When All Else Fails the Bench Press Is Always a Reliable Exercise

The bench press is an exercise in which the lifter lies on his/her back on a weight bench, lowering the bar directly above the chest. It is intended for the development of the chest, or pectoral muscles , frontal shoulders, serratus, but a variation exists for the triceps. In weight lifting , however, where the focus is to achieve a single very heavy repetition, the force for a bench exercise is exerted by both the pectoral and tricep muscles.

The world record for the heaviest benchraising at 1005 lb (456.8 kg) was set by Gene Rychlak under International Powerlifting Association rules in November 2004. It must be noted that the different lifts federations and gyms have subtly different rules on technique, the equipment that is allowed and whether performance enhancing drugs are tested for.

The heaviest “raw” benchraising (without equipment such as denim shirts) is 713 lbs (324kg) by Scott Mendelson. Many people regard this as a greater achievement than Rychlak’s 1005 lb press.

Classic bench presses may not be suitable for every athlete, if you experience a lack of development, switch to other exercises, i.e. dips, butterfly or other exercises involving dumbells.

Perform your bench presses carefully and slowly. Do not use the momentum of the downward movement of the barbell to let it bounce off your chest and push it explosively back upwards. At least, you bereave yourself of the negative and power building phase of the exercise. This exercise should always be performed with a spotter to catch the bar in case it is dropped on the chest.

Varying width grips can be used to shift stress between pectorals and triceps, and between the inner and outer pectorals. It can also be performed with dumbbells to incorporate greater use of the stabilizer muscles. Each variation is intended to work different subgroups of muscles, or work the same muscles in slightly different ways.