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How to Use the Seated Chest Press Machine to Safely Build More Pec Muscle

The flat barbell bench press, performed supine (on your back), is widely regarded as the king of chest exercises. It's also one of the three powerlifts, so it's extremely popular.

However, free weights have advantages and disadvantages, and the barbell bench press, in particular, is well known for having a high risk profile in addition to its advantages.

As a result, in addition to the benefit of training variety, it's worth considering incorporating one of the many seated (upright) bench press machines into your next chest workout.

Muscles Involved

The pectoralis major, also known as the pecs, is the main mover in the seated chest press (the chest muscles). Secondary movers include the front deltoids and triceps.

Required Tools

To perform this exercise, you'll need a weight stack or a plate-loaded chest press machine. There are many different types of chest press machines, and you'll see several different examples on this page below. (Videos are at the bottom of the page.)

Benefits / Advantages

The bench press has the advantage of being a compound exercise that activates multiple muscle groups (chest, front deltoids, and triceps) and can be trained fairly heavy, which translates to more muscle and strength when compared to isolation exercises like flyes.

Bench presses with free weights (barbells and dumbbells) activate more stabilizing muscles and are generally considered superior. However, the seated bench press machine provides many of the same benefits as free weights, as well as some of its own.

Barbell exercises require a lot of technique, whereas their machine counterparts require almost no skill at all. You can't go wrong as long as you set up the machine correctly and control the movement.

Another advantage of seated chest press machines is that they do not require a spotter. The machines are either self-spotting (via a foot pedal) or can be set up so that if you miss the lift, you can simply lower the weight stack. You don't get stuck under a bar.

While barbell bench presses may be the "King of Chest Exercises," they are also notorious for causing joint pain when trained too heavy, too hard, and for too long.

If safety precautions and proper form are not followed on the free weight bench press, severe injuries such as pec tears are not uncommon, and every now and then, someone training at home without using safety precautions dies with a heavy bar on their neck. That's nearly impossible with machines.

Progressions (make it harder or add intensity)

Because some chest press machines have fractional weights in between the weight of each plate, it's especially simple to use gradual progressive overload on them. Increase the weight whenever you reach the upper limit of your target rep bracket.

Drop sets are a great technique on these types of weight stack machines for intensifying and adding volume to a seated chest press machine workout.

To change the weight, you don't even have to get out of your seat. Simply pull the pin, lower the load, and keep going for more reps!



My name is Steven Goldstein

With over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry, I have worked with clients of all ages and fitness levels. From professional athletes to individuals aiming to lose weight, I have helped countless people achieve their goals and improve their overall health through customized training and nutrition plans.

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