The Bench Press
I love to bench press, it’s almost as simple as it gets: lay down and push a weight above you. It is a compound movement (working more than one joint and muscle group) that will not only build upper body strength but help complete a well-rounded fitness routine.
- chest (pectoralis)
- shoulder (deltoids)
- tricep (triceps brachii)
- bicep (biceps brachii)
- abs (rectus abdominis)
The bench press is important in a functional way too by helping your body develop the power and capacity to push. This functional ability becomes evident to me every time I take my kids to the park and push them on the swing set or the rare and unfortunate occasion when I have had to help someone push a car that is not starting. Regardless of how or when you might need the capacity to push, the bench press will help you develop the strength and power to do.
Benefits of the bench press:
- increased upper body strength
- increased athleticism
- increased functional capability
- injury prevention
- builds upper body muscle
With my background in the military I came to realize the importance of a pushup for developing upper body strength. To this day I still believe that pushups are a fundamentally important exercise and are a movement you might want to start off with before attempting the bench press. Pushups are also an alternative to the bench press if you don’t have access to the equipment (barbell or dumbbells and a workout bench) needed to perform the exercise. However, I firmly believe that more upper body power and strength will be developed by doing bench presses than pushups. That being said a great fitness routine would incorporate both because each will help you develop upper body power and strength uniquely.
How to perform a barbell bench press:
- lying on a bench
- grip the barbell a little more than shoulder width apart
- slowly push the barbell out of the rack, fully extending your arms and locking out your elbows
- from this position slowly lower the barbell until it touches your chest
- then slowly push it back up, fully extending your arms and locking out your elbows
- repeat for desired repetitions and then carefully and firmly place the barbell back on the rack
related: 5 Reasons to Start Stretching
This is an exercise that demands attention to detail, so starting out begin with light weights or simply the barbell alone before progressing. Learning how to bench press properly might take a little time but the rewards will be worth it. If you have any questions about bench presses or suggestions, please feel free to comment here and as always thank you for reading and cheers to your good health!