The bench press is a time tested weight lifting exercise that people have been engaging in for hundreds of years. You may hear people joking about how much they can bench, with most people greatly over exaggerating. You may also think that bench presses are only for those big muscle men at the gym, you know, those guys that make you want to just leave the gym and go right back home.
Well, the fact of the matter is that bench presses are great for everybody, and you don’t have to be able to bench 400 pounds for it to be an effective exercise, nor do you have to be Hulk Hogan to do them. The simple fact is the bench press benefits are for everybody and that includes you. Let’s talk about the 5 biggest benefits of bench presses as well as a few variations of the classic flat bench press.
What Is A Bench Press?
A bench press is actually a fairly simple exercise, simple yet hard. It involves lying down in a supine position, or in other words, flat on your back, usually on a bench, hence the name bench press. This is actually one of the three exercises which powerlifters engage in. It involves lying on your back and pressing a certain amount of weight vertically upwards from your chest until your arms are extended. Usually, a barbell is used to hold the weight, but dumbbells can also be used. The barbell is often preferred because it can hold a lot of weight and is also more stable than using individual dumbbells.
Benefit #1: Upper Body Strength
Without a shadow of a doubt, the biggest benefit that you will get from doing bench presses is that you will drastically increase your upper body strength. The reason for this is because the bench press utilizes several different muscles in your upper body, and the more weight you lift, the more those muscles will be utilized, thus increasing their size and strength. There are many different muscles in your upper body which benefit from the bench press.
First of all, your pecs or pectorals get worked out a whole lot when doing the bench press, or in other words, your chest. This is true for both the pectoralis minor and pectoralis major muscles. You know, those are the muscles which you use to do those awesome pec dances like Terry Crews or Arnold. Moreover, another muscle that benefits from the bench press is the Serratus Anterior, which are the muscles around your rib cage, or what some people call the wings.
Yet another set of muscles that benefits from the bench press is the shoulder muscle group, more specifically the anterior deltoids and the lateral deltoids. They are the muscles that surround your shoulders, so if you want those big and broad shoulders, then bench presses are the way to go, along with other exercises.
Finally, the muscles which benefit a lot from doing bench presses are the triceps. The triceps consist of three main muscles, those being the long, lateral, and medial triceps. It takes a whole lot of arm, shoulder, and chest power to do a heavy bench press, and you can rest assured that with each press you do, your muscles are growing in size and strength.
We don’t want to get into the mechanics of muscle building, but the fact of the matter is that lifting big heavy loads will definitely cause the formation of new muscle tissue. There is also no denying the fact that we all want bigger and stronger muscles and the bench press is a phenomenal way to get that done. On a side note, doing bench presses does actually strengthen your core somewhat too. This is because it takes a whole lot of power to bench press a heavy load, and that includes flexing your abs while you do them.
Benefit #2: Increased Bone Health
Another big benefit that you can get from doing bench presses on a regular basis is that they will definitely help to increase the health and strength of your bones. This is because the bench press is considered to be a weight bearing exercise, and weight bearing exercises have huge bone building benefits.
A weight bearing exercise is any kind of exercise that forces you to hold up an increased amount of weight or pressure with your bones. These weight bearing exercises and the bone building benefits that you get from them can be related to doing aerobic exercise for your heart or lifting weights for your muscles. The process of bone building works in much the same way as those other processes we just mentioned.
When you do a weight bearing exercise, the extra weight which your bones hold up, which in this case are the bones in your arms, shoulders, chest, and back, forces the cells in your bones to go to work. These cells are known as osteoblasts and they are what are responsible for creating new bone cells and laying them down both on and within your bones.
The more weight bearing exercises you do, and the heavier loads you hold up, the more your osteoblasts will be spurred on to create new bone mass. The end result of this is that your bones will end up becoming bigger, stronger, and denser too. The obvious benefit here is that your bones can take more punishment without giving in, such as being able to withstand a nasty fall and not have bones break.
These weight bearing exercises are also really useful as you get older. This is because as you age your bones start to degenerate and they start laying down less and less new bone mass, which is something that can result in degenerative bone diseases such as osteoporosis. Well, if you want to avoid these conditions and look bigger in the process, then we would definitely recommend going for some bench presses.
Benefit #3: Increased Pushing Power
Perhaps one of the very best benefits that you can reap from doing the classic bench press is that it will greatly increase your pushing power. You see, the problem with many exercises such as the bicep curl, while doing a good job at strengthening your muscles and making you look like The Hulk, they aren’t actually that useful when it comes to your everyday life.
Just think about it, how often are you going to do a bicep curl with your 100-pound child? The point we are trying to make here is that the bench press is a functional exercise in the sense that the muscles it builds and the motions it trains you for are ones that you use many times in your everyday life. Pushing is a big part of our physical lives.
