The traditional barbell bench press is one of my favorite exercises to utilize in MY training. However, is it the best exercise to program for my athletes who are predominantly baseball players? Probably not.
All baseball players have to throw a baseball at some point. To do this, their arm needs to be strong and healthy. By limiting scapular protraction (decreasing scapular upward rotation), and putting your shoulder blades in a fixed internally rotated position you’re not improving the health of your shoulder at all. You’re actually doing just the opposite.
If being successful at your sport is dependent on you being able to throw a baseball WELL why would you put you’re entire career at risk for one single exercise?
Here’s TEN Fantastic Alternatives to the Traditional Barbell Bench Press:
- Chain Resisted Push-Ups
2. Feet-Elevated Weighted Ring Push-Ups
3. Band-Resisted Push-Up
Loaded push-up’s provide all the benefits of the traditional barbell bench press (improves strength in your chest shoulders and triceps) while providing the added benefit of scapular movement, serratus anterior recruitment, upward rotation, and more core recruitment.
4. 1-Arm Dumbbell Bench Press
5. Alternating Dumbbell Bench Press
With these two dumbbell bench press variations (1-Arm DB Bench Press, Alt. DB Bench Press) you will get more range of motion than the barbell bench press, freer movement of the humerus (instead of being locked down into internal rotation), and increased core recruitment. You will also get a bit more scapular movement with these two variations.
6. Walking Sled Chest Press
This exercise is not only great for strengthening your pecs, shoulders, and triceps but it’s also great for promoting free motion of the scapula, serratus anterior recruitment, and scapular upward rotation. Additionally, this exercise is also a fantastic option if you’re still in-season as it’s purely concentric, meaning little to no muscular soreness/fatigue.
7. Swiss Bar Bench Press
Using the swiss bar instead of a traditional straight bar is great because it allows you to use a neutral grip which doesn’t put your shoulders into as much internal rotation as a straight bar.
8. Swiss Bar/Trap Bar Floor Press
As I mentioned above, the swiss bar is great as it allows you to use a neutral grip which doesn’t put your shoulders into as much internal rotation as a straight bar. In addition to this, by performing these exercises on the floor you’re limiting the range of motion so you can push heavy loads without putting your shoulders into vulnerable positions.
9. Foam Roller Barbell Bench Press
Similar to the floor press, this is another fantastic variation you can use to limit the total range of motion so you can press heavy straight bar loads while keeping your shoulders out of any vulnerable positions.
10. Half-Kneeling 1-Arm Cable Chest Press
This is a fantastic unilateral upper body pressing variation that not only improves upper body strength (chest, shoulders, triceps) but also promotes free motion of scapula. Notice in the video above how Fed’s shoulder blade is moving on his rib cage as he performs each press.