will allow you to keep your training programs simple, effective, and create a consistent positive adaptation for your clients.   

Below are the 10 best bench press variations you can prescribe for any level client. 

The 10 Best Bench Press Variations 

1) Barbell Bench Press

How To:

The client will start in a supine position with both feet flat on the ground. Their grip will be placed slightly outside of their shoulders. With the bar unracked they will slowly lower the bar to the base of their chest. To finish the movement they will push away until their arms reach a fully locked out position. 

2) Close Grip Barbell Bench Press

How To: 

The client will start in a supine position with both feet flat on the ground. Their grip will be placed slightly inside of their shoulders. With the bar unracked they will slowly lower the bar to the base of their chest. To finish the movement they will push away until their arms reach a fully locked out position. 

3) Wide Grip Barbell Bench Press

How To: 

The client will start in a supine position with both feet flat on the ground. Their grip will be placed three inches outside of their shoulders. With the bar unracked they will slowly lower the bar to the base of their chest. To finish the movement they will push away until their arms reach a fully locked out position. 

4) Glute Bridge Dumbbell Bench Press

How To: 

The client will start lying on the edge of a bench with their feet stacked under the knees. While isometrically contracting their glutes and core the client will lower the dumbbells to the base of their chest. To finish the movement they push away until both arms are in a fully locked out position. 

5) Alternating Dumbbell Bench Press

How To:

The client will start in a supine position with both feet on the ground. With the dumbbells held perpendicular to the body, they will keep one dumbbell on the chest as they press the opposite dumbbell to a fully extended position, then lower it back down. They will alternate this pattern per repetition. 

6) Incline Barbell Bench Press

How To:

With a bench placed at a 45-degree angle the client will start in a supine position with both feet flat on the ground. Their grip will be placed shoulder-width apart. With the bar unracked they will slowly lower the bar to the base of their chest. To finish the movement they will push away until their arms reach a fully locked out position. 

7) One and One Quarter Incline Barbell Bench Press 

How To: 

With a bench placed at a 45-degree angle, the client will start in a supine position with both feet flat on the ground. Their grip will be placed shoulder-width apart. With the bar unracked they will slowly lower the bar to the base of their chest. They will then push the bar one quarter the way up, then back down to the chest, then push away until the arms are locked out.

8) Top-Down Alternating Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

How To:

With a bench placed at a 45-degree angle, the client will start in a supine position with both feet flat on the ground. With the dumbbells held perpendicular to the body, they will keep one dumbbell held in a top locked out position, while the opposing arm is lowered and then pressed to a fully extended position. They will alternate this pattern per repetition. 

9) Dumbbell Neutral Grip Bench Press

How To: 

The client will start in a supine position with both feet on the ground. With the dumbbells held parallel to the body, they will lower the dumbbells to the base of their chest. To finish the movement they push away until both arms are in a fully locked out position. 

10) Incline Dumbbell Crush Press

How To: 

With a bench placed at a 45-degree angle, the client will start in a supine position with both feet on the ground. With the dumbbells held pressed together parallel to the body, they will lower the dumbbells to the base of their chest. To finish the movement they push away until both arms are in a fully locked out position. 

If you’re looking to improve your client’s overall pressing capabilities, increase their performance in other lifts such as the snatch and jerk, or create muscle growth, the bench press is a foundational movement to incorporate into your training programs. 

Utilizing the different variations described above will keep you and your clients from hitting plateaus and will create long-term success in your client’s maximal pushing expression. 

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