The purpose of this study was to determine the vertical and lateral forces applied to the bar during a maximal and a submaximal effort bench press lifts. For this study, 10 male and 8 female recreational lifters were recruited (mean height: 1.71 ± 0.08 m; mass: 73.7 ± 13.6 kg) and were asked to perform a maximal and submaximal (80% of maximal lift) bench press. These lifts were performed with a bar instrumented to record forces applied to it, via the hands, in the vertical direction and along the long axis of the bar. To determine the position of the bar and timing of events, 3D kinematic data were recorded and analyzed for both lifts. The subjects in this study averaged a maximal lift of 63 ± 29 kg (90 ± 31% bodyweight). The peak vertical force was 115 ± 22% (percentage of load), whereas for the submaximal condition it was 113 ± 20%; these forces were statistically different between conditions; they were not when expressed as a percentage of the load (p > 0.05). During all the lifts, the lateral forces were always outward along the bar. The lateral force profile was similar to that of the vertical force, albeit at a lesser magnitude. During the lift phase, the peak lateral force was on average 26.3 ± 3.9% of the vertical force for the maximal lift and 23.7 ± 3.9% of the vertical force for the submaximal lift. Given that the amount of force applied laterally to the bar was a similar percentage of vertical force irrespective of load, it appears that the generation of lateral forces during the bench press is a result of having the muscles engaged in generating vertical force.