How you can Do the Bench Press for Chest Dimension and Higher-Physique Energy

The bench press is the reigning king of higher physique barbell workout routines for a lot of lifters. Even non-lifters are conversant in muscular athletes demonstrating their power performing a bench press. It’s virtually universally acknowledged as the strategy to construct your chest, shoulders, and triceps.

As a result of you will have the potential to place a lot weight on the bar, the bench press is the best weapon in your train arsenal for gaining higher physique power and muscle mass. The larger your bench, the larger your higher physique.

Right here’s every part you must learn about performing the bench press to construct a bigger, stronger, extra muscular chest.

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How you can Do the Bench Press

The bench press is a foundational train, helpful for practically each lifter within the health club. Whereas some lifters over-focus on the train or misuse it, doubtlessly resulting in damage, it could possibly play a key function in constructing muscle and power for inexperienced persons in addition to skilled lifters.

Studying correct methods is important for maximizing advantages and minimizing damage threat. the steps under might be your greatest place to start out.

Step 1 — Preliminary Setup

Man grabbing bar to perform bench press
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Lie flat on the bench along with your head beneath the bar. Put your ft up on the bench, seize the bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip, and squeeze your shoulder blades collectively. Place your ft on the bottom along with your knees bent. Shifting your heels in direction of the bench will permit extra decrease physique stress and drive manufacturing.

Really feel a powerful connection to the bench by means of your total physique. Keep your shoulder blades in a retracted place. Squeeze the bar with each arms to make sure tightness.

Type Tip: Your grip width can play a task in concentrating on or emphasizing sure muscle tissue throughout the bench press. A wider grip will goal the sternal head (internal portion) of the pecs and anterior delts (entrance shoulder) extra, whereas a more in-depth grip will focus extra on the triceps and clavicular (higher) chest. (1) Start coaching with a shoulder-width grip to construct muscle coordination and scale back joint pressure. Implement some slight modifications in your grip as you turn into extra skilled.

Step 2 — Elevate Off

Man lying on flat bench holding barbell overheadMan lying on flat bench holding barbell overhead
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Actively press your ft into the ground, making an attempt to get your heels flat on the bottom. This creates stress all through your decrease physique. Take a deep breath and maintain it whereas lifting the bar off the rack by straightening your arms. The bar ought to be lined up above your shoulders with each arms locked out.

Type Tip: Keep away from “pushing” the bar upward out of the hooks as you might protract (unfold) your shoulder blades, placing the shoulder joints right into a weaker place.. The bar ought to be set at a peak that retains your arms solely barely bent earlier than unracking. When you’ve got longer arms, use a high rack place. When you’ve got shorter arms, use a decrease rack place.

Step 3 — Descend With Management

Man holding barbell on chest performing bench pressMan holding barbell on chest performing bench press
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With the barbell starting straight over your shoulders, break on the elbows and decrease the bar in direction of your mid-chest. Tuck your elbows barely in direction of your ft. Hold your forearms vertical, and don’t allow them to collapse in direction of your head or ft as you proceed to carry your breath on the backside. Contact the bar to the identical level in your chest on each rep.

Type Tip: The barbell ought to transfer down and barely away out of your shoulder degree. Don’t try and decrease the bar in a straight line to your higher chest. Doing so will increase joint pressure and reduces energy output. Consider performing a really slight arc.

Step 4 — Press to Lockout

Muscular man performing heavy bench press exerciseMuscular man performing heavy bench press exercise
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As soon as the barbell touches your chest, pause very briefly after which aggressively drive it again to the beginning place. Launch your breath as you press up. The barbell ought to transfer up and again in direction of your head. Your shoulders, elbows, and wrists ought to find yourself in vertical alignment, or “stacked”, when the rep is full.

Type Tip: When urgent up, maintain your butt in touch with the bench. Drive into the ground along with your ft. This engagement out of your decrease physique muscle tissue will assist you to drive the burden up, which is important to maneuver heavier hundreds.

Bench Press Errors to Keep away from

The bench press is a typical train in most gyms, however it’s additionally widespread to see a number of recurring method errors. Listed here are the most typical points to keep away from so as to get higher outcomes extra effectively.

