What is the bench press?
The bench press is probably the most popular lift in the gym. You can lift your heaviest weight using your upper body muscles with this lift. The bench is the best exercise for building upper body strength and developing your chest muscles (pectoralis major).
The bench press is a compound exercise and is one of the three powerlifting lifts, along with the deadlift and squat. The lift itself takes place lying down on a specially designed bench. The bar is lifted off its hooks, brought down to the chest and pressed back up to the starting position.
What muscles are used in the bench press?
The main muscles used in this lift are the front shoulder muscles (anterior deltoids), pectoral muscles (pectoralis major) and triceps.
Many other muscles act as fixators, helping stabilise the motion of the press, including the abdominals and upper back (trapezius and rhomboids). In general, the bench is used for building up and strengthening the chest.
Benefits of the bench press
The bench press is a compound exercise, which targets many different muscles across the entire body.
It mainly uses upper body muscles and you can expect to see a strong increase in chest development from regular use.
The areas of the chest most targeted depend on your grip. A close grip targets the middle chest and a wide grip the outer chest.
Overall the benefits of the bench include:
Increased upper body strength
Well developed chest (pectorals) and shoulders (deltoids)
Improved shoulder flexibility
Shoulders and the bench press
The shoulder press is a great exercise to complement the bench as the shoulder press (or overhead press) works the front and back shoulders (anterior and posterior deltoids) equally, whereas the bench works mainly the front shoulders (anterior deltoids).
By using both the bench and overhead press exercises you will get a more balanced workout, developing all areas of the shoulders equally. This kind of balanced training also protects against injury.