The bench press is probably the most impressive weight lifting exercise of them all. It’s big, it’s macho, and it’s pretty much the ultimate test of upper body strength. Simply put: it’s hard for people to take you as strong if your bench sucks.
Increasing your bench press should always be a priority. The bench press involves many muscles, such as the lats, biceps, lower back, neck and abs as stabilizer muscles, but the main lifting muscles are the pectorals, deltoids and the triceps.
There are several great ways to increase your bench press, particularly if you find yourself getting stuck at a plateau:
- Eat more: it’s simple, but effective. Always ensure you get plenty of carbs an hour or so before your workout. Doing so will mean you have maximum energy when it comes to benching.
- Rest more: it’s always tempting to think that the more you attempt a lift, the further you’ll progress, but consider this: bench pressing is extremely taxing on the muscles. You may want to try benching no more than once a week, and if you already bench just once a week and still can’t seem to break past that plateau, then try skipping a week of benching to recuperate fully.
- Isolation work: because the bench involves mainly the deltoids, pecs and the triceps, you may benefit by trying to improve your strength in these areas by using isolation exercises. For instance, heavy lateral raises, shoulder presses, dumbbell flies, and triceps extensions.
- Changing reps and sets: it’s well known that by continuing to do the same old routine for longer than several weeks can lead to staleness, where the muscle simply stops responding to the stimuli. To circumvent this, you could try changing the number of sets and reps you do. Mix it up. Experiment.
- Partial reps: during the motion of the bench press repetition, different muscles become more or less involved throughout. For instance, in the lower half, the chest muscles and deltoids are more involved, and in the higher end, the triceps more involved. Your bench may be getting seriously dragged down simply because you lack the strength in the required area, be it upper portion of the rep or lower. You can then directly work to lift this lagging area by performing partial repetitions strictly in the area in question. It’s a fantastic way to overcome plateaus and increase your bench press.
- Speed benching: Another tactic employed by many to increase their overall bench press is speed benching. In a controlled yet fast manner, several repetitions are performed. The bar should never be bounced off the chest during speed benching. The key is controlled explosiveness.
So there you have it. Next time you want to increase your bench press and find yourself struggling, try out some of these methods and you should break through easy.