So, bench pressing every day: should you do it or not? We will go into detail of this interesting training regimen.
A lot of lifters think training a muscle more often can lead to better strength and mass gains.
However, this is not always the case.
Should you bench press every day? Yes, many lifters bench press every day to improve form and technique. Some lifters use this program to break through plateaus similar to the squat equivalent. Be careful not to hurt yourself as you can expose yourself to more overuse injuries.
Let’s go into more detail with the following read.
Brief History of the Bench Press
The bench press is a compound exercise that requires you to lie flat on an exercise bench and press a loaded bar off the chest for several repetitions.
The primary focus would be placed on the pectoral and secondarily on the triceps, the shoulders would also engage. The modern Bench press we see today originated in the late 1940s and was utilized for the purpose of bodybuilding and strength.
During the golden era, many lifters were hesitant to train the chest multiple times a week due to the fear of overtraining.
Not until the 90s did science advance to give us an idea of human adaptability and that a muscle group (I.e., bench press for pecs) can be trained daily, even though it’s still not that widely accepted (1).
Science Behind Bench Press Every Day
We experience exercise-induced muscle protein synthesis (muscle building) as a result of moderate-high intensity resistance training (1, 2, 3). This response can last around a week for beginners and 24-48 hours for advanced lifters.
So, you could say this is the time it takes to remodel the muscle after undergoing muscle protein degradation (breakdown) from those grueling sessions (1, 2, 3).
Furthermore, bench pressing every day will recruit more motor units (branches of muscle fibers), which will promote a more fluent movement patterning, thereby allowing one to load more weight with proper form (4, 5, 6). So, what does this tell us?
So, it tells us that to maximize muscle fiber recruitment and exercise-induced muscle protein synthesis for hypertrophy (muscle size) and strength, training a muscle group as frequently as 24hrs may be optimal. In other words, you CAN bench press every day. Not to mention the other chronic structural modification such as an increased bone mass and tendon pliability (7).
Learn more about 12 Best Dumbbell Chest Exercises Without A Bench (Tips And Videos)
Bench Press Every Day and Powerlifting Training
So, have you ever heard the saying ‘repetition is the mother of learning’ the same applies to resistance training, if you want to better yourself in the bench press, you would benefit by engaging in the exercise frequently? In fact, bench pressing can be employed in the daily undulating periodization fashion (DUP) (8) which I have highlighted below.
1. Weekly Strength Sessions
In fact, powerlifters could prioritize high-intensity strength training of 80-100% within the rep range of 2-5 for 5 sets. Generally, I would recommend long intra-set rest periods of 2-3 minutes to recuperate from the previous set (9).
2. Weekly Myofibular Hypertrophy Sessions
Moreover, you could incorporate some myofibular based hypertrophy sessions (breaking down muscle fiber) at a moderate intensity of 70-80% with 6-10 reps x 5 sets and an intra-set rest period of 1 minute (9). Also, this training mode devotes towards a stronger lift and you could think of muscle as a shock-absorbing base (10).
3. Example of Bench Press DUP for Powerlifters
In fact, if you require an individualized DUP bench press program, you must consult an exercise professional.
I can provide an example of how I would apply such a training protocol to myself, being a very advanced lifter.
So, I would utilize the bench press 7 days per week, prioritizing higher intensities and tapering my training intensity as the week progresses. Moreover, I would train to near failure by utilizing autoregulation, where you would increase or decrease the weight on the bar to remain within the specific rep range/intensity as strength can change over time (11). I have highlighted my bench press micro cycle below.
|Strength||Strength||Strength||Strength||Strength||Myofibular hypertrophy||Myofibular hypertrophy|
|2×5 reps(95%)||3×5 reps(90%)||4×5 reps(85%)||5×5 reps(80%)||5×5 reps(80%)||7×5 reps(75%)||10×5 reps(70%)|
4. De-load Phase
On the other hand, you must take into account that bench pressing daily is likely to overreach the central nervous system (12, 13). Over time, this could increase the risk of overtraining, impairing hormones (I.e., cortisol), and causing structural injuries (bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments) (12, 13).
