A gym with no weight bench is a potential training nightmare for any strong, tough female. While bench pressing and pecs may be considered an alpha male gym passion, girls need a strong chest too, to help balance upper-body strength and size and reduce risk of injuries. The good news is you don't actually need a bench to work your chest -- as long as you have a set of dumbbells, you're good to go.
Dumbbell Floor Presses
No bench for dumbbell bench presses? No problem. Simply lie on the floor and press the dumbbells as if you were on a bench. Let your triceps touch the floor on every rep and pause briefly before pressing the dumbbells back up forcefully. You'll have to use a little less weight on these than you would on regular dumbbell presses, as you've got no drive from your legs. For a serious challenge and test of balance and stabilization, strength coach Ben Bruno recommends performing your dumbbell floor presses one arm at a time.
Stability Ball Dumbbell Presses
If your gym has a yoga studio or a room where they do classes, chances are they'll have Swiss or stability balls in there. Grab one of these and use it in place of a bench. These have the added benefits of working your core muscles much harder than bench presses; just be sure to keep your abs tight and resist the urge to push your hips up and arch your back as you press the dumbbells up.
Flyes are another staple dumbbell chest move that traditionally use a bench, but just by using your initiative again you can perform them without one. Lie on the floor as you did for the floor presses and perform flyes in a similar way, keeping your elbows almost completely straight throughout the movement. Alternatively, stick with the Swiss ball and get the added core stabilization work by performing flyes on it.
If your chest is a real weak point, or an area you'd like to focus on, complete one chest-specific workout every three to four days, picking one exercise from each category. If you're just looking for a general chest routine, on the other hand, then perform just one exercise as part of a full-body session three times per week. Perform between eight and 12 reps per set to build size and strength, or sets of 15 to 20 for muscular endurance. If you do suddenly come across a bench, feel free to add in dumbbell bench presses and flyes to spice up your chest-training routine.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.