Which is More Effective Bench Press or Chest Press?

Bench Press is a form of exercise that is done to strengthen the upper body. It is done by lying down on a bench with a barbell above. The barbell is then lifted above, pulled down to chest and then back to neutral position.

Chest Press is also a form of exercise that aims at making the upper body stronger like bench press. However, the style of doing this exercise is different from bench press. In chest press, the exercise is done by sitting upright on a machine called as machine press or seated chest press. This machine has multiple angled handles which can be adjusted as per need and comfort of the person. The best advantage of using a chest press as compared to bench press is that in addition to comfort, chest press helps is avoiding strain over injured muscles. Chest press is performed in the following steps:

Step 1 – Load a comfortable weight on the machine press

Step 2 – Seat yourself comfortably on the seat. Make sure that your back is pressed against the backrest of the machine. Place your feet flat on the foot rest without any straining.

Step 3 – Hold the angled handle on the machine, the one that is most comfortable and press it forward until your hands are straight. Wait for a second before returning back to neutral position. Repeat as needed.

Every exercise has its own pros and cons: whether one exercise is beneficial for a person or not depends on multiple factors. Let us see which amongst bench press and chest press is more effective.

Which Is More Effective Bench Press Or Chest Press?

It is hard to determine which is more effective as they cannot be compared and they have their own advantages and disadvantages. The choice of bench press or chest press completely depends on the individual’s need, body structure and focus.

Advantages of Bench Press Over Chest Press:

The effectiveness of bench press exercises over chest press includes:(1)

Bench press is the old school way of doing exercise and works on larger group on muscles as compared to chest press. It can be done for powerlifting, hypertrophy or for adding strength.

As compared to chest press, movements in bench press are not restricted to a single plane. The movement of the barbell is in control of the performer and full extension of hands provides more contraction and flexion of pectoral muscles. Addition of weight provides greater results as compared to chest press.

Some believe that the option of free weights in bench press provides the advantage of replicating real life functional movements unlike chest press.

Bench press can be altered or modified in different ways to suit the requirements and need of the bodybuilder.

Advantages of Chest Press Over Bench Press:

The advantages of chest press include(2)

Chest press can be performed by beginners and does not have a learning curve. Bench press is of different types and requires some kind of experience to advance from one type to other.

Chest press does not have any set up time involved and can be performed almost immediately as compared with bench press. You can just load the weight and keep going. Bench press is not recommended for someone with shoulder injury, as it aggravates the pain and makes it worse. Chest press can be done without strain to shoulder. This is because chest press provides better isolation of pectoral muscles. The right weight can be chosen based on comfort and the muscles of shoulders are not used. This is not possible with bench press.

Chest press provides better control over movement and prevents the performer from cheating. The performer gets 100% outcome from the exercise.

Chest press can be done without a spotter. Bench press requires the help of a spotter unless you are highly experienced and trained.

Thus, it cannot be said that bench press is more effective as compared to chest press or vice versa as both are effective in some or the other ways.

When Should Bench Press Or Chest Press Be Done?

Bench press is age old tested and tried form of exercise that helps is overall body building. It can be used for multiple purposes such as hypertrophy, overall upper body strengthening and powerlifting. Chest press is a newer form of exercise and it is mainly used for isolation, i.e. focuses on a single group of muscles at a time. A lot of body builders prefer to alternate between the 2 forms of exercises to get benefit of both. As mentioned earlier, the effectiveness and choice of exercise depends of individual needs and requirements.

Conclusion

Bench press and chest press are both forms of exercises that aims at strengthening the upper body. Bench press is considered as the Grand Daddy of body building exercise, whereas chest press is comparatively new. Bench press is usually done by experienced bodybuilders whose focus is mainly on buffing up the upper body. Chest press is generally done by beginners and casual work out enthusiast who wants to stay fit and focus on a single group of muscles in the chest region. Chest press is easier to perform and doesn’t require a spotter or previous experience. Bench press can be adjusted and modified as needed and usually need a spotter and training. The choice of chest press or bench press completely depends on the individual goals and requirements. It will be incorrect to say one is more effective than the other as they are focused differently and bring about different outcome.

References:

  1. Madsen N, McLaughlin T. Kinematic factors influencing performance and injury risk in the bench press exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1984;16:376–381.
  2. Welsch EA, Bird M, Mayhew JL. Electromyographic activity of the pectoralis major and anterior deltoid muscles during three upper-body lifts. J Strength and Cond Res. 2005;19:449–452.