What's The Deal with Bench Press?

It seems like every fitness video you see these days has the same couple of moves, the squat, maybe some jump rope, and the bench press. But what is a bench press? And why should you do it?

The Bench Press is the ultimate pushing move. When done correctly, the bench press activates virtually all the upper body muscles involved in pushing forward. The Triceps, Shoulders, Chest, and Abs all have a part in the bench press.

What’s the difference between Dumbbell and Barbell Bench press?

This is a question we see often at the gym, and the differences are important!

The First, and most obvious difference is the minimum weight. If a 45-pound bar is too heavy for your press, then your decision has been made for you!

The Second, is the stability difference. A barbell bench press is a more linear motion, and really only changes on one axis. With a dumbbell bench press, the arms can move independently, which will decrease the overall stability. This can be an advantage when looking to train the maximum number of muscles but doesn’t allow for as heavy a weight as the barbell bench.

The Third difference is the overall range of motion. Some people find that dumbbell bench press allows them to fully squeeze their chest muscles at the top, and truly stretch them at the bottom, as the arms can come farther back. This is an individual preference, and something we are always happy to go over with our clients!

Where should my hands be when I am bench pressing?  

—> Short answer: That depends on what you want to accomplish!

Narrow grip bench press.

Narrow grip bench press.

—> Long answer: A bench press can be most closely associated with a push up. Do you want to develop your triceps? You are going to want to keep your hands close, but more importantly keep your elbows close in at your sides. (Like all triceps exercises the flexion through the elbows is the key, not hand placement).

Do you want to develop your chest muscles? You’re going to want to have a wide grip, and make sure you have a full range of motion through your press.

Wide grip bench press.

Wide grip bench press.

Do you want to do as much weight (or as many reps) as possible? You’re going to want to make sure all your muscles are engaged and find a distance with your hands that engages the shoulders, chest, and triceps, (Generally a little wider than shoulder width).

How should I be breathing on the bench press?

Like many other exercises, the core is best suited to help during the bench press if you exhale while pushing the bar/dumbbells up. As in, deep breath on the way down, big exhale on the way up!

            There are many other things to learn about the Bench press form, and we are here to help! So, stop by and ask us how you can improve your bench press!