Men’s Health

How to Increase Your Bench Press

You’re not alone. You need to enhance your bench press. So does practically each athlete who’s ever moved a barbell. It’s among the many finest chest exercises on the fitness center, but many wrestle to add weight to their bench press just because they don’t know the way to do it proper. But even folks with good type can wrestle to break by way of plateaus and bench extra weight. These research-backed and gym-tested tips will assist repair these points. Here’s how to enhance a bench press.

Muscles Worked within the Bench Press

The basic flat barbell bench press is a horizontal pushing exercise, concentrating on three muscle teams that work in concord. First, the chest muscle mass (pectoralis) are enlisted, assisted by the triceps—particularly their lateral head, and the entrance (anterior) deltoids. 

Depending on the model of bench press you do and the approach used, you possibly can manipulate this to skew the quantity of involvement every muscle group listed above receives. We’ll additionally start with the disclaimer that the barbell flat bench press, although a formidable feat of strength, is just not the optimum alternative for building muscle in any one of many above muscle teams (examine this to different extra focused actions like cable flyes, dumbbell bench presses, and dips, that are way more stimulating for the pec fibers solely). It’s nothing main, nevertheless it’s price maintaining in thoughts if building a much bigger chest or arms is certainly one of your targets.

How Much Can the Average Man Bench Press?

The most urgent strength query so many males have is: “How much am I supposed to be able to bench press?” There’s no magic quantity as there are lots of components at play: harm historical past, training expertise, calendar age, body weight, and limb size. 

However, an excellent objective for many athletes is having the ability to match your body weight for a set of 6 to 8 reps if you are inside a median vary for body weight. Always do not forget that you are extra probably to possess extra relative strength in case you’re a smaller lifter, and are extra probably to possess extra absolute strength in case you’re a much bigger lifter. 

That means somebody who weighs 140 kilos might be extra probably to press 1.5 or 2 occasions his body weight earlier than a lifter who’s 300 kilos will obtain the identical feat. The 300-pound dude could have a heavier 1 rep max, however to scale, the numbers will not fairly match.

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Proper Form: How to Bench Press

Before we cowl how to enhance your bench press, let’s start with fundamental bench press tips. Success begins with a correct setup. Like many actions, being secure and tight is the important thing. To obtain that, first set up these 4 factors of contact earlier than unracking the bar.

Set Your Points of Contact

  1. Feet. Position your ft firmly on the bottom, and maintain your knees bent at a 90-degree (or much less) angle. The ball of every foot needs to be making use of probably the most power into the ground, and it’s OK in case your heels come off the bottom barely.
  2. Butt. This goes with out saying. The butt is the important thing midpoint between head and ft for optimum stability. Never elevate your butt off the bench press bench. Not earlier than or throughout the raise.
  3. Upper again and shoulders. The contact level on the bench by way of the higher again and shoulders is the principle hub to your power manufacturing. The bench press is usually a large ask for the shoulder joint itself, and the chance to create a sturdy base underneath the bar helps stabilize the joint. Your decrease and mid again ought to arch up, that’s one other component of a correct, protected bench press. This will enable you to elevate your ribcage, and pull the shoulder blades again towards one another—one of the essential teaching cues that can defend your shoulder joints from harm.
  4. Head. It’s a quite common apply to elevate your head off the bench throughout a set. Do your finest to do the alternative, and drive it into the bench as a substitute on every rep, so as to keep backbone neutrality within the identify of security and neck health.

Position Under the Bar

  1. Once you’re arrange with the above bench press tips, place your eyes underneath the racked bar. Too far out and the bar might be too tough to unrack; too far within the different course, and also you’ll run into the uprights with the bar throughout your reps. 
  2. Choose a hand place that promotes a vertical arm place underneath the bar (search for a 90-degree elbow angle as you attain the underside of the press), and maintain the bar tight with thumbs wrapped round.

