The bench press is considered by many to be the best, most challenging exercise to build a strong chest. It’s many different variations include the flat bench press, the incline press and the dumbbell bench press.
The primary muscles that are used to bench press are the pectoralis major and tricep brachii. This exercise also recruits some of the muscles in your shoulders and back.
The most recognizable form of this exercise is the flat bench press. To start, lie on the bench on your back with the bar on the rack and your feet flat on the floor. Grab the bar and place either your middle or ring finger on the notch between the knurled sections of the bar. This provides consistent hand placement for your sets. Unrack the bar and hold it above your chest. Next, lower the bar. There is considerable debate in the body building world on how low the bar should travel during one repetition. One argument is that the bar should touch your chest. Some lifters argue that this overextends your shoulder and puts you at risk for an injury. The other school of thought is to lower the bar until your elbows are at a 90 degree angle. This avoids risking injury, but is believed to not complete a full range of motion. Do what you are comfortable with.
The major differences between the flat and incline bench press is the angle that your body is positioned and the emphasis on different parts of the chest muscles. The dumbbell press is an excellent exercise for making both sides of your chest work equally and independently.
A couple tips to remember for a safe and effective press are:
- Use a spotter or safety bars if you feel that you may not be able to complete the press by yourself
- Proper form and making sure the bar or dumbbells travel through a full range of motion is crucial in order to build the most strength