But Wait! Where Is The Bench Press

At this point, we’ve already established that outdoor and boot camp style fitness has some pretty unique twists on the traditional fitness methods, and that these change-ups only spur the results on, as opposed to bringing them to an abrupt halt. Still, I’d be shocked if there wasn’t some skepticism for those of us who have lived and breathed the gym from the time we first realized we could put on muscle mass. Some of us are just addicted to the feeling of muscling a bar full of weights up, and transitioning to a program that didn’t feature this causes us some hesitation.

               However, I’m going to show you that diving into boot camp fitness doesn’t mean abandoning those bench induced, chest ripping endorphins we love so much, and I’m going to do this in two ways: First, by breaking down what exactly the bench press does; and second, showing how we replicate it in outdoor fitness.

What is the Bench Press?

               If you’ve ever graced a gym you’ve likely witnessed a bench press. It’s the bread and butter of weight lifting, and basically involves a padded bench, a weighted bar, and a lifter who then lowers the bar from its rack towards the his or her  chest, then back up again to its original position for however many reps their heart and arms desire. Bench pressing is a compound lift, meaning it works multiple parts of the upper body at once; however, the main muscle we’re trying to activate with the movement is the pectoralis major, or the pecs.

 The Spiderman Push-Up is a great variation!

The Spiderman Push-Up is a great variation!

The Bootcamp Version

               So the real question is how to we emulate the effects and movements of a bench press, but in a high paced environment like a boot camp? Well, there are 3 methods we can turn to, all with varying difficulty and modifications; however, all still aim to activate the pecs as the major muscle being worked.

1) The Floor Press

This variation is pretty simple. Take the same idea as the bench press, but ditch the bench. Instead the floor is your bench, and we swap the bar for dumbbells or kettle balls. Dumbbells and kettle balls offer a little more freedom of motion when handling the weights, and allow for a deeper descent that can still get the chest fired up. This exercise is very triceps orientated.

2) Push-Ups

Take the bench press, once again ditch the bar, then flip it upside down, and what you’re left with is the beloved push up. Well, in actuality everyone has mixed feelings about push-ups, but they’re one of those primal movements that are a must in fitness. Push-ups are usually all over boot camp and outdoor fitness in various forms, and they work the chest with a similar range of motion as seen in bench press.

3) Modified Push Ups

Push-ups on their own might emulate the motion of bench, but you can only do so many until you get used to your own body weight. Thankfully there’s tons of ways we modify push-ups in boot camps to take results to the next level. You can prop your hands on stacked plates to allow for a deeper dip in the motion, or bring your hands in closer together to flare up the triceps. Adding bands can increase the weight load and resistance, or you could even throw in a pike position to focus on shoulders.


               The point is, while boot camp classes may mean we leave the bar and weights behind, it doesn’t mean we have to abandon our love for bench like results. Because let’s face it, most of us like having a strong chest, if for no other reason than a big chest can always help make your mid-section look a bit smaller.

               So take heart, put the bar aside for a bit, and see what the boot camp and outdoor fitness scene can really do to your body when you give it a chance. Stay tuned and follow us in the coming weeks as we continue to break down the perks and twists of outdoor and boot camp fitness.

Nick Holland

The Outdoor Squad