The Bench Press

Bench Stick Figure

Are you doing it correctly?

The bench press is a common free weight exercise used mostly by the male population at gyms and is one of the commonly avoided exercises by the female population – so why should you bench press?

What muscles does the bench press work?

Despite the bench press looking like it only works the upper body, it is in fact a full body lift. It mainly works the upper body muscles however to bench press with good technique the abdominal, buttock and leg muscles should all be engaged to provide a stable base of support for the lift.

The bench press helps to increase strength inBench

  • Pectoralis muscles (chest)
  • Anterior deltoids (front of shoulder)
  • Latissimus dorsi (upper back muscles)
  • Triceps brachii (back of the arms)


The shoulder blades are a very small base of support for your arms (they have the same essential role as the pelvis for the legs). It is a ball and socket joint with a shallow socket on the shoulder blade and big ball at the top of your arm bone. As a result, more work has to be done to ensure strength in the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint. Combining the bench press with shoulder stability exercises will help to maintain a healthy shoulder joint.

3 benefits of the bench press

  • Builds power for better sports performance – upper body strength for many sports including rugby, basketball, baseball and tennis
  • Improves upper body bone density – as we age our bones degenerate however resistance exercises can slow down the onset of osteoporosis
  • Gets rid of your ‘tuck shop’ arms – the bench press helps to tone your arms muscles

Bench Press Technique

Bench Tech

Key Points:

  • Set your shoulders
  • Tuck your elbows
  • Grip the bar relative to your mechanics (to achieve alignment in picture at step 2) – this may mean widening or bringing in your grip and adjusting where the bar lowers to on your chest (around nipple height)
  • The bar path is NOT straight down and up
  • Get tight! Squeeze your butt cheeks and legs pressing down into floor


Common Errors:

  • Failure to set shoulder blades
  • Failure to get tight
  • Flaring elbows

Queues: Hold pencil between shoulder blades and tuck it into your back pocket

Control down and EXPLODE up

How can physiotherapy help you?

IMG_6767Physiotherapy can help educate you on how to perform a good bench press despite your age, level of fitness or gender. We can also help to:

  • Improve strength
  • Improve fitness
  • Ensure correct technique is being used in your day to day fitness regime to avoid injury


Contact Inspired Physiotherapy on 9674 5596