How To Bench Press Without A Bench

You don’t need an actual bench to complete a bench press. In fact, some heavy lifters reach a point where the bench itself is harming their shoulder.

To keep their weight training going, they need to modify their routine. The floor press mimics the actions of a bench press without the need of a bench.  So if you don’t have a bench or need to try something new, check the ultimate guide to floor press, and follow these alternatives we listed below!

How To Bench Press Without A Bench

Barbell Floor Press

This is a very basic version of the benchless bench press. It continues to strengthen the same muscle groups as before to create a simple swap.

However, because the amount of stress on your shoulder will decrease, you may be able to lift heavier weights than through the original workout.

The process is simple, lie down on the floor with your back resting against the ground.

With a spotter to guide you, lift the barbell off its stand and slowly descend it towards your chest.

As you go down, your elbow will touch the floor. This is your stopping point. Push the barbell up again and continue for your desired amount of repetitions.

Because your arms cannot go further down, your shoulders aren’t getting the same workout as before. This means that the pain level on your shoulders will decrease.

As the range of motion has decreased, you will be able to do more reps with bigger weights. We suggest learning your new rep and weight level when you first try out this method, as your original numbers will be vastly different.

Trap Bar Floor Press

Trap bars are becoming more common in gyms. They are designed to more evenly distribute the weight of a barbell and also give the lifter a more natural grip position. This position is called “neutral,” as it uses less stress on your muscles.

If you find that the barbell floor press is forcing your elbows to flare out too much, the trap bar might be a better option for you.

Because the handles allow you to hold the bar out instead of along, the angle between your upper arm and the side of your torso will be smaller. This means that you will be able to lift the bar easier and naturally keep your elbows tight for a cleaner lift.

Attempting this lift is just as easy as the barbell floor press.

Simply lie on the floor with your back touching the ground. Have a spotter watch over you. Lift the trap bar up, and then allow it to safely come back down. This is one repetition. Continue for as long as you desire.

Swiss Bar Floor Press

A swiss bar is like a trap bar because it gives you that same easy grip, but it doesn’t have the same distribution of weight.

This gives the press a middling difficulty level between the trap bar floor press and the barbell floor press.

The neutral position in which your hands grip the bar will give you a larger range of motion than if you used a barbell. But, as you are not on a bench, your arms will be limited.

Because you cannot give your arms more range to stretch for that muscle-increasing lift, many people add chains to the swiss bar to increase their resistance.

As the swiss bar has an almost “trap-like” structure, the chains will be more evenly distributed than on a barbell, making the challenge more possible.

If you consider using chains, slowly add more links as you train because the overall weight isn’t what you are after. Instead, the accurate weight you’ll be lifting comes from the difference from the top of the lift to the bottom.

To accomplish the swiss bar floor press, you follow the same method as before. Lie on the floor with your back touching the ground. Have a spotter watch over you. Lift the bar up, and then allow it to safely come back down. This is one repetition. Continue for as long as you desire.

Dumbbell Floor Press

Using classic dumbbells instead of bars will add an extra element of difficulty to your workout and give you more freedom at the same time.

As you lift the dumbbells into the air, you can position them in a way that is more comfortable for you. You should keep to the same method each time; otherwise, you will not strengthen the same muscle each time.

However, because nothing is attaching your hands together, you will need to stabilize yourself. This, therefore, requires more skill and concentration than a bar press.

If the dumbbells do not match your lifting capacity, you will need to add more reps to your workout to reach the same activity level.

If your reason for ditching the bench is because of an injury, we suggest using a neutral grip instead of a bar grip position. This means holding the dumbbell straight, with the handlebar going longways following the length of your body.

As we have said before, neutral grips are a more natural position. It will allow you to go lower and keep tight with each repetition.

This lift is better for those with shoulder injuries because of the natural position and the automatic tighter lift. This method will make your lifts safer and won’t pull too hard on your muscles.

Final Thoughts

All of these exercises use the same method of lying on the floor and lifting your chosen weight.

Because your range of motion will be limited by the floor beneath you, you will need to make a choice; either add more repetitions to your workout or add more weight.

As you get used to this new method, we suggest adding more reps first; that way, you can figure out which of the 4 weight types are more comfortable. Then when you are feeling more adventurous, you can slowly lift more weight.

Remember that lying on the floor will give your shoulders less pressure and will support your back more. This is why floor lifts are often suggested to new weightlifters and those recovering from an injury.

Kevin Harris