No Higher Again Tightness

Higher again tightness is essential for a secure and efficient bench press. That is why it’s vital to keep up retracted scapulae (shoulder blades) all through the whole set. Emphasize constant higher again tightness to raised serve your shoulder well being and to create extra stability when lifting.

Man in gym performing barbell bench pressMan in gym performing barbell bench press
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By retracting the scapulae, you activate the various muscle tissue of the higher again just like the traps, rear delts, and rhomboids. These muscle tissue work with the chest and triceps to decrease the bar underneath management and transition easily and powerfully into the press.

Keep away from it: Ensure you are adequately activating your scapulae by “puffing your chest up” previous to gripping the bar. It is a very distinct cue to get your chest, shoulders, and higher again into a correct place.

No Leg Drive

Many individuals incorrectly assume that performing the bench press with their ankles crossed and their ft up within the air will present some type of additional advantage. It doesn’t. Selecting up your ft results in a lower in stability, which hinders your means to carry heavier weights.

Man performing bench press exercise with legs in the airMan performing bench press exercise with legs in the air
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This lack of stability additionally will increase your threat of damage as a result of the burden is solely supported by the shoulder joints and higher again muscle tissue, quite than being distributed all through the whole physique from head to toe.

Keep away from it: To maximise your stability, set your ft nearer underneath your hips, quite than unfold farther away in entrance of you. You must be capable to preserve regular foot stress into the ground. This added stress will assist switch drive from the ground up and into the bar whenever you drive by means of your legs.

Driving your ft into the ground additionally will increase general stability, very similar to how a desk with 4 legs on the bottom is extra steady than a desk with solely three legs on the bottom.

Weak Wrists

Having a agency grip and powerful wrists is one other missed part of the bench press. Many lifters are inclined to neglect “stacking” their wrists.

Black and white photo looking down at man performing bench pressBlack and white photo looking down at man performing bench press
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As an alternative, they permit their arms to bend backwards and palms to face the ceiling. This knuckles-back place creates an unstable wrist place and a weaker grip.

Keep away from it: It might really feel awkward at first, correct positioning usually does, however vertically stacking your joints underneath the bar will create a stronger general place to carry from. Attempt to “press” your thumb again into the bar, quite than solely holding the bar with 4 fingers. This extra focus will drive you to take a really agency grip and drive your wrist right into a stacked, impartial place with out bending backwards.

Advantages of the Bench Press

The bench press means that you can load the higher physique with heavier weights than every other train. This strengthens a number of muscle teams whereas additionally having the very best activation of the chest itself.

Muscular man with glasses lifting weightsMuscular man with glasses lifting weights
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Maximizing Chest Energy and Development

EMG analysis has proven the bench press to be extremely efficient at maximally activating the whole chest musculature. (2)(3) This implies the bench press ought to be a staple in any programming targeted on getting stronger and constructing muscle.

Time Environment friendly

As a result of excessive degree of muscle activation, and the a number of muscle tissue being engaged, the bench press is a smart alternative for any lifter quick on coaching time. If you end up performing restricted workout routines per session, you then want a motion that targets a number of muscle tissue directly. The bench press is likely one of the most effective higher physique workout routines.

Muscle tissue Labored by the Bench Press

The bench press works a number of muscle teams on the higher physique. That is why it’s a foundational motion for inexperienced persons to study, in addition to a dependable train for knowledgeable lifters seeking to maximize power and muscle.

Muscular bodybuilder performing bench pressMuscular bodybuilder performing bench press
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Pectoralis Main

As the primary “chest” muscle, the pectoralis main’s major perform is to adduct the shoulder within the transverse airplane — convey the elbows in nearer to at least one one other. The pec main has two heads, the sternal (mid and decrease chest) and the clavicular (higher). Each pec heads are lively within the bench press.

Anterior Delts

The whole shoulder muscle is recruited throughout the bench press, however the anterior (entrance) head to the deltoid is most prominently recruited throughout the train. The anterior deltoid’s major perform is to lift your arm up towards your head, as carried out throughout the bench press movement.

Triceps Brachii

The triceps brachii extends the elbow and takes the arm from a bent to straightened place. That is a vital motion throughout the bench press, particularly throughout the lockout portion the place the triceps are most concerned.

