On any Monday, go to your favorite box gym and you’ll see a persistent trend: folks lining up for the barbell flat bench like it’s a cattle call. It’s just one of those things that happens from time to time.
No matter how much other activities like squats, overhead presses, and deadlift variations are emphasized by strength coaches, the bench press will likely remain the most glamorous in the gym.
Is this a problem? Is this a good thing? To put it bluntly, it’s a thing. That means its worth is determined, as always, by what you do with it and how you (hopefully) avoid jacking yourself up.
Is bench press necessary: Review
I’ve been lifting for approximately 5 months and just use the bench press once in a while.
I know it’s good for chest and arms, but I prefer incline and decline dumbbell presses, flys, and other chest exercises. So, my concern is: Is it truly essential, or would doing what I’m doing now give me the same workout?
Dumbbells, for starters, provide a greater and more natural range of motion.
“Horizontal adduction,” or bringing your upper arm across the front of your body, is the fundamental function of the pecs.
The entire amount of horizontal adduction you can produce is limited because barbell bench presses lock your hands onto the bar and require you to press in a straight up and down action. The pecs become less tense, and the triceps and front delts become more prominent.
Dumbbells, on the other hand, allow you to push in a more natural arching motion, which increases horizontal adduction and extends the range of motion of your pecs.
This not only increases the stimulation of your chest, but it also reduces the load on your shoulder joints.
Dumbbells, on the other hand, provide for balanced chest growth.
One of the biggest disadvantages of barbell bench presses is that they allow the dominant side of your body to compensate for the weaker side because they’re a bilateral activity (both arms work together to lift one object).
If you’re not careful, this can easily mount up over the course of several weeks or months, causing problems not only in terms of aesthetics, but also in terms of strength and stabilization.
Dumbbells overcome this problem by letting you to work alone, with each arm lifting its own object. As a result, your chest, shoulders, and triceps will grow in size and strength equally on both sides.
So, do bench presses really help you strengthen your pecs to their full potential?
Please don’t get me wrong… Barbell presses are a great chest exercise to incorporate in your regimen, and as long as you use appropriate technique, you shouldn’t have any issues.
The Bench Press: The Hard Truths You Must Hear
Truth 1: It Isn’t the Most Effective Chest Developer
When people hear “bench press,” they automatically think “chest.” In reality, the flat barbell bench press only works the chest fibers to a limited extent.
Because the exercise is led by a barbell with a fixed hand and elbow position, it necessitates a lot of help from other muscles, such as the front deltoids and triceps. This will never be an effective isolation move, even if you put your feet up on the bench and do all the other traditional dude stuff.
Don’t get me wrong: if you train in the appropriate rep ranges and use the right loads to stimulate, you’ll still get your pump. A heavy bench press, on the other hand, is more of an upper-body strength move than a chest sculptor. Accept it and move forward.
2nd Truth: It Isn’t For Everyone
There are many of folks who can go all out with any movement and without getting hurt. Some people can’t even look at weights without rubbing their front shoulder.
Even the best technique will only get you to the second group. Due to the nature of the lift and their anatomy, they may just be ineligible for benching.
To put it another way, the bench press isn’t good for your shoulders. The reason for this is because of the shoulder blades. Pinning your scapula to a bench while letting your upper arm to go through a wide range of motion—especially when fully loaded—frustrates the natural “rhythm” that should exist between the humerus and scapula.
Truth 3: It Isn’t a Comprehensive Test Of Upper-Body Strength
Many lifters strive to impress others by having a powerful bench. But, no matter who you’re trying to impress, using the bench as a test lift is a bad idea.
For example, you might be able to lift more weight on the bench than you could on a pure overhead press, but there are plenty of other ways to “cheat” on the bench. Two frequent errors are using an unusually high arch or stopping short of a full range of motion.
Another option is to lift the hips off the bench for support. It’s humbling to be honest with yourself about your technique, and there’s little room for that when you’re standing straight.
Furthermore, the bench press works fewer upper-body muscles than the overhead press. It definitely hits the chest, as well as the triceps and front deltoids. However, because there is very little stress on the spine, the trunk muscles, such as the abdominals and obliques, do not need to become overly involved in order to perform a successful lift.
What is the Bench Press’s Usefulness?
To begin, I’d want to state that I believe the bench press is an excellent exercise to have in your training repertoire. It’s a fantastic movement for building maximum strength in specific functional positions, in my opinion. The issue is that most coaches place much too much emphasis on how long their athletes can bench.
I don’t feel that an athlete’s strength should be measured just by their bench press. “If your athlete is on their back pushing up, they have already lost the battle,” I believe. There’s no reason to put so much focus on bench press unless you’re a power lifter and it’s specialized to your sport.
Instead, at The Functional Athlete, we use a variety of other functional push routines to help athletes improve their pushing strength. The results will speak for themselves if you use these more realistic movements that athletes would encounter during competition, coupled with the old school bench press (which, by the way, I’ll always have a soft spot for).
In fact, we’ve seen that our athletes’ bench presses improve as a result of all of the other functional push motions we add throughout the training cycle, rather than just bench pressing.
Keep in mind that the bench press is a fantastic exercise that should be handled as such. It is not, however, the be-all and end-all of strength training. There are numerous methods for achieving results. Be creative and have fun with it; combine other workouts with the bench press and you’ll be shocked at the results.
As I previously indicated, I believe the Bench Press is critical in developing maximal strength for pushing actions. There aren’t many workouts that allow you to lift such a large amount of weight as the bench press.
Finally, I would include the Bench Press, as well as other functional push motions, in your training. This will allow you to increase your maximum strength while still keeping you athletic.
F.A.Q is bench press necessary:
Do you really need a bench press?
Although classic barbell bench presses are commonly thought of as a basic, “must have” bodybuilding exercise, the truth is that they are far from required from a pure muscle-building standpoint.
Can you skip bench press?
You are free to do so, but you are not obligated to.
Unfortunately, it took me over twenty-five years of training to discover that benching is simply not worth it for me. It was just a matter of time before a shoulder problem reared its ugly head whenever I returned to heavy benching.
Is bench press necessary to build chest?
Yes, you can develop a chest without bench pressing. While the bench press is an excellent compound exercise for chest muscular development, there are many other options, including the floor press, cable crossover, dumbbell press, and push-up.
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