We train our chests using cables, weights, machines, and even body weight. But time and time again, the most popular chest exercise is the bench press. While we know that the bench press targets the chest, can the bench press also work your biceps?
Today, we’ll answer this question by doing a full breakdown of the exercise and muscle group. First, we’ll look at the anatomy of your biceps. Then, we’ll answer some common questions about the muscle group and end with our suggestions. Are you ready? Let’s get started!
Anatomy of Your Biceps
The biceps brachii is the main muscle in the biceps. It is located in the upper arm and is responsible for flexing the elbow joint and rotating the forearm. Your biceps brachii has two heads, the long head and the short head, which work together to create movement.
The long head of the biceps originates from the shoulder blade and attaches to the radius bone in the forearm. The short head of the biceps originates from the coracoid process of the shoulder blade and also attaches to the radius bone. Both heads work in tandem to allow for movements like lifting, pulling, and curling.
In addition to the biceps brachii, there is a smaller muscle called the brachialis that is located beneath the biceps and helps with elbow flexion. Strengthening both of these muscles can lead to improved performance in a variety of pull exercises, such as pull-ups, curls, and rows. By understanding the anatomy and function of your biceps, you can properly target and train these muscles for optimal results.
Does Bench Press Work Your Biceps?
No, the bench press does not work your biceps. The bench press is primarily a compound exercise that targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps. While the biceps do play a secondary role in the bench press exercise, they are not the primary muscles being targeted.
If you are looking to specifically target your biceps, there are other exercises that may be more effective, such as bicep curls or chin-ups. These exercises allow you to focus more directly on the biceps and achieve greater isolation of the muscle group.
However, it’s worth noting that your biceps and chest are usually not targeted together with traditional workout splits. For biceps, you’re primarily targeting this muscle group on a pull day using dumbbells or a barbell. So, while the bench press does work the biceps to some extent, it is not considered a primary bicep exercise.
Can You Build Biceps With Bench Press?
Because you do not work your biceps doing a bench press, you won’t build your biceps while doing a bench press. The bench press is great for building upper body strength and muscle mass. However, because no part of the movement actively targets this area, your biceps will be largely unaffected.
As mentioned above, bicep curls, hammer curls, and chin-ups are all better exercises because they isolate and target the muscle group. Each exercise moves the biceps through their full range of motion, providing optimal muscle activation and growth.
That said, try to vary your exercises and include a mix of compound movements and isolation exercises to properly target each muscle group.
Do Biceps Help Bench Press?
Yes, the biceps do play a crucial role in helping with the bench press. When you're pushing that weight up and down, your biceps are working hard to keep the bar from wobbling all over the place.
This stabilization is particularly important during heavy lifts when even the slightest movement can throw off your form and put you at risk of injury. But don't get too excited about your biceps suddenly turning you into a bench press champion. The truth is, while they can help stabilize the bar, they're not the main muscles doing the heavy lifting (pun intended).
So if you really want to improve your bench press, you'll need to build your chest and triceps. This means exercising the inner chest and outer chest, doing various tricep workouts, and losing chest fat.
Why Do I Feel My Biceps When Doing Bench Press?
If you're feeling your biceps while doing bench presses, it's likely due to improper technique. This can be a common mistake, especially if you're new to weightlifting or haven't had proper coaching. Your elbows may be flaring out too much, which shifts the emphasis from your chest to your arms. To correct this, try tucking your elbows slightly closer to your body and engaging your chest muscles more.
Additionally, it's important to warm up properly before lifting weights to avoid injury. If you continue to feel discomfort in your biceps, take a break and stretch out your muscle groups. You shouldn’t try to exercise every day if your muscle groups are hitting. Listen to your body. Get some rest.
Another option is to do other chest exercises like chest presses. However, there are many different benefits and downsides to substituting a bench press with a chest press. To learn more about this topic, check out the article we wrote on bench press versus chest press.
So, bench press does not work the biceps, but you will have to use them to help stabilize the barbell whenever exercising. That’s not to say that bench press isn’t a very effective exercise. It’s one of the most iconic exercises to do in your workout and pretty much every fitness enthusiast uses bench press in their split.
If you want to grow your chest and biceps together, we recommend splitting the exercises similar to a push-pull-legs split. By doing so, you’ll see more even growth as you progress forward.
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