You most likely bench press once a week as part of your workout routine (and maybe even multiple times a week). Because of its reputation as a surefire method for building big chest muscle, the exercise is a workout staple. The barbell bench press is also one of the big three exercises around which powerlifters base their entire existence, with the goal of piling ever more plates onto the bar for the highest total weight they can manage.
However, because of these two aspects of the bench press, there are different approaches to the lift, both in terms of training philosophy and technique, in order to achieve the goal at hand—and if you want to make the most of your time and effort under the barbell, you should make sure you're targeting one or the other.
First, it's critical to understand the distinction between the two approaches. Consider them to be bodybuilder and powerlifter styles (to build muscle) (to push the most amount of weight possible).
Bench Press for Body Building
- Activate your core
- Maintain a slight thoracic spine arch.
- The goal is to spend as much time as possible under tension, making your chest work as hard as possible.
Bench Press for Power Lifting
- Arch your back as much as possible while keeping your buttocks on the pad.
- The purpose of this position is to help change the bar's angle to a decline and shorten the distance the bar must travel, making it easier to move heavier loads.
How to Choose the Right Bench Press for You
The question now is, what is most important to you? What are your body building objectives?
If you want to build big muscles but don't care about your gym stats, try the bodybuilder-style bench press. There will be plenty of chest stimulation (and eventually, you might find you prefer swapping the barbell for other options that allow you to home in on the muscles to accentuate growth and shape). This will be the best option for the majority of people.
It's fine if your ultimate goal is brute strength. There are few things more satisfying than adding a new plate to the bar and crushing a rep. Focus on progressively adding more weight by training smart with a program that allows you to scale up safely.