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9 Best Horizontal Push Exercises

horizontal push exercises

What Are Horizontal Push Exercises

Exercises in which your arms move perpendicular to your body are referred to as “horizontal exercises.” When it comes to human movement patterns, horizontal push exercises are among the most common. Even when you’re pushing someone away or moving the table to another place in your room, you’re basically practicing horizontal push moves. 

Without these exercises, no workout plan is complete as they build strength and muscles in your chest and shoulders.

Here are the best 9 horizontal push exercises you might include in your training routine:

  1. Barbell Bench Press
  2. Flat Dumbbell Press
  3. Incline Dumbbell Press
  4. Single-Arm Dumbbell Chest Press
  5. Push-up
  6. Decline Push-up
  7. Dip
  8. Resistance Band Floor Press
  9. Cable Chest Press

Let’s have a closer look at exercises’ benefits and proper techniques.

1. Barbell Bench Press

Athletes and gymnasts use this exercise to hone their explosive pushing abilities, while powerlifters use it to test their strength. If you want to build chest and delts muscles and increase your strength, the bench press should be an essential part of your routine. To perform this movement, you are going to need a barbell and a bench.

How to do barbell bench press:

  • Prepare your barbell and bench. Make sure the barbell is at a comfortable height for you to take it off.
  • Position yourself on the bench with your knees bent. Grab the barbell with your hands shoulder-width apart. 
  • Take the barbell off the rack, holding it above your chest.
  • Start lowering the barbell until it almost touches your chest.
  • Push straight up, inhaling in as you go.

2. Flat Dumbbell Press 

Another comparable workout is the flat dumbbell press which is one of the best chest exercises you can do. It also helps tone the arms, shoulders, and chest muscles. But you are going to need dumbbells instead of a barbell. A complete range of motion is possible since the movement is not restricted when you lower the dumbbells.

How to do flat dumbbell press:

  • To position your body on the bench correctly, grab the dumbbells and sit on the edge first. Then roll back, leaving your feet on the floor.
  • Push the dumbbells up in front of you. Flex your glutes to increase stability and lower the dumbbells. You may maintain your arms tucked in or inclined 45 degrees away from your body.
  • Return to the start and do reps. Keep some space between the dumbbells, don’t make them contact at the movement’s top.

3. Incline Dumbbell Press 

Instead of a flat bench, you’ll use an incline bench to do this exercise. It’s one of the best horizontal push exercises for activating and loading the chest muscles. Secondarily, the movement loads the biceps and anterior deltoids. This exercise is meant to focus more significant effort on the upper pecs because of the inclined position. It also puts less tension on the rotator cuff, making a move joint-friendly.

How to do incline dumbbell press:

  • The bench’s inclination should be adjusted according to your workout goals. The lower you go towards the floor, the more chest is involved. The higher bench is, the more tension goes on the shoulders.
  • Sit on the bench, holding the dumbbells, and put your feet firmly on the ground. Lie your back on the bench and make sure you are stable and comfortable.
  • Keep your shoulders peeled back once you lie on the bench, creating a natural arch in your lower back. Then, push the dumbbells up in front of you. Maintain a slight bend in your elbows.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbells with slightly bent elbows. Keep the dumbbells straight; you don’t want the weight in or out. Don’t flare the elbows out; try to maintain a 45-degree angle as you are in the movement’s bottom part.

4. Single-Arm Dumbbell Chest Press 

Single-arm variation implies using only one dumbbell instead of two. Most load is on the chest muscles, but the movement also works the shoulders and is a great triceps exercise. The exercise puts more stress on the core muscles and enhances your muscular balance.

How to do single-arm dumbbell chest press:

  • Grab one dumbbell. Lie your back on the bench, keeping your feet firmly on the ground.
  • Press the dumbbell right up to the top. Keep your second hand on your torso to stay stable.
  • Bring the weight down slowly until it reaches your chest level. Don’t flare your elbows; keep them closer to your body to stay in a safe position.

5. Push-up 

Traditional push-ups are effective for loading triceps, pecs, and shoulder muscles. Also, this compound exercise activates and strengthens your core. You don’t need anything except your free time and body weight to practice this movement.

