Can You Build A Chest Without Bench Press (Yes, Here’s How)

Can you build a chest without bench press

The bench press is considered one of the best exercises to build your chest.

But can you build a chest without bench pressing? Yes, it’s possible to build a chest without bench pressing. While the bench press is a great compound exercise for building the chest muscles, there are many alternate exercises, such as the floor press, cable crossover, dumbbell press, and push-up. 

Read on to discover more exercises you can do to build a chest without doing bench press.

Need a workout program? Try Fitbod for Free.

The 7 Best Exercises To Build A Chest Without Bench Pressing

train chest and triceps together

The 7 best exercises for building a chest without bench press are:

  • Push Up

  • Dumbbell Chest Flys

  • Cable Crossover

  • Pec Fly Machine

  • Floor Press

  • Svend Press


at-home push up workout

The push up is a classic chest builder exercise for a reason. It’s a simple yet effective way to target your chest. If you think the push up is too easy, then don’t worry, there are also variations that are more suited toward intermediate and advanced levels.

We’re going to start with the standard push up.

  1. Place your hands directly beneath your shoulders. Your feet up on your toes.

  2. Make sure that your body is in a straight line, from your head all the way to your toes. Your hips shouldn’t be sagging towards the ground and your bum shouldn’t be in the air. Engaging your core and tucking your pelvis in will help with this.

  3. Brace and lower yourself to the ground, ensuring that the line of the body remains straight. Your elbows should be at a 45-degree angle, to target the chest more. Elbows that are tucked in close to your body is a more tricep-dominating push up.

  4. Get your chest as close to the floor as possible without losing tension in your body alignment. Then push yourself back up to the starting position.

If you want to make the push up more challenging to progressively overload your chest, then here are some push up variations you can try:

  • Wide-arm push up – Placing your hands in a wider stance will place more emphasis on the chest.

  • Weighted push up – Adding more weight is another way you can make it more difficult. You can place a weighted plate on your back while doing push ups, which will also challenge your stability. If you have it at home as well, wearing a weighted vest might be a better option to add weight.

Related Article: How To Get Better At Pushups (10 Tips That Actually Work)


Incline Dumbbell Chest Press.jpg

The dumbbell chest press is similar to the bench press but instead of a barbell, it uses a set of dumbbells and at an incline. This means that each side needs to be able to support the loaded weight on its own, so you’ll find that you’ll need to lower the weight that you’d normally do on the bench press.

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells of equal weight, holding them in an overhand grip.

  2. Lie on an inclined bench (at an angle around 30-45-degrees)  bringing the dumbbells to your chest. Make sure your feet are firmly planted on the ground.

  3. Push the dumbbells up until your arms are extended.

  4. Once you’ve reached the top, slowly bring them back down to the starting position in a controlled motion.

The incline also assists in emphasising the chest muscle, particularly the upper muscles aka the pectoralis major.


Dumbbell Chest Flys.jpg

Keep your dumbbells with you for this next exercise, though you’ll probably need a lighter weight.

  1. Lie flat on the ground or on a bench.

  2. Hold the two dumbbells in each hand above you, with your arms slightly bent. Your palms should be facing each other.

  3. Slowly bring your arms down to either side, opening your arms out wide. However, be careful to keep your elbows still slightly bent—they shouldn’t be completely straight.

  4. Bring the weights back up to the starting position.

This movement may seem easy but if it’s done correctly, it can really target the chest area, maximizing growth. It’s best to do this in a smooth and controlled motion, ensuring that you’re squeezing the pecs at the top of the position. If you’re banging the weights together clumsily at the top, then you either need to lighten the weight or slow your motion.

Also, flexibility isn’t the aim of the game here, so don’t worry about how far your arms go as you extend out to the side. You’re looking for that feeling in the chest with the end goal of growing size and muscle, so if you can’t make it to parallel to the ground, don’t even sweat it.


cable crossover

If your gym has a cable machine, then it’s the perfect time to start doing some cable crossovers. It’s a staple in any chest workout.

