Machine Bench Press Exercise
Basically, this exercise is the same as the barbell bench press and the dumbbell bench press. However, the weight is now guided with all the implications described in the discussion of machines versus free weights (see weight training basics category). The machine bench press is appropriate for beginners. A well-designed machine will allow you to take the weight from the extension of the arms at the top of the movement.
Machine Bench Press Exercise Guide
Starting position (setup):
Lie flat on the bench with your feet on the ground (if the bench is low) or on a step. Take hold of the grips, which should be vertically above the chest, overhand (pronation) and with your hands slightly more than shoulder width apart. Preferably you should place your thumb below the grip.
Inhale as you lower the weight to the level of the middle of your chest and then raise it vertically. Your elbows should stay perpendicular (and away from) your body. Avoid locking the elbows when you reach the top of the movement. Exhale on completing the lift.
Muscles Involved in Machine Bench Press Exercise
Main muscles: pectoralis major, triceps, deltoids (anterior)
Secondary muscles: coracobrachialis, serratus anterior, subscapularis
Antagonists: latissimus dorsi, biceps, deltoids (posterior)
Machine Bench Press Variations
The machine bench press can be done with different kinds of equipment: lying on a flat bench, an incline bench or seated with a straight back. It is your choice what kind of machine pressing movement you prefer.
Substitutes (Replacement Exercises)
Lying machine bench press can easily be replaced with other pressing exercises that target your middle chest area. The middle chest is best stimulated from exercises done on a flat bench. Visit our middle chest exercise database to find those exercises.
- Flat bench barbell press
- Flat bench dumbbell press
- Smith-machine bench press
- Chest push-ups
- Push-ups between two Chairs – Deep push-ups
Advantages & Disadvantages
Good convergent press machines are ideal because they do the following:
- Require almost no manipulation to grab and release the handles.
- Copy the range of motion of dumbbells without having the same restrictions when using heavy weights.
- Generally place the muscles in the correct trajectory (at least on the best machines).
- Protect you from any loss of balance.
- Have no weight limitations (such as those that you encounter with dumbbells).
But machines are not perfect:
- Unfortunately, good convergent machines are more difficult to find than bad machines.
- The exercise often begins with a positive phase (rather than a negative phase as with bar), which makes the first repetition more difficult.
- Some people do not like having the trajectory completely guided, but this rigidity prevents a lot of injuries that might happen to people using bars or dumbbells.
Machine Bench Press vs. Barbell Bench Press
As a bodybuilder you can chose between different types of training equipment. This generally means barbells, dumbbells and a wide variety of machines, designed to stimulate your muscles from every possible angle. However, the question that must be answered is which apparatus is best for achieving your bodybuilding goal safely and effectively? To give you an example as to why free weights are superior over machines in regard of muscle building, let’s take a closer look at the machine bench press. Performing the barbell bench press requires a higher degree of muscle coordination in comparison to the machine bench press because you have to balance the weight yourself when using barbells or dumbbells. This higher demand of coordinating your chest, shoulder and triceps muscles results in complete muscle stimulation, giving each respective muscle more than it would receive when using the bench press machine. Consequently, you will get much better results in building high density muscles while using barbells and dumbbells in your workouts.