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Effectiveness of the Bench Press

Hello all

 I have heard that the Bench Press is mostly a front delt exercise. Is this true? If it is true then why do people who can bench a lot have such a big chest? Are they complimenting the bench press with a lot of other different movements?

I am currently following the Anti-Bodybuilding hypertrophy program by Chad Waterbury and I am worried my chest isn’t going to grow because of this new info I have read about.

I have noticed that dumbbell bench press and pushups get a lot more blood flowing to the chest then barbell bench press.

Also if I am going mostly for strength should I really be flexing my chest at the top of every rep?

A little info on how I do the bench press.

My grip on the barbell bench press is set so when I lower the bar to my chest my forearms are at a 90 degree angle to my upper arms. I keep my feet on the groud and do nothing to change the curvature of my back. I lower the bar in somewhat of a fast but controlled manner until it touches about an inch below my nipples. I then raise it until my arms are locked out.

I really feel like it isn’t doing what it is supposed to for the reasons like lack of a pump plus I get absolutly no DOMS from doing them.

Like a lot of things, it depends on the individual. If you respond more to DB presses and pushups, then plan your training with one of those as your main chest movement.

use a wide grip and try to push your hands together along the bar to help activate Pec over tricep

do wide grip neck presses

Yes, it’s true. It’s all true!

Bench presses only work your front delts, full-body workouts are the only way to go, squats are the only leg exercise you need to get big, strong legs, supplements will be the key to your success, avoiding direct arm work will result in larger arms, steady state cardio is worthless, etc.

[quote]Nate Dogg wrote:
Yes, it’s true. It’s all true!

Bench presses only work your front delts, full-body workouts are the only way to go, squats are the only leg exercise you need to get big, strong legs, supplements will be the key to your success, avoiding direct arm work will result in larger arms, steady state cardio is worthless, etc.[/quote]

OP please note strong sarcasm by Nate Dogg

The secret exercise to maximum pec-bloodflow: Do a headstand and hold it for an hour or so - voila!

Honestly, nothing’s wrong with the Benchpress. As most exercises, it has certain flaws (like, when your shoulders are weak and you have some imbalances and want to cheat-lift too much iron you can bust your joints etc.), but overall it’s a great chest exercise, easily one of the best. IF your anterior delts are already good and your triceps is also strong (or, if you’re a beginner, you just have the knack/talent/habit to press more with the arms and shoulders), your chest won’t grow as much.
From a functional viewpoint-who cares. Dave Tate, for example, who is heavily featured here, has fucking anacondas who just ate a pig for guns. A typical arm & shoulder bencher.

From a aesthetical point of view, it’s a bit more complicated. But since you can tune about every exercise to suit your very goals, this shouldn’t be your point of concern. You’ll get plenty of articles on how to squeeze the shit out of your pecs under the barbell.

Also:

This bloodflow thing is nice, but only doing push ups you probably won’t see much progress. Use them here and there as a finisher of your push or chest workout.

And about flexing muscles: You should always flex the muscle intentionally- that’s one of THE keypoints of strength training. Your question is unintentionally funny as hell, because it is like : "should I try to remain balanced while on the bicycle? or should I try to hurt my opponent when throwing a punch?
Pavel Tsatsouline preaches the various aspects of tension in practically all of his books and videos (minus the kettlebell stuff) , you should check his stuff out.

heavy lifting-
Schwarzfahrer

[quote]Nate Dogg wrote:
Yes, it’s true. It’s all true!

Bench presses only work your front delts, full-body workouts are the only way to go, squats are the only leg exercise you need to get big, strong legs, supplements will be the key to your success, avoiding direct arm work will result in larger arms, steady state cardio is worthless, etc.[/quote]

LOL

When I bench my chest gets sore more than my front delts. Probably because I keep my shoulders back.

There’s absolutely no way for someone on the internet to tell you if it’s good for you or not.

It depends on YOU; how you’re shaped, how your tendons and ligaments are attached, how your muscles are attached, how long your arms are, how big your rib cage is, etc.

Your body will move the weight the best way possible. For some folks that’s going to be by employing a lot of chest, for other folks it’ll be a lot of deltoid and triceps.

[quote]Nate Dogg wrote:
Yes, it’s true. It’s all true!

Bench presses only work your front delts, full-body workouts are the only way to go, squats are the only leg exercise you need to get big, strong legs, supplements will be the key to your success, avoiding direct arm work will result in larger arms, steady state cardio is worthless, etc.[/quote]

oh hai nate dogg.

yeah OP that is pretty dumb. whoever gave you that info is way off. front delt does get worked but chest is def the main muscle worked. if your really worried you can throw in some dumbell presses or flyes.

why can’t i see my own posts?

One thing that works for me is to grip the bar slighlty outside of shoulder width [pinkies on the rings] and really flare my elbows. I really feel it in the outer/under/middle portion of my chest.

And for me, I can use the heaviest weights doing this. Like someone else mentioned, not everything works for everyone and this goes against technique advice given by the experts.

[quote]FromTheMisc wrote:
why can’t i see my own posts?[/quote]

Forum delay, your post has to pass through moderators.

And to make the statement that the chest is the main muscle in the bench press is far too broad of a generalization.

What about close grip?

What about a guy like me with long arms who has an insane arch?

A couple options to consider for making the chest more used in the bench press (depending on your body):

  1. Form - have your shoulder blades retracted and pushed together.

  2. Technique - how low do you go? I found that if I brought the bar all the way to my chest, my shoulders would get worked much harder than my chest. Instead of this, I made sure my arms never went below parallel to the ground which resulted in the bar going no lower than about 2 inches from my chest. Some might argue this isn’t a “real” bench press, but I have to say it really worked for targeting my chest personally.

Do what works for you and doesn’t hurt you.

I would recommend not listening to whoever told you the Bench Press is an exercise that primarily targets the front delts. It targets the chest, front delts, and triceps. Different variations will adjust the emphasis, but those three muscles groups will be highly involved in any variation of the Bench I am aware of.

This is interesting. I feel like I’ve made a lot more progress in my delts than in chest using bench press.

Now I’m a skinny guy with long arms. If I’m lying with my back & elbows on the floor and holding a bar with my forearms vertical, that bar is 4" above my chest.

If I touch the bar to my chest during a BP, my elbows are way down below the bench in mechanically disadvataged position. Therefore, I’ve been limiting the weight to what I can push out of the hole on the bottom of the lift. This puts a lot of force on the front delts and I do see the results from it, but I see less on the pecs.

I’ve seen the BP variation where the bar is lowered only to a rolled up towel or blocks placed on the chest. Maybe if used more weight but stopped at 4" over my chest I’d have more pec activation.

Yes, I’ve read on this forum that not touching the bar to your chest is a “sissy” bench press, but for those with my body porportions, it may produce better results, which is what really counts.

Ive benched two distinctly different ways since i began training.

First was influenced by bodybuilding, elbows flared, bar lowered pretty high on the chest, and no real arch to speak of. I felt this working the chest.

More recently ive switched to powerlifting, i have a long way to go with form on this one, but with a slight arch, bar lowered to my lower pec line, elbows tucked in more, i feel it much more on my triceps and front delts.

But like what has been said before, i know some people who bench all kinds of ways trying to build the chest, and it always just hits the shoulders and tris. Thib has written some good pieces on this subject.

Wow, I never expected to get this amount of responses, and responses with good quality at that. Thanks for the input guys.

The biggest thing for me has always been WHERE I lower the bar. Shrug your shoulders back, tuck your elbows, whatever, but if you’re looking for chest stimulation, lower it to your nips or above. Works quite well for me, although I end up having to take a step back in weight.