T Nation

Is Bench Pressing Even Necessary?


#1

I had an interesting conversation with a gym member today.

I saw him doing doubles of 315 for strict overhead pressing and sparked a conversation with him.

He told me for the past 12 years his pressing has only consisted of: strict press, push press, behind the neck press, power jerks, dips (bw and weighted), push ups (bw and weighted), DB single hand overhead press/push press and hand stand push ups.

Told me that the bench press to him is the most overrated and overused movement of all time. He doesn’t believe it’s a core movement. He said to me that he’s really never had a shoulder injury or issue minus the typical aches of paining of a decade of heavy lifting. His philosophy was that if you are very strong overhead you are going to be strong everywhere.

This got me thinking, if someone can get so strong without a bench press, why is it in a ton of programs? Why do people love it?

I understand it for power-lifting, but for anyone else is it even necessary? I mean from flat bench, incline bench, db bench, etc.

What’s your guys opinion?

*On a side note - Someone pressing 315 is probably in the top 3 most impressive lifting I’ve ever seen in person. Dude’s shoulders and upper back were ridiculously jacked.


#2

If you want pecs, you need to train them with an exercise that targets them lol. If you are talking about strength as in applicable strength, dude, you said you have gurkha blood. I met some of them personally. I don’t think any of them can overhead press much more than their bodyweights but there’s no way I’m fucking with ANY of them.


#3

Nothing is necessary. You can also get strong without overhead pressing, squatting or deadlifting.

These lifts are included in a lot of programs because they’re relatively simple to master, widely available, and easy to evaluate progress when compared to peers, but people got plenty strong having never done them.


#4

I’m wondering if you do dips and push-ups (weighted and unweighted) only, if that is sufficient to build good pecs.


#5

Lol, this made me smile big. That gurkha power is no joke lol.

This is what I’m learning more and more everyday is that there are a 1000 ways to get strong as hell.


#6

Probably because that’s the way nearly everyone can move the most weight with their upper body. It’s also probably the most recognizable lift


#7

Don’t want my blood on that knife lol. They are legendary in some parts of Asia. Very nice, unassuming, happy-go-lucky fellows who love laugh to drink when they’re not hunting you down and bleeding you like a stuck pig.


#8

Just my .02, I haven’t benched with a barbell in a couple years, I agree with other posters that it doesn’t target the chest optimally, and is overrated for chest development. I think most people do it because it’s the most popular exercise to the average joe. One of the first questions people almost always ask is “how much can you bench?” I’m sure we’ve all seen many guys at the gym who bench multiple times a week, have decent numbers on the bar and minimal chest development to show for it, but I bet their shoulders hurt.
My goal is bodybuilding, so I am most concerned with what will target and grow my pecs. Heavy dumbbell work, hammerstrength machines, cables, pec deck, etc., but no barbell pressing. I do utilize close grip barbell press for triceps though.
For long term health and wellness, and shoulder integrity, just my opinion I don’t think barbell benching is necessary or optimal.


#9

they’re legendary in the UK, too; they fight as part of the British army.


#10

Yeah they’re a product of you crazy fuckers lol. Really, I kept hearing stories about one of the Colonels in charge of training their regiment. He was allegedly almost certifiably insane.


#11

I was benching 405 but my shoulders were always going from bad to worse. After stopping bench for other exercises my shoulders feel way better and f anything my chest feels and looks more devolved. Barbells are a great mass builder and have definitely earned their spot in the gym, this is just what works for me, I know everyone is different.


#12

What I’m wondering is if he can strict press 315 for doubles, does that automatically make him capable of benching more than that?


#13

Interesting question. I think probably so.


#14

I read that back in the old days of weight lifting shoulder pressing was a competitive lift but people kept bending over further and further backwards to lift more that it was changed to bench pressing.

When people ask me how strong I am, they ask, “How much can you bench?” Which is odd since when people me for help because I’m strong, the most applicable question is usually how much could I dead lift.

As to your question, I think dips and push ups have several advantages over bench pressing; push ups engage all your core muscles to maintain form, for example. I’m also presently experimenting with applying German volume tactics to cable flies to build some chest size.


#15

I asked about if he has ever benched in general. He said he benches 1 day every few years just for shit and giggles with some of his buddies. He said 2 years ago he was able to do 440x7. Based on his arm, shoulder, and back size I don’t doubt that one bit lol.

What’s crazy was that his 315 doubles were so clean. Like no backward lean at all. It was kinda crazy. Definitely no where near his max probably, didn’t ask him that.

Told me that in 12 years he’s only missed 16 training sessions. Which is basically 1 a year lol. When I asked him “How do I get strong like you man?” All he said was “Just like I said, I’ve missed 16 days in 12 years. Keep training and don’t miss days”. Point taken!


#16

That’s fuckin loose! Yeah screw bench, I much prefer to push shit overhead. It may increase slower than bench but its way cooler and more applicable in day to day situations.

I’ve stopped barbell bench for awhile now in favour of dips and the occasional DB Bench, my chest hasn’t withered away yet.


#17

For bbing it works well for most but I certainly wouldn’t say it’s necessary…the fastest pec growth I’ve ever experienced came from a period of about 2 months of only doing db bench variations. If size is your goal, intelligent experimentation is king!


#18

Eh, kinda. People kept leaning back and finding ways to sneak it leg drive that it was simply removed from the sport of weightlifting, and then the unrelated sport of powerlifting started using the bench as a lift.

Meanwhile, shoulder pressing is STILL a competitive lift; it’s just in strongman, and you’re allowed to do whatever it takes to get the bar overhead.


#19

Good point, but then I realized that you can lift more weight with a seated barbell overhead press than standing, but standing presses are more often accepted and done


#20

Maybe I haven’t done enough seated presses but I can certainly lift a bit more weight standing. Different strokes though I’m sure.