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Does Bench Press Work Delts? Know the Answer Clearly!

Yes, the bench press engages the deltoids, predominantly the front deltoids. While it primarily targets the chest and triceps, the deltoids assist in the lifting motion, resulting in increased shoulder strength. 

This compound movement contributes to well-rounded upper body development, fostering overall muscle growth and functional power.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll highlight how does bench press works for delts like side, rear, and front. 

Also, we’ll discuss which muscles bench press focuses the most.

How Does Bench Press Work Delts?

How Does Bench Press Work Delts

Here’s how the bench press works the deltoids – 


The front deltoids assist in stabilizing the shoulder joint during the bench press movement. 

They help keep the shoulders steady and prevent excessive movement that could lead to strain or injury.

Initiating the Lift

When you start the bench press, the front deltoids aid the initial push from the bottom. 

As you lift the barbell off your chest, the front deltoids contribute to the upward movement alongside the chest muscles and triceps.


As you reach the top of the bench press, the triceps take over to complete the lockout phase. 

However, the front deltoids still play a role in stabilizing the shoulder joint and maintaining control of the barbell.

Grip Width

The width of your grip on the barbell can influence how much the deltoids are engaged during the bench press. 

A wider grip can put more stress on the shoulder joints and engage the deltoids to a greater extent. 

However, using an excessively wide grip may also increase the risk of shoulder strain or injury, so it’s important to find a grip width that feels comfortable and safe for your body.

Bar Path

The path that the barbell follows during the bench press can affect how much the deltoids are involved. 

If the barbell path travels more toward the upper chest and shoulders, it can place more emphasis on the deltoids. If the barbell path is more towards the lower chest, the chest muscles are primarily engaged. 

Finding a balanced path that involves both chest and deltoid muscles can be beneficial for overall upper body strength and development.

Barbell Angle

The angle of the barbell in relation to your body can also affect deltoid engagement. 

A slight incline, where the barbell is angled slightly towards the head of the bench, can engage the upper chest and deltoids more. 

This variation is commonly known as the “incline bench press.” It’s important to note that varying the angle of the bench should be done with caution, as it can change the mechanics of the lift and potentially increase the risk of injury.

Overhead Press Relationship

The bench press and the overhead press are complementary exercises that target different aspects of the deltoids. 

While the bench press primarily involves the front deltoids, the overhead press (or military press) places a greater emphasis on all three heads of the deltoids, including the front, side (lateral), and rear (posterior) deltoids. 

Incorporating both exercises into your routine can provide a more comprehensive shoulder workout.

Note: Overemphasizing the bench press without adequately targeting the rear deltoids can lead to muscle imbalances in the shoulder region. 

Neglecting the rear deltoids can result in rounded shoulders and an increased risk of shoulder injuries. 

It’s important to include exercises that target the rear deltoids, such as face pulls and reverse flies, to maintain balanced shoulder development.

What Other Muscles Does Bench Press Work On?

What Other Muscles Does Bench Press Work On?

The bench press is a fundamental compound exercise that engages a variety of muscle groups in addition to its primary targets. 

Let’s explore in more detail how the bench press works on different muscle groups – 

How the Bench Press Works on Pectoralis Major (Chest)

The bench press is renowned for its profound impact on the pectoralis major, which is the large fan-shaped muscle that covers the chest area. 

During the concentric (lifting) phase of the bench press, the pectoralis major contracts forcefully.

This contraction allows you to push the barbell away from your chest, generating the power needed for the upward movement. 

The pectoralis major is primarily responsible for horizontal shoulder adduction, a motion crucial for the bench press. 

As you push the barbell upward, the muscle fibers of the pectoralis major shorten, leading to enhanced chest strength and development over time.

How the Bench Press Works on Triceps Brachii (Triceps)

The triceps brachii, located at the back of the upper arm, play a pivotal role in the final phase of the bench press movement. 

When you push the barbell upward, the triceps muscles contract vigorously to extend your elbows fully. This extension completes the lockout phase of the lift.

The triceps engagement ensures that you achieve a stable and controlled position at the top of the movement, working in synergy with the chest muscles to generate power.

How the Bench Press Works on Anterior Deltoids (Front Shoulders)

The anterior deltoids, situated at the front of the shoulder, are integral to the bench press. These muscles contribute to the initiation of the lift and assist in the initial push-off from your chest.

As you lower the barbell to your chest and subsequently press it upward, the anterior deltoids help stabilize the shoulder joint and play a pivotal role in lifting the weight. 

Their involvement enhances the pressing motion and contributes to the overall strength and definition of your shoulders.

How the Bench Press Works on Latissimus Dorsi (Lats)

Although the primary focus of the bench press is the upper body, the latissimus dorsi muscles, or lats, come into play as well. 

These broad back muscles aid in stabilizing the shoulder joint throughout the movement. 

While they are not directly involved in the pressing motion, they provide a stable foundation, ensuring that your shoulders remain properly aligned and supported during the lift. 

The engagement of the lats contributes to maintaining a balanced and controlled bench press.

