During the first few years, you can still get excited with movements like the plain old dumbbell and barbell bench press. They are great movements after all. But after awhile they can get a bit boring. You then start experimenting with the decline, incline and other various bench pressing machine variations in an attempt to rekindle things. But even they can get boring and stale in time.
So how do you breathe life into something after so long, and get that spark back when you feel you've tried everything? Here are some ways you can get creative and spice up the old faithful bench press, even throwing in some toys.
Add BandsOne way change things up and spice up the bench press is with the addition of resistance bands. Adding bands to your bench press creates movements something called accommodated resistance. In essence, adding bands to the bottom of the bench press (see photo below) means that the resistance gets greater throughout the concentric portion of the movement (pressing the bar from your chest to lockout) and peaks at the end. This modifies the strength and force curves of standard free weight variations.
The use of bands and accommodated resistance is usually only applied to training athletes or powerlifters, but they can have their place in anyone's program who is looking to change things up and add a new challenge as well.
Aside from the above example, you can also loop them around heavy dumbbells or kettle bells and then around the bar, or most power racks have attachment's where the bands can be attached.
Bands can be added to any variation of the bench press including dumbbell and even machines. There are so many ways you can connect them; it's impossible to document them all - so get creative!
Get On The Floor
Another, even simpler way than above (as it doesn't involve any tools like bands) is the floor press. Floor press is a highly underrated variation of the bench press, but moving from the bench to floor, has its benefits.
Floor press minimises shoulder stress, takes any leg drive out of the movement and teaches you to ''pack the shoulders'' to maximise the range of motion of the movement. Both dumbbell and barbell variations can be used effectively when performing the floor press.
Use One Arm
Bench pressing movements are predominately performed bilaterally (meaning that both arms move at once). The above often means that imbalances occur. An efficient way of ironing out these imbalances is to perform single-arm variations - in this case; the single-arm dumbbell bench press would be the go-to weapon of choice.
Although, you could also use single-arm variations for machine pressing exercises that allow one arm to move at a time too. Single-arm floor press is also another great exercise to try, that combines the benefits for floor pressing and single-arm pressing.