Fitness & Equipment Guides > ​Titans of Training: Bench Press VS Machine Chest Press

​Titans of Training: Bench Press VS Machine Chest Press

29th Jul 19

The chest press is one of the most functional strength-building exercises you can do in your training. As a compound exercise, it targets a huge range of muscles that have to work together to perform each rep effectively. On top of that, it will strengthen them all in unison. What more could you ask for? Well, probably the best way to do it, and that usually comes down to the bench press vs machine chest press.

Performing the chest press is a great way to build muscle mass and strength because of the variation that it offers. The many different ways you can perform the exercise to suit your specific needs means you can reach new heights in your training. The most common variations tend to be the barbell bench press and the machine chest press. We’re here to walk you through the key advantages of each.

Want to move fast? Jump to the right section below.

Barbell Bench Press

person performing a bench press

The ever-popular barbell bench press generally comes across as a more effective exercise. You have the option to utilise different angles, with it being one of the best weight bench exercises, but it’s often more convenient to do it flat. This is for comfort as well as safety, so that’s what we will base it on.


As we discussed above, the barbell bench press as a compound exercise needs support from almost your entire upper body. That makes it great for building muscles other than just the chest, as long as you use the right weight.

Your triceps are getting involved from a standard position on your barbell and your shoulders, back, and even biceps. That’s from making sure you’re stable on both the upward and downward motion of the repetition. You’re only as strong as your weakest muscle, and you’re getting the most effective results training them all together. That’s something that doesn’t always transfer when looking at the bench press vs the machine chest press.


Because of what we’ve just said, this makes the barbell bench press more of a true reflection of your upper body strength, your stabilisation muscles need to be on form rather than just building up your chest to make you look good.

As a result, the strength you build from the exercise is transferable and can be utilised outside of the gym. That’s never a bad thing, and it’s always more useful than showing off in the gym. The control you need to keep balanced means that your chest is even more under pressure, and that’s a key advantage to building strength and size in the long run. Food for thought, at least.


It looks like the bench press vs machine chest press is already over, but there are downsides too. Balancing does also have bad points. The need to rely on stabilising yourself can pose risks, such as failing unexpectedly and not being able to support yourself. Worse still, you may put your body in an incorrect position and utilise other muscles without you knowing.

Doing this is always a concern and often leads to serious injury. It can be worked around with a spotter, but that isn’t always convenient. With that being said, though, exercise is a more natural movement and safer for your joints than a machine, so there are pros and cons to both. Just make sure you work on your form!

Machine Chest Press

person performing a machine chest press

It may look like the machine chest press doesn’t have much of a chance in this bench press vs machine chest press ‘scenario’, but don’t write it off just yet.


Because of the less intensive use of the stabilisation muscles to balance, this machine can really let you focus on your chest. Despite what we have just said, muscle build-up is still based around the overloading of the muscles, and it can often feel like your chest is not getting hit hard enough because of the limitations your arms pose.

This is where we begin to see the advantages of the machine. The incline of the machine and the variation of the grip positions mean that you can hit whichever part of your chest you need to and maximise the results you want to see. That’s pretty valuable too.

Easier & Safer

The mechanics of the machine mean that it is often a great way to get started as a beginner. The motion range is fixed, meaning your pecs are supported and isolated, removing the risk of mistakes.

Even to use after your original chest workout, the machine press is great for finishing the workout with a bang. One last big push on your chest is great for the overload you need to really build serious muscle, and often with a bench press, failure comes before you can do that.


The barbell bench press is a better overall upper-body workout and chest exercise, but it does pose its risks. It trains the chest group as a whole as well as supporting muscles and gives you true strength improvements rather than performance improvements for one exercise. As with any exercise routine, variation is crucial to maximising your results, so why not use the two together and find out what works best for you? Just make sure you are performing the exercises carefully and correctly, and you should see improvements in your strength in a matter of weeks.

Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.