1. No Flat Bench? No Problem. Use the Floor
Some of our programs for chest, shoulders, and triceps involve using a flat bench. However, some people don’t have access to one. The good news is that you can do flat exercises anytime you like if you have a floor. Simply lying flat on the floor can help you perform flat dumbbell presses, dumbbell flys, and lying tricep extensions.
Yes, it will affect the range of motion because your arms stop on the floor before you reach the bottom of some movements. In this case, fold up a blanket, or even two, and lay them on the floor where you intend to exercise. This will help increase the range of motion a little bit. If this isn’t enough for you, then it may be time to start looking for that bench.
2. Need an Incline? Swap in Elevated Pushups
The first hack solves the flat bench problem, but what about inclines? There are two ways you can work around this. One most people should be able to do, and the other could benefit some of you.
The first one is by making a change. If you have to do incline presses or incline flys, then substitute these movements with elevated pushups. Place your feet up on a higher surface. This shifts the focus of the movement to the upper pecs and the front delts. No, it isn’t a dumbbell exercise, but it beats nothing.
If you have flys on your program, then simply use a slightly lower platform for your feet and place your hands wider for the pushups. The wider hand position will help provide the stretch that you would achieve with the fly.
Now, if you have steps, you can place pillows or steps on the steps and lie back on them with your weights for incline work. Of course, this is provided that you have the room on your staircase. Some of you may not. If you can, try it.
3. Dumbbells Too Light? Slow the Sets Down
Dumbbells can be a great tool to have in the fitness toolbox until you get so strong that the weights aren’t challenging anymore. Then you have to either buy heavier weights, more plates for your handles or start looking for another option.
Here’s something you can do to make your sets harder until you do get those heavier weights: Make your reps last longer. This extends the time of the set, which is going to be more challenging than your traditional work time.
Start by squeezing each contraction (when the muscle is flexed) for three seconds. Count to three, then perform three-second negatives. Once you reach the bottom, hold the stretch for an additional three seconds. The one-second lift, plus each three-second segment I just described makes each rep ten seconds long. That will make any ten-rep set more intense.
If you get to the point that this is too easy, then add supersets to the plan. Take two exercises that you see in the program and combine them. How you do this is up to you, as long as it pushes you to make progress, that’s all that matters.