For this reason, it is important to incorporate a de-load phase (I.e., 1 out of 4 weeks) where you would back off the intensity and/or training volume (12).
Observing a lower intensity that would normally be used to induce some sarcoplasmic-based hypertrophy (40-50% x 16-30 reps per set) (14) can be great for a de-load, as it gives the human structure and the central nervous system a chance to recompose, and at the same time maintaining the bench press movement pattern (15).
7 Benefits of Bench Pressing Every Day
Below, I have highlighted some physiological/mechanical changes that may occur from bench pressing every day.
1. Increased Strength and Hypertrophy
As I have mentioned, training induces a response of muscle protein degradation (breakdown) and muscle protein synthesis (building). However, if all of the other variables such as nutrition and rest are met, synthesis would exceed degradation (net protein turnover) (1, 2, 3).
In simpler terms, you will build more muscle than you would lose from a bench press session and you can elongate this response if you repeat the exercise every day to maximize strength and hypertrophy, with the caveat you are an advanced lifter (1, 2, 3).
2. Improving Bench Press Technique
In fact, a motor unit is a complex structure made of neurons and branches of muscle fibers, which coordinate contractions like the horizontal flexion of the upper arm and extension of the elbow (bench press) (6).
Moreover, bench pressing every day could maximize the motor unit recruitment for its specific movement pattern, thereby chronically improving technique (16). So, perfecting your technique would be beneficial for general safety and competition lifts (16).
3. Develops Push-based Muscles
Some individuals lack genetics in certain areas I.e., ‘push’ muscles (chest, triceps, shoulders) in terms of strength and muscle development (17). In fact, bench pressing every day may create a greater muscle composition in these areas and balance a physique and functional performance (1).
4. Breaking Through Plateaus
At some point, muscle and strength gains will stagnate during the bench press, where a greater muscle overload would be required to break through the plateau (18). So, periodically employing the Bench press every day would most likely increase training volume and frequency, thereby enabling one to progress (18).
5. Increased Bone Mass
So, the high-intensity Bench press is a load-bearing exercise, which stimulates an osteogenic effect on the bones of the arms and ribs (bone growth) (19). Bench pressing every day would chronically create a larger appearance and increase the potential to load more weight during the lift (19).
6. Increased Tendon Elasticity/Pliability
Another physiological change would be increased pectoral tendon size and strength (7, 20). The pectoral tendons attach muscle to bone and stabilize the joint to mediate the bench press, whereas a stronger tendon would allow you to lift more weight in the long term (7, 20).
7. Increased Energy Output
As a matter of fact, if you ramp up training frequency on the bench press, you should expect to burn some additional calories via the exercise energy expenditure variable, which would help maintain a leaner body composition (21)
3 Drawbacks to Bench Pressing Every Day
1. Increased Injury Risk
Bench pressing every day can cause structural decomposition at an accelerated rate with an increased risk of subsequent overuse injuries such as; Pectoral muscle and tendon strains, rotator cuff strains, elbow/wrist ligament sprain, and bone fractures (22). On this basis, I would say it’s important to forget to a de-load at the end of every mesocycle and if you feel any niggles or sharp pains, I would suggest reducing training frequency (22).
2. Muscle Imbalances/Hindering Posture
So, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that If you’re bench pressing every day, those ‘push muscles’ produce accelerated growth, where it is likely that other posterior muscle groups would not be stimulated to the same degree (23). This can lead to muscular imbalances and affect posture due to the anterior muscle protruding and curving the spine (23)
3. Tedium Effect
Repetition is the key to success, but can also become very boring. If the bench press is observed every single day, it can become tedious, thus reducing training motivation (24). With lowered training motivation, exertions will without a doubt decrease, where progression would halt or can even regress (24).
Who Should Bench Press Every Day?
1. Advanced Powerlifters
In fact, advanced powerlifters can engage in daily bench press sessions to maximize their strength in preparation for a competition (8).
However, there are periods where training frequency should be reduced for recovery, either during a de-load or while approaching peak week (8).
Once again, the individualized training programming will entirely depend on the lifter which would be discussed with a coach.
