The bench press is a favourite amongst people that lift weights (that includes me) and it's not just so we can claim how much we 'bench' (although that's part of it). I'm a big supporter of the bench press being incorporated into everyone's training program and here's 5 reasons why...
1. Upper Body Strength, Power & Endurance
The bench press is a compound exercise (one that involves multiple muscle groups) that works the chest, shoulders & triceps - 3 major muscle groups of the upper body. By adjusting the rep, set, tempo & rest period variables the bench press can be used in a training program to develop upper body strength, power & endurance.
2. Pushing Ability
The bench press works all the muscles responsible for pushing things. Any action that you perform that involves pushing yourself up, pushing someone else away or pushing an object around will be improved by bench pressing. This has many practical everyday and sport applications.
3. Building Chest Muscle Mass
The bench press is unarguably the best exercise for building muscle mass on the chest. No other chest exercise (1) allows as much weight to be loaded for the lift, (2) is as comfortable to get the weight set up above the chest ready to lift and (3) can be spotted as easily as the bench press. While other training tools such as dumbbells & kettlebells and other chest movements such as flys & pull overs have their place - the bench press is the king of chest muscle mass training.
4. Shoulder Stability & Core Strength
Bench pressing develops shoulder stability & core strength due to the demands placed on the body to keep the bar balanced above the chest and controlled throughout the movement. A strong core and stable shoulders are important for injury prevention & maintaining correct position & posture during training.
5. Bragging Rights
"How much do you bench?" - this is one of the first questions people ask when they find out you lift weights (in my experience the answer that follows is often significantly exaggerated). It's very satisfying to be able to answer honestly with an impressive bench press score and claim the bragging rights that go with it (am i right?!?).
David Eggins | Personal Trainer in Brisbane @ Drive Fitness
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