How To Fix Your Weak Bench Press
“How much can you bench, bro?” Chances are you’ve been asked this question at some point in your time in the gym. But are you happy with you bench press strength? If not, you should check out our article on the best tips you can use to increase your bench press starting right now.
The bench press is the ultimate weightlifting exercise. Any guy who has ever stepped foot in the gym has probably been asked the question, “How much can you bench?” Sadly, few of them are proud of their response to that question. But how does one go about increasing their bench press?
Since the bench press works several major muscle groups, you have to have a lot more than just a strong chest to be a formidable bench presser. These muscle groups include your pecs, triceps, deltoids, and indirectly lats and legs,
Let’s look at some scientifically-proven tips and techniques that will allow you to quickly increase your bench press and pack on lean body mass.
MASTERING BENCH PRESS TECHNIQUES
• Try to pull the bar apart
When setting up for the bench, pull your shoulder blades together and squeeze the bar like you’re trying to pull it apart. Hold this position during the entire lift. This will help generate more force by engaging your lats and activating more muscle fibers. This position will also help by keeping you in a stronger position.
• Body position on the bench
As above, pull your shoulder blades together and drive your back into the bench. Squeeze the bar as hard as you can, keep your feet firmly planted just under or in front of the knees. Maintain an arch in your lower back and stay tight throughout the whole lift. You should be locked so tight that if someone tried to push you off of the bench, they wouldn’t be able to.
• Tuck your elbows (don’t flare them outward)
Not only is it extremely dangerous to bench with your elbows flared outward, it actually weakens the explosiveness on the bench press. When you lower the bar, your elbows should be about 30 – 45 degrees from parallel with your body. Your elbows should be “tucked” towards your hips). Flaring your elbows outward greatly increases the risk of a pec tear. These injuries are one of the most common and detrimental, weightlifting injuries.
• Pump Up Your Adrenaline
This is one of those “outside the box” mindset hacks that can instantly help you bench press up to 10% more weight. A study conducted by A.U.T. University found that if one psyched themselves up before a bench press, they were able to increase the amount lifted by 8%.1.
So how do you psych yourself up? Well to each his own, but an easy way is to jam-out to high-intensity music that stimulates the release of adrenaline throughout your body. Pick your favorite high-energy jam, load up the bar, and go