Latissimus Dorsi

One of many largest muscle tissue of the again are the lats. They carry the shoulder joint right into a impartial place. When your shoulder is in a stretched place on the backside of the bench press and your higher arm is “behind” your again”, your lats assist to convey your arms again in keeping with your torso to renew the press.

Higher Again

The muscle tissue of the higher again — the trapezius, rear deltoids, and rhomboids — work collectively to help shoulder stability throughout the bench press and to permit a full vary of movement on the shoulder joint, in each the underside and high positions.

Who Ought to Do the Bench Press

The bench press is an train everybody can use. Lifters who wish to get into higher form and maximize their power potential, athletes in search of velocity and energy, and aggressive powerlifters who want to maneuver most weight ought to all be coaching the bench press.

Coaching for Energy

Energy is movement-specific. (4) The ability of performing a heavy bench press is constructed by repetition after repetition. Any power athlete, like a aggressive powerlifter, who must get stronger on the bench press must apply the bench press. Prioritizing different workout routines won’t ship the most effective outcomes or construct probably the most power on this particular motion. 

Coaching for Muscle

To extend muscularity, make the bench press a steadily recurring motion in your exercises. The muscle activation, variety of muscle tissue recruited, comparatively lengthy vary of movement, and general muscle-building stimulus present a major and distinctive muscular stress in comparison with different higher physique workout routines.

Coaching for Sport

Constructing energy, power, and velocity all through the whole higher physique might be a profit to any athlete in practically any sport. The bench press is commonly seen in coaching particularly for sports activities with a excessive degree of physicality equivalent to soccer or rugby. Growing the pushing energy of the chest, shoulders, and arms carries over to the calls for of the sector.

How you can Program the Bench Press

The barbell bench press may be programmed with quite a lot of set and rep schemes and ought to be carried out early in a exercise when your physique is minimally fatigued and maximally targeted to reap the entire advantages of this complete motion.

Heavy Weight, Low Repetition

To maximise power, 4 to 6 units within the three to 6 rep vary is an efficient place to start out. Use a weight that leaves you with no less than one rep left “within the tank” to keep away from reaching muscular failure. A relaxation interval of three to 5 minutes between every set will make sure you carry with most effort.

Reasonable Weight, Reasonable Repetition

To construct an even bigger chest, working for three to 4 units within the six to 12 rep vary will provide you with a pleasant bump in coaching quantity, which is helpful for constructing muscle. (5) The a number of units and reps additionally permit you to develop your bench press method with out extreme fatigue from heavier weights.

Performing the bench press for larger repetitions (12 to twenty, or extra) is extra acceptable for dumbbell or machine variations accomplished later within the exercise. This lets you maximize the muscle-recruitment and heavier loading advantages of the usual barbell bench press when you find yourself contemporary firstly of your coaching.

Reasonable Weight, Low Repetition

To construct explosive energy and velocity, use a submaximal weight that may be moved at quick speeds whereas sustaining that velocity throughout every rep of every set. A primary method is to work for six to eight units of two to 5 reps, utilizing a weight that doesn’t push you near muscular failure. If you wish to transfer like an athlete or practice for sport, this methodology ought to be a staple.

Bench Press Variations

Whether or not you might be simply getting began in your lifting journey or have joint points that stop barbell coaching, you may nonetheless concentrate on efficient bench press progressions and variations. These will permit you to practice the muscle tissue related to the motion safely and progressively.

Body weight Push-up

Begin from the bottom up, figuratively and actually, with a basic body weight train that can be utilized every day. Carry out full push-ups in your arms and toes, maintaining a straight line all through your total physique.

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If wanted, you may make the motion even simpler by beginning in your knees as an alternative of your toes.  You can even carry out elevated push-ups, by pacing your arms on a bench or plyo field. 

Resistance Band Push-up

A resistance band won’t solely improve the problem to your chest, shoulders, and triceps however will even create a excessive degree of higher pec activation.

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The band will add resistance all through the whole vary of movement, growing depth because it stretches. Within the high place, the band in underneath most stretch and is offering probably the most resistance. Within the backside place, the band is just barely stretched and presents slight resistance. This is called “accommodating resistance” which maximizes stress on the muscle tissue and minimizes pressure on the joints.

