Ultimate Guide to Bench Press Motivation – Read This Before Your Next Workout

What’s the most common question that you’re likely to be asked when people find out you’ve been working out?

You guessed it  . . .

‘How much do you bench?’

The answer to that question is going to determine not only how others view your workout efforts but your toughness in general.

It doesn’t matter how much you can curl, how striated your triceps are, or even whether you can display a set of six pack abs – if you can’t cite a decent bench number, you’re history!

All of which makes it pretty important that you take your bench pressing seriously. Yet, as you may have discovered, bringing up your bench press max isn’t easy.

It requires dedication, consistency and patience – not to mention a smart training plan.

In this article, we deliver a bench press motivation infusion with the top 10 bench press benefits — what’s waiting for you at the end of all that hard work.

We’ve also thrown in some awesome bench press quotes that will have you chomping at the bit to get back under the heavy iron – enjoy!

10 Undeniable Bench Press Benefits

Building your bench is hard work.

But is it worth it?

Definitely! It’s not just a number for you to brag about… there are tons of health and fitness benefits of having a strong bench press.

1. Strength Building

The Bench Press is the king of strength building exercises.

As such it has a special place in gym culture.

Simply put, if you want to get strong you gotta’ bench some impressive numbers. Just notice what happens when someone gets close to 400 pounds at your local gym.

More than likely, everyone stops and all eyes are honed in on him to see if he can pull off this Herculean effort.

Bench pressing will allow you to develop a huge amount of pushing strength.

Specifically, it will boost the strength of your pectorals, shoulders, triceps and lats.

But more than just strengthening those individual body parts, it will also train them to work together synergistically to provide even more power when combined.

2. Whole Body Development

If you thought that the bench press was all about the chest and triceps, think again.

While it is an excellent exercise to hit those muscle groups, it is far more than that.

In fact, the bench press should rightly be considered a whole body exercise. It directly works, not only the pecs and triceps but also the deltoids (especially the front part), the core and the quadriceps. Even the lats are engaged as you drive the weight up to the rack.

The serratus anterior which wraps around your rib cage also goes through full contraction and extension when you do the bench press, giving it a tremendous workout.

3. Great Pecs

To develop a great chest you need exercises that follow the natural biomechanical movement of that muscle.

So what is the main job of your pectorals? Simply put, it is horizontal adduction to bring the humerus (arm bone) forward and close to the sternum.

That is precisely the movement pattern of the bench press. That makes the bench an awesome overall chest developer.

Long before weight lifters were bench pressing, people were doing push ups to beef up their overall strength and build a muscular upper body.

Well, when you think about it, the bench press is nothing but a push up in reverse.

Instead of bringing the weight to your body, your body acts as the weight and you bring it down to the floor.

The bench press simply allows you to use more weight so that you don’t have to pump out a thousand push ups a day to make gains.

4. Load Capability

When it comes to building upper body strength, power and muscle, you need to be able to max out with heavy poundages.

The bench press allows you to pile on the plates and, so long as you’ve got a good spotter, to work through your sets in complete safety.

There are a number of bench press alternatives, including dumbbell bench presses and cable presses but none of them allow you to use the amount of raw poundage that you work with on the standard bench press.

5. Front Delt Strength

In addition to building powerful and strong pecs, the bench press is an excellent movement for building boulder shoulders.

There are few things as impressive as rounded front delts that seamlessly flow into a full, thick chest and bench pressing is one of the best ways to achieve that look.

Of course, consistent benching will also make you much stronger on the seated shoulder press, which is another great front delt loading exercise.

6. Easy Learning Curve

There are some exercises that you do in the gym that may look easy but have quite a few technical points to them.

Take the squat, for example. Although you are really only sitting down and getting up again, if you don’t master the art of the hip hinge you are probably in for a world of spinal trouble.

Yet the bench press is an exercise that looks simple and IS simple to perform. So long as you follow some basic guidelines, it’s pretty hard to go wrong. That easy learning curve removes a major barrier for many beginners to the gym.

Just for the record, here are the key points to getting a great bench:

  • Lie on the bench with the bar at eye level and your feet firmly planted on the floor. Your feet should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart and the bench height should allow for a right angle bend at the knee.
  • Bring your feet back slightly toward your body while keeping your soles flat on the floor. This will make you more stable and help you to keep a natural arch in your back throughout the movement.
  • Pull your shoulder blades together, and pull down with your lats. Grab the bar with a slightly wider than shoulder width grip using a thumbs over the bar grip. The bar should rest on the heel of your palm.
  • Bring the bar down under control to a point just below the nipple line.
  • Pause for a second, squeeze your glutes together, retract your lats and push the bar explosively in a  straight line above the chest. Simultaneously drive your feet forcefully into the ground. Be sure to keep the elbows in and shoulders back throughout this action. The bar should travel up in a ‘J’ curve to finish above your shoulders.