How to do push-ups:

  • Get down on all fours. Palms should be towards the floor, and both legs should be together on the toes.
  • Choose a wider grip if you want to work more on your chest muscles. A closer stance will help you focus on your triceps. Place your wrists in a nearly vertical line under your shoulders.
  • Come down, bending your arms. Tilt your pelvis backward and keep your glutes flexed to avoid the arched back. Don’t flare your elbows out to prevent injuries.
  • Push up, extend your arms and maintain a straight spine. Your elbows should point backward, not to the sides.
  • Don’t cheat. Go all the way up and all the way down.

6. Decline Push-up 

Strengthening the upper chest muscles is the primary benefit of practicing decline push-ups. With this bodyweight compound exercise, your upper pecs, triceps, back, and shoulders get a good workout.

How to do decline push-ups:

  • Put your feet on top of the stable surface. 
  • Keep hands on the ground with your palms facing down. Ensure your hands are wide enough to create a 90-degree angle in your elbows.
  • Come down, bending your arms, maintaining your core and glutes tight. Keep your body straight.
  • Push up, extending your arms. Breathe out as you come up.

7. Dip 

Dips target the chest, shoulders, and triceps the most. Practicing this compound movement is a good idea for all who want to improve upper-body strength and build muscles. You’ll need a dip station or parallel bars to do this workout.

How to do dips:

  • Take hold of the parallel bars and spring up, straightening your arms. Lean a bit forward if you want to target your chest more. Aim for an upright torso if your main target is building triceps.
  • Lower your body by bending your arms. Put your shoulder blades down to reach the necessary tension. Achieve a minimum of 90 degrees flexion in your elbows. And go deeper if you have enough mobility. Don’t bend your spine as you go up and down.
  • Go all the way up but avoid overextension in your arms. Keep your legs and glutes tight throughout the movement.

You may also like: 5 Best Chest Dip Alternatives

8. Resistance Band Floor Press

The move works the triceps, biceps, and chest. It helps to keep shoulder injuries to a minimum by isolating the targeted muscles. This exercise is also excellent for reinforcing back tension and scapular retraction, enhancing push-ups and bench presses performance. The only piece of equipment you need is a resistance band.

How to do resistance band floor press:

  • Sit on the floor, grab the band loop in both hands, and put the band around your back. Ensure the band is underneath the shoulders. 
  • Then, lay down, keeping your legs bent and feet standing on the floor.
  • Press up, keeping your wrists straight.
  • Go back down in a slow motion.

9. Cable Chest Press 

A cable chest press works best for chest isolation and core strengthening. The exercise offers an increased range of motion and extra stability because you use a cable machine. Also, it guarantees peak muscle activation.

How to do cable chest press:

  • Attach cable pulleys to the shoulder height. Stand shoulder-width apart between two pulleys of the cable machine, facing away from it.
  • Grab both handles with an overhand grip (palms facing down).
  • Keep your shoulders back, don’t pronate or protract them. Make sure the cables are running right along your forearms. Press forward. 
  • Go back in a slow controlled motion, bending the elbows outward and keeping your forearms parallel to the floor.

What Muscles Do Horizontal Push Exercises Work?

Horizontal pushes target the muscles on the front of your upper torso. We talk about:

  • pecs (major and minor)
  • triceps – (all three heads)
  • deltoids

The focus and strength of the load vary depending on the specific exercise. It is recommended to form a comprehensive workout plan that includes exercises for all groups of muscles in the chest and shoulders. However, if you want to focus on a certain muscle group or prime mover, you may pick and practice a few specific movements.

What Are The Best Bodyweight Horizontal Push Exercises? 

Bodyweight exercises are appreciated for their accessibility. After all, such exercises can be performed without inventory and in any location. Among bodyweight horizontal push exercises, the majority are different variants of push-ups and dips. Variations and techniques are enough to satisfy the most demanding athlete.

What Horizontal Push Exercises Can Be Done At Home? 

It is not necessary to go to the gym and pay for the membership to get the body of your dreams. You can achieve your workout goals at home. For instance, you can perform push-ups, resistance band floor press, flat dumbbell press, incline dumbbell press, etc. The list depends on what equipment you have at your disposal.


Horizontal push exercises are a must in any workout plan. They strengthen chest and shoulder muscles, enhancing your workout performance and making you more agile in your everyday life. There are plenty of movements to choose from. Bench presses, push-ups, and dips are all on the list. You can also use resistance bands and a cable machine for some horizontal push exercises. The main thing is to pick the right moves and focus on the proper form. Good luck!

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