How to Increase Your Bench Press

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

Muscles Worked within the Bench Press

The traditional flat barbell bench press is a horizontal pushing train, focusing on three muscle teams that work in concord. First, the chest muscle tissues (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 method used, you possibly can manipulate this to skew the quantity of involvement every muscle group listed above receives. We’ll additionally begin with the disclaimer that the barbell flat bench press, although a formidable feat of energy, is just not the optimum alternative for constructing 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 far more stimulating for the pec fibers completely). It’s nothing main, nevertheless it’s price preserving in thoughts if constructing a much bigger chest or arms is considered one of your targets.

How Much Can the Average Man Bench Press?

The most urgent energy 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 numerous elements at play: damage historical past, coaching expertise, calendar age, physique 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 mean vary for body weight. Always do not forget that you are extra doubtless to possess extra relative energy if you happen to’re a smaller lifter, and are extra doubtless to possess extra absolute energy if you happen to’re a much bigger lifter. 

That means somebody who weighs 140 kilos might be extra doubtless to press 1.5 or 2 instances his body weight earlier than a lifter who’s 300 kilos will obtain the identical feat. The 300-pound dude might 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 improve your bench press, let’s begin with primary bench press ideas. Success begins with a correct setup. Like many actions, being steady 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 toes firmly on the bottom, and preserve 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 drive 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 toes for optimum stability. Never increase your butt off the bench press bench. Not earlier than or throughout the carry.
  3. Upper again and shoulders. The contact level on the bench through the higher again and shoulders is the principle hub to your drive manufacturing. The bench press generally is a huge 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 aspect of a correct, protected bench press. This will enable you to increase your ribcage, and pull the shoulder blades again towards one another—some of the important teaching cues that may shield your shoulder joints from damage.
  4. Head. It’s a quite common observe to increase your head off the bench throughout a set. Do your finest to do the other, and drive it into the bench as an alternative on every rep, so as to keep backbone neutrality within the title of security and neck well being.

Position Under the Bar

  1. Once you’re arrange with the above bench press ideas, 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 burden again up to the highest. That’s 1 rep. 
  3. Press your toes into the bottom on every press to get extra drive. And don’t cheat your self—absolutely lengthen 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 ideas, when determining how to improve a bench press. Fortunately, these prevalent obstacles to benching bigger numbers all have easy fixes.

1. Shoulder Pain

The bench press generally is a irritating train for the shoulder joint. But discovering the correct method and vary of movement to your physique can forestall shoulder ache. If you’re a lifter with lengthy arms, it’s much more vital that the shoulder blades stay retracted. Following the setup cues above can get a lifter far, however the pressure 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 strain positioned on the joint capsule and have interaction 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 weak backside finish ranges.

2. Unstable or Shaky Bar Path

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

Second, have a look at the wrists. It’s frequent for a lot of bench pressers to press with a broken-wrist place fairly than a powerful fist, stacked straight 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 area and unsupported. This can contribute to a wavering bar path when the carry is in motion.

3. Poor Strength Off the Chest

Many lifters have higher lockout energy than energy via the underside. Ruling out shoulder discomfort or prior accidents, this may typically be due to the way in which they’re used to performing the train—particularly in the event that they’re bouncing the bar off their chest. Remember, the bench press includes an eccentric and concentric element to the carry. Bouncing the bar off the chest requires much less energy out of your muscle tissues to carry out that portion of the motion. Instead, deal with controlling reps and slowing the decreasing part down to keep away from a bounce. This will do extra to strengthen the whole vary of movement and preserve the carry trustworthy. It might imply decreasing the burden, however it will likely be price it in the long term.

Exercises That Support the Bench Press 

Eventually, performing the traditional units of three, 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 turn out to be useful. These methods make lighter weight really feel heavier, or allow you to deal with one side of the carry, and can lead to a soar in efficiency once you return to conventional reps. Try biking them into your coaching 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 injury and soreness. It additionally encourages a lifter to press from a useless cease, requiring extra true energy. If you are studying how to enhance the bench press, deal with units of three 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 aspect a pair inches greater than chest degree (or barely greater), to begin. 
  2. Lay the bar throughout the pins and slide in beneath. 
  3. Get tight, press onerous, and permit the burden to return to the underside. 

James Michelfelder & Therese Sommerseth

2. 1.5 Rep Bench Press

Why It Works

The 1.5 rep methodology makes the chest work tougher on every rep—double the hassle with out further triceps work—due to extra time underneath load with out help from different muscle tissues. The execution is easy. Perform units of three to 5 reps.

