Everyone spending time in a gym will encounter the inevitable question, “how much do you bench?” The bench press is an important and powerful exercise, and you should consider the benefits of establishing a workout routine that includes the bench press.
To profit from an exercise program, you must lift heavy things. Lifting heavy things requires a lot of force and works a lot of muscle. The bench press is ideal for this purpose. Pressing heavy weight from your chest activates the more forceful, fast twitch muscles in your chest, shoulders and arms.
One of the greatest benefits from bench pressing is the metabolic effect of lifting heavy weight with a large portion of your muscle groups. The more forceful a muscle fiber, (like those in your chest,) the greater the metabolic benefit from working the muscle. Lifting heavy on the bench press is effective at triggering the hormonal reaction that burns fat and builds lean muscle mass. This is the same hormonal response that will give you the look of athletic fitness and health.
An obvious benefit of bench pressing is building upper body strength and power. Pressing those heavy weights off the chest activates and builds strength in the muscles in the upper-half of the body. Bench pressing can increase strength for better pushups, and as upper body strength grows, so does power, which is a key measure of athletic fitness. Lifting heavy weights also improves bone density, which can extend health and fitness into your later years. Even running benefits from bench pressing because your chest helps pump and swing your arms for more powerful strides.
The bench press is a compound exercise, which means it works more than one muscle group. Many muscles add their strength and power to assist in moving weight off your chest: you will use your pectorals, deltoids, trapezius, abdominals, and forearms and hands. Your pectorals, or chest muscles, are the primary muscles involved in the bench press and are the more noticeable muscle group in someone who works consistently at the bench press. Allowing for fuller development, the upper and lower pectoral muscles can be worked with varying emphasis by changing the pressing angle.
Shoulder muscles are involved whenever the arm is lifted, and in pressing while lying flat, the arms are extended from your chest engaging the deltoids and trapezius. The deltoids are three distinct muscles on the front, side and rear of the shoulder, while the trapezius muscles are on top of the shoulders. Most of the load in a bench press is upon the muscles in front of the shoulder.
The muscles in the arm assist in bench pressing, with the major work being done by the triceps muscles. The triceps are grouped in three muscles on the back of the arm and are used to extend the elbow and help push weight off the chest. To a lesser degree, the biceps muscles are used stabilizing the weight when extended. Another stabilizing muscle group is the abdominals. Core strength is key to stabilizing the body and providing the foundation for all power in the bench press.
The bench press is a fantastic; compound exercise for any fitness program and any ability level. You will develop strength and power, achieve a higher overall fitness level, lose fat and gain muscle. With a consistent exercise program of three days per week for eight-week cycles, you will achieve your fitness goals, feel better and look great. For bench press instruction and safety tips, please visit
Harold Steele is a freelancer based in the city of Annapolis, MD who focuses on health, fitness, general wellness, nutritional science and similar matters; to learn more about the bench press and other exercise units click here.