Clap pushup fitness man doing plyometrics push-up explosive workout for muscles training. Athlete working out on gym floor.

Cultivating an all-around impressive bench press lift calls for more than repeating the exact same traditional movement over and over again.

Although it is the tried-and-true measurement of your bench press gains, going beyond this habitual standard into various supportive exercises can push you past plateaus and ultimately lift heavier.

Look over these recommended bench press assistance lifts to see if you can integrate them into your bench press workouts. 

**Note** This is article number two of three in our bench press series, make sure to read part 1 first!

Weighted Dips

Known as the squat of the upper-body, weighted dips are the most notable bench press support exercise besides triceps extensions.

Invest in a belt with a chain or ask your gym for one.

At first, it may seem uncomfortable or awkward with plates rattling between your legs, but you will soon get used to it.

As with any movement, changing your grip placement can order more or less of your chest or triceps to be utilized during weighted dips.

The wider grip emphasizes the pecs, while a narrow grip focuses on the triceps. 

Diamond Pushups

Even if bodyweight training is not your forte, pushups certainly do not have to only be a part of your bench press warm up.

There are tons of variations of pushups that can develop your triceps, chest, and shoulder stabilization.

However, diamond close-grip pushups concentrate on the inner pecs, triceps, anterior delts, and core.

Diamond Push-up

While wide-grip pushups focus on the outer pecs and shoulders, more muscle activation occurs with the diamond pushup because it is a more difficult variation.   

Push Up Course 2

Bench Triceps Extensions

Performed while lying on your back on the bench, dumbbells or barbells are most frequently used for this exercise.

Since triceps play a major supportive role during your main bench press, isolating them in the triceps extension is perfect.

As this is not considered a compound lift, take it easy on the weight – especially when starting out.

Balance and stability in this upside-down position need to be fostered first before moving up in weight, or you might face regrettable elbow pain. 

Lockouts

Heavy lockouts are ideal for crushing through a personal record for the bench press.

In particular, lockouts stimulate your nervous system to become accustomed to the heavyweight and demanding position.

Although it is not the full range of motion, taking small steps can still go a long way when building up to your next overall weight progression.

For extra protection, perform this movement by placing a bench within a squat rack. Then, you can use the safety bars of the rack to continually lockout on the top of your full extension. 

Band and Chain Flyes

Typically, when bands or chains are heard, ab exercises come to mind, but they can be used for solid assistance pressing.

Moreover, not only bodybuilders can benefit from band or chain flyes. Even powerlifters can train with bands to stimulate joint and ligament strength.

When it comes to the critical point of getting to your second-to-last or final rep, bands and chains become great builders by pushing you past what was thought to be possible.

Simply stated, difficulty increases nearing full-range of motion.

So, when you go back to the original bench press, full extension will feel like night and day. 

Close Grip Incline Press 

If you choose to execute this exercise with a barbell, have a spotter ready to get your back. Otherwise, lifting with dumbbells provides the freedom of dropping the weight if you are going to failure and cannot slowly put the weights back down.

Close Grip Incline Bench Press
Press of a bar, lying on an incline bench. Exercising for bodybuilding. Target muscles are marked in red. Initial and final steps. 3D illustration

The narrow grip targets your upper chest to help sculpt defined pecs.

Compared to the other exercises on this list, feel free to add heavy weight to this one since it is most similar to the actual bench press.

Isometric Hold

When you want to PR for your bench press but cannot seem quite to achieve the amount of reps you need, try out the isometric hold.

Primarily, endurance is trained through holding the bar above while your elbows are fully extended.

Keeping it up there as long as possible proves to be significant for improving shoulder stabilization, grip strength, and weight progression. 

Seated Press

In conjunction with your shoulder day, the seated press can come in handy when you the next time you take on the bench press.

Seated Military Press
Press of a bar with a chest sitting. Exercising for bodybuilding. Target muscles are marked in red. Initial and final steps. 3D illustration

Of course, this is chiefly a shoulder exercise, but strong shoulders are needed to balance and prevent injury while bench pressing.

Remember to grab a spotter for this exercise if you decide to go heavy – especially for powerlifting. 

Floor Press

Taking your lower body out of the equation, the floor press allows you to train with heavier weights than you currently can imagine on the regular bench press.

Lie down on the floor and press as a normal bench press movement would go.

Plus, your shoulders are saved because the complete stability the floor provides is right beneath them.

Even though you are pressing from the floor, still tuck your elbows to prevent shoulder strain. Just because the floor is the ultimate support under you does not mean you cannot jack up your shoulders.  

Upper Body Box Jump

The best of the power movements on this list, consider adding the upper body box jump to your chest arsenal.

Line up two benches parallel to you in a push-up position. Pushing off into the air and landing on the surrounding benches adds a whole new fast, powerful dynamic to your chest, triceps, and core training.

If you cannot complete an upper body box jump yet, start out with clapping pushups until you can progress vaulting yourself high enough onto higher surfaces.

Down the line, you might be even able to get away with using stacked dictionaries or cinderblocks until you can push up to bench height. 

Support Your Bench Press

Assisting your bench press through these powerlifting and bodybuilding exercises is an excellent way to foster strength, stability, and flexibility throughout your upper body.

A well-rounded, athletic performance you will be proud of is just around the corner by combining these lifts to your current regimen. 

Push Up Course 2

 

**To take your bench press to even greater heights, be sure to continue on to part 3 to learn more awesome tips!


Tony G
Tony G

Anthony is a fan of all things gym related. Growing up very overweight and out of shape, Anthony whipped himself into shape and stunned his entire community becoming a "fitness guru". Tony then set his sights on strength sports (Weightlifting/Powerlifting/Strongman) and learned all about body mechanics, mobility work and injury prevention. Tony found his true love in the strength sports, particularly Olympic Weightlifting. He earned a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree from Fitchburg State University in Exercise and Sports Science. He is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the NSCA.

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