The bench press is the number one exercise for chest development. The bench has also become a universal gauge for status in the gym. If you tell people you lift a weight you are destined to hear, “What’s your bench?”
The bench press, although a basic exercise, is very complex. It is very easy to lay on a bench and push the bar up and down. The real test comes in using the bench press to optimize strength and size in the chest and shoulder girdle. The bench press calls more than just the pectoral muscles into play. The deltoids (particularly the anterior), the latissimus dorsi, the triceps muscles, the biceps, and the abdominals all play a role in performing the bench press. The rest of the muscles in the body play some minor, stabilizing, roles. That is why the bench press has been referred to as the king of upper body exercises. Additionally, we have discovered these amazing human growth hormone supplements that are highly beneficial for those trying to get in shape in no time.
First, some safety points to consider. Proper form is essential in any exercise to get the most from the exercise and prevent injuries. The bench press is no different. The body must be centered on the bench with the bar at about eye level. Plant the feet solidly on the floor. To get the most pectoral involvement during the lift, pull your shoulder blades together and down toward your waist to create an arch in the back. Plant the shoulders and hips firmly on the bench. Grip the bar at shoulder width or a little wider. A slightly wider grip will bring the pectorals into the movement and reduce the involvement of the triceps and shoulders. The bar should follow a modified “S” shaped path. The bar makes contact with the chest at nipple level and then drives up and back moving slightly forward again at the very end. The form is essential for achieving the optimum results from the bench press.
Any training program for improving chest size and quality must include a variety of exercises for the chest but should be based around the bench press. Relying on isolation exercises like pectoral flies and machines will result in disappointing results. A workout with a variety of compound and isolation exercises that change every four to six weeks will help keep the progress moving. Don’t neglect the incline bench press, and its other variations (such as dumbbells and flyes.) It is also important to vary the program with different repetition schemes, occasionally throwing in extremely high reps and extremely low reps for a changeup.
When using the bench press to increase size, it is important to use all three angles, especially the incline variations, to ensure overall development. It is important not to abuse the shoulder joint, so if you use heavyweights on the flat bench press use lighter weights or isolation exercises for the incline and decline portions. The flat bench allows you to use massive weights, however, it focuses on the lower half of the pectorals. The decline bench allows, sometimes, even more weight to be used. However, this also works in the lower portion of the chest. The incline bench focuses on the upper portion of the chest, under the clavicle, but usually requires using less weight. Trying to use weights that are too heavy on the incline bench press can result in shoulder injuries, which will really set back the chest development.
The bench press is the best chest exercise for a multitude of reasons. The massive involvement of the chest muscles with large amounts of weight makes it the king of chest exercises. The different angles available allow all of the portions of the pectoral muscles to be stimulated with heavyweights. The assistance of the supporting muscles allows for more weight to be used during the exercise, but a change in hand position and back arch can change the involvement of those muscles. There truly is no substitute for the bench press when trying to gain that all-important chest thickness. Load on the weight and start benching.