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If you are enthusiastic about weight training and love going to the gym, then you are likely to have seen different types of exercises, including the bench press, where you can lie down on a bench and press the weight up to work the upper body muscles. It is one of the most beneficial exercises as it helps increase strength and muscle mass, and enhance endurance amongst other benefits. However, you might be wondering what type of exercise if the bench press.
The bench press is a compound exercise that targets the upper body muscles including the arms, chest, and shoulders. It involves pressing the weight vertically from chest level whilst lying on a bench or whilst in a supine position.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of what the exercise is, there is more to learn about this chest building movement. In this article, we cover topics such as what muscles the bench press works, and the best bench press exercises.
What Muscles Does A Bench Press Work?
The bench press focuses on the upper body and hence it works the different muscles including those in the arms, shoulders, and the chest. When pressing or lifting the weight in a supine position, the primary muscles used are the pectoral muscles, triceps and anterior deltoids.
Is The Bench Press Muscular Endurance Or Strength?
The bench press is both muscular strength and endurance and with repeated training can help with both. Muscular strength means you can lift the weight or you can just exert some force against resistance – in this case lifting a heavy object, while endurance means the number of times you can lift that weight load before reaching failure.
Of course, you can have the muscular strength to lift the weight but you need some exercises for endurance. With more strength training, your overall endurance can improve.
Best Bench Press Exercise Variations
There are different variations of the bench press exercise that will allow you to target different muscle groups of the upper body. With any of these variations, you may enjoy the following benefits:
• Improved health of the bones.
• Increased strength of the upper body which can help with posture.
• Improved endurance.
• Increase in muscle mass which boosts metabolism helping to burn fat.
Decline Bench Press
In a decline bench press, your bench is set up in a reclining position or at a declining angle that is between 15 and 30 degrees. This type of exercise is useful for working out the muscles of the lower chest. It has been argued that the decline element will mean that you cannot develop the muscles of the upper chest.
Benching pressing in a decline position may be a good option if you wish to keep any undue stress away from your lower back and shoulders.
However, a decline bench press is the best if you are working out the lower chest muscles including the biceps, triceps, and anterior deltoids.
Close Grip And Wide Grip Bench Press
With this variation, you lie on a flat bench with your feet flat on the bench pad and with a grip on the barbell with your hands positioned closely together. Lifting a weighted barbell this way is beneficial to the anterior deltoid muscles and the triceps, as opposed to the wide-grip bench press.
In a wide-grip bench press, you lie flat on the bench, and with a weighted barbell held with your hands wide apart. This, therefore, emphasizes more on the pectoralis major or the pec muscles.
Comparing the close grip and wide grip benches, the latter has been found to contribute more strength. This is because a wide grip involves your chest and shoulders more than it involves your triceps.
Medium Grip Barbell Bench Press
As it sounds, this is a hybrid of both close-grip and wide-grip bench presses. This is the grip where your forearms and upper arms create a 90-degree angle movement and is useful for the triceps and elbow muscles. In this type of exercise, there is more involvement or engagement of the triceps and the anterior deltoid muscles.
Alternating Dumbbell Bench Press
In this type of bench press, you need to lie flat on the bench with your back flat on the bench with your feet flat on the ground, then with a pair of dumbbells, you lift the dumbbells in an alternating manner.
In other words, you would lift one dumbbell at a time, let your arms rest for a few seconds while fully extended, then lower the arm to its original point, and then proceed with the other dumbbell.
An alternating dumbbell bench press helps build strength in the upper body, specifically in the chest. It is also helpful in improving stability and balance. Doctors recommend this type of exercise for people who have had injuries to the collarbone, making it a suitable rehab exercise.
Incline Bench Press
The incline bench press is exactly the opposite of the decline bench press. With an incline bench press, you lie flat on the bench at a 15 to 30-degree angle elevation. The movements in this exercise activates the upper chest and shoulders. The more of an incline the bench is sitting, will equate to more shoulder activation.
When you want to keep your rotator cuffs healthy and reduce strains while reaping other benefits, this is the best type of bench press to consider. Incline bench press has been considered to be more beneficial and effective as it involves the upper pecs more and allows for a broader range of motion when compared to the flat bench press.
The other benefit that comes with the incline bench press is that it helps develop the upper body muscles and that includes the shoulders, chest, triceps, and latissimus dorsi muscles. It is also useful when you want to build a broader chest.
As you have learned, the bench press is a compound exercise and comes with many benefits that target the upper body muscles such as the muscles in the chest region, shoulders, and arms.
However, as detailed above, the different variations of the of bench press can be more suitable for particular muscle groups within the upper body region. Therefore, you need to engage in one that gives you the results you desire.