How to Do It

  1. Get arrange in a typical bench press setup, to begin. 
  2. Unrack the burden and decrease the load slowly all the way in which to chest degree. 
  3. Press the burden 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 way in which 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 soundness issue for a bench press, because it requires excessive management and precision. You received’t give you the option to carry practically as a lot utilizing this methodology—start with 50 p.c of what you’d usually bench—and it’s advisable to use thicker bands fairly than skinnier ones, so the quantity of give is proscribed (and so the plates don’t hit the bottom on the backside of every rep). Returning to a standard bench press will really feel like a bit of cake. Sets of 5 to 10 reps is advisable.

4. Cluster Reps

Why It Works

If energy 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 methodology, there is a good probability 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 tissues to extra quantity underneath heavy hundreds.

5. Floor Press

Why It Works

The flooring press stops your vary of movement at 90 levels. Using dumbbells and a impartial grip, it is a sensible alternative to enhance lockout energy and increase the energy and measurement 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 begin.
  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 likely one of the finest strikes to develop stronger, larger muscle tissues. 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 better workload.

How to Do It

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

Reasons You’re Not Benching More

Lots of fellows 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 train 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 physique, full a full vary of movement, and monitor your method as you push that weight. 

If you are questioning why you are so weak within the bench press, ensure you keep away from these seven errors and you will be in your approach to creating a much bigger, extra outlined chest via superior energy and talent.

1. Focusing Too Much on a 1-Rep Max

Too many guys are involved with how a lot weight they’ll bench press for a single rep fairly than for units 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 toes up is simpler for constructing the chest than putting them flat on the ground. While lifting legs does have its makes use of, you are higher off preserving a stable base when bench-pressing as a result of it facilities most of your “neural drive” on the fibers of your pectoral muscle tissues.

3. Off-Kilter Position on the Bench

Properly positioning your torso all through every set—each rep, starting to finish—is likely one of the most vital elements in creating an enormous chest. A sloppy torso place will shunt a few of the muscle load onto different components of your physique, dishonest your pecs out of some beneficial properties and probably even setting your self up for damage.

Keep these 5 ideas in thoughts when benching:

  1. Keep your ribcage up excessive.
  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 physique, fairly than flaring them outwards.

Can’t appear to maintain that type via the whole set? Decrease the burden till you possibly can deal with it with excellent positioning.

4. Using the Wrong Grip

For a regular, easy bench press, area 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 unique train with a unique 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 permits you to put extra weight on the bar, everybody can see that it is only a approach to leverage momentum—not muscle energy—to full the carry. Bouncing the bar will solely rob you of the potential advantages of the bench press whereas vastly rising the probabilities you will get catastrophically damage. Your ribcage is fairly powerful, however in a battle of bone in opposition to transferring barbell, barbell wins.

You ought to give you the option 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 carried out your set, it is best 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’d 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’d like to maximize your beneficial properties.

Try this tempo: Lower the burden 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 energy and measurement.

7. Lifting Over a Small Range of Motion

Performing half-reps on the bench press is sort of as dangerous as bouncing the bar off your chest. It’s simple to see why guys do that: They load up every kind of plates on the bar, barely inch it alongside, after which brag to the entire fitness center about how a lot they’ll 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, meaning flippantly 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 decent contraction.

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8. You Forgot About Your Back

A robust, highly effective again will present much-needed higher physique stabilization once you begin piling on the burden. Make certain you are performing actions just like the barbell deadlift and barbell bent over rows – these actions are huge, advanced strength-builders and can pack on a stable construction. Perform 3-6 units, 6-8 reps, longer relaxation intervals, 1-3 minutes. Complement these huge lifts with a few accent actions: lat pull downs and seated cable rows. Perform 3-6 units, 12-15 reps, reasonable relaxation intervals, 30-60 seconds. Do not practice these to failure.

9. Benching Too Often 

We know what you are pondering: How to improve your bench press if we’re telling you not to bench? There are many alternate or accent workout routines that’ll assist enhance your bench press. Utilize a wide range of exterior rotation and rotator cuff work to be sure your shoulders keep wholesome and structurally balanced. Both army presses and pullups have proven to have carry over to a much bigger bench, so be sure they’re in your program. Dumbbell presses can even assist set up higher shoulder stability and a better vary of movement, and triceps work will assist with a stronger lockout. Finally, the bench press is a fairly demanding train on some of the sophisticated and injury-prone joints in your physique, your shoulders. Don’t be afraid to take a while off bench urgent for a part to consider supplemental and injury-preventing actions.

You can even improve your bench press with our six-week coaching program to add 15 kilos to your bench press. 

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