For years the bench press has been the butt of jokes for being useless for anything except building a good set of beach muscles. All show and no real go.
But the bench press can actually be a ‘functional’ exercise with a high degree of transferability to other skills utilising muscles and structures all over the body.
And no. This doesn’t involve lying on a bench with one leg in the air while holding a cable in one hand and a dumbbell in the other.
The main problem with the term 'functional training' is that functional is going to be different for everyone, we all have different activities and are required to perform different tasks on a day to day basis.
There are however a few basic principles that can be generally applied across all walk of life. Being strong in a power to weight context is almost never going to be a bad thing. And the better your body functions as a whole unit, the stronger you will be.
Bench press is generally referred to as a 'chest day' exercise. But there are a few changes you can make to your technique to make it more of a full body exercise.
Powerlifters are obviously some of the strongest athletes in the world and are capable of pressing ridiculous amount of weight. (The Australian record is over 230kg).
The technique they use is not something you are very likely to see at your local gym.
It involves generating tension from your feet all the way up to your hands. When done properly you will feel the work through your glutes, hamstrings, hips, abs, lats, shoulders and chest. So it basically becomes a full body lift.
The tension through out the entire body will help you lift heavier weights, increase strength and have a higher degree of transferability to sports, particularly those involving any type of wrestling, grappling, pushing and shoving.
Not bad for a beach muscle building exercise.
When getting started be sure to get your technique checked out by someone competent in teaching a powerlifting style bench press. Or check out our bench press tutorial video