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5 Bench Press Machines to Get a Ripped Upper Body

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5 Bench Press Machines to Get a Ripped Upper Body

Shredded biceps and defined pecs can be yours if you exercise effectively and often. One of the best ways to build these muscles is to do your time on the bench press machine. Build your arm, chest and back muscles and achieve impressive gains, by making sure you get your bench press in.

But, do you struggle to get to the gym to put in your reps? Purchasing a bench press machine can bring you many benefits that go beyond not having to drag yourself out to the gym. Your physique and mental and physical health will all improve thanks to easy access to weight lifting equipment.

Are you ready to add a bench press machine to your home gym? In this guide, you’ll learn about the different types of bench press machines, why you should get one, the muscles you’ll work, details about the best products and how to choose the best bench press machine for your needs.

As always, you’ll find well-researched, scientifically proven information about the muscles the bench press works and the best ways to use the machine for different goals you may have. We’ve even included a recommended workout routine you can try when using your new bench press machine.

So, let’s get started!

Types of Bench Press Machines (And Why You Need One)

Man Working Out Using Weight BenchBefore you start shopping for your bench press machine, you’ll need to learn the options available. From dedicated bench press machines to weight benches that allow you to bench, there are a variety of options from which to choose.

Here are the main types of bench press machines you should know about:

Weight Bench

A weight lifting bench typically includes a bench press rack. In this set up, you perform traditional bench presses using a barbell or dumbbells. The weight bench supports you as you lie flat on your back or at an inclined or declined angle. The rack holds the barbell so that you can start in the correct position and also after you’ve completed the exercise. Most racks also include a safety feature to catch the bar should you max out while lifting.

Smith Machine

Providing ultimate safety and guidance for beginners, the smith machine can be used as a bench press machine, but can also be used for squats and other lifting exercises. Using a system that guides the bar straight up and down for you, the smith machine makes sure your form is impeccable. The machine also makes it easy to stop safely without a spotter should you run out of steam.

However, due to their size, smith machines aren’t usually recommended for home gyms. Furthermore, this study showed that muscle activation for the bench press was lesser when using the smith machine.

Press Machines

Other bench press machine products include Valor’s Fitness’s Inclined Bench Press (our Honorable Mention) or the Body Solid Leverage Incline Bench (our 4th choice). These options also offer support for you while working out. Like the smith machines, these options might result in lower muscle activation of key muscles. However, for beginners or those who want to work out alone, without a spotter, the safety offered by these bench press machine products is a great advantage.

What About Using a Swiss Ball?

There’s a lot of attention given to using unstable surfaces when performing resistance exercises. It’s thought that the instability created when you use a surface like a Swiss ball results in greater muscle activation, meaning you get a better workout. Can you make gains more quickly by using a Swiss ball? Research is inconclusive.

According to this study, there’s no difference between using a stable vs. unstable surface. This suggests that you might as well stick to a stable surface, such as a weight bench or another bench press machine. It’s probably safer to use a stable surface, especially at home where you might not have a workout body to spot for you.

Why Purchase a Bench Press Machine?

Here are our top three reasons you should purchase a bench press machine:

Get Results

Get rid of excuses and impediments to achieving a defined chest and killer arms. The fewer barriers between you and exercising, the more likely you’ll actually work out and make progress towards your goals. Common barriers to exercise include being too lazy to go to the gym, not being able to afford the membership, lack of time, and being embarrassed to work out in front of others. Avoid all of these issues by purchasing some affordable equipment instead of paying monthly for a membership you don’t even want to use.

Once you start working out, you’ll get results, and fast! To build muscle, you need to lift increasing amounts of weight. A bench press machine will help you get those defined arms, chest and back muscles.

Get Smarter

Did you know that exercise can boost your cognitive function? According to this study in which subjects participated in resistance exercise (weight lifting, like the bench press), cognitive and executive function improved. Specifically, high-intensity exercise improved the speed of processing information while moderate intensity exercise boosted executive function. Executive function relates to your ability to make decisions, control impulses and emotions, prioritize, and more.

Feel Happier

In a study of depressed, elderly patients, progressive resistance training improved quality of life significantly. Not only that, but they quickly gained strength. This is important since, as we age, we typically begin losing muscle mass after age 40. So, improve your mood and gain muscle by lifting weights regularly.

What the Bench Press Works

The bench press is performed by lying on your back and pushing weight away from you. This movement targets the following muscles:

Muscles Activated:

  • Pectoralis major (chest)
  • Anterior and posterior deltoid (shoulders)
  • Biceps brachii (arms) 58.5-62.6% lower when inclined
  • Triceps brachii (arms) 48.3-68.7% greater when inclined
  • Latissimus dorsi (back)

Depending on the way that you perform the exercise, you’ll work muscles with different intensities. This study looked at the difference in muscle activation when using a flat, inclined or declined bench. Results showed that you increase activation of the triceps when working on an inclined bench, and lower activation of your biceps. So, to target your triceps use an incline while working out.

