The Bench Press

bench press exercise
Exercise Profile

Primary Muscle Group(s): Chest (Pectorals)

Secondary Muscle Group(s): Shoulders (Front) and Triceps

Exercise Instructions

1. Lie back on the bench with your feet firmly planted on the floor and back pressed firmly against the padding.

2. Take a tight grip of the barbell (overhand) with your thumbs roughly 3 feet (90cm) apart. Make sure that your grip is balanced between both sides of your body. Once your grip is set, press your shoulders down and back into the bench. This will push up your pectoral girdle and allow for a much better stimulation.

3. Lift the bar from the rack.

4. Take the barbell from the rack and lock your elbows at the top position. Lower the barbell to the nipple area of the chest, slowly and under control, keeping your elbows away and outward from the trunk of your body.

5. As the weight lowers, be sure not to bounce the weight - very important - do not bounce the weight from the chest. In fact, try and keep the bar a 1/4 inch or so from touching the chest and push the weight back up in a controlled fashion. Beginners may find that the weight starts to fall forward or backward or that the weight is rising unevenly because one arm is stronger than the other. Don't worry too much about this and concentrate on the movement itself. After a couple of weeks you will develop a groove and this movement will be second nature.


The bench press is a compound movement for the chest. It is a mass builder and pure strength builder that can produce tremendous results in a short period of time. The bench press is a great chest builder but also, a tremendous shoulders and triceps builder as secondary muscles.

Since the bench press uses more than one muscle group to lift the weight, it is considered a compound movement. See the illustration to the left and video at the bottom of this description to see how to properly perform the bench press.

Press play to view an instructional video on how to properly perform the bench press.

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Here's an article on how not to do the bench press. This is a must read! Click here

As the owner of Building Muscle 101, I am committed to providing you the best practical weight training advice. I've been training for over 24 years (and still train to this day!) and the advice and guidance I provide comes directly from my experience and knowledge.

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