Myth 1: The bench press is the best chest builder.
Not everybody can build a big chest by doing solely the bench press. There are many people who don’t develop large chest musculature from doing the exercise alone. In order for your chest to work during the bench press a mind muscle connection has to be developed. Many people don’t have it and simply try to lift more and more weight. That’s why other muscles such as the triceps and the front deltoids take over. The bench press is a good chest exercise but it’s definitely not the best. It’s very hard on the shoulders and a lot of pectorals have been torn due to using too much weight, poor programming, too wide grip…etc.
Truth: The bench press is a good chest exercise but it’s not a universal cure for weak chest muscles.
Myth 2: The bench press is the true measure of strength.
Strength is relative. Who is stronger, the gymnast who can do planche push-ups or the bodybuilder who can bench press 400lbs? It depends on the situation and strength has different expressions. The fact that the bench press is the most popular lift does not make it the only strength exercise there is.
Myth 3: The bench press is the best exercise for chest.
Truth: Having a strong bench press means you have a strong bench press and that’s about it.
Myth 4: Everybody can bench press
Not everybody has the anatomy to perform the bench press safely. Some shoulder joints just can’t take the beating and switching to other exercises may be more appropriate. Unless you are a powerlifter there is no need to bench press, especially if it’s not working for you.
Truth: The bench press is a good compound exercise but some people are just not cut for it. There are plenty more to choose from: push-up progressions, dips, dumbbell bench press…etc.
Myth 5: The bench press carries over to the overehead press.
Regardless of what people think the bench press has a weak carry over to the overhead press. There are people who can bench press 405 lbs and struggle with a 135 lbs overhead press. The latter is more shoulder dominant and in return you cannot press as much weight. Additionally, the range of motion of the overhead press is bigger.
Truth: To become good at performing a specific task you have to specialize.
Myth 6: The Bench Press does not work the upper chest
The bench press works the whole chest, triceps, shoulders and even the lats work hard to stabilize the bar. It’s impossible to isolate a specific part of the muscle. It works as a whole. Some movements may place a little more emphasis on certain parts but the difference is not as tremendous as many experts want it to be. However, the incline bench is still a valuable tool and a solid compound lift that can be part of your routine.
Truth: An emphasis shift is possible, but only to a moderate degree. The bench press works the whole pectoral area and there is no complete muscle isolation during the exercise.
Myth 7: The bench press is better than push-ups
In exercising “better” is a relative terms. Every exercise is a tool that can be valuable in certain situation. The bench press and the push-up are different pushing exercises and each one has its merits. The former builds raw pushing power, while the latter provides you opportunities to develop muscle endurance and train your chest, triceps and should ers whenever you want and for free. Keep in mind that the push-up can be made harder and harder. There are variations that will challenge even the strongest bench pressers in the world.
Truth: Exercises are just tools. Use what you need, when you need it and your house will be built.