Our Favorite Bench Press Machine Products

Now, we’ll get into the best bench press machine options on the market. We’ve pored over the many available products to find those that offer the most value for money. The best bench press machine for you will depend on your unique needs and preferences. Take a look at these great products. In the following section, we’ll help you through the decision-making process.

Fitnessator’s Top Pick

Marcy Olympic Weight Bench for Full-Body Workout

Man Using Bench Press MachineWhy We Love It:

This versatile, but affordable bench will allow you to do much more than the bench press. In addition, you can get a full body workout targeting your chest, arms, back, core, and legs.

Details:

  • Adjustable bench for flat, decline and incline positions
  • Leg developer and preacher curl station that allow you to perform various exercises
  • Space to store weights

Things to Consider:

The manufacturer doesn’t provide details on the weight capacity, meaning that it might not meet your requirements if you’re an experienced lifter.

Customer Reviews:

Customers are generally happy with this piece of equipment. It offers great value for money considering the versatility of the machine and the affordable price. However, some customers do note that the machine isn’t adjustable for height or size, meaning that it may fit certain body types better than others.

Who Should Purchase This Product:

If you’re looking for a solid machine that’s ideal for beginners or medium weight lifters, this is a great choice. Offering great versatility so that you can get a full body workout, you’ll get much more than just a bench press machine.

Fitnessator’s Runner Up

Body Champ Olympic Weight Bench with Preacher Curl and Leg Developer

Body Champ Olympic Weight Bench with Preacher Curl and Leg DeveloperWhy We Love It:

Similar to our Top Pick, this affordable and versatile bench will allow you to perform a full body workout. Get that body you’re working towards with this great piece of equipment!

Details:

  • Features an adjustable bench and bench rack
  • The bench includes a leg developer and preacher curl station, allowing you to perform crunches and various leg exercises

Things to Consider:

To use this equipment, you’ll need plenty of space and it’s not easy to move around. You’ll also need to purchase your own free weights, bar and dumbbells to use the equipment.

Customer Reviews:

Overall, customers are very pleased with this product as it performs as promised. Users say it’s sturdy, comfortable and meets their expectations.

Who Should Purchase This Product:

If you’re looking for a solid beginner’s weight bench that will allow you to get a full workout, give this bench a try!

Fitnessator’s Honorable Mention

Valor Fitness Inclined Bench Press: A Dedicated Bench Press Machine

Valor Fitness Inclined Bench Press: A Dedicated Bench Press MachineWhy We Love It:

This solid, durable machine is the perfect dedicated bench press machine. With this bench, you can perform the bench press with confidence, even on your own without a spotter.

Details:

  • Heavy duty steel frame
  • Adjustable bench that is attached to the bench press apparatus
  • Weight capacity for lifting: 250 pounds

Things to Consider:

You’ll need to purchase your own plates to use this machine. Also, you may want to test how much you’re pressing before choosing this option. The weight capacity is fine for beginners, but if you’re an experienced lifter, a limit of 250 pounds may be too little. Finally, the bench won’t be easy to use for other exercises.

Customer Reviews:

Customers are impressed with the machines durability and performance. One drawback may be that the grip is not adjustable, meaning if you have narrow or wide shoulders, you may have trouble with the grip.

Who Should Purchase This Product:

Beginner to medium experienced weight lifters who want to lift safely on their own will make great use of this product.

Solid Choice for a Bigger Budget

Body Solid Leverage Incline Press

Body Solid Leverage Incline PressWhy We Love It:

Built to handle plenty of weight, this machine is made to last. The design also leaves plenty of space for you to store your free weights.

Details:

  • Inclined bench and bench press station
  • Independent arms for even muscle development
  • Weight capacity for lifting up to 700 pounds

Things to Consider:

This machine is commercially rated, which means it comes with a price tag to match. If you can afford it and you need this level of durability and weight capacity, go for it!

Customer Reviews:

Customers rave about the product’s solid construction and quality.

Who Should Purchase This Product:

If you’re an advanced weight lifter who expects to bench more than 200 pounds, this is the bench press machine for you. It’s also a good option if you want a safe bench press machine to use at home without a spotter.

A Versatile Budget-Friendly Machine

Body Champ Olympic Weight Bench: An All-Purpose Machine

Body Champ Olympic Weight Bench: An All-Purpose MachineWhy We Love It:

Affordable and versatile, this Olympic weight bench offers the perfect bench press machine. But, you can also get plenty of use from this bench for performing other exercises such as squats, rows, and more.

Details:

  • Includes an adjustable weight bench and squat or bench rack
  • Features safety spotters
  • Transport wheels so that you can move it around

Things to Consider:

To actually use this product, you’ll need to purchase your barbell, free weights and any dumbbells you’d like to use.

Customer Reviews:

Customers love how well this affordable piece of gym equipment performs. The only complaints seem to be that taller people might need a taller rack for squats. Also, you might need to weigh down the rack if you do lots of heavy lifting.

