The bench press is one of the top exercises that most beginners jump into and seasoned lifters seek to expand. Although some people seem to be able to tackle bench presses effortlessly and increase weight on a seemingly endless scale, most others struggle with weight increases and seem to bottom out quickly. If you’re having a difficult time increasing your bench press, see if some of the following tips and techniques can help you move beyond your present lifting weight.
Bench Press Tips
Tip #1 – Patience
Patience is vital in building muscle mass… period. You can’t expect to bench press 400 pounds overnight. It takes a patient and consistent weight training program that not only adds bench press weight in realistic increments, but also adds muscle gains to the rest of your physique as well. Trying to lift too much weight right off the bat can lead to overtraining or injury. If you remain persistent and add small amounts of weight over time, before you know it you will reach your bench press goals.
Tip #2 – Increase Back Strength
You’re not going to get far on bench press gains if you aren’t also building a strong back. The back muscles are the foundation and initiation for your pressing drive. Increase back strength and you will also be able to increase your bench press strength.
Tip #3 –Build Triceps
Achieving strong triceps is another vital element in pressing greater weight. Build triceps by doing dips, board presses and close grip bench presses. By increasing your tricep strength, you will be able to increase your bench press load.
Tip #4 – Don’t Ignore Your Traps and Delts
These are other critical muscles to build in order to increase weight on your bench press. Since the bench press is an upper body exercise for building the chest, the opposite muscle groups need to be strengthened as well to ensure proper balance and greater lift power.
Tip #5 – Use Your Legs
If you want to increase chest strength, you have to utilize your full body to lift heavier weight. Plant your feet firmly on the floor and use your leg muscles to add power, balance and leverage to your lift.
Tip #6 – Make Bench Press the First Exercise
Getting the maximum bench press is more easily achieved if you are fresh. Therefore, make bench pressing the first exercise of your day. Train other areas either after your bench press exercise or on another strength training day. By tackling the bench press while you’re fresh, you will be able to devote more strength and energy to your lift. Also, make sure you warm up properly before hitting massive weight so that your central nervous system is allowed to adjust and prepare for heavier weight.
Tip #7 – Focus on Proper Form
Poor form is disastrous when performing any exercise and it is just as important with the bench press. Many weightlifters make the mistake of focusing only on the chest movements when performing the exercise. However, better results will be realized if you focus on rowing the bar towards your chest, squeezing the bar like you’re trying to bend it, holding your elbows away from your torso at about a 45º angle, and keeping your eyes looking towards the ceiling. These tips combined with the ones listed in this article will help you obtain a greater bench press.
Tip #8 – Use Correct Alignment
Maintaining correct alignment is also crucial for greater bench pressing. When the bar has been lowered to chest level, ensure that your knuckles are pointed up, you wrists are positioned in alignment over your elbows, and your forearms are straight up and perpendicular to the floor.
Tip #9 – Resist Maxing Out Too Early
It is tempting for beginners to want max out on weight of their bench press early into their strength training program. However, it’s important to build a foundation of strength and power first before moving onto maximum weight lifts. Determine a rep range that is challenging yet comfortable for you to complete (say 5-10 reps) and then increase the reps instead of the weight amount each workout until you build strength. Once greater strength is achieved, you can start adding weight and lowering the rep count.
Tip #10 – Recover Properly
Proper recovery is vital for achieving greater lifts without inducing overtraining or injury. This is extremely important once the workout day is done. However, when lifting heavy weight, you also need to give yourself proper recovery time between bench press sets. Heavy weightlifting severely stresses the body and central nervous system and they need time to recover somewhat before hitting another set. Therefore, take a 3-5 minute rest between each heavy set. This will increase your ability to power drive the next bench press. If you follow these tips and make proper adjustments to your strength training program, you should be able to significantly increase your bench press weight.