The bench press may probably be the most popular upper body exercise for men today, with many gyms providing the facilities to perform such workouts. However, not many actually think about the person who came out with such an exercise in the first place. Who invented the bench press?
George Hackenschmid is credited with inventing the bench press in 1898. He was on a quest to improve his upper body strength and invented the floor press by lying down and raising weights with his hands. People soon added a bench to perform the same exercise, calling it the bench press.
This article discusses the bench press, such as who invented it, and why the bench press was invented. The article also discusses the invention of things related to bench presses, such as the barbell and the bench.
What Is The Bench Press?
The bench press is a weight training workout focusing on improving upper body strength. You lie down on a weightlifting bench and push a weight up with your arms. The weight plates spread on the far ends of a barbell. The bench press is considered the gold standard in bodybuilding and professional sports.
The bench press is a weight training workout. To perform it, you press a weight upwards while lying on a weight training bench. The weight is generally held by a barbell, with the weight plates arranged on the far left or right of the bar.
The muscles engaged are primarily the upper body muscles, such as the pectoralis major, anterior details, or the triceps. However, you will have to use other muscles to stabilize your body, which means bench press can also be a full-body workout.
Bench press has been seen as the gold-standard workout for upper body strength. It is also used for chest and shoulder muscle development. The bench press is also widely used by combat sports athletes to help improve their punching power.
The bench press is also listed as one of the three disciplines in the sport of powerlifting. The other two are the deadlift and squat. Many professional sports and bodybuilding incorporate bench presses into their training regime.
Julius Maddox of Owensboro, Kentucky, US, holds the current world record for bench press. He lifted 770 pounds (350KG) in April 2020. His record is seen as a raw record, which means no aids were used to achieve the lifts, aside from wrist wraps.
Why was Bench Press Invented?
Bench press was invented to allow you to focus on building muscles important for upper body strength, such as the pectoralis major, anterior details, or the triceps. Bench press also helps to work out the entire body. This is because you need to use many muscles to balance and stabilize yourself as you perform the workout.
Bench press was invented to allow athletes to focus on training and developing upper body strength. The workout focuses on improving the ability of his chest, shoulders, and arms.
In general, if you perform bench press, you can work on some of the major muscles such as:
- pectoralis major (chest)
- anterior deltoid (chest and shoulder)
- triceps brachii (arm)
- biceps brachii (arm)
- serratus anterior (ribs)
As a result, if you perform bench presses frequently, you may notice that your chest starts to become more defined and wider. Your muscular endurance will improve, and you can develop enough upper body strength to perform workouts such as pushups.
There were also indications that bench presses can help improve bone density. Hackenschimid probably did not have this in mind when he invented the bench press, but he should be pleased to know that his workout can help more than just build muscles and strength.
Who Invented The Bench Press?
The creation of the bench press can be traced back to George Hackenschmid in 1891. Hackenschmid was Baltic German and was known to be the strongman of Russia, as he lived in Russia at the time.
He became well known after performing many heavy lifts beginning in 1896, to the astonishment of his fellow athletes. These include one-arm shoulder presses such as:
- 145 pounds (66KG approx.) x 12 reps
- 198 pounds (90KG approx.) x 3 reps
- 214 pounds (97KG approx.) x 1 rep
Soon, he met a professional wrestler by the name of Lurich, and he accepted an invitation to wrestle with him. Despite being stronger, he found himself losing the match. He concluded that it may be due to his lack of upper body strength.
As a result, he went on and devised a workout that can help him to focus on building upper body strength. He eventually settled on a more rudimentary form of bench press.
There is a difference between his version of the bench press and the ones we do today. His version involves him lying on the floor and lifting the barbell instead of on a bench. Today, this version of the bench press is called the floor press.
The weightlifting bench only came about in the 1950s. Before that, floor press was common practice.
A weightlifting bench is a more efficient way of performing a bench press, as it allows you to lower your barbell closer to your chest and your elbow to drop below your chest level. You place more strains on your upper body muscles, allowing them to be trained and strengthened faster.
As such, the bench press is more popular today. However, many still credit George Hackenschimd for the invention of the bench press.
Did Hackenschmidt Invented The Hack Squat?
George Hackensmchmid also invented the hack squat, another form of workout that is popular today. You perform the hack squat by using the hack squat machine, and you can add weight to the machine to increase the difficulty. The workout is a variation of the squat, a gold standard exercise to improve lower body strength.
Aside from the bench press, George Hackenschimid also invented the hack squat. The hack squat can be seen as a variation of the squat exercise. Like the regular squat, the hack squat can be seen as the gold-standard workout to improve and develop lower body strength.
The difference between the hack squat and the regular squat is that it requires a machine to be performed. On top of that, the hack squat machine can have weights attached to it, which means you can use the machine to increase the difficulty of the workout as you get stronger.
To perform the hack squat, you need to stand on the place of the machine and then lean back onto the pads at an angle. The weight is placed somewhere at the pads, usually behind it.
As you bend down and squat, the weight goes down together with your upper body, and as you push back up, you will use your lower body to push up your upper body and the weight.
Who Invented Barbell?
The earliest form of barbell could be invented by Donald Walker in the mid-1830s, who also wrote books to promote exercise in Britain. His version is more of a scepter-like bar to be used by ladies to exercise. It took a few more inputs from other inventors before we got to our current barbell systems today.
To perform bench press, you will also need to use equipment such as the weight plates and the barbell. Although George Hackenschimd invented the bench press, he did not invent the barbell.
The barbell’s creation can be credited to Donald Walker, a British man who invented a rudimentary version of the barbell in the 1830s. He created a scepter-like bar to be used by ladies to exercise. He promoted this workout in his 1834 book Exercises For Ladies, but the reception was lukewarm.
The barbell started being used in gymnasiums as training equipment. It became closer to its current shape and form when Austrian strongman Karl Rappo began to attach bell-shaped weights at the ends of bars. The weights are, however, non-detachable.
In the 1870s, gymnasiums in Germany began to use barbells with detachable weights, but they were still ball or bell-shaped. It took until 1902 before Franz Veltum invented the weight plates, allowing weights to be added or removed from the barbell.
The final concept is to produce a barbell strong enough to handle immense weights, which was accomplished by Eleiko. In fact, you can still see Eleiko’s weight plates and bars used in major weightlifting competitions today, including the Olympics.