We push strollers, shopping carts, doors, and sometimes we have to push start a car too. The bench press is one of those exercises that actually trains the muscles which we use in our daily lives. So, say if you can bench 350 pounds, you will be able to push that much in a forward direction. This is a very useful exercise because it is one of the weight lifting exercises that train the muscles which we use very often.
Benefit #4: Joint Health
The next bench press benefit that you should definitely take advantage of is the fact that it helps to maintain the health of your cartilage. As you age, the cartilage in between your joints starts to deteriorate and wear down, something that can cause a lack of motion, severe pain, and things like osteoarthritis. This is partially due to old age, but it also has to do with a lack of motion. You see, your cartilage is like a sponge with fluid in it, fluid that nourishes your cartilage and keeps it healthy. There is a problem though, which is that the fluid needs to be replaced on a regular basis in order to keep nourishing all of your cartilage.
Since your cartilage is like a sponge, the nutrient depleted fluid needs to be squeezed out, that is then replaced with brand new nutrient rich fluid. Well, you guessed it, the way to squeeze out your cartilage in order to replace the fluid is by doing exercise, and the bench press definitely counts. If you want to prevent joint issues and cartilage deterioration, then bench presses are something which you should definitely start doing.
Benefit #5: Look & Feel Better
Something that is absolutely undeniable about doing bench presses is that they will make you feel and look much better. It is all about that confidence and your own self-image. There is no denying that having big and bulging muscles makes us feel better about ourselves, both when we get compliments from those we are attracted to and when we look in the mirror too. Big muscles make for a confident person and that is an undisputable reality.
It also doesn’t hurt when we go to the gym, and instead of being intimidated by that one guy with the huge muscles, we are that guy with the muscles, which means that we are now that person that everyone else at the gym aspires to look like.
The simple fact of the matter is that the way we feel about ourselves, our own perceived image, and our sense of self-worth and self-confidence are all greatly influenced by the way we look. Well, doing bench presses will definitely get you looking shredded and that means feeling fantastic about yourself.
Different Kinds Of Bench Presses
There are a few different variations of the normal flat bench press, and they each have slightly different benefits. So, let’s just quickly look at the 4 main variations of the bench press and what they can do for you. Keep in mind that these are not all of the possible bench press variations out there, but they are the most popular ones.
Incline Bench Press Benefits
The incline bench press involves sitting on an upwards incline, with your shoulders facing upwards at roughly a 45-degree angle. This is a pretty good type of bench press to do because it works to target your upper chest more than a regular bench press, and it also targets the upper chest muscles much more than the lower chest muscles. Moreover, the incline bench press also targets your shoulders very much. Keep in mind that your shoulders should not and cannot hold up quite as much weight as other parts of your body, so using a lower weight level than for a normal bench press is most likely necessary.
Decline Bench Press Benefits
The decline bench press is more or less the exact opposite of the incline bench press. Instead of lying down with your shoulders facing upwards, they are facing downwards at a 45-degree angle (roughly). Like the incline bench press targets your upper chest muscles, the decline bench press does a more thorough job at targeting your lower chest muscles. The decline bench press, generally speaking, targets more muscle fibers than the incline bench press. Moreover, this type of bench press does a better job at targeting your triceps than the incline bench press and the normal horizontal bench press. Finally, lifting heavier loads when doing a decline bench press is easier than with the incline and regular bench presses.
Close Grip Bench Press Benefits
This type of bench press involves gripping the bar with your hands much closer together than with the normal bench press. The ultimate result of this is that the close grip bench press does not target your chest muscles as much, which means that your triceps have to work overtime. Therefore, the close grip bench press is an amazing exercise to do for your triceps. Just keep in mind that you probably won’t be able to lift as much weight because your triceps are taking the brunt of the force.
Reverse Grip Bench Press Benefits
This final variation of the bench press has you laying down flat on a bench just like with a normal flat bench press, but instead of your palms facing forward, you rotate your arms so your palms face backwards. This has the effect of targeting your upper chest more than a normal bench press which is because your arms are rotated. This is actually something that you can combine with the decline bench press. Keep in mind that you will not be able to lift as much weight as with the regular bench press.
As you can see, the bench press is a phenomenal exercise and that goes for all of the possible variations. If you want bigger muscles and you want them now, then you should definitely start doing bench presses immediately. Bench press benefits go far past muscle building and that is a fact. A healthier you can easily be achieved through some simple yet challenging bench presses.
If you have any questions or comments about what we talked about here today, simply shoot us a message or leave a comment below and we will get back to you as soon as we can!
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