The barbell bench press has long been considered one of, if not the best upper body exercises for developing size, strength and power. The primary target of the bench press is the chest muscles (the sternal and clavicular head of the pectoralis major), but the shoulders (mainly the front deltoid head) and the triceps also are heavily taxed during the exercise.
Being a multi-joint, compound exercise enables athletes to safely use the bench press within a variety of training protocols. From low repetition, high load strength training, to higher repetitions with a moderate load for muscle growth, the bench press is a sound choice for many.
We would recommend athletes always grip the barbell with their thumbs wrapped around the bar for maximum safety, and avoid using the so-called (and aptly named) suicide grip.