How to do the bench press with a barbell and dumbbells, and what are the benefits and muscles worked? The bench press is a fantastic exercise for building muscle and strength in your pectorals and your upper body.

This compound exercise shouldn’t be overlooked, it’s probably the best upper body and chest building exercise there is. It’s also great for working the shoulders and the triceps. The bench press is definitely one exercise that you should include in your weight training workout routines.

Bench press with barbell.

Bench Press Benefits & Muscles Worked

The main benefit of this exercise is that it will strengthen and build muscle mass in your chest, shoulders and triceps. It’s also one of the better weight training exercises for burning off calories.

Bench Press Variations

  • Flat, Incline, Decline, Narrow grip and Wide grip.
  • The bench press can be performed with either a barbell or a pair of dumbbells.
  • The bench press can also be performed using a smith machine and various other pin and cable machines.

Bench Angles

  • Flat press works the central chest area
  • Incline works your upper chest area
  • Decline is for the lower chest area

The incline and decline bench angles are more advanced, if you’re a beginner it’s best just to do the exercise on a flat bench.

Bench Press Close & Wide Grip

Normal Grip – This is slightly wider than shoulder width, a standard grip focuses mainly on your chest, but it also works the shoulders and the triceps effectively.

Wide Grip – This focuses more on the chest with less focus on the triceps and shoulders, and it’s also more difficult to perform so less weight will be needed.

Narrow or Close Grip – Normally for a narrow grip your hands should be less than shoulder width apart, however your exact grip can vary. Using a narrow grip mainly focuses on the triceps, it works the chest and shoulders to a lesser extent.

Barbell vs Dumbbells

The barbell version is the easiest to start with, it doesn’t require as much balance as the dumbbell version, it also requires less movement so it’s easier to master the technique.

However using dumbbells to perform the bench press allows for a greater range of motion, this extra motion allows the chest muscles to be worked better so there is the potential for better results.

How to do Barbell Bench Press

  • Lie with your back flat on the bench, line yourself up in a good position, when you lift the bar it will feel awkward if you’re lying too far up or down on the bench.
  • Grab the bar make sure your hands are evenly spread on the bar and lift, extend your arms, don’t lock your elbows keep them slightly bent for extra tension.
  • In a controlled fashion lower the bar until it’s slightly touching your chest, hold for a short moment then return to the starting position.

Bench Press with Dumbbells Technique

  • With a dumbbell in each hand lie flat on the bench, then lift and straighten your arms with the dumbbells in a horizontal position inline with each other.
  • Slowly lower your arms keeping your elbows out to the side, lower the dumbbells until you can feel your pectorals stretch.
  • Then raise your arms but don’t fully straighten them, bring them together so the dumbbells touch, squeeze the dumbbells together while tensing your chest muscles and then repeat.

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