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Do You Count Bar Weight Towards Your Bench Press?

author image Janet Renee, MS, RD
Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.
Do You Count Bar Weight Towards Your Bench Press?
Various size weight plates are added to each side of the barbell for the bench press. Photo Credit Siri Stafford/Digital Vision/Getty Images

The bench press is an exercise that primarily targets the pectoral muscles. It involves lying on your back on a bench and pressing a barbell up from your chest area. When discussing the amount of weight being lifted during the bench press exercise, it is important to know if the weight of the bar is being taken into account along with the plates it holds.

Calculating Total Bench Press

When you perform a bench press, you are lifting the weight plates added to the bar along with the bar itself. Therefore, include the weight of the bar when calculating your total bench press. Most bench press bars weigh about 45 pounds. For example, if you put 150 pounds of weight on the bar and the bar weighs 45 pounds, your total bench press is 195 pounds.

How to Increase Your Bench Press

Sticking with a comfortable routine won't help you increase your bench press. Strength training is an adaptive process that causes the body to make changes when it's placed under stress. If the weight you're lifting is not enough to overload the body, no adaptation occurs. To achieve strength gains, you must lift a heavier weight using fewer repetitions. Choose a weight that will cause you to fatigue at six to eight repetitions; fatigue is when you cannot perform another rep with proper form. This helps to shock your muscles, tearing the fibers and facilitating growth.

Use Full Range of Motion

Failing to use the full range of motion is a common mistake with the bench press. Your chest muscles do most of the work when you press up from the bottom position, so enabling the full range of motion is a crucial aspect of building a bigger chest. Lower the bar until it touches your chest lightly and lift the bar until your elbows are completely locked to utilize the full range of motion.

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