4 bench press alternatives for bigger chest muscles you can do at home

Whether it's a injury holding you back, or you simply hate the exercises, we've got a solution.

Man bench pressing
(Image credit: Getty)

The bench press has often been considered ‘the holy grail’ when it comes to building a bigger chest. However, not all of us have time to get to the gym during the week and the majority of us don’t have a bench press lying about our living rooms. Plus, believe it or not, some people just don’t enjoy doing the exercise (there’s no judging here). If any of these are you, give these four alternative exercises a go instead, which you can easily do at home with just a pair of dumbbells.

Although the bench press is the classic exercise for growing big pecs, it doesn’t actually necessarily mean it’s the best exercise for you. As Powerlifting Technique points out, the bench press is an advanced exercise which depends on strong chest muscles, especially at the bottom of the movement. If you’re a beginner, you may struggle with this and could injure yourself. Also, if you find you're plateauing with your bench progress, it may be time to switch things up.

 Alternative exercises to bench press 


Here’s four exercises from Bulldog Fitness that you can do to build big chest muscles—let’s goo!

 1. Dumbbell bench press 

Muscle imbalance can go amiss when using a barbell, but with a pair of dumbbells you’re able to address this, which will help reduce your risk of injury and improve mind-muscle connection. The range of motion with the dumbbells at the bottom of the movement can be greater too (as you don’t have your chest preventing the bar from going down any further). This gives the pecs even more of a stretch, which can be beneficial to muscle growth.

2. Floor press

Again, this can be performed with a pair of dumbbells. Apart from lying on the floor, the biggest difference with the floor press is that the range of motion is shorter as your elbows can’t go past your chest like they can with a bench press, meaning you’re generally able to push more weight. This is also ideal if you’ve suffered from a shoulder injury, as the smaller range of motion will put less strain on them. 

3. Weighted push-ups 

Another classic exercise that works either weighted or with bodyweight and just like the bench press they work the shoulders, pectoral muscles and triceps. Best of all? They can literally be done anywhere, but for some extra resistance try adding a dumbbell onto your back. Struggling with mastering this move? We breakdown how to do push ups properly.

4. Dips 

These are *slightly* harder to do at home, but you can 100% make it happen. The easiest way is using the corner of your kitchen counter and crossing your legs behind one another so you have a decent range of motion. To work your chest more, lean your torso forward slightly as you do them.  

Alternatively to a pair of dumbbells, we also have a guide on the best adjustable dumbbells (which will take up less room in your home) and the best kettlebells, which will also be suitable to use. You can also learn more about Arnold Schwarzenegger's favourite chest exercise or check out our advice on how to get bigger pecs.

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.