Thursday, January 3, 2013

Article # 181. What Are the Benefits of Bench Presses?


Always enlist a spotter when performing bench presses.




What Are the Benefits of Bench Presses?

The bench press exercise activates a large number of muscle groups in the upper-half of your body. Such groups include your pecs, deltoids, your forearm muscles, hand muscles and your abdominals. Add the bench press to your workout to build your strength for push-ups, improve your power for sports performance and build bone density in your upper body. The American College of Sports Medicine encourages older adults to use multi-joint, free-weight exercises as a method of improving bone mass, muscular strength and muscular endurance.

Muscles Worked

 

The bench press works a variety of upper-body muscles, but its focus lies on the pectoralis major muscles of the chest. As such, the bench press -- when performd regularly -- lends thickness, muscle definition and strength to the chest area. As a compound exercise, bench presses also engage the deltoids and triceps as synergists, or muscles that help other muscles complete a movement. Additionally, this exercise also works the biceps, which serve as dynamic stabilizers by countering the force of the press. Finally, the bench press engages the rhomboids, rotator cuff and serratus anterior as secondary muscles.

Muscle, Bone and Joint Health

 

As a weight training exercise, the bench press helps your body increase muscle mass, which can in turn lead to a reduction of fat. Just as it strengthens the muscles, the bench press also has the capacity to strengthen the bones – weight training helps improve flexibility and increase bone density, according to the Mayo Clinic. Those who regularly train with weights are also less likely to develop osteoarthritis.

Other Benefits

 

The positive effects of bench presses don't end with the muscles and bones. In addition to increasing overall endurance, resistance training exercises such as the bench press lead to a reduction of “bad” cholesterol and an increase in “good” cholesterol levels, according to the American Council on Exercise. Regular weight training helps the body process sugar, leading to a reduced risk of diabetes.

Considerations

 

Despite its benefits, the flat bench press may place strain on scapulae, or shoulder blades, and the rotator cuff due to the bench's potential to limit shoulder movement, forcing over-exertion. This strain may lead to pain or inflammation and can limit muscular development. Practicing proper form – including keeping your feet firmly planted, maintaining a straight back and keeping your shoulders and glutes flat on the bench at all times – helps prevent these injuries. Seek the guidance of a certified trainer to learn proper form before incorporating the bench press into your regimen.

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