T Nation

Chest Workout Without Barbell Bench


My gym does not have a traditional bench with a barbell due to liability issues (a 24 hour gym) so I am limited to dumbell presses, a hammer-strength machine with plates, and a Smith machine for chest work (I don't even consider the Cybex bench press). I find the Hammer strength machine to be good for building the pecs (both flat and inclined), and I try to work in dumbbells for flyes and sometimes presses.

I find the Smith machine hard on my shoulders due to the plane of motion. Am I getting a decent chest workout, or am I missing something a "real" bench press could provide? I also do some cable work to top off my chest day. Don't tell me to find another gym, as this is the only one within 25 miles of home/work.

Squats are another issue I'll save for another post.


I think PX on here doesn't even BB press, mostly HS machines. Actually, a lot of guys in here dodge the BB press because how hard it is on the shoulders - but I still find it crazy they don't provide any type of olympic 7 foot bar - am I understanding that right?


They have the bars (which I use for deadlifts), but no bench to rack them for a press. Just wondering If I am missing something I can make up for with other lifts.


You don't need a barbell bench. It's great for big number maxing and/or bragging rights, but far from necessary. Yes, it works the chest well, but dumbbells will work your pecs just as good if not better and allow you to follow a range of motion that is a lot easier on your shoulders. HS machines are just as good too, especially if you just want to isolate the muscle.

I use the bench maybe once a month if I feel like maxing. I mostly use the dumbbells for flat pressing and the plate loaded HS for incline.


incline flies
DB Pullovers