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August 10, 2022

5 Simple Accessory Exercises for Bench Press Day

5 Simple Accessory Exercises for Bench Press Day with Annie Miller

5 simple accessory exercises for bench press day

Thinking caps on for Exercise selection 101: Bench press is an OPEN CHAIN HORIZONTAL PRESSING pattern. Primary muscles used are pectorals, as well as anterior deltoids and triceps. Lats should help stabilize.

Bench press is commonly used as a main lift on “chest day.” The accessory work to follow should support the patterns and musculature used during the bench press. There is no rule book here. Exercise selection can feel like a bottomless toolbox. Because it largely is.

The following exercises work the bench press prime mover muscles as well as their opposing muscles: Rear delts, rhomboids, mid and low traps, etc. (as well as pecs, ant delts, triceps lats and so on).

▪️Ring rows (horizontal pulling). You could sub in barbell inverted row, seated rows, bent over rows, or dumbbell rows (all of these are bilateral).

▪️Push ups (closed chain horizontal pressing – hands pressing against floor vs bench, hands freely moving with bar).

🔺Wide grip eccentric pull ups (Vertical pulling) – LATS, everything, death. You could also do any vertical pulling exercise – pull ups, narrow gip, p grip, chin up, or lat pull downs. Here, all are bilateral (both arm) variations.

🔺Dips (more tricep-isolated pressing). Any tricep focused exercise would work here – kick backs, cable tricep push downs, DB overhead tricep extensions (long head bias).

All of these are compound (multi joint) movements – often giving you the most “bang for your buck.”

Note, this lift, IMO is lacking unilateral work. Simple shifts could be off set push ups, or single arm ring row if capable (or regress to single arm DB row).

Top alternating DB bench press and Single arm DB row:

I normally like to have a unilateral press and pull in a lift like this. When performing unilateral exercises, it can be helpful to start with your weaker side if you’ve identified it. And matching reps on your strong side. This can help work on any side to side strength imbalances you might have.

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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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