The bench press is considered the king of exercises. It’s a time tested and proven exercise that has been at the forefront of fitness for hundreds of years. One of the first things a weightlifter will ask you when you tell them you’re also lifting is probably: “How much do you bench, bro?” and your answer will probably be the deciding factor in how much they respect you. Of course, most people will overexaggerate, and many will ask you jokingly. Even if you aren’t a gym bro, you can still get a ton of benefits from benching. It’s an effective exercise, and contrary to what many people think, you don’t have to bench 100kg for it to be effective. That being said, here are a few major benefits of flat weight bench pressing, and a few variations of the classic flat bench press you can do to build muscle.
What’s a Bench Press?
Before I talk about the benefits of bench pressing, let’s lay down what bench pressing actually is. It’s a simple, yet difficult exercise that is done by laying on a flat weight bench. It’s one of the three exercises that powerlifters do, alongside the deadlift and squats. You lie on your back and push weight vertically from your chest up until your arms are fully extended. Most of the time, it’s done using barbells to hold plate weights, but dumbbells can also be used. The reason barbells are recommended is because they can hold more weight and are more stable, helping you keep form. The great thing about benches is, you can get the entire setup at home without breaking the bank. All you need is a flat bench, a barbell, and as many weighted plates as you can lift.
Benefits of Bench Pressing
Upper Body Strength
The biggest benefit of bench pressing is gaining upper body strength. In fact, it’s the go-to exercise for people who want to work on their chest and their triceps. The chest contains multiple muscle groups, and bench pressing can target them all, as long as you know which exercises to do. The difference between the different exercises when bench pressing is mainly in how you hold the bar, and where. Having an adjustable bench that you can recline, for instance, opens up even more possibilities for different exercises.
On top of that, the bench can also hit shoulder muscle groups, the lateral and anterior deltoids, to be exact. These muscles surround your shoulders, and by exercising them, you can get bigger and broader shoulders.
As aforementioned, you can work out your triceps. The triceps consist of medial, lateral and long triceps, and by holding the bar with a narrower grip, you can easily target all of them.
Last but not least, bench pressing is great for strengthening your core. This is due to the fact that it takes a lot of core power to bench press heavy loads, and that includes flexing your abs.
Another benefit of bench pressing is that it helps preserve the health of your cartilage. As we get older, the cartilage between our joints wears down and deteriorates. As a result, we experience joint pain, limited joint motion and osteoarthritis. While the main cause of all these things is old age, they also have to do with lack of motion. Think of your cartilage like a sponge with water in it. The fluid nourishes the cartilage and keeps it healthy, and it needs to be replaced regularly to keep things in proper working order. So, the fluid needs to be squeezed out every now and then, and replaced with new, more nutrient-rich fluid. The only way to squeeze out the old fluid is by exercising, and the bench press is one of the best exercises for doing that in joints used when bench pressing.
Feel and Look Better
The two main reasons people work out are so that they can feel better and look better. Exercising makes your brain produce more serotonin, which is an essential chemical in your brain that improves your mood, and sleeping/waking cycle. Of course, having muscles can greatly improve your confidence and the compliments that come with them even more so. Going to the gym a few times a week can do wonders for your social life, as you’ll get to interact with a lot of people, if you want to, of course. If you aren’t too keen on going to the gym, you can put together a home gym in your garage by buying a few different machines and equipment. While buying gym equipment may seem expensive at first, think about all the money you’ll save on gym memberships and gas. You’ll get to work out alone in the comfort of your own home, at any time of day you prefer. No more excuses as to why you can’t hit the gym today!