Benefits of The Bench Press – Primary Upper Body Exercise!

What’s up everyone! Today’s Exercise Benefits article is going to be all about the bench press, one of the best foundational upper body movements you can do!

As always with these articles, I will be talking about 3 main benefits and explaining them in a way that is applicable! Without further ado, let’s hop into the information!

Primary Compound Movement:

The bench press is one of the best compound movements you can perform for your upper body. Why is this? The bench press involves major muscles such as the chest, triceps and shoulders to execute the movement. When you have multiple muscle groups working together it typically means you can train the movement quite heavy.

When you have the ability to train a movement heavy, there are a couple of benefits that come with that. Number one is they allow you to effectively train for strength as you can place a heavy training stimulus on your muscles and apply progressive overload via weight. However, when you are able to train a movement heavy, it typically means you can effectively apply other forms of progressive overload such as increasing sets and reps by manipulating other training variables.

For the goal of strength, implementing the bench press in the 1-5 rep range with an according intensity is likely the best way to go about things. For hypertrophy, the ideal range for an exercise such as the bench press is typically between 6 and 12 reps. I say this not because the hypertrophy range is only between 6 and 12 reps but because this exercise is a primary compound movement. Going above 12 reps typically isn’t ideal for these types of exercises when thinking of consistent technique, and taking advantage of the fact that you can train the bench press relatively heavy.

Foundation Laying Exercise:

As we know, the bench press is a primary compound movement. What this means is you can typically use it for your goal, (and tailor it to your goal by adjusting the rep range). If you use this exercise as a foundation-laying movement, it allows you to effectively construct the rest of your training routine around it.

Having movements that are capable of this is beneficial for effectively creating a training routine. This format allows you to train your most physically demanding exercise(s) first when you have the most energy. Then performing your assistance or volume exercises towards the end of the session. This allows you to perform each exercise in the most effective way, given how you become more fatigued as a session goes on.

An example of this would be performing the bench press for 3 sets of 5 at 80 percent of your one-rep max. From there, you could perform pause reps for 3 sets of 8 reps at something like 65% of your one-rep max. Do you notice how the second exercise went up in reps and lower in weight?

This is the general trend we want to see when constructing a training session. From there, you could implement other less physically demanding exercises, likely in the higher rep range. An example of this would be performing a machine fly for 2 sets of 15 reps. This would be an isolation exercise at the end of a workout, with a low amount of sets and high amount of reps, thus using a lightweight.


Many Variation Exercises:

We know just how beneficial the bench press can be, so if we have an injury or our goals don’t necessarily align with implementing the bench press, we don’t want to pass up the exercise if we can implement it in a way that would still be beneficial.

There are many different variations of the bench press that can help to accommodate injuries and be more relative to the goals you may have. Whether this be for working through a sore shoulder (if safe to do so and cleared by medical professionals) or tailoring the exercise towards a goal of speed instead of strength.

An example I have is when my left shoulder was sore. Instead of stopping the bench press entirely, I used a block to cut the range of motion short, which reduced the stretch placed on my shoulder. After a few weeks of cautiously working this exercise, my shoulder felt better and I was able to go back to my normal training while being cautious.

An example of tailoring the bench press towards a goal you may have would go as follows. Let’s say you want to increase power. You could throw some resistance bands on the bar which forces you to continue pushing with full force throughout the duration of the rep. Or you could implement pause reps which help to take away the stretch reflex in the bottom position, thus teaching your muscles to turn on and produce force quickly.

The Gist on The Bench Press:

All in all, the bench press is a meat and potatoes exercise that is a great strength builder. However, you can tailor it to a variety of goals for laying your training foundation, effectively training for your goals and working around injuries if given the go-ahead from proper medical advice.

What do you think of the bench press exercise after reading this article? Do you feel like it would be a beneficial exercise for you? Let me know if so and why in the comment section below! I thank you so much for taking the time to read this article and as always, if you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to leave them below and I will be sure to reply!

Until Next Time,

Kohl Johnson

Please refer to my liability disclaimer to ensure you know who is responsible for use of this information after reading.

Support is much appreciated if you benefited from this:

Kohl Johnson

I am a 16-year-old fitness fanatic! I have learned nothing but quality training and nutrition information from the utmost well-respected individuals in the field. Now, my only focus is to share this knowledge with you for your benefit, in the most honest way possible. We are all in this together! LET'S GO!

4 Responses

  1. Another well written article. I do, however, have a question for you, as a complete and total gym beginner! Would you mind explaining in greater detail what you mean by the bench press being a compound movement? I’ve not heard this terminology before and I’m a bit confused. Thank you for any extra information you can give me!

    • Hi Josie, thanks for checking out the article! I am very glad that you have asked this question as it is very true that many people don’t know all the gym terminology! I actually have a whole section on my website dedicated to the meaning of different “gym words”. You can check that out here if you would like: “What is a Compound Exercise?“. 

  2. Hi Kohl! I have found your site very informative. I have already read a couple of posts here and I continue to find more useful posts. I’ll have to bookmark and continue reading tomorrow.

    But I wanted to ask you a question before going. I know that the Bench Press is the meat and potatoes exercise. But could we consider it irreplaceable? A little friend of mine has phobia to this exercise. Is there a way around it?

    • Hi Henry, I am so glad you find these articles to be beneficial! 

      Although the bench press is a highly beneficial exercise, that is not to say that is anywhere close to NEEDED to be performed. For many goals, it may not even be the most optimal. There are many options for those who don’t want to perform the standard barbell bench press. An example being the dumbbell bench press instead! Hope this helps!

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