Increase your bench press

When you are at the gym, what question do you think gets asked frequently?  How much do you bench press?  Let’s face it, bench press can be a big ego booster for some. What is holding people back is that they do not know how to do it properly.  Knowing the right positioning, what muscle are the prime moves and which ones need to be stabilized and engaged.  If you are looking to increase your bench press fast, check out tips that will help improve your bench press.

Recently, I had a young soccer player who was trying to build his upper body strength.  He felt like he was getting pushed off the ball and could never hold “his ground”. He was sick and tired of being pushed around and he wanted to be the person who pushed.  He came to me 2 months before his season started and we went through the basics of stabilization and functional movements, in a matter of a couple of days he was already seeing 15 lb jumps.  By the end of the month he was up 55 lbs and you could see that his strength in most exercises were improving. At 38 days, he increased his bench press by 80 lbs.

Now, this story may not work for you, as you may not be a high school soccer player on the verge of D-1 soccer. Nonetheless, he are the tips we used to increase his bench press by 80 lbs in 38 days!

9 Ways to Increase Your Bench Press 80 Pounds in 32 Days

1. Warm Up
It should be obvious that we need to warm up before lifting a heavy weight but if you did not know this, please warm up before you lift!  The bench press involves the whole body but its main purpose is to build up the chest and to increase power and strength in the upper body.  Your warm up should get your heart rate up and give you a little sweat, but it is not designed to get you tired.  A good warm up should involve firing and stabilizing the muscles used in each exercise.

  1. Jog forward/backward 20 Yards x3
  2. Bent Over Y’s x 10
  3. Shuffle 20 Yards x3
  4. Bent Over Windmills x 10e
  5. Skip forward/backward 20 Yards x3
  6. Bent Over Robbers x 10
  7. Straight Arm Band Pull x 15
  8. Push Up Position Hold X:20

2. Set Up

In a nutshell, we have our bar set to go and we break down every step of the bench press:

  1. Lay on your back on the bench with your eyes directly under the bar.
  2. Feet should be on the ground about shoulder width apart.  Walk your feet backwards so they are behind your knees.
  3. There are 4 points of contact: feet on ground, butt, shoulder blades and head are on the bench.
  4. Before grabbing the bar, put your arms straight out in front of you and squeeze your shoulder blades down and back (this engages and stabilizes the shoulders), your chest should puff out and there should be a slight arch in your lower back.
  5. Your hand are place on the bar either shoulder width or slightly more than shoulder width apart.
  6. Engage your entire body and keep it as stable as possible.
  7. Before lifting off the rack, while gripping the bar pretend like you are trying to pull the bar apart (this can give you even more shoulder blade activation.)
  8. Have your spotter help you take the bar off the rack.
  9. Hold your breath and lower the bar slowly in a straight line to the middle of the chest.
  10. Once you have hit your bottom point to the chest or an inch above, push through your feet, drive through your hips and glutes and exhale out to push the bar up.

3. Have a Spotter

Having a spotter can make a big difference in what your potential could be on a heavy bench press. Having a spotter watching you provides you the comfort of somebody having your back just in case you can not push it back up.  A good spotter will help encourage you to lift heavier to maximize your bench press.

4. Engage the Right Muscles

If you do not know how to engage, fire or stabilize muscle during each exercise, then you are missing out on the full potential.  In the bench press, the primary movers are the pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, and triceps. The stabilizing muscles are responsible for designed to help maintain a particular posture or to keep a joint in place. These muscles are the rotator cuff, anterior deltoids, biceps and triceps.

5. Use your Legs

Our chest muscle are strong, for most they are the strongest upper body muscle.  Try bench pressing only using your chest and compare is to getting your legs, hips and glutes into it.  This leg power is not a dramatic jerk or anything, it involves a quick and powerful drive and squeeze through the lower body.

6. 5-10 lbs or more every Bench Press Session

How are you going to lift heavier if you do not add the weight? Obviously, if you can not execute the bench press because it is too heavy or your form looks like you are going to break in half then going up is probably not smart.  What hurts people’s bench presses is they burn themselves out before they even get to the heavier weight. What I usually tell people is your warm up or 1st set should be the same weight or slightly more than the weight you did in the 2nd set of your previous bench press day. Trying to do this every session can help improve your bench press.

7. Lower the Reps and Increase the Weight

If your goal is to increase your bench press fast, do you think doing 3 sets of 10 reps will get you there faster.  Do not get me wrong, 3×10 is a great way to build strength and definition in your chest but we want to improve power so the reps should be lower.  

Starting out with:

Week 1: 5×5 80%1RM

Week 2: 6×4 85%1RM

Week 3: 7×3 90%1RM

Week 4: 8×2 100%1RM

Week 5: 10×1 100%1RM

8. Longer Rest Periods

When it comes to lifting heavy, the rest in between sets can make or break your next set. After each set there should be a 2-3 min break.  These are consistent breaks!  This gives your body plenty of time to replenish the ATP-PC (energy) system.  

You may be asking yourself, how many days a week of bench pressing should I do?  Performing the bench press 2 days a week (2-3 full days apart) is plenty to increase your bench press fast!

9. Vary Your Chest Exercises

A. DB Chest In and Outs

Key Points

  1. Shoulder blades squeezed
  2. Stable body
  3. Elbows in tight on the close press
  4. Normal press on the out press

B. Walking or BOSU Ball Push Ups

Key Points

  1. Shoulder blades squeezed
  2. Core tight
  3. Butt Squeezed
  4. Lower body in straight line
  5. Explode Up

C. Bench with KB

Key Points

  1. Feet placed behind knees
  2. Shoulder blades squeezed
  3. Chest puffed out
  4. Rigid body
  5. Lower the bar slowly and controlled
  6. Slow and controlled press up

Conclusion

Learning how to accomplish the perfect bench press can be challenging at 1st. Once you get the hang of it then it becomes natural.  Learning how to engage and stabilize all the muscles involved will create a safe and very effective lift!  Take some time to learn and master the step by step process and you will see a big difference in weight lifted.  

Looking to improve your bench press?  Look no further, schedule a free performance consultation and we will find why your bench press is lacking and how we can fix it!