Bench Press: 4 Proven Benefits Of Bench Press

Arguably one of the most popular and effective chest exercises, the bench press is a staple in the gym to build more push strength and increase muscle mass. Studies have shown that the bench press is an extremely effective strength-training exercise, eliciting a high-level of muscle activity in the pectoralis major. If your goal is to build a well-rounded physique, and more functional strength, then bench press needs to be in your training program.

What Is Bench Press 

Bench press is a compound movement that involves the pectoralis major, deltoids, triceps, and the upper arms. The bench press can develop and build more strength and size, and also improve balance in movements amongst athletes.

Several variations of the bench press exist, which incorporate different segments and angels of the pectoralis major to ensure well rounded aesthetic, strength, and posture as well as training implements.

Some of those variations include 

4 Proven Benefits Of Bench Press

1. Bench Press Builds More Strength

Bench press is considered a compound exercise. A compound exercise uses multiple muscle groups and joints at the same time, compared with an isometric exercise which involves the static contraction of a muscle without any visible movement in the angle of the joint. Bench press primarily works the pectoralis major, with secondary muscles which involve the shoulders, triceps, biceps and shoulder joints. Research has shown that dependent upon the specific variations of the bench press (i.e., dumbbell bench press, smith machine bench and barbell bench), each one activates the pectoralis to a different degree. For example, a study published in the Journal Of Strength and Conditioning showed that the dumbbell bench press elicited greater changes in pectoralis major activity as compared to barbell bench press [R]. The study also concluded that study participants were able to achieve higher volume, or more repetitions as compared to barbell bench press, which also increased activation. Barbell bench however shows greater muscle activation in the pectoralis, and medial deltoid also known as your shoulders, than the smith machine, indicating that barbell bench is a better choice for upper-body muscle development. With increased workout volume and better muscle activation, you’ll be able to increase overall muscle strength [R].

2. Bench Press Increases Muscle Mass

Resistance training programs and split-workouts which include strength-training movements like the bench press, will also increase muscle growth and overall muscle mass. Training programs, which emphasize volume, and higher repetitions, at 60-80% maximal strength, will help build more lean mass as opposed to lower volume, with increased loads.

RELATED ARTICLE How Many Sets And Reps Do I Need To Improve Performance

3. Bench Press Corrects Muscular Imbalances

Bench press is considered a functional strength movement. Function means purpose; therefore, a functional movement is performed for a specific purpose. That purpose is to build more strength, balance, and stability recruited to execute common movement patterns while performing everyday activities. Muscular imbalances are an issue which is highly prevalent and common amongst many people. According to the National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM), muscular imbalance is the alteration in the lengths and relative activity levels of muscles surrounding a given joint. With some of these muscles being short and/or overactive and others being lengthened and/or underactive, movement compensation occurs and consequently decreases neuromuscular control. Therefore, when a muscular imbalance is severe enough, compensation for lack of mobility of those muscles will occur. Bench press either barbell, or with dumbbells uses free weights, which requires more muscle stabilization and greater core strength, to help overcome and correct muscular imbalances over time.

RELATED ARTICLE How To Fix Muscular Imbalances In 5 Easy Steps

4. Bench Press Increases Bone Density

Resistance training has been shown to improve bone density and aid in supporting bone health. Studies show that functional compound movements, such as squat, deadlift, and bench press can significantly increase bone density [R]. As we age, bone’s become frail and porous, causing chronic disease states such as Osteoporosis. By engaging in resistance training programs and including compound movements such as the bench press, you can improve bone health, which translates to greater improvements in overall quality of life.

How To Bench Press

Whether you’re a newbie in the gym, or a seasoned athlete with years of lifting experience executing proper form, will help build more functional strength, stimulate muscle growth, and correct muscular imbalances.

  1. Lie flat on a bench and set your hands just outside of shoulder width on the bar, and feet firmly planted into the ground. Make sure your feet are placed proximal in towards your body, while keeping them flat on the floor. This will provide a good base for more driving power when it comes to heavy loads and finishing your set.
  2. Back position is equally as crucial as your feet placement. Squeeze your shoulder blades by pinching them together and driving them into the bench and slightly arch your back.
  3. Grip is the next focus point. Make sure your palms are rotated completely under the bar. Grip position also depends on specific intent and goals. If you want to develop the outside of the chest, a wide grip is recommended as opposed to a conventional grip which is placed right outside the shoulders.
  4. Take a deep breath and unrack the barbell. Allow your spotter to help you with the lift off in order to maintain tension and positioning of your upper back.
  5. Inhale and descend the bar slowly just touching your chest, bracing your abdominals and core.
  6. Drive the bar back up, let out your breath, and drive your feet into the floor, tightening your glutes, and pushing under the bar with one fluid motion, and extending the elbows.

Bench Press: Takeaway

Ultimately the bench press is going to help you push more weight, build more mass, and create a well defined aesthetic. Bench press is one of the most tried and true compound strength movements, when it comes to activating multiple joints, muscle groups, and improving total body strength. As one of the "big 3" bench press deserves a spot in your training program. 

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