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7 Reasons Why You Can’t Feel Your Chest During Bench Press

The bench press is one of the most demanding workout routines, but sometimes the results are not what you expect. Particularly, you may notice that your muscles in the chest area remain the same even after a hard workout session. 

There are many reasons why you can’t feel your chest during bench press exercises. You either didn’t warm up correctly, you’re suffering muscle imbalance, or the grip is too close. Or maybe you don’t have a good mind-muscle relationship. 

There’s no need to worry, of course! This article will walk you through all of those problems and potential solutions you can try. By the end of this piece, you will be feeling your upper body muscles grow as they should!

Seven Reasons You Can’t Feel Your Chest During Bench Press

You may not feel your chest during bench press due to multiple reasons, including lack of warm-up, wrong grip technique, or muscles imbalance, to name a few. Learn everything about these issues and how to deal with them here.

1. You’re Not Properly Warmed Up

If you feel like your workout doesn’t have any impact on your chest muscles, perhaps you should change your warm-up exercises. Don’t go with the same old 15 reps. Instead, try dynamic warm-ups to get the blood flowing into the muscles before doing an intense workout.

How to Warm Up the Chest Area Properly?

Dumbbell Flyes

Incline flyes put less strain on the shoulders and improve blood flow to your muscles. You will feel a squeeze in your pec muscles, which activates the muscles in the chest area before doing heavy weight bench presses.

Pylo Push-Ups

Try a couple of sets of plyo push-ups to activate the fast-twitch fibers in the muscles. 


Using bodyweight dips is another effective method to warm up multiple areas of your body before lifting more weight. You can work the triceps, shoulders, and chest with this method.

A 2006 study shows that dynamic warm-up improves strength, speed, and power performance before working out. You can check out the study by Danny J McMillian here.

2. You’re Not Pinching Your Shoulder Blades Together

Before heading into your bench press workout, you must know how to do it properly. It’s not as simple as just lying down and lifting weight. Instead, you must pinch your shoulder blades together to focus the pressure on the chest area.

Steps for Pinching Shoulder Blades Together

  • Lift your arms in front of you and keep them straight. In this position, you’ll notice that there’s no tension or tightness in the center of your back. 
  • Retract the shoulder blades.
  • Retract the lats.

That’s it! Now you must maintain the tension when you bring the elbows back and before pushing the weight. People often lose this bench press form when they push forward, putting a lot of strain on the shoulders. Make sure to keep the elbows down to put pressure on the chest muscle groups.

The shoulder blades are an important body part that you use in a bench press workout. You must keep them retracted to reduce the stress in the shoulder blades and move them more freely. Mastering this technique will allow you to lift the weight efficiently and safely.

3. Your Grip Is Too Close

Doing bench press with a narrow grip allows you to work out the triceps but not the chest muscles. 

A wider grip on the bar will let you work the chest muscles more efficiently. Powerlifters often bench press adopting a wide grip, usually around 1.5 and 2X the shoulder-width distance. 

However, each case is different, and you should calculate the right grip width based on your own body and preferences.

Changing the length of your grip is not easy, though. Your chest will need some time to catch up with the strength necessary to pull the barbell weight. Here are a few steps on how to make the transition from a narrow to a wide grip.

  • Move exactly one finger length away on each side, and practice chest exercises with this new grip for three or four weeks.
  • If it feels comfortable and you’re doing well with the same or more strength level, move the grip another finger length on both sides. 
  • Continue expanding your grip until you’re about 2X shoulder-width distance.
Pro Tip: Don’t go from a close grip to a wider grip too fast, or you may experience elbow or bicep pain.

“In my experience being 6’4”, I felt it in my chest so much more when I went just a bit wider. It was amazing how much of a change it made for me to go maybe an inch wider. I started getting chest pumps on the bench, which I never really got in the past,” said one lifter I spoke to at the gym.

4. You Have a Muscle Imbalance

Muscle imbalance is when the triceps are not strong enough to lift the weight it takes to fatigue the chest. As a result of this condition, you may have to stop the lift before working the chest muscles. 

Here’s an Example of Muscle Imbalance

Imagine that your right pec has more strength than the left. When you’re lifting, the right side of the bar rises faster, and it will tire you more slowly when compared to the other side. 

In this situation, you’re underutilizing the left pec. The same thing happens with chest muscles. If your arms can’t complete the full workout motion, your chest won’t feel any change.

