Bench Press

The bench press is a staple exercise in many workout routines. It is considered a compound exercise as it has the ability to target multiple muscle groups at once: the pectoralis major of the chest, anterior deltoids of the shoulder, and triceps brachii of the upper arm.  It is also known as a functional exercise as it targets muscles that are used in daily activities that require pushing and carrying.

How to:

  • When performing a typical bench press, start by lying face up on an exercise bench with both feet planted firmly on the floor. You can use free weights or a single barbell on a rack.
  • When using a barbell, you should be positioned under the bar so that you can grasp the bar at about the height of your shoulders. This way you are able to push straight up toward the ceiling.
  • Using an overhand grip with the thumb closed over the fingers, the barbell should be lifted from the rack to a straight-armed, locked elbow position before slowly being lowered to just above the chest and at about the nipple. Take a deep breath in, then push your arms straight out, away from the chest, while slowly exhaling. The barbell should then be slowly lowered back to the start position just above the chest, before repeating the motion.
  • To finish, extend the arms out straight and slowly arc the barbell back toward the rack uprights. Once in contact, slowly lower the barbell into the rests. Be mindful of the barbell when sitting up.

When using free weights, it is best to pick up the weights and hold them to your chest as you lie back on the bench. The same technique should be used once the exercise is done. Pull the weights in to the chest and sit up before placing them on the ground.


The number of times this exercise should be repeated will depend on a few factors: the fitness level of the person performing the maneuver, the weight being used and/or the desired result. Heavier weights lifted for fewer repetitions helps to build muscle mass, while lighter weights lifted for more repetitions helps to build stamina.


This exercise can be performed in a number of ways including:

  • Lying flat on a bench with feet firmly on the ground, using either a barbell and racking system or free weights
  • With the head and chest at an incline or a decline; these variants are used in more advanced lifting to better target the upper or lower chest muscles

If you are confident about performing a bench press, you can do so using a stability ball in cases where you do not have access to a bench. Use caution and be aware of your movement, as sudden moves can cause the ball to roll out from under you.

Cautionary Notes

Beginners and those lifting heavy weights should always work with a spotter.

Be careful not to lock the elbows suddenly when extending the arms, as this can lead to injury.

Try to be aware of your body positioning. Do not overly arch the back or press your head into the bench to assist with the lift. These movements can lead to injury.

If you are dealing with any shoulder injuries, the bench press should be avoided. Also, if you experience any pain while performing the exercise, you should stop immediately.

Always remember to breathe through the exercise.

More Bench Press Related Resources

How To Master The Bench Press | Coach Exercise Guides
How to Bench Press: Techniques, Benefits, Variations
The Best Bench Press Workout to Build Total-Body Strength | Muscle & Fitness
6 Exercises with a Weights Bench
Barbell Bench Press – Exercise Database | Jefit – Best Android and iPhone Workout, Fitness, Exercise and Bodybuilding App | Best Workout Tracking Software
Barbell bench press exercise instructions and video |
Barbell Bench Press – Medium Grip | Exercise Videos & Guides |
Bench Press Exercise Guide & Tips – Weight Training Exercises – Fitstream

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