Why are ectomorphs so bad at the bench press? If you are a guy with small & slim joints, you probably hate benching.

The bench press has been accepted as the universal strength measurement. The popular bench press specialist Scott Mendelson even labeled it: ‘the lift of manhood’.

Everybody wants to have a big bench press so that the girls in yoga pants in the gym can be impressed. Unfortunately, not all lifters excel at the lift and even if you do – it’s never enough, just like money. The main group that struggles with the bench press is formed by ectomorphs. People who have this body type seem to do the worst at bench pressing. Why?

Being Tall = Larger Range Of Motion


Not all, but most ectomorphs are usually on the taller side. That means that they have longer arms and their bench press has an increased range of motion compared to people with with short T-rex arms. This will significantly reduce the weight you can lift. There is nothing that can be done about it besides building your muscles up. It’s like a short guy trying to dunk a basketball. Obviously, the short guy will have to jump much higher than somebody who is 6’7″. It’s the way life works. No one is really ahead. We’re just different and similar at the same time.

The good news is that when you develop your musculature the range of motion will shorten and your levers will improve. However, that is called ‘doing the best with what you have’, not overcoming genetics.

Small & Fragile Bones Were Not Built For Bench Pressing

Ectomorphs tend to have really small joints – wrists, elbows. That makes bench pressing even harder because less training volume can be handled and injuries are easier to occur. Someone with an 8 inch wrist will have easier time bench pressing compared to someone with a 6 inch wrist. The former will also be naturally bigger and stronger. The bigger the bone, the bigger the muscle – naturally {without even lifting}. Truth be told people with small bones excel better at other activities such as dynamic sports, painting, music, dancing…etc. Small, slim and well shaped skeletons don’t do well in the sport of powerlifting and weightlifting.

However, bodybuilding is an exception since there are no strength requirements and small joints could enhance the way you appear. The contrast between big muscles and slim bones could create a ‘wow’ factor to your physique.

Narrow Shoulders Suck For Benching

Most ectomorphs tend to have narrower shoulders. This also hurts the bench press because the base upon which you’re pressing is less stable compared to someone who has wide shoulders. Also, when the lifter has naturally narrow shoulders and long arms he tends to use a narrower grip since too wide of a grip could cause him shoulder pain. It does not always happen, but for the most part ectomorphs tend to be delt/triceps benchers. This means that most of the load is pushed up by the front shoulder muscles and the triceps. Obviously, this is not the case with all ectomorphs. Those who can handle bench pressing with wider grip could be more chest dominant.

The Bench Press is affected by your bodyweight, a lot.


Whether you’re a skinny or skinny fat ectomorph you’re on the lighter side of the spectrum. That instantly cuts your bench press prowess since the lift is affected by your bodyweight to a very high degree. {more on this here}. That is another strike against the ectomoprh and his bench press strength.

The logical question is:

Do ectomorphs have any advantage at all when doing the bench press?

Not, really. All odds are against ectomorphs. Unless you’re a genetic freak you are going to suck at the bench press as an ecto.

What could an ectomorph do to get that bench press number up?

There are no magic tricks that you could use. You just need to train the lift like everybody else while expecting smaller results. You can get really strong compared to the general population, especially if you’re willing to gain a lot of bodyweight to bench press more. You don’t expect Michael Jordan to bench press 500 lbs, do you? In order for that to happen he will have to weight 350+ himself to balance out his levers.

Are there better chest exercises than the bench press for ectomorphs?

The fact that you’re not lifting a lot on the bench does not mean that it cannot build you up. It can, if you are doing it properly. However, if you can’t handle it due to shoulder/wrist/elbow pain, you can try other classic movements such as: dips, dumbbell bench presses and push-ups.

Don’t cry, please!


Never self-punish yourself because of things you don’t control. Who cares that your bench press sucks? Seriously? No one does. People are not even paying attention. They are too focused on their own stuff and have no time to look at you. There are no people on this Earth whose main purpose in life is to bench press heavy weight. That’s true even for the elite bench press specialists who appear to be living solely for the lift. Those guys are nothing more than delusional individuals who are desperately trying to fit according to society’s expectations. They are doing nothing more than satisfying their egos and the obvious proof are the bench press shirts that help you lift 200 – 300 lbs more than you can normally. Oh man, ain’t that just pretty?

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