The solution to muscle imbalance is practicing unilateral triceps exercises. Switch from the barbell bench press to the unilateral dumbbell bench press to exercise both sides independently. With both sides gaining strength equally, there won’t be any muscle imbalance issues.

5. You Plateaued

The term “plateau” refers to a condition in which your body adjusts to the workout routines. When plateau occurs, you may not see the same results as before, including in the chest muscles. 

“If you’re consistently doing the same workout, you will stop seeing results as the body needs variety to challenge it to a new plateau,” according to fitness expert Christine Bullock. She says that the human body can adapt to repetition, and working out under the same exercises won’t be a challenge anymore.

Plateau is unlikely to happen to beginners, but it could happen to you after a long time lifting weights. You can tell you’re going through a plateau stage when you stop seeing improvements, you start gaining weight, or you don’t recover as fast as you did before.

But breaking through a plateau is easy if you know what you’re doing. Here are a few things you can try.

  • Use a dumbbell press instead of a barbell. Using new equipment will give you a new and fresh mentality towards bench pressing. 
  • Vary the repetitions. A plateau can be just a sign of a rep scheme that doesn’t work for you anymore. Shift your reps and have fun with different intensities while training in the bench press.

Can the Lack of Chest Sensation During Bench Press be Due to Working Delts?

The lack of chest sensation during bench press could be attributed to overworked deltoids. Proper form and focusing on chest activation are crucial for bench press and delt development. However, neglecting chest engagement and relying too much on deltoids may result in diminished chest sensation. Therefore, it is important to strike a balance between delt and chest involvement to optimize bench press effectiveness.

Are the Reasons for Not Feeling Your Chest During Bench Press Related to What to Focus On During a Workout After Chest Day?

During a bench press, it is common to not feel your chest properly. However, this issue may not be directly related to what to do after chest day. It could be due to improper form, lack of mind-muscle connection, or weak chest muscles. To optimize your chest workout, focus on proper technique, engaging the chest muscles, and gradually increasing intensity. Remember, what to do after chest day is important, but addressing form and muscle activation will enhance your bench press experience.

6. Lack of Mind-Muscle Connection

The mind and body connection helps fix your attention on specific muscles. This connection starts when your brain releases acetylcholine, telling the muscle to contract. 

Once you improve the communication between the body and brain, you will release more acetylcholine to activate muscle fibers faster. As a result, you will experience effective muscle contraction and improved chest exercise gains. 

How to Improve Mind-Muscle Connection?

Flex and Pose

When you go to the gym, take the time to practice some flexing and posing. This method is one of the most effective ways to develop a connection between your brain and chest muscles.

Slow Down the Reps to Feel Any Muscle Movement

Slowing down allows you to know how each contraction should feel and which muscles are moving.

Focus on Your Muscles

When you work out, focus entirely on the muscles. Don’t think about the number of reps or the equipment you’re lifting, only your muscles.

Tap the Muscle

Tapping the chest muscles while working out sends a strong signal to the brain. You can tap the muscles yourself or ask the trainer or partner to do it for you.

Imagine the Muscles Moving

Visualize in your own imagination what muscles you’re exercising. This technique is easy, simple, and it works to improve your mind-muscle connection.

Try Chest Presses

Fix the resistance bands to the wall. Then, start pushing the bands ahead of you while concentrating on the chest muscles you’re stretching. Continue focusing on those chest muscles while increasing the reps. Over time, you should notice where the squeeze is.

7. You’re not Doing Partials

Partial reps bench press movements target the chest muscles, which is an area that many people often underwork. This technique puts more pressure and constant tension on chest muscles during the lower part of the movement to improve lockout strength.

“My recommendation is that you first begin incorporating bench pressing into your training with the full range of motion, but work in half or quarter reps, when you’re comfortable,” says Alena Luciani, founder of Training2XL. 

When you combine both ranges of motion, the results will be stronger and bigger muscles. You also experience more calorie burn, and your chest will feel better.

Many famous bodybuilders practice partial reps during their workout to increase the muscle-building process. Larry Scott, the first-ever Mr. Olympia champion, adopted this practice back in 1960. 

Ronnie Coleman is another example of a man that performed almost 100% of chest, shoulder, triceps, and quadricep routines doing only partial reps.

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About Ben Adler

I'm Ben, a passionate fitness enthusiast on a mission to help you achieve your fitness goals. With a love for lifting and building a well-rounded physique, I founded Swole Class to provide beginners with the guidance and knowledge they need to navigate the gym and embrace a healthier lifestyle. Join me on this journey as we unlock our potential and inspire greatness together. Learn more about me