Bench Press exercise refers to horizontal presses. For powerlifters and bodybuilders, it falls into the basic category. To lift the maximum weights, wristbands and special equipment are used.
The world record belongs to the American athlete Ryan Kennelly. In equipment, he managed to squeeze 487.6 kg.
The best result in bench press without equipment belongs to Russian Kirill Sarychev – 335 kg.
What Muscles are Used in Bench Press?
The main purpose of Bench Press is to develop the muscles of the chest. However, they are not the only ones involved in the work. Let’s list the main muscle groups that allow you to squeeze out weight while lying on your back:
- the lower bundles of the trapezoid, the anterior dentate, small pectoral sacs;
- biceps, shoulder rotators;
- latissimus dorsi;
- rhomboid muscles;
- abdominal transverse, internal and external oblique, abdominal rectus muscles;
- gluteal muscles.
The wrist, elbow and shoulder joints, as well as the shoulder-shoulder joint, are under stress.
11 Bench Press Variations
Bench press is used to work out the muscles of the chest, shoulder girdle and back after push-up loads from the floor become insufficient.
The classic version of the exercise assumes that the athlete lies on a special horizontal bench, pressing the back of the head, the shoulder area, the upper part of the spine of the buttocks to it, and placing the soles firmly against the floor. The bar (heavy dumbbells) is squeezed up with a straight middle grip.
However, if you change the parameters of the initial position, then you can achieve an accentuated study of different muscle groups. Today, bodybuilders have the following bench press options in their arsenal:
1. Floor Press
Strengthens the development of the upper chest and triceps, which, due to the limitation of the range of motion by the floor surface, is in constant tension. Recommended for beginners to work with light weights, “empty” bar or dumbbells in the neutral grip position.
2. Bench Press with Chains
Perfectly works out the triceps and the technique of pressing. An elastic band attached to the sides of the bar increases the stress on the muscles as the bar moves away from the chest, and decreases as it approaches.
3. Reverse-Grip Bench Press
It is used to increase muscle mass in the upper chest area. An assistant is needed for training. The working weight should not exceed 60% of the classic grip. After the first workouts, discomfort in the shoulder joints appears. If it does not go away, but develops into pain, reduce the load or give up exercise until better times.
4. Bench Press Upside Down
Suitable for those with lower back problems. Allows you to work out the chest, biceps and triceps more intensively. You need a long bench to train. It is necessary to lie on it on the contrary, resting your feet on the edge of the headboard.
5. Bench Press Arch
Only suitable for experienced athletes who do not have back problems. In the starting position, the chest bends up / forward. This allows you to work with larger weights than with the classic bench press.
6. Smith Machine Bench Press
The guides along which the bar moves allow you to work without a belayer and perfectly work out the middle part of the chest. Nevertheless, the individual structure of the shoulder-blade joint in some athletes is such that this exercise causes a feeling of discomfort. Such athletes should not be zealous. This can result in arthrosis. Better to adopt other types of bench press.
7. French Press
This version of the bench press is recommended for those who need to accentuate the relief of the triceps heads. A special W-shaped bar is required for the exercise. You also need an experienced trainer who will correctly select the weight. Failure to do so could result in serious injury to the elbow.
8. Decline Bench Press
It is used to work out the lower chest. Despite the fact that the exercise is basic, it is forbidden to be performed by those who have a tendency to surges in intraocular and intracranial pressure.
9. Incline Bench Press
The exercise is done with light weights and holding the breath. Correct technique, namely the maximum extension of the elbows to the sides during flexion and their full extension when extending the arms, allows you to improve the outline of the upper chest.
10. Close-Grip Bench Press
The best exercise for training your triceps and keeping your delta and upper chest toned.
11. Wide-Grip Bench Press
Due to the weakening of the load on the triceps, it allows you to emphasize the training of the rest of the working muscles. With the wrong technique – “beating the bar off the chest”, you can injure both her and the shoulder joints. An effective exercise for powerlifters to train the barbell push from the chest. There is also a “guillotine” version, where the bar is lowered to the throat. He works all parts of the pectoral muscles at the same time.
If there is no way to attract insurers when performing a bench press, then the following actions will help to avoid injury:
- when working in a Smith machine, check the condition of its limiters;
- before doing the exercise, remove the blockers that hold the pancakes;
- there is no strength to return the projectile to the rack – gently place the bar on your chest or move your right hand to its middle, squeeze it firmly, tilt and drop the left and then right pancakes.
Bench Press for Women
Before lying down on a bench press, women need to first gain starting strength with a sufficient number of push-ups from the floor, and then learn the correct exercise technique on a special strength machine.
You need to start working with a barbell with light weights and always in the presence of an instructor. While squeezing the bar, watch out for:
- breathing – on the bench, take a breath;
- hand movements – they should be slow and controlled, not springy and inertial;
- the position of the shoulder blades – spread, lower and press them to the bench;
- neck position – do not twist your head from side to side, do not lift the back of your head from the bench, tilting your head forward.
Many girls prefer to start the bench press not with a barbell, but with dumbbells. This option has its advantages. The muscles contract more strongly, since the arms extended upward draw closer, and when flexing, different positions of the hands and elbows are possible.
However, when choosing dumbbells, remember that holding them is not easy. Newbies, especially at the end of the exercise, when their strength is depleted, quite often drop one of them on themselves.
And finally, as an example, here’s a bench press workout routine from Kirill Sarychev:
- Monday – 19 = 50% (5 reps), 60% (4 reps), 70% (3 reps), 80% (2 sets per 2 reps), 85% (3 sets per 1 rep);
- Wednesday – 18 = 50% (3 reps), 60% (3 reps), 70% (4 sets per 3 reps);
- Friday – 22 = 50% (5 reps), 60% (4 reps), 70% (3 reps), 80% (5 sets per 2 reps).
Alternating between different bench press options will help build strength and muscle mass in the chest and shoulder muscles without the use of ultrashort insulin and exogenous testosterone.