Press the Bar

  1. Keeping the shoulders pulled again, decrease the bar underneath management to the nipple line.
  2. Make transient, mild contact on the torso, and exhale as you press the weight again up to the highest. That’s 1 rep. 
  3. Press your ft into the bottom on every press to get extra drive. And don’t cheat your self—totally prolong the elbows on every rep.

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Common Bench Press Problems—and Their Solutions

Every lifter goes to hit velocity bumps, even with our bench press tips, when determining how to enhance a bench press. Fortunately, these prevalent limitations to benching bigger numbers all have easy fixes.

1. Shoulder Pain

The bench press is usually a irritating exercise for the shoulder joint. But discovering the precise approach and vary of movement to your body can stop shoulder ache. If you’re a lifter with lengthy arms, it’s much more essential that the shoulder blades stay retracted. Following the setup cues above can get a lifter far, however the rigidity utilized to the bar issues too. Counteract the downward stress forces by both pulling aside on the bar or pushing inward on the bar (like bringing dumbbells collectively) with the arms as you press. This will disperse the pressure positioned on the joint capsule and interact extra chest or higher again muscle relying on the course of the pull. Second, it could be useful to cease a few inches above your chest to keep away from susceptible backside finish ranges.

2. Unstable or Shaky Bar Path

This downside is normally a telltale signal {that a} lifter is leaking strength someplace of their approach. The commonest perpetrator is the shoulder blades and lats. Try to pull the shoulders away from the ears whereas performing the raise (shrug downward) to depress the scapulae. This will assist stabilize the shoulder and lend to a extra bolstered sample.

Second, take a look at the wrists. It’s frequent for a lot of bench pressers to press with a broken-wrist place relatively than a powerful fist, stacked instantly over the forearm. If the bar is resting within the palm of the hand and never nearer to the bottom of it, the damaged wrist place will end result within the bar being positioned over empty house and unsupported. This can contribute to a wavering bar path when the raise is in motion.

3. Poor Strength Off the Chest

Many lifters have higher lockout strength than strength by way of the underside. Ruling out shoulder discomfort or prior accidents, this will typically be due to the best way they’re used to performing the exercise—particularly in the event that they’re bouncing the bar off their chest. Remember, the bench press entails an eccentric and concentric element to the raise. Bouncing the bar off the chest requires much less energy out of your muscle mass to carry out that portion of the motion. Instead, deal with controlling reps and slowing the reducing section down to keep away from a bounce. This will do extra to strengthen your entire vary of movement and maintain the raise sincere. It could imply reducing the weight, however will probably be price it in the long term.

Exercises That Support the Bench Press 

Eventually, performing the basic sets of 3, 5, or 8 isn’t sufficient to get previous a bench press plateau. When you end up battling how to enhance a bench press, these superior lifting strategies can come in useful. These methods make lighter weight really feel heavier, or allow you to deal with one facet of the raise, and can lead to a bounce in efficiency once you return to conventional reps. Try biking them into your training for a full month.


James Michelfelder & Therese Sommerseth

1. Pin Press

Why It Works

Pressing from pins in a squat cage set 4 to 6 inches off the chest does a few issues. First, it shortens the vary of movement towards the lockout, which permits many to overload this portion. Secondly, permitting the bar to crash down to the pins means a lifter can focus extra on the concentric reps solely, and disengage for the eccentrics. This can imply extra quantity with a bit much less muscle harm and soreness. It additionally encourages a lifter to press from a useless cease, requiring extra true strength. If you are studying how to enhance the bench press, deal with sets of 3 to 5 reps and goal to load heavier, not lighter.

How to Do It

  1. Set up a flat bench in a squat cage and place the security pins on both facet a pair inches larger than chest degree (or barely larger), to start. 
  2. Lay the bar throughout the pins and slide in beneath. 
  3. Get tight, press arduous, and permit the weight to return to the underside. 

James Michelfelder & Therese Sommerseth

2. 1.5 Rep Bench Press

Why It Works

The 1.5 rep technique makes the chest work tougher on every rep—double the trouble with out extra triceps work—due to extra time underneath load with out help from different muscle mass. The execution is straightforward. Perform sets of 3 to 5 reps.

