How to do the bench press to build bigger chest muscles

The Bench Press Guide (for Size)

The bench press is the best lift for building a powerful chest. It’s also great for bulking up your triceps and the fronts of your shoulders, making it a great overall lift for improving your aesthetics.

However, the bench press isn’t the only way to get those benefits. In fact, there’s another lift—the push-up—that stimulates those muscles to the same degree while allowing for a greater range of motion, bringing in your serratus muscles. It also tends to be better for improving the health of your shoulders. The push-up comes with its own limitations, though.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • How to bulk up your chest with the bench press.
  • Whether you should bench with a wide or narrow grip.
  • How big should your back arch be while benching?
  • Bench press accessories, such as the push-up and feet-up.
  • Bench press assistance lifts, such as flys, skull-crushers, and dips.

This article is bulking: It will grow and change over time. Occasionally we’ll trim off some fat. This isn’t meant to be the final word.

Build a chest that lures people in yet also has the strength to push them away.

The push-up is the best bench press variation for as long as you can use it. You get all the benefits of pressing, but it’s a you get to do it with your shoulder blades flying free (scapula aren’t pinned) and thus you get to use a larger range of motion, which is going to bring in your serratus muscles.

Of course, as you get stronger, the push-up is going to stop being challenging enough. You can switch to weighted push-ups, yes, but those won’t last forever either. There are only so many plates you can stack on your back before push-ups are more like playing Jenga than lifting weights. From there, you can switch to using resistance bands but, again, eventually it’s going to become more trouble than it’s worth.

At that point, as any good judge would say, it’s time to approach the bench.

About Shane Duquette

W. Shane Duquette, BDes, is a science communicator with a degree in design and visual communication from York University. He co-founded Bony to Beastly and Bony to Bombshell, where he specializes in helping ectomorphs, hardgainers, and skinny-fat people bulk up.

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11 Comments

  1. The "Big 5" Bulking Lifts - Outlift on August 30, 2019 at 5:31 pm

    […] The Bench Press: to develop the chest, shoulders, and triceps. […]

  2. What's the Best Type of Lifting for Skinny Guys? on September 6, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    […] Close-Grip Bench Press: Most thin powerlifters bench with a fairly wide grip to minimize the range of motion, reducing the amount of muscle needed to lift a heavy weight. We want to do the opposite, using a narrower grip and bringing more overall muscle mass into the lift. As a result, the close-grip bench press will tend to do a better job of building the chest, upper chest, shoulder…. […]

  3. […] Bench Press: to build your chest, shoulders, and triceps. […]

  4. The Complete Barbell Guide – Outlift on September 8, 2019 at 12:12 pm

    […] force crashing into your joints. Yet another barbell might be designed to be sturdy so that you can bench press without the weight bouncing […]

  5. Bony to Beastly—Jeff's 5-Week Progress Update on September 11, 2019 at 6:06 pm

    […] Bench press: Jeff started with push-ups […]

  6. […] you love the barbell bench press, it helps you build a fearsome chest, and it feels great on your shoulders, then it doesn’t […]

  7. The Unfaithful Bulker Is Bigger – Outlift on September 14, 2019 at 1:58 pm

    […] Keep benching properly. The barbell bench press is already a bit of a finicky lift, so the last thing you want to do is starting bouncing the barbell of your chest or playing around with too-heavy reps. In fact, you may even want to try and pause the barbell on your chest for a second between reps, doing them even more faithfully. If you need more variation in your bench press routine, I’d recommend trying weighted push-ups, resistance-band push-ups, the dumbbell bench press, the floor press, weighted dips, or the incline bench press. For more, here’s our article about choosing the best bench press variations and accessories. […]

  8. […] measured the heart rate of sixteen people while doing a typical bulking workout consisting of the bench press, lat pulldown, biceps curl, leg press, and so on. They did three sets of ten reps for each […]

  9. […] some upper-body lifts that might be heavy enough to qualify, such as the chin-up, and perhaps even the bench press. However, deadlifts and squats are much heavier and more metabolically […]

  10. […] make for great lifting leverages and reduce the range of motion of most lifts, such as the bench press and squat. Their thicker, denser bones are also able to safely support heavy […]

  11. […] terms of exercises, fairly heavy bench pressing and push pressing will stimulate the fronts and sides of your shoulders quite well, and then […]

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