My Honest Review About Tonal Bench Press

The Tonal bench press is one of the most basic, yet effective exercises that not only builds saucy looking physique but also translates into better strength for other lifts like squats and deadlifts.

Today I will explain what can Tonal bench press do for you and what are the alternatives if you have a shoulder or arm injury.

photo of tonal bench press

Benefits I’ve experienced using the Tonal bench press

A strong bench press can do a lot for your fitness, regardless of your sport or goals. Let’s break down some of the benefits of the Tonal bench and how they apply to you. 

1. Muscle mass

The Tonal bench press is a compound movement that allowed me to use higher resistance. Higher resistance means higher mechanical tension (one of the primary factors responsible for building muscle).

Plus, the Tonal eccentric mode helps to extend time under tension to further enhance hypertrophy.

Tonal eccentric mode mimics the popular training method called “negatives”, which increases muscle fatigue during the eccentric phase of the lift.

A systematic review and meta-analysis from Dr. Brad J Schoenfeld have shown that “eccentric muscle actions resulted in a greater effect size (ES) compared with concentric actions“.

2. Muscle Strength

Tonal bench press in combination with the eccentric mode is also a viable way to improve muscle strength.

According to the article published in the Sports Medicine Journal, “bilateral training, eccentric training and accentuated eccentric loading, and variable resistance training may produce the greatest comprehensive strength adaptations”.

On the other hand, “isolation exercises, plyometrics, unilateral exercises, and bodyweight exercises can be limited in improving maximal strength,” states the journal.

Also, using heavier weights helps to stimulate the release of anabolic hormones such as testosterone or growth hormone.

When I train for strength, I always like to combine a Tonal bench press with the spotter mode to reduce the resistance for the last couple of reps and push set beyond muscle fatigue.

This, of course, helps to increase localized damage to muscle tissue and facilitate more strength adaptations.

3. Muscle Endurance

Although I don’t train for endurance too often, the Tonal bench press can help, as long as you keep the number of reps around 15-25 or more.

A higher number of reps does not elicit the most optimal strength gains, however, it comes with other health benefits like improved maximal oxygen uptake or better cardiorespiratory capacity.

Muscle endurance is also important for improved glucose tolerance, better posture, and overall quality of life satisfaction.

For me, the best way to use the Tonal bench press for muscle endurance is to combine it with a Tonal burnout mode, which is the equivalent of a drop set.

Drop sets help to increase metabolic stress and metabolite buildup in the muscle, which helps with endurance and fitness gains.

4. Allows changing grip position

Adjusting your grip position in the Tonal bench press can play a role in the muscle activation between your pecs, delts, and triceps.

According to the article published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, “there is a greater pectoralis major activity (clavicular part) in using a narrow grip compared to a wide grip.”

“A wider grip will help to engage more pectoralis major and deltoids, whereas a narrow grip will likely engage more triceps,” states the journal.

TIP: If your goal is strength and you want to lift as much weight as possible during Tonal workouts, bench pressing with a wide or medium grip will have the best results.

5. I love the interface

Apart from obvious benefits like hypertrophy, strength, and endurance, the Tonal bench press comes with smart AI technology that uses digital weights, as well as dynamic modes to enhance user experience.

(It’s kind of like moving from petrol to electric car).

Tonal dynamic modes are the smart features that change the resistance for you during the movement, based on your current power output.

Digital weights use magnetic resistance that provides a better lifting experience with no friction and little-to-no maintenance.

Disadvantages of using Tonal bench press

They, there are a few cons that I want to point out.

1. No incline

One of the biggest problems for me from Tonal is the poor bench that comes with smart accessories. (The actual product.)

The original bench that comes with the Tonal is flat and does not allow for angle adjustments. (Yes, no option for position changes.)

You cannot do an incline bench press with it. The only way to set up the incline is to use a different bench that allows for the incline/decline.

Of course, if your goal is to build strength you still get plenty of benefits just from the flat bench press.

However, adjusting the bench to a 30° angle helps to target different muscle fibers, which can make your pecs pop out.

2. Limited resistance

Another restriction of Tonal is the 200lbs weight limit. People who like to use heavier weights for 1-5 rep max can find the machine limited.

My personal best for the bench is doing 225 for reps, so on Tonal, I have to use all extra features to make their original 200 lbs more challenging.

3. Not many workouts

Tonal has workouts and programs that help to improve not only the bench press but the whole upper body.

However, most of the workouts that target the chest and shoulders are under 15 minutes long. They’re called “Quick Fit”.

You can use these workouts on their own, or together with your regular full-body classes.

Here is the list of the best Tonal workouts for stronger chests and shoulders.

Tonal bench press workouts

Tonal bench press workoutsDuration
Chest Superset12 minutes
Total Chest Pump11 minutes
Chest And Bis15 minutes
Chest In 1010 minutes
Chest Attack12 minutes
Dynamic Chest + Back41 minutes
Tonal bench press workouts

Possible alternative

The best alternative for the Tonal bench press is the cable chest press because it can be used with a neutral grip, which is good for people who feel shoulder pain or have a shoulder injury.

External rotation can significantly reduce unwanted tension, without compromising pec engagement during the exercise.

That is one of the most common things I see in people who spend most of their day in hunched position (e.g. sitting).

Prolonged sitting often creates postural adaptations (the body default to the position where you spend the most time), which leads to internally rotated shoulders.

To combat this issue, you want to use smart handles and externally rotate the shoulders while doing bench press on Tonal.


One thing that I like about the Tonal bench press is the safety feature.

The Tonal bench press is safe because it has a separate built-in safety computer that has energy breaks systems which immediately reduces the resistance to zero in case of power failure or a software glitch.

This means if anything happens and you’re in the middle of the set, the safety system will kick start and your weight will drop down to zero.


On the other hand, if you’re pushing the 100lbs barbell in the gym and your muscles fatigue, you need to have a training partner or personal trainer to make sure you won’t get injured.

How to improve bench press on tonal video

Here you can find the video from Jeff Nippard about how to improve your Tonal bench press. This video is based on the barbell bench press, however, the principles also apply to Tonal workouts.

The bottom line

As you can see, the Tonal bench press is one of the most effective compound upper body movements that specifically targets chest and shoulder muscles.

Not only does it help you to improve your upper body strength, but it also transfers the gains into other lifts.

One thing that I don’t like about the Tonal bench press is it creates a significant amount of internal rotation on the shoulders, which can be problematic for people who spend a lot of time in the hunched position.

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is a personal trainer and writer at Millennial Hawk. He holds a MSc in Sports and Exercise Science from the University of Central Lancashire. He is an exercise physiologist who enjoys learning about the latest trends in exercise and sports nutrition. Besides his passion for health and fitness, he loves cycling, exploring new hiking trails, and coaching youth soccer teams on weekends.

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