2. Advanced Bodybuilders
Advanced Bodybuilders can also utilize the bench press every day to maximize ‘push’ based muscle size (8).
Furthermore, advanced bodybuilders will experience a response in muscle protein synthesis that lasts around 24hr, which can only be elongated by stressing the muscle daily (8).
3. Lifters with the Inferior Pectoral Genetic Makeup
In fact, even lower-level lifters who have disadvantages in their ‘push’ muscle genetic makeup could consider bench pressing every day to bring up these muscles as I have highlighted.
Who Should Not Bench Press Every Day?
1. Beginners and Intermediates
If you recall, I mentioned that beginners would undergo a significantly longer period of muscle protein synthesis after a bench press session, therefore strength and conditioning benefits could probably be maximized by a single bench press session per week, and perhaps 2 sessions for intermediate lifters (2).
So, training too frequently for these lifters does not offer that many additional benefits.
2. Injury-prone Lifters
Some lifters are just not capable of bench pressing every day due to being injury prone for a variety of reasons like; small joints, inadequate muscle recovery, lower bone mineral density, etc. (22).
1. Observe Good Nutrition
In fact, it is important to observe a nutritional intake that would aid recovery and offer fuel for the training (25). I would recommend a high protein intake of over 2g/kg body weight while consuming enough calories to be at caloric maintenance (25).
2. Adequate Rest
Recovery/muscle composition takes place during sleep, likewise, sleep can help normalize hormones to decrease the risk of overreaching early (26). So, I would suggest 7-8 hours of sleep per night (26).
3. Learn Key Bench Press Ques
I remember for the first 5 years of lifting, I thought I performed the perfect bench press but later realized that it wasn’t as safe. I have highlighted some key points that all lifters should apply while setting up for the bench press, especially for those who bench press every day.
- Brace the core throughout the movement to maintain a neutral spine
- Arch the lower back to prevent the spine from curving (small arch for bodybuilders, exaggerated arch for powerlifters)
- Retract the scapula to protect the rotator cuffs
- Keep the feet flat and wide on the ground to maintain balance
- Breathe throughout the lift to ensure oxygenated blood reaches the brain and muscles to prevent fainting
- Clench the bar as opposed to using an open thumb grip, as the bar can slip out of the hand and fall on the ribcage
4. Recruit a Training Partner
Based on anecdotes, some lifters become encouraged to train more frequently with more motivation when they’re accompanied by a training partner.
Frequently Asked Questions
Gym-based activities don’t tend to cause overtraining unless you’re training hours on top of hours daily. However, if you keep overreaching without setting a de-load there is an increased chance of chronic overtraining.
It really depends on your training level, if you’re a beginner you could get your ‘newbie’ gains from bench pressing once or even twice a week.
If you’re a powerlifter trying to maximize your bench press, I would say a majority of your training sessions should utilize the bench press to recruit and maintain relevant motor units. On the other hand, if you’re a bodybuilder or a recreational lifter trying to add mass and strength, by all means, incorporate alternatives like the; dumbbell press, Dubell flies, machine press, weighted push-ups, etc.
You would simply begin to regress in muscle mass and strength, but not to the point where you started training, but then again that depends on how long you were bench pressing and your training level.
I would suggest picking a suitable volume based on your training level, for example, 35 sets per week. You would split your total sets by 7, which would give you 5 bench press sets per day, where you could include other exercises within your session. Note that your individualized training program will require thorough consultation and planning from you and your coach.
So, bench pressing every day can be utilized for advanced powerlifters and bodybuilders to maximize muscle, strength, and bench press technique. It could also be used by some lifters who lack the genetics in the bench press muscles. Similarly, it can be a periodic tool for lifters who have hit a plateau and need a new form of overload. Also, for injury-prone lifters bench pressing this frequently is not recommended.
Some cons of bench pressing every day are that it can become boring and draw some overuse injuries. For this reason, I cannot stress the importance of listening to your body, where if you’re feeling any pain, you would reduce the frequency until it has been addressed and has completely subsided. Moreover, incorporating regularly programmed de-loads can allow the body to recompose and continue to improve through the macrocycle (e.g., 1 year).
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