Bench press

Fitness dumbbells

This exercise uses several joints and targets the chest, shoulder and arm muscles. A heavy bench press strengthens the pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, and triceps brachii, and also trains the rotator cuff and stabilizing muscles of the shoulder blade. The exercise can be done by advanced and novice weightlifters as the basic movement is simple. It forms the basis for almost any upper body strength training, sport-specific endurance training and advanced rehabilitation.


Lie back on a horizontal bench and grasp the bar with hands slightly more than shoulder-width apart. The palms face up. Take a deep breath. Exhale and lift the barbell off the rack so that arms and elbows are fully extended. On the next inhale, slowly lower the dumbbell to your chest and stop just above it. Exhale and push the weight straight up until the elbows are fully extended again.

Do it well
Don’t arch the back. This is a sign that the weight is too heavy and increases the risk of injury.

Use a spotter if you are lifting heavy weights.


Use only the bar, with no additional weight, to learn the bench press. Focus on technique and make sure you make smooth, controlled movements before weighting the barbell.

Close grip bench press: use a much higher weight than normal; this version focuses primarily on the triceps (and less on the pectoralis major and deltoid). Grab the barbell (hands slightly less than shoulder-width apart). Lower the weight to the chest, keeping the elbows close to the body. Do not keep the hands too close together, otherwise the barbell will become unstable.

Active muscles

  1. Pectoralis major
  2. Voorste detoideur
  3. Triceps brachii