Bench Press

Original Editor - Matt Huey

Top Contributors - Matt Huey, Kim Jackson, Lucinda hampton and Nupur Smit Shah  

Introduction[edit | edit source]

The bench press exercise has long been utilized as an exercise to increase upper body strength for sport performance and aesthetics.

Technique[edit | edit source]

To perform the bench press[1]:

  • Person lays supine on the bench, knees bent and feet flat on the floor
  • Grip the bar (grip can vary depending on goal) and un-rack bar
  • Lower the bar to the chest (around nipple level)
  • Press the bar upward until the arms are fully extended, keep the feet on the floor

Target Muscles[edit | edit source]

There are several muscles that are utilized with the bench press. Some assist in the lift and other assist in stabilization.

Variations[edit | edit source]

  • Incline Press

Same set up as a regular bench press but the bench is inclined up. More emphasis put on the shoulders and upper chest and less on the latissimus for stability

  • Decline Press

Same set up as regular bench, but the bench is angled down. More emphasis on the chest and less on the shoulders.

  • Close Grip Press

Same set up as a regular bench but the grip is narrower. The emphasis is more on the triceps and less on the chest.

  • Wide Grip Press

Same set up as regular bench but the grip is wider than normal. The emphasis is more on the chest.

  • Board Press

Person uses their desired bench press set up. A board is placed on the chest where the bar will touch. The height of the board is dependent on the are to work. The goal is to train the "sticking point", which is the point where many people may have difficulty pressing through.

  • Dumbbell Press

Similar to a regular bench press, however, instead of a barbell, dumbbells are utilized. Does require more stabilization to perform compared to a barbell bench press.

  • Spoto Press

Person uses their desired bench press set up. The bar is lowered down toward the chest, but the person stops the bar 1-2 inches away from the chest, pauses in this position for several seconds, then presses upwards.

  • Pause Bench Press

Person uses their desired bench press set up. The bar is lowered to the chest and then rests briefly on the person's chest, before being press upwards. This is the method that is utilized in many powerlifting competitions.

Additional variations can be utilized such as different bars (cambered, football, fat bars, bamboo bars, etc), additional pauses, tempo, and resistance (bands or chains). The variations that are utilized depend on the person's goals.

Injuries[edit | edit source]

A study did find that a pectoralis major rupture was the most common injury with the bench press[2]. The meta-analysis also find that triceps ruptures occurred however, in the majority of the cases of these triceps tendon ruptures, the subject was taking an oral steroids and/or received a steroid injection in the weeks prior to the rupture [3].

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Padulo, J., Laffaye, G., Chaouachi, A., & Chamari, K. (2015). Bench press exercise: the key points. J Sports Med Phys Fitness, 55(6), 604-8.
  2. Bak, K., Cameron, E. A., & Henderson, I. J. P. (2000). Rupture of the pectoralis major: a meta-analysis of 112 cases. Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy, 8(2), 113-119.
  3. Bengtsson, V., Berglund, L., & Aasa, U. (2018). Narrative review of injuries in powerlifting with special reference to their association to the squat, bench press and deadlift. BMJ open sport & exercise medicine, 4(1), e000382.