One of the most iconic exercises, the bench press had humble beginnings in ancient Greece as a way for athletes to train for not only the ancient Olympic games but for their military duties too. For most of us there’s no requirement for us to train for such pursuits, however the bench press remains one of the core exercises we perform as part of our usual gym routine. The bench press is a great exercise to measure upper body strength as it primarily targets muscles in your chest, shoulders and triceps. You’ll find great tips and instructions in our Arise Physical Therapy bench press series (HERE). In the meantime, let’s explore a little of the history of bench press, its evolution and its use today.
Origins of the Bench Press
The origins of the bench press can be traced back to ancient Greece, where wrestlers used stone weights to train and compete. These athletes would often lift and throw these stones as part of their training regimen, which would help them improve their strength and power. Over time, the use of weights evolved, and in the 1800s, weightlifting as a sport began to emerge. The first recorded bench press competition took place in England in 1898, where athletes lifted a barbell with a weight attached to each end from a lying position on a bench.
"Benching Improves your Posture"
Evolution of the Bench Press
As weightlifting became more popular, the bench press evolved as well. In the early 1900s, the exercise was primarily performed with a narrow grip, and the lifters would arch their backs to decrease the range of motion and lift more weight. This technique, known as the "laying press," eventually gave way to the modern-day bench press, which is usually performed with a wider grip and a flat back. In the 1950s and 1960s, powerlifting emerged as a sport, and the bench press became one of the three lifts in competition, along with the squat and deadlift. Powerlifters began to experiment with different bench press techniques, such as the "shirted bench press," which involved wearing a specialized shirt that provided additional support and allowed the lifter to lift more weight.
"Benching Increases your Metabolic Rate"
Current Popularity of the Bench Press
Today, the bench press is a staple exercise in gyms around the world, and is often used as a benchmark for measuring upper body strength. It is also commonly used in sports performance training and rehabilitation programs. Its popularity has led to the development of new variations, such as the incline bench press, decline bench press, and dumbbell bench press. These variations target different areas of the chest and shoulders, and can help to improve overall upper body strength and development.
"Benching Reduces your Risk of Injury"
The bench press has come a long way since its ancient Greek origins, and has evolved into a popular exercise that is used by athletes, powerlifters, and fitness enthusiasts alike. Whether you're looking to improve your upper body strength or simply want to incorporate a classic exercise into your workout routine, the bench press is a great choice.