Barbell Bench Press
Why it’s on the list: You can generate the most power with barbell lifts, so the standard barbell bench allows you to move the most weight. It’s also an easier lift to control than pressing with heavy dumbbells. The exercise is easy to spot and relatively easy to learn (if not master), There are plenty of bench-press programs you can follow to increase your strength.
Flat Bench Dumbbell Press
Why it’s on the list: With dumbbells, each side of your body must work independently, which recruits more stabilizer muscles; dumbbells are harder to control than a barbell. Dumbbells also allow for a longer range of motion than the barbell bench press, both at the bottom and top of the movement. Flat dumbbell presses allow you to hoist a fairly heavy weight, and they make for a good alternative if you’ve been stuck on the barbell bench for ages.
Low-Incline Barbell Bench Press
Why it’s on the list: Many benches are fixed at a very steep angle, which requires a larger contribution from the front delts than the chest to move the weight. If possible, go for a less-steep incline to hit the upper pecs without as much stress on the delts. You can also easily do low-incline benches with an adjustable bench on the Smith machine.
Machine Decline Press
Why it’s on the list: Some machines, like Hammer Strength, allow you to move each arm independently, which is a great feature on chest day. Besides doing a machine decline press straight on, you can sit sideways on the apparatus and press across your body one arm at a time, which delivers a completely different feel than when you sit straight-on.
Seated Machine Chest Press
Why it’s on the list: Free-weight pressing moves on a flat bench are great, but the machine press has some unique benefits. For one, it’s easier to slow down the repetition, both in the concentric and eccentric phases. Stack-loaded machines are also great for quickly doing dropsets.