Benefits of the Bench Press? Really? Yes, I’m going to talk about why you might do a bench press at the gym.
I have been trying to up my strength training lately. I felt like I was not progressing as I should be, or, really, that I was sliding backwards. That’s one thing about being my age. It’s easier to lose muscle than to gain it. Plus, here in Ohio, it’s heading into winter. It’s becoming more difficult to run outside and it’s easier to spend more time at the gym. It’s the season of strength training.
I need to get upper body workouts in and the bench press is a great way to work on it. If you do a push/pull schedule, the chest press falls on a push day. If you go to the old fashioned schedule, it’s chest and triceps day. (The other day is back and biceps and that’s not counting leg day and abs day.)
Flat Bench Press
The names for these exercises are not flowery. A flat bench press is done on a flat bench. It’s the exercise that most of us associate with big muscular men pushing 300 pounds.
You lie flat on the bench, feet on the floor, unrack the bar, push it up, bring it down to your chest just below your breasts and then push it up again.
You can build muscle doing this but don’t be afraid to start with just the bar. You want to make sure you can do it before you start adding weights to the bar.
If you begin to add weights to the bar, be sure to get someone to spot you. That’s the hard part for me because I don’t usually have someone to spot me unless I’m working with a trainer. I could probably find someone working out who wouldn’t mind so I need to just ask for that help.
I started with just the bar and did a set of 15 reps. I then added five pound plates and did another 15. Then I went to ten pound plates, and then both the five and ten pound plates. I ended up with 25 pounds on each side. The bar weighs 45 pounds so with an additional 50 pounds (the 25 on each side), I pressed about 95 pounds. I needed some help with that last set though so I’m not really there yet.
Inclined Bench Press
For this press, you raise the bench a bit. You can start with the bench at a higher angle and then as the weight that you lift goes up, you can lower the bench a bit. So you might start with the bench at a 45° angle and end with it at a 10° angle. I just lower it down a notch at a time.
I use dumb bells when I do the inclined bench press. I’m sure you can use the bar instead but the dumb bells make me work both arms just a bit more. At least, that’s how it feels to me.
Here’s my workout:
I start with lighter weights. Right now, for me, I start with 10 pound dumbbells and do a set of about 15. Then I begin to work my way up the weights and as the weight goes up, my reps go down. Needless to say, since I start at 10 pounds and, if I have someone to spot me, I go up to 30 or 35 pounds, I end up doing about five sets. If I don’t have someone to spot me, I stop at around 25 pounds and just do a couple sets with that.
I worry that if I go too heavy on my own, I’ll have an accident.
You can do a dumb bell or kettle bell press without using a bench. In my boot camp class, we’ve been known to lie on the floor and do a press. I’m not sure why we do that except that lying on the floor doesn’t allow you to drop your elbows any lower so perhaps that’s it. That and, of course, there are no benches in the gym.
I’ve done a press using a large physio ball. Balance on the ball, plant your feet firmly on the ground and press the dumb bells up and back down.
Benefits of the Bench Press
The bench press really works your upper chest muscles (your pecs). We’re not going to look like some muscle man but it does make you look a bit better to have stronger chest muscles.
I’ve read that working the chest muscles does help prevent sagging breasts. I think that’s worth considering. I don’t know if this can overcome already saggy breasts.
The bench press also works your arm muscles. I definitely felt it in my triceps later.
Just like all strength training, the bench press is good for bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons.
Finally, you will feel impressive, like Elli, in the gym when you start to bench press.
If you’ve never done a bench press, ask a trainer at your gym to help you get started. It’s not a complicated exercise but it’s worth getting some advice when you start.
I’m not a trainer or a physical therapist so I can only tell you what I’ve read and what I’ve done. If this hurts or is too hard, work up to it. There are certainly plenty of other exercises that will work the chest muscles so try those if you don’t like the bench press.
Talk to Me!
Do you bench press? If so, what do you do? Share your secrets! If you don’t, do you want to? Share your thoughts with me. Leave a message below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also leave a voicemail message at 330-970-6662.