Bench presses are an exercise that can be used to tone the muscles of the upper body, including the pectorals, arms, and shoulders.
Depending on your goals, there are different variations of bench presses that work slightly different muscles, too. For example, a narrower grip bench press also works the triceps and forearms.
Other benefits trusted procces of adding bench presses to your weight-training regimen include increasing upper body strength, improving muscular endurance, and even preparing your upper body to do movements like pushups. They also can be an effective strengthening exercise for sports like sprinting, hockey, and football.
Read on to learn more about bench presses and how to get the most out of this exercise.
Each bench press variation works slightly different muscle groups. Variations include:
- Traditional bench press. This exercise is done lying down on a flat bench and pressing a barbell up and down at chest height. It works the pectoral muscles, shoulders, and arms.
- Incline bench press. For this variation, the front of the bench is angled between 45 and 60 degrees so you are leaning back slightly. It targets muscles of the upper chest and shoulders.
- Decline bench press. For this variation, the front of the bench is angled upward, so when you lie down your feet are in a higher position than your head. It works the lower chest muscles and shoulders.
- Narrow grip bench press. During this variation, your hands are narrower together on the barbell. It works the triceps and forearms.
It’s not necessary to do all of these variations in the same workout. Overusing a muscle group can lead to injuries. That’s especially true if you’re working with heavy weights.
If you like variety, you can pick two variations per workout. Try to give yourself a rest day allowing muscles to recover before switching between the other variations.