Who Should Purchase This Product:

If you’re looking for a basic, affordable and functional bench press machine that will also allow you to perform plenty of other weight bench exercises, Body Champ’s Olympic Weight Bench is a great choice!

How to Pick a Bench Press Machine

Man Using Bench Press MachineNow that you know more about some of the most popular products, how can you pick the best bench press machine for your home gym? When it comes to picking the best product, take these considerations into account:

Your Goals

Your fitness goals will play a key role in helping you decide which bench press machine to purchase. For example, if you want to be able to perform not only the bench press, but also other exercises such as the lying row, seated bicep curls, decline push ups, and more, you’ll want to purchase a piece of equipment that allows you to do these exercises.

Also, it’s important to purchase a product you can grow with. Think a few months ahead. You should be able to increase what you’re able to lift in that time, so make sure the equipment can handle it!

Your Fitness Level

If you’re a beginner, or you haven’t done a lot of bench press in the past, choose a product that offers maximum support and safety features.

Every experienced gym goer knows that having a spotter while working out is important. You might max out while benching and be unable to push the barbell up to the starting position again. The heavy bar can fall against your chest or neck, leaving you incapacitated. Don’t put yourself in that position.

If you know you won’t have access to a spotter or workout buddy, opt for a machine with more safety features such as our Honorable Mention or the Body Solid machine. Some weight benches like our Top Pick include safety spotters on the bench rack, making it a safe choice as well.

Budget

When purchasing home gym equipment it’s easy to overspend. Think about how much you can reasonably spend without maxing your bank account. Then, make sure that the product you choose fits within the designated amount.

Features

Take a careful look at all the features the machine offers. For example, not all of the benches you’ll find are adjustable. This means that some incline benches can’t be made flat. If you already have another weight bench, this may not be a problem. However, if you want your bench press machine to serve as your main weight bench, ensure that it will allow you to do all of the exercises you want to do.

Can You DIY Bench Press Machine?

Yes, you can! Some people who are great at woodworking have made their own, homemade bench press machine stations and squat racks. However, you must be very confident in your DIY abilities to take on a project of this nature. Stability in your bench press machine is essential, otherwise, you’re putting yourself at risk when using your own equipment.

In this video, you can see how Project Woodworks has created an impressive bench press weight bench that also includes studs where you can store weights.

 

Do take into account that these projects may run up a bill comparable to purchasing some of the lower end equipment. This is because lumbar and materials can be quite pricey. So, before you think DIY is cheaper, make sure you estimate the costs.

A Sample Workout With Your Bench Press Machine

How to Bench Press

What’s the proper form when benching?

To do the traditional bench press with a barbell, load up the bar with a moderate amount of weight, keeping in mind that the typical barbell weighs 45 pounds. Then, lie flat on the weight bench, knees bent and feet firmly planted on the floor on either side of the bench. Grasp the bar about shoulder width apart. Lift it straight up above you. Then, bring the bar down slowly and evenly to your chest (right about at the nipple line) and push it back up again, slowly and deliberately.

You can include the bench press in your chest workouts or in an upper body workout. Include the bench press up to three times per week. It’s important to give your muscles recovery time between workouts so that your muscles can repair and grow. On your days off, you can work your legs, focus on cardio, or do whole body HIIT workouts.

Many fitness enthusiasts do their bench press exercises in sets. For example, you might to 10 reps in 3 sets. Or, you might opt for 5 reps in 5 sets. When doing your sets don’t forget to rest in between! This study showed that participants experienced reductions in performance when they waited for one minute or less between sets. However, when rest intervals of 3 to 5 minutes were used, there was no reduction in performance during at least the first 3 or 4 sets. Resting can help you lift harder and get results faster.

Barbell Vs. Dumbbells

You can opt to use dumbbells when doing the bench press rather than the barbell. The same form is used as when you use the barbell. However, as noted by this study, since you have less stability when using dumbbells, the muscles in your biceps will have to work harder. This may mean that you can bench less weight using the dumbbells than when using the barbell.

The bottom line? Either way is fine. In fact, you might consider breaking up your bench press routine and using dumbbells some days and barbells on other days each week.

The Bobby Maximus Benching Method: Breakthrough the Plateau

Struggling to break through a plateau? If you can’t up your lifting load no matter how hard you try, give Bobby Maximus’ method a shot. It’s simple but effective.

How does it work? Load up the bar with weights so that you can comfortably perform 10 reps, but don’t go higher than 225 pounds. Then, set a timer for 30 minutes and do as many reps as you can. The key here is doing reps in your best form. Take breaks as you need them, but aim to stay on the bench as much as is safely possible.

The Bottom Line on the Best Bench Press Machine

There are plenty of great bench press machine options on the market to choose from. With the right machine, you’ll work towards getting a defined chest and ripped arms everyone will be jealous of. As a bonus, you might even be able to perform other exercises on your new equipment! For example, with our Top Pick, you can get in a full body workout in addition to your bench press.

Already done shopping? Tell us about your favorite bench press machine in the comments

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