Push. Pull. Squat.
No, really. That’s it.
It’s the three fundamental movements of lifting. If you can master all three movements in correct balance of strength, you will be strong. When assessing a person’s strength, you might hear a seasoned weight lifter ask “What’s your DBS?” He or she is asking for your current deadlift, bench-press, and squat weights. This is because a veteran lifter can instantly get a sense of your strength with those three numbers. Unless stated otherwise, this should be based on your barbell exercise weight. Most commercial gyms hold regulated, universal barbells that are 45lbs without weight plates. It’s important to note that while Cybex machines are useful, they are not the same as barbells, and therefore it’s impossible to get an accurate comparison between the two. Furthermore, Cybex machines themselves can give inconsistent information—different models or age can change weight you use due to cable or lever friction. Therefore, because they are universal and consistent, I strongly recommend a DBS based on barbells.
That being said, you do not have to perform DBS with barbells to achieve above average strength in push, pull, or squat. Bench presses fall under push, but so do dumbbell presses, push-ups, and even dips. Really, anything you push away from your body will attack your chest, anterior delts, and triceps. Anything that you have to pull towards your body calls under “pulls.” This includes deadlifts, rows and pull ups to work your latissimus dorsi, rear delts, and bicep muscles. Squats include of course basic squats, but also include but all major leg exercises which are versions of a squat. A lunge is technically a split squat. A pistol squat is a single leg squat. Take out all the fancy names and you basically have leg movements pushing against gravity with or without weight.
You don’t necessarily have to use free weights or have access to a gym to achieve overall healthy strength levels in your push-pull-squats. Frankly, most people can’t perform these three movements correctly with their bodyweight, let alone with added weights. It is much more efficient and effective to execute these movements using your own body weight and using proper form. Doing push-ups, pull ups, and squats at your house or in the park is actually preferable to bench pressing isolated muscle groups three times a week at a gym. I can assure you that the “only pushing motion exerciser” can hurt you and cause you to be and look disproportioned. Always stick to training foundations of push, pull, squat, and you’ll stay healthy and fit.