One of the most frequently asked questions in weight lifting is, “How do I get a bigger bench press?” It’s not about increasing squats, it’s not deadlifts, but it’s mainly bench press. Even though there are exercises way more important to your overall muscular development, the bench press seems to be on everyone’s agenda. Maybe there’s something about showing off your bench at the gym or rocking a powerful chest at the beach. Whatever your motives are, let’s examine 5 ways to increase your bench press in the fastest time possible.
#1 – Improve Your Form
In order to maximize your lift, you need to:
If your hands are too close together, you’ll put more emphasis on your triceps and lose strength. If you hold the bar too wide, the distance the bar travels shortens and you’ll put way too much emphasis on your shoulders. You should put your ring finger in the power ring on the bar.
Squeeze the bar as hard as you can and keep your entire body tight and contracted. You’ll be able to recruit the individual muscle groups needed for the bench press more efficiently when doing this.
Tight Upper Back
Squeeze your shoulder blades and upper back on the bench. This will create a solid base for you to press from. Imagine someone putting a pen between your shoulder blades. Keep the pen in your shoulder blades by squeezing them together. This is how it should be when you bench press.
Prevent your chest from going flat or shoulders rolling forward. You’ll lose upper-back tightness, losing power and increasing risk of shoulder injury. Keep your chest up at all time.
Use a wide foot stance to increase stability on the bench. Keep your feet flat and your lower legs perpendicular to the floor. Use your legs to drive yourself into the bench, putting your weight on your heels. This will put pressure on your upper back and traps, giving you a very solid base.
#2 – Lift Heavy
Doing lower reps with heavier weight will enable you to recruit more muscle fibers and motor neurons. You won’t necessarily get bigger from this rep range but you’ll increase the weight you can lift. The heavier loads will force your muscles, bones, tendons and central nervous system to adapt to the stress placed on it.
#3 – Vary Your Pressing Exercises
To truly maximize your gains, you need variety in your routine. First off, you need to stick with pressing exercises. When you bench press, you are pressing the weight up. You need to emulate this movement throughout the majority of your chest routine. Similar but distinct exercises cause the nervous system to send different patterns of electrical signals to the muscles, which will stimulate different patterns of contraction in the muscle fibers. This means that some fibers get broken down more in different exercises, even though the movements feel similar. Therefore, swap a barbell press with a dumbbell press or focus on an incline press instead of a flat press. When you switch back to your more typical exercises, you may find it easier to lift. Lastly, stay away from isolation exercises like the pec-deck or cable fly. These exercises are good for putting on definition but not for strength purposes. They really have no purpose in helping you lift more weight on your bench press.
#4 – Strengthen Your Triceps
The pectorals are the primary muscles used during a bench press, but your triceps muscles provide much assistance and support. So if you have stronger triceps, the odds of lifting more weight on the bench press begins to look very promising. If you really want to increase your bench press, you need to do triceps exercises. You should primarily focus on an exercise like the close-grip bench press. This exercise works the same muscles as the standard bench press but puts much more emphasis on the triceps muscles. Don’t waste your time with cable machines. Stick with heavy dumbbells and barbells and mainly focus on compound movements. If you really want to build strong triceps, don’t train them on chest days. You should train them when they are fresh. You wouldn’t be able to effectively train them after a heavy bench session, would you?
#5 – Eat More, Sleep More
To truly get stronger, you need to eat and sleep more. There’s no way around it. If you are sleep-deprived or starving, your body is not going to waste resources building muscle fibers or strengthening neural pathways. To keep adding more weight to your bench, you need to be in a well-rested and anabolic state. You need at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night and a surplus of calories and protein to drastically increase strength and muscle.
Remember that maximizing your gains is often about training smarter and not necessarily harder. Use these 5 tips and be prepared to see some great changes with your chest and bench press.