  1. Place the cables in a high position so that it’s above your head on both sides. This will work your upper chest. If you want to work on your lower chest, then adjust the cable pulleys so that they’re closer to the ground. Make sure that the attachment is a stirrup handle so it’s easier to grip.

  2. Grab each handle with each hand.

  3. Engage your core and pull on the handles towards you, crossing your arms in front of you. If you’re working your upper chest, then you’ll be pulling down and across. If it’s the lower chest you’re focusing on, then you’ll be pulling up and across. Keep going until they intersect across each other, forming an X-shape.

  4. Slowly release back to the starting position.

Related Article: No Upper Chest? Try These 6 Exercises (With Sample Program)

Looking for a workout program? Try using the Fitbod App, which will design your program based on your logged training data and goals. The workouts will adapt automatically to your levels of recovery and rate of progress. With over 600 movements and exercises videos, you can be sure to perform the movements correctly for optimal results. Take the guesswork out of your workouts. Try Fitbod for free.


Pec Fly Machine.jpg

The pec fly machine is a common one that you can find in the gym. It’s similar to the dumbbell chest flys but if you prefer the machine version, then here it is.

  1. Adjust the seat height so that it’s suited to you. You want to be able to have your feet planted firmly on the ground and the handles at chest height. Be careful to make sure that your wrists and elbows aren’t higher than your shoulders as well.

  2. Likewise, with the dumbbell chest flys, it’s best to go for a lighter weight than you would for other chest exercises like the bench press.

  3. Grab the handles with your palms facing forward. There should be a slight bend in your elbows; they shouldn’t be completely locked out.

  4. Then, bring your arms together, in a horizontal arc shape until they are both in front of your chest. Make sure both sides are moving in conjunction with each other.

  5. Pause for a moment at the front when you’ve brought them as close as you can.

  6. Next, slowly return to the starting position with your arms out wide.

Notes: Be careful not to arch your back. This is a common mistake seen on the pec fly machine. To avoid this, ensure that your back maintains contact with the back pad of your set at all times. Your spine should be supported and sitting tall against the back pad will help.


The floor press is a great alternative to the bench press when it comes to muscle gains. It’s similar to the bench press, except the floor press ensures that the focus comes solely from the upper body so you know that you’re really maximizing the chest muscles.

  1. Lie on the floor underneath the bar. Bend your knees so your feet are flat on the ground. However, having your legs extended out is also an option. Play around with the floor press and see what leg position works the chest better for you.

  2. Unrack the bar, holding it firmly above you.

  3. Bend at the elbows, bringing the weight down to your chest in a controlled manner. You won’t be able to bring the weight down as far when compared to the bench press. Once your triceps hit the floor, proceed to press the weight back up to the starting position.

Notes: Because you don’t get the full range of motion like in the bench press, the floor press is particularly good when it comes to improving the lockout portion of the movement.


This is a good finisher on chest day if you want to get a burnout at the end. You’ll need two weight plates of equal weight for this exercise.

  1. Stand nice and tall with your feet shoulder-width apart.

  2. Hold the two weight plates together with your palms facing in, fingers pointing forwards. Your palms should be flat on each side of the plate. Bend your elbows so that they are at chest height.

  3. Slowly push your arms outward in front of you, ensuring that the weights remain at chest level. Keep going until your arms are completely extended. Squeeze the chest muscles.

  4. Once you’ve reached your full range of motion, slowly bring the weights back to the starting position.

Related Article: Low Pec Workout: 9 Best Exercises & Sample Program

Final Notes

The bench press is a great exercise for the chest, however, it’s not the only one. There are many other alternative movements that you can include on chest day that’ll ensure you get a great workout in and maximize your efforts for a bigger and stronger chest. Give these 7 exercises a go next time it’s chest day—or if you want more ideas, then check out the FitBod app.

About The Author

Emily Trinh

Emily Trinh

As a health and fitness writer, Emily combines her two passions—powerlifting and writing. With a creative writing degree under her belt, she spends her mornings lifting weights, her nights putting pen to paper, and eating too many snacks in between.