How to Do It

  1. Get arrange in a typical bench press setup, to start. 
  2. Unrack the weight and decrease the load slowly all the best way to chest degree. 
  3. Press the weight up, however solely midway up, and freeze at that midpoint for a full second depend. 
  4. Lower it to the chest once more. 
  5. Finally, end the rep by urgent all of it the best way up to the highest. That’s 1 rep. 

James Michelfelder

3. Chain Press

Why It Works

Attaching chains or bands to plates and hanging them from the bar will drastically problem the steadiness issue for a bench press, because it requires excessive management and precision. You gained’t give you the chance to raise practically as a lot utilizing this technique—start with 50 % of what you’d usually bench—and it’s beneficial to use thicker bands relatively than skinnier ones, so the quantity of give is restricted (and so the plates don’t hit the bottom on the backside of every rep). Returning to a traditional bench press will really feel like a chunk of cake. Sets of 5 to 10 reps is beneficial.

4. Cluster Reps

Why It Works

If strength is your objective, strive getting extra out of your three-rep max weight by including quick breaks between every rep. Rack the bar after your first rep, then relaxation for 10 seconds. Do the identical factor after your second rep, then assault your third rep. Using this technique, there is a good likelihood you will have simply sufficient left within the tank to squeeze out one other rep, and even two. This is a good way to expose muscle mass to extra quantity underneath heavy hundreds.


5. Floor Press

Why It Works

The ground press stops your vary of movement at 90 levels. Using dumbbells and a impartial grip, it is a sensible alternative to enhance lockout strength and increase the strength and dimension of your triceps—key gamers for a powerful bench, and a well-rounded higher arm.

How to Do It

  1. Lie on the ground with a dumbbell in every hand and maintain the weights over your chest, to start.
  2. Press them over your chest, then decrease your arms till your triceps contact the ground (not your elbows). That’s 1 rep.
  3. Continue urgent from this shortened vary of movement. 

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6. Low Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

Why It Works

Pressing dumbbells on a bench with a slight incline is without doubt one of the finest strikes to develop stronger, larger muscle mass. This will give your elbows and wrists extra freedom, decreasing shoulder stress, since you are not restricted by a bar because the rep progresses. Moreover, the low incline and dumbbells goal every chest muscle individually as they stabilize the weights for a larger workload.

How to Do It

  1. Set an adjustable bench to a 45-degree angle and lie again towards it with a dumbbell in every hand, to start.
  2. Press the dumbbells straight overhead. Lower again down to start. That’s 1 rep.

Reasons You’re Not Benching More

Lots of men know that the bench press is a good way to develop a Schwarzenegger-like chest. But what many guys do not know is that this venerable exercise is not so simple as mendacity on a bench, unracking the bar, and pushing it from level A to B. If you actually need to interact the muscle fibers of your pecs, you have gotta meticulously place your body, full a full vary of movement, and monitor your approach as you push that weight. 

If you are questioning why you are so weak within the bench press, be sure to keep away from these seven errors and you will be in your manner to growing a much bigger, extra outlined chest by way of superior strength and ability.

1. Focusing Too Much on a 1-Rep Max

Too many guys are involved with how a lot weight they will bench press for a single rep relatively than for sets of 7-12, which is the place muscle progress tends to be finest stimulated. Unless you are a powerlifter, cease maxing out each time you bench. Instead, deal with exhausting the muscle.

2. Not Grounding Your Feet

For no matter motive, some lifters assume that placing their ft up is more practical for building the chest than putting them flat on the ground. While lifting legs does have its makes use of, you are higher off maintaining a stable base when bench-pressing as a result of it facilities most of your “neural drive” on the fibers of your pectoral muscle mass.

3. Off-Kilter Position on the Bench

Properly positioning your torso all through every set—each rep, starting to finish—is without doubt one of the most essential components in growing an enormous chest. A sloppy torso place will shunt a number of the muscle load onto different components of your body, dishonest your pecs out of some beneficial properties and doubtlessly even setting your self up for harm.