Weighted Push-up

Add much more resistance to the fundamental push-up by sporting a weighted vest, a loaded backpack, or just balancing a weight plate in your mid- to decrease again. The important thing with this train is sustaining a managed tempo all through every rep.

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Urgent and reducing slowly won’t solely guarantee the burden stays in place, however can also be a method to extend the general time underneath stress, which makes the motion much more difficult.

Machine Chest Press

Utilizing certainly one of your health club’s chest press machines will problem your muscle tissue similar to a bench press since it is possible for you to so as to add a larger quantity of load.

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Be certain to make use of a pronated (palms down) grip so to greatest mimic the grip used within the bench press and recruit muscle tissue in the same method.

Bench Press Alternate options

Whereas the bench press is a basic train with many advantages, some associated workout routines can ship distinctive further advantages whereas supporting the muscle tissue concerned within the bench press and complementing power improvement.

Ground Press

The ground press is precisely because it sounds — performing the bench press on the ground with out a bench. This is usually a useful gizmo that creates a partial vary of movement, since you may solely take your elbows to the ground. This makes it superb for lifters who expertise shoulder ache within the lowest vary of movement of the bench press, when the bar touches the chest.

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Specializing in the higher half of the vary of movement additionally emphasizes triceps recruitment as a result of the triceps are considerably recruited in that portion of the motion. This makes the ground press an efficient alternative for lifters needing to enhance lockout power within the full bench press.

Pin Press

The pin press is one other partial vary of movement motion, particularly used to help with lockout power within the high place. Some lifters can load up as a lot as 10-30% of the burden usually lifted on the total bench press.

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The pin press can also be an efficient strength-building instrument since you come to a whole useless cease with out on the backside, resting on the pins as an alternative of supporting the burden along with your muscle tissue or joints. This avoids including additional stress on the backside of the usual bench press.

Smith Machine Bench Press

The Smith machine is almost an identical to performing a barbell bench press. One of many largest variations is that, as a result of design of the machine and the restricted recruitment of stabilizing muscle tissue, the burden used within the Smith machine won’t straight carryover to the burden used with a barbell.

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Nevertheless, the Smith machine is usually a useful gizmo when you’ve got any minor joint pains which may be aggravated when performing the free weight model, for the reason that bar path is ready in place, which permits a smoother transition of the motion.


What ought to I do if I really feel ache in my shoulders throughout the bench press?

Firstly, it is very important handle any joint ache with a medical skilled and, no less than quickly, cease performing the bench press till you will have an correct analysis.

This doesn’t imply the bench press is “dangerous” for you. Generally, shoulder ache may very well be on account of a breakdown in method, incorrect arrange, scapular instability, extreme load, or extreme quantity.

Reviewing every of these parameters is important to catching any issues earlier than they turn into larger points. Specializing in the ground press as an alternative of the barbell flat bench press is also helpful.

What number of bench press variations ought to I carry out in a exercise?

Newbie lifters creating their base of power and muscle can profit from focusing solely on the traditional barbell bench press with none related actions. It recruits a large variety of physique elements and places them underneath vital muscular stress. The main focus and power spent engaged on this large carry pays dividends.

Skilled lifters coaching for muscular dimension could profit from an general program that comes with extra selection, whereas maintaining the bench press as a part of this system. Actually, any lifter targeted on growing bench press power ought to maintain the train extremely featured of their exercise.


  1. Barnett C, Kippers V, Turner P. Results of Variations of the Bench Press Train on the EMG Exercise of 5 Shoulder Muscle tissue. J Energy Condit Res. 1995;9(4):222–7.
  2. Schick EE, Coburn JW, Brown LE, et al. A comparability of muscle activation between a Smith machine and free weight bench press. J power Cond Res. 2010;24(3):779-784. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181cc2237.
  4. Wilson GJ, Elliott BC, Kerr GK. Bar path profile traits for maximal and submaximal hundreds within the bench press. Worldwide Journal of Sport Biomechanics; 5: 390-402. 1989
  5. Schoenfeld BJ, Contreras B, Krieger J, et al. Resistance Coaching Quantity Enhances Muscle Hypertrophy however Not Energy in Educated Males. Med Sci Sports activities Exerc. 2019;51(1):94-103. doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000001764

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