Bench presses build strength and size in your chest, shoulders and triceps.
Lifting weights is effective at increasing muscular strength and size, as long as you give your muscles adequate recovery time. While the activity of lifting weights is what elicits muscular development, it's during the rest periods between workouts when these developments occur. For most full-body weight training programs, you can do three workouts in your weekly routine and still give your muscles the recovery time they need.
Significance of Rest
If you perform more sets and reps or use a heavier weight than your muscles are used to, the stress from your weight training workouts will break the muscles down, causing minor trauma to your tissue. This damage is what stimulates the muscle-building process. As your body works to heal the muscle tissue, the muscles simultaneously adapt so they're better able to handle the stress from future workouts. As a result, they increase their force production and increase in size. The entire muscular strength and size development process occurs during the rest periods between your full-body workouts.
Appropriate Rest Periods
Keith E. Cinea of the National Strength and Conditioning Association explains that beginners need 48 hours of rest between workouts, and he recommends full-body workouts three days per week, such as on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. However, if you're still feeling fatigued on the day you're scheduled to lift again, it may be more effective for you to push your session off for one more day.
When You Need More Rest
The high-volume weight training programs common among experienced athletes and advanced lifters require more than 48 hours of rest between workouts. Such workouts feature a greater number of exercises, sets and repetitions, leaving muscles even more overloaded and suffering a greater amount of damage. When volume and intensity increase, recovery time also should increase. Cinea suggests 72 hours of rest between these high-volume workouts, meaning you should perform them only two times per week.
Adverse Affects of Inadequate Rest
If you were to do a full-body workout more frequently than three days per week, the muscles wouldn't have adequate time for recovery. You'd break down the tissue again before it has a chance to fully heal. Because the strength and size adaptations occur during the rest periods, an inadequate rest period significantly limits your development. Bodybuilders and advanced lifters often separate their muscle groups into different workouts -- for example, focusing on the upper body two days per week and the lower body on two different days -- to allow them to lift weights a total of four days per week.