Keep these 5 tips in thoughts when benching:

  1. Keep your ribcage up high.
  2. Maintain a slight arch in your decrease again.
  3. Squeeze your scapulae collectively.
  4. Keep your shoulders shrugged down and into the bench.
  5. Keep your elbows close to your body, relatively than flaring them outwards.

Can’t appear to maintain that type by way of your entire set? Decrease the weight till you possibly can deal with it with good positioning.

4. Using the Wrong Grip

For a normal, easy bench press, house your arms about shoulder-width, or simply barely wider, aside. Most barbells have knurling (the tough patches) that may assist information you as a reference level.

Some guys will carry out a narrow-grip bench press, however that is a distinct exercise with a distinct type.

Related: 30 Strength Training Exercises for the Best Upper Body Workouts of All Time

5. Bouncing the Bar Off Your Chest

It is totally ridiculous—as in actually deserving of ridicule—that anybody thinks it is sensible to bounce a bar off their ribcage.

Even if bouncing allows you to put extra weight on the bar, everybody can see that it is only a manner to leverage momentum—not muscle strength—to full the raise. Bouncing the bar will solely rob you of the potential advantages of the bench press whereas significantly rising the probabilities you will get catastrophically damage. Your ribcage is fairly powerful, however in a battle of bone towards shifting barbell, barbell wins.

You ought to give you the chance to simply contact the bar to your chest and maintain that weight there earlier than pushing it again up. Imagine the center of the barbell is roofed moist paint. By the time you are finished your set, you need to solely see a touch of the paint in your shirt—not a slathering.

6. Lifting Off-Tempo

No, it isn’t salsa dancing. But if you would like to get probably the most profound pec pump from a bench press set, you want to management the bar always, and over constant durations, if you would like to maximize your beneficial properties.

Try this tempo: Lower the weight over 3-4 seconds, maintain the stretch place for 1 second, after which explosively press to the highest. That will maximize your vary of movement and make sure you develop main strength and dimension.

7. Lifting Over a Small Range of Motion

Performing half-reps on the bench press is nearly as dangerous as bouncing the bar off your chest. It’s simple to see why guys do that: They load up all types of plates on the bar, barely inch it alongside, after which brag to the entire fitness center about how a lot they will bench. Here’s the factor: No one’s shopping for it.

Instead, work out such as you imply it. To recruit each fiber in your chest, decrease the bar to full stretch on every rep—for most individuals, which means evenly touching the bar to your the chest or to your sternum—after which press the bar straight up to lockout, whereas consciously squeezing the pecs into a good contraction.


Bojan656/Getty Images

8. You Forgot About Your Back

A robust, highly effective again will present much-needed higher body stabilization once you start piling on the weight. Make positive you are performing actions just like the barbell deadlift and barbell bent over rows – these actions are large, complicated strength-builders and can pack on a stable construction. Perform 3-6 sets, 6-8 reps, longer relaxation durations, 1-3 minutes. Complement these large lifts with a few accent actions: lat pull downs and seated cable rows. Perform 3-6 sets, 12-15 reps, reasonable relaxation durations, 30-60 seconds. Do not train these to failure.

9. Benching Too Often 

We know what you are pondering: How to enhance your bench press if we’re telling you not to bench? There are many alternate or accent exercises that’ll assist enhance your bench press. Utilize a wide range of exterior rotation and rotator cuff work to ensure that your shoulders keep healthy and structurally balanced. Both army presses and pullups have proven to have carry over to a much bigger bench, so ensure that they’re in your program. Dumbbell presses may also assist set up higher shoulder stability and a larger vary of movement, and triceps work will assist with a stronger lockout. Finally, the bench press is a reasonably demanding exercise on one of the difficult and injury-prone joints in your body, your shoulders. Don’t be afraid to take a while off bench urgent for a section to focus on supplemental and injury-preventing actions.

You may also enhance your bench press with our six-week training program to add 15 kilos to your bench press. 


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