Name of Exercise
—Free weight bench press
Type of Exercise —Multi-joint
Muscles Used —Chest and arms
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During the upward phase of the movement, push your lower back into the bench, while focusing on contracting your chest muscles.
The number of repetitions (reps) and sets you should do depends on your strength goals. In general, muscle strength works to increase basic function of the muscle and is the typical workout choice. Muscle endurance is important to people who participate in endurance activities such as running or biking, and muscle power is beneficial for athletes who need to use sudden quick movements, such as sprinting, or playing basketball or football. Beginners should begin with a basic routine and gradually move toward a strength, endurance, or power routine.
Beginner: 1 set of 8 to 12 reps
Muscle Strength: 1 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps
Muscle Endurance: 1 to 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps
Muscle Power: 1 to 3 sets of 3 to 6 reps
Use a weight that is heavy enough to perform the desired number of reps and sets for your skill level using good form. When you are able to perform more reps and sets than is outlined in your category, try to increase the weight you lift by 2% to 10%. Your strength goals may change as you progress.
National Association for Health and Fitness
President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition
Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology
Barbell bench press. American Council on Exercise website. Available at: http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/fitness_programs_exercise_library_details.aspx?exerciseid=5. Accessed July 6, 2015.
Barbell bench press—medium grip. Body Building website. Available at: http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/detail/view/name/barbell-bench-press-medium-grip. Accessed July 6, 2015.
Resistance training for health and fitness. American College of Sports Medicine website. Available at: http://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/resistance-training.pdf. Published 2013. Accessed July 6, 2015.
Last reviewed June 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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