7. Push Up Alternative

We’ve already mentioned that the bench press is essentially a push up in reverse.

We also spoke about how you are better able to load a lot of weight on the bench press.

But the same is true in reverse. Some people are unable to perform a full push up.

This may be because they are overweight or simply have not yet built the upper body strength to be able to do so. In these cases, the bench press becomes an excellent push up alternative.

Push ups require you to lift your entire body weight. With the bench press, however, you can lift a lighter weight than that, making it an accessible exercise for those who are unable to do push ups.

The weight of an unloaded Olympic barbell is 45 pounds. You can then add weight in increments of just 1.25 pounds as desired.

8. Rapid Strength Improvement

Remember the saying, “It doesn’t matter where you start, it’s where you end up that counts”?

That is certainly true with the bench press.

You may be starting out with just 45 pounds on the bench press. But you will be amazed at how quickly your strength increases, especially in the first three months.

In fact, you could conceivably double your strength on the bench from 45 to 90 pounds in those 12 weeks!

That will be hugely motivational and will spur you on to double it again to 180 pounds. Be aware, however, that it is much easier to double your strength once than to do it a second time!

(For more on this, check out the what results from a month of weight lifting you can expect, and how long it takes to reach a 225 bench.)

9. Upper Arm Mass

If you thought that arm mass was all about bulging biceps, think again.

Two thirds of the upper arms consists of the triceps – that awesome three headed horseshoe shaped muscle at the back of your biceps.

And one of the best things that you can do to build massive triceps is to press your arms away from your body – exactly like you do when you perform the bench press!

If you want to really hammer the triceps when benching, bring your hands closer together. The closer your thumbs are to each other, the greater the triceps activation.

10. Explosive Power

To get good at bench pressing you need to develop explosiveness out of the bottom position so that the bar drives back to the start position (that doesn’t mean though, that you bounce the bar off your chest – that is a big no no!).

The explosiveness that you develop when bench pressing is directly relatable to a number of power sports.

Think of going into a ruck when playing rugby or powering through a tackle on the football field.

That makes the bench press an extremely functional exercise when you are training for field contact sports.

Bench Press Limitations

We’ve just run through ten awesome bench press benefits.

However, in the interests of fairness, we should also point out that it has a couple of limitations.

The first is that it provides a limited range of motion.

That’s because you can only go down until the bar touches your chest. That, however, is not the point of full extension. That point is about two inches below the top of your torso.

You can overcome the limited range of motion of the barbell bench press by performing the dumbbell version of the exercise.

With dumbbells there is no bar to smash into your chest so you are able to go down the extra couple of inches. Don’t however, ditch the barbell version – simply add in a few sets of dumbbell bench presses once you’re done.

The second potential problem has to do with safety.

Having a huge weight hovering over your head can be a dangerous thing. However, you can greatly minimize the risk by doing the following:

  • Always having a good spotter
  • Using reliable collars
  • Never using a reverse or thumbless grip

For more, check out the pros and cons of lifting weights.

5 Bench Press Quotes to Get You Super Motivated

Man performing incline bench press

Need more to get motivated for the bench press?

Check out these quotes from fitness legends and powerful strongmen. This oughta do the trick!

Stone cold flat, is my favorite fighting position. Just laying there, with a bench press bar that has 400 reasons to make me into a piece of road kill…it won’t say hello…so I introduce myself 5 times…and re-rack it to stand there lonely and stupid as a beaten piece of metal.

Mike Westerdel

When lifting weights, nothing feels better than achieving a high point on the bench press with no help from your spotter.

Robert Cheeke

The bench press per se is not a risky exercise.

When done right, it can help improve upper body strength and size. It’s only when form takes a back seat to numbers and when it’s grossly overtrained that problems result.

Injuries occur in the shoulders and elbows when the bench press is overtrained, poor technique is used, such as rebounding the bar off the chest and bridging, no other exercises for the upper body are included in the program, and there are no core exercises done for the upper back.

Quite often, it’s a combination of all these factors.

Bill Starr

Just remember, somewhere, a little Chinese girl is warming up with your max.

Jim Conroy

When lifting weights, nothing feels better than achieving a high point on the bench press with no help from your spotter.

Robert Cheeke

There is no such thing as heavy weight either in bench pressing or in any other movement in strength building . . . there are only barriers and goals of achievement.

Mike Westerdel

Wrapping Up

You now have a whole lot of reasons, along with some key technique points, to get serious under the bench.

The motivational quotes we’ve thrown in should give you a further boost to zeroing in on some serious gains. So, now that you’ve absorbed all of that, there’s only one thing left to say  . . .

Shut up and bench!

(Here’s what to do if you hate the bench press. And don’t miss these guides to squat motivation and cardio motivation before you go!)