Why it's on the list: It's popular to hate on the bench press these days, but it's one of the most popular lifts in the gym for a reason. For one, the standard barbell bench allows you to move the most weight. It's also an easier lift to control than pressing with heavy dumbbells. The exercise is also relatively easy to spot—so don't be afraid to ask for one!
The bench press also responds well to classic protocols like 5x5 for muscle and strength, or even 10x10, aka German Volume Training, for pure mass. If you want to get serious, there are systematic bench press programs like Bench 300 to help you chase a big number.
Barbell Bench Press Variations for Chest Growth:
- Barbell bench press (medium, wide, or close grip)
- Barbell floor press
- Barbell bench press with chains
- Bench press with a neutral grip, "Swiss bar," or multi-grip bar
- Reverse-grip barbell bench press
- Barbell "guillotine" bench press
- Bench press with suspended weights
- Reverse band bench press
In your workout: Bench toward the start of your chest workout for heavy sets in lower rep ranges, such as 5-8 reps. There are better moves for high-rep chest burnouts. Vary your grip width and style for more complete chest development.