How the Bench Press Works on Serratus Anterior

The serratus anterior, a set of muscles located on the sides of the chest, is engaged during the bench press to stabilize the shoulder blades. 

These muscles prevent the scapulae from lifting off the bench, thus maintaining a solid base and proper shoulder mechanics. 

Their activity ensures that the movement is executed smoothly and with proper form, contributing to a safer and more effective bench press.

Combinations of Upper Body Workouts with Bench Press

Here are some effective combinations of upper body workouts that include the bench press

  • Push-Pull Split

Day 1 (Push) Bench Press, Overhead Press, Tricep Dips

Day 2 (Pull) Pull-ups or Rows, Face Pulls, Bicep Curls

  • Chest and Shoulders Emphasis

Day 1 Bench Press, Incline Dumbbell Press, Lateral Raises

Day 2 Overhead Press, Front Raises, Tricep Extensions

  • Upper Body Strength and Hypertrophy

Day 1 Bench Press (Heavy), Rows, Skull Crushers

Day 2 Dumbbell Bench Press (Moderate), Pull-Ups, Dumbbell Shoulder Press

  • Upper Body Push Dominant

Day 1 Bench Press, Overhead Press, Tricep Dips

Day 2 Push-Ups, Arnold Press, Tricep Rope Pushdowns

  • Upper Body Pull Dominant

Day 1 Pull-Ups, Bent-Over Rows, Bicep Curls

Day 2 Bench Press, Face Pulls, Tricep Extensions

  • Functional Upper Body Workout

Day 1 Bench Press, Single-arm Rows, Push-Ups

Day 2 Overhead Press, Pull-Ups, Dips

  • Upper Body Power and Strength

Day 1 Bench Press (Power-focused), Weighted Pull-Ups, Shoulder Press

Day 2 Rows, Push-Ups, Tricep Dips

  • Upper Body Hypertrophy and Isolation

Day 1 Bench Press, Incline Dumbbell Flyes, Skull Crushers

Day 2 Pull-Ups, Lateral Raises, Preacher Curls

Remember to warm up before starting your workout and to cool down afterward. Always prioritize proper form and technique to prevent injuries.

Is Bench Press an Effective Exercise for Building Shoulder Muscles?

Bench press is a widely debated exercise in the gym culture and offensive language can sometimes come in play. When it comes to building shoulder muscles, bench press may not be the most effective option. While it targets the chest and triceps primarily, it may not provide sufficient stimulus for shoulder muscle growth. Focusing on other exercises like overhead presses and lateral raises can be more beneficial in this regard.


Q1: Why Does Bench Press Not Work?

If you find that the bench press is not working, several reasons could contribute to this. Inadequate form, insufficient progression, and lack of variation might hinder your progress. 
It’s crucial to ensure proper technique, progressively increase weights, and complement your routine with other exercises for well-rounded upper body development.

Q2: Can Bench Press Bring Benefits For Women?

Absolutely, the bench press can bring significant benefits to women’s fitness routines. Despite historical misconceptions, the bench press is not exclusive to men. 
Women can harness the exercise to enhance upper body strength, build muscle tone, and improve overall functional fitness. By engaging the chest, triceps, and shoulders, the bench press complements a well-rounded workout regimen.

Q3: Does Bench Press Work Side Delts?

In addition to the chest, triceps, and front deltoids, the side delts (lateral deltoids) also play an important role during the bench press. The lateral deltoids contribute to shoulder stability and assist in maintaining proper form. 
However, if you’re looking to specifically target and develop your lateral deltoids, incorporating additional exercises such as lateral raises into your routine is recommended.

Q4: Does Bench Press Work Rear Delts?

The bench press primarily targets the chest, triceps, and front deltoids, with limited engagement of the rear deltoids. While the rear deltoids contribute to shoulder stability during the bench press, they are not the primary focus. 
To effectively work the rear deltoids, it’s advisable to include exercises that specifically target this muscle group, such as face pulls, reverse flies, or bent-over lateral raises.

Q5: Is Bench Press Enough For Front Delts?

While the bench press does engage the front deltoids (anterior deltoids), relying solely on the bench press might not provide comprehensive development for the front deltoids. 
While the front deltoids are involved in initiating the lift, they might not receive enough isolated stimulation from the bench press alone. 
To fully target and develop the front deltoids, including exercises like overhead presses, front raises, and Arnold presses in your routine can be more effective.

Q6: Does Bench Press Work Front Delts?

Yes, the bench press does work the front deltoids (anterior deltoids). During the lifting phase, the front deltoids assist in stabilizing the shoulder joint and initiating the upward motion of the barbell. 
However, for optimal development of the front deltoids, incorporating additional exercises that more directly target this muscle group, such as front raises and overhead presses, is recommended. 
This approach ensures well-rounded shoulder development.

Final Verdict

Its clear that, the bench press is a compound exercise that engages various muscle groups, including the deltoids. It holds a significant place in the realm of strength training, offering a multitude of benefits for individuals seeking upper body development. 

However, its effectiveness depends on various factors, including form, technique, and the incorporation of complementary exercises. 

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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

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