I've been lifting on and off for years, and recently have returned to it. However the bench press has always been an exercise in which I encounter very little payoff or progress. Whenever I get a good workout in, I feel a good soreness (at least slightly) in the muscle group of concentration, but this never happens with bench press. Whether I lift as much as I can with a spot, or if I do a more hypertrophic routine with less weight and more reps, I never feel sore in my chest the next day. Subsequently, I make very little progress being able to add more weight as I go.

On the press machine, I feel it. Doing pushups, I feel it. I've had trainers before who say my form is fine, and they are left scratching their heads about my progress. Has anyone ever experienced anything like this? And is there anything that I can do differently?


Add: If it makes a difference, my arms are long for my body.

  • Have you tried a wider grip than what you currently perform the bench press with? Nov 7, 2017 at 18:26
  • @UtkarshBhatt I have. I've moved my grip from very wide to very close with no noticeably different results.
    – bloomers
    Nov 7, 2017 at 18:45

1 Answer 1


First of all, feeling sore dosen't mean that you had a good workout and muscles grow. (cf. Muscle Evo and bodybuilding.com)

Second, if you can't feel your chest in bench press while you doing this exercise then better stick to exercises where you feel it properly - as example, try incline bench press or incline dumbell press.

P.S. I never felt my chest properly in exercieses without incline, btw, and my arms are kinda long too (I'm 182cm high)

  • Feeling sore may not be a strict indicator of muscle growth. However, over the years, I've used the bench press (flat, incline, and decline - barbell and dumbbell) as my principle instrument of chest exercise. And invariably, after an amount of time (months to a year) of regular strength training, all other muscle groups show significant weight progression EXCEPT chest. And while it's true that I could just stick to the press machine or pushups, I don't believe either have the overall benefits over time that free-weight lifting does, since you can't really "max out" in either.
    – bloomers
    Nov 3, 2017 at 19:33

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