T Nation

Is Bench Pressing Even Necessary?


I guess I have a few thoughts on this.

Rob is absolutely correct. Benching is not necessary. And too much benching can lead to injuries and pain, particularly when the movement is performed poorly. Inward shoulder rotation is all too common with powerlifters. And the pwnisher is correct in saying there is literally no movement that is NECESSARY for a bodybuilder or a gym rat to build a great physique.

That being said, it may be overrated, but it’s still an awesome movement. I do it less now than I used to, but it’s excellent for building overall strength and size. I’ve basically done nothing but bench press and dips for chest, and my chest is pretty solid. I favor overhead pressing now for performance purposes, because that’s what matters in strongman, but a lot of my overall aesthetic can be attributed to the bench press. Even if it’s overrated, it’s still a top-10 movement in my book for most goals.

The thing I’ve learned about the bench press is that it’s a FAR more technical lift than people seem to think. Everybody benches from day 1 of lifting, and yet they avoid the deadlift because it’s too hard to learn, it leads to injury, etc. I’ve found this to be very wrong-headed. I’ve had 1 deadlifting injury, and a handful of bench pressing injuries. And the bench pressing injuries have put me out of the gym for significantly longer periods of time. The worst was a full year. This is why I think a lot of people should favor dips over bench press, if they aren’t going to put in the time and effort to learn the bench press well.

1 last thing. Your friend may say bench press is overrated, but you also said he benched 440x7, which means he’s benched a lot in his life, lol. And I can guarantee that all the benching he has done has been a big factor in getting his strict overhead press to where it is. There’s a ton of carryover there, more so than the carry over in the opposite direction (from ohp to bench). I went through a period where I was training for a powerlifting meet, and I took ohp completely out of my programming for a couple months because it was bothering my wrists too much. Right after the meet I decided to try an ohp again, and I set a 30 lbs PR on it. Just something to think about.


Everyone is missing the hidden point of this. This guy can bench 440x7 and he probably doesn’t care about doing more than that, so he doesn’t need to bench. Most people who want to get anywhere near that probably need to bench a lot. If you can already do something really well, of course you might dismiss it as not important or necessary. Most people bench so they can get up to the numbers the top guys at their gym have or even higher, if your already there or well past it, the drive isn’t there as much.


I went an entire year doing no pressing except for the press and dips. I did a bunch of both. My chest gained more size than when I’d been benching and when I benched again I broke my lifetime PR on the second session back. I used the first just to get acclimated to it again. It really depends on your goals, but outside of a powerlifter or an athlete who is tested on it, the bench is definitely not necessary.

I’ve always done more overhead work than benching and I’ve never had even the slightest pain or issues with my shoulders, except for when I was doing the flat barbell bench press. I do press, behind the neck press of different types, heavy weighted dips, and my shoulders feel great.


So I saw him again today and told him I wanted to pick his brain for like 15 min after he was done with his training. He told me he benched for the first 6 years of his lifting journey and at the time he stopped benching the most he ever got to was 355x4. Since then he’s completely dropped benching.

I asked him why the fuck is he so strong for lol. Told me he grew up playing rugby (played even through college) so strength and being strong is big reason for that. Plus he’s also Samoan so he joked “We all strong”.

What’s cool though is that I showed him my training plan and he said he’d do my session with me on Friday morning to help me out! I use to think big strong dudes were unapproachable for advice, but what I’ve learned over the past year is that they usually are more than willing to help a weaker brotha out!

Great point! I’ve never thought of that. Why do you think this is? Do you think it’s because you are using bigger muscles group in a deadlift vs a bench press (shoulder joint especially)?


There is one Gherkin for every two British where I live.



Ok… so he’s saying he went from 355x4 to 440x7 without benching at all during that time period? How did he even find out he could do 440x7 if he doesn’t bench? You’re not an idiot, you have to know this is suspect. 440x7 is a HUGE bench press. I’ll be honest with you, I flat out don’t believe it. He either benches a lot more often than he’s telling you, or he can’t bench 440x7. Period.


Yesterday he told me he benches 1 day every few years for shits and giggles with his friends. He said 2 years ago he did 440x7. Maybe he’s just BSing me, but he push pressed 4 plates multiple times today like it was nothing, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Anyone that can put 400+lbs overhead definitely is strong as shit lol. Doesn’t come off as a liar to me. I don’t know his weight, but he’s probably somewhere between 250-300 like 6’2 or 6’3. Defensive end/defensive tackle sort of build. I saw my first 500lb bench press in person a few months ago and this guy is definitely bigger/more muscular than the last guy.

But who knows maybe he just benches secretly lol. Doesn’t really matter to me. He’s here on a 2 month work project, so about to train with him some days and gain as much knowledge as I can until then!

Everyone I know benches, so it was different meeting someone who doesn’t and is strong as fuck. I always thought it was “necessary” to get a strong upper body, but I’m seeing that is not the case at all! Strong is strong no matter how one gets there it seems.


is he a competitive lifter, and if so what’s his name? If he can push press ‘400 for multiple reps easily’, he is literally one of the strongest people in the world. To put that in perspective, a 510 lbs log push press is the world record, held by a guy who weighs 400+ lbs.


I know he doesn’t compete, but he’s an old rugby player from Samoa (he’s in his 30s). His first name is Isaac. I’ll see him tomorrow, see if he wouldn’t mind me taking a video of next time he lifts heavy like that or if he has anything on youtube.


yea man, I mean it’s technically possible that this is true, but without a video, I’m not going to believe it. There are so few humans on the planet that can accomplish a 400 lbs push press. For it to be for reps and easy, I’m going to assume that we’re talking about something in the 450+ range for his max. That would rank him amongst the 10 strongest living humans, as far as overhead pressing is concerned, and he should immediately take up competitive lifting if he is capable of such an accomplishment while being, essentially, just a gym rat.


Sounds good brotha, I’ll see what I can do tomorrow or soon in terms of video!


This is my opinion. If you want to be strong, build MUSCLE. Period. Maximize hypertrophy, This is your real base of strength. Everything else is just expressing strength through different movements and this “strength” often becomes limited to the movement itself as you get more technically and neurally efficient at it.

This is why there are no compulsory exercises since whatever alternative to one of the so-called main lifts is going to build a similar group of muscles. BUT there are compulsory muscles you must develop so there no weak links that prevent you from expressing strength because “you are only as strong as your weakest link”. For example, one of the reasons many bodybuilders are “weak” for their size is because they are unable to fully express their strength since they do not put emphasis on core and grip training.

I do not intend to over complicate things as you can basically build all the muscle you need by performing the basic movements(which is why I keep saying stop the strength vs hypertrophy silliness) with some isolations thrown in to prevent any imbalances, just trying to guide your thought process as you are now doing so much overthinking about movements.


I agree man. I’ve stopped worrying about what movements work/dont work overall. I know for me personally having a high volume day with a lift and a high intensity day is bringing out the best results. Or if I do it once a week, work up to heavy set and then do a few back off sets for higher reps.

I was just curious about the bench press because honestly personally I’ve never cared for it, but I always thought it was something I had to do, at least once every week or two. I’d rather have someone ask me how much I clean than how much I can bench lol.

I figure if you are strong (no matter the rep range, program, etc) you gonna be strong / look strong. For example some who squats 405 your legs are going to look like you squat 405. I don’t think it matters if you do 5x5, 8x3, or 3x10. Maybe I’m wrong in that aspect, but I feel like the weight on the bar never lies.


I’m getting the feeling that this is going to be good. Like the one time people were arguing about squats or something and one guy went out to his garage in his pajamas, knocked back a shot of whiskey and banged out a 500lb. atg squat, posted the video here, then went back to bed.

Sometimes people can just do shit like that.


I was just curious about the 400+ push press. I see quite a few 400+ push press videos on youtube. Then this video popped up. I can’t even imagine having that much weight overhead. 529lbs x2!!! 5’7 and 105kg beast!


When I was in high school, my dad benched close to 400 flat backed with no arch at a little less than 200 5’6". He hasn’t lifted since he was in high school and is a mechanic. It’s definitely possible for people to be hidden and be strong. Hell, look at Bud Jeffries. If it wasn’t for the internet, he’d probably never be known yet he picks up 300 pound stones (actually stones not the round ones like strongman) and carries them and shit. He looks fat as fuck, but is a monster at strength showings. @flipcollar I see where you’re coming from because in this age, it’s incredibly hard to believe shit without a video, but it is possible for someone to do insane shit and have no interest in competing ever.


Jesus Christ that’s some insane shit. I really wish Clarence would do more jerk training. I’d love to see how heavy he could go without a clean first.


Look at my man Clarence Kennedy. International/olympic competitive numbers and has 0% interest in actually competing.

Lol, beat me to it.

I never heard of this guy. Just found this gem.


I fucking love Clarence. I started following him a few years back and the amount of strength he has gained is insane. I don’t give a rats ass what he’s on and shit. His technique is ungodly. I have always squatted like he does and countless people always said I go too deep yada yada ya, so once I found him I was so excited someone else squats insanely deep, pauses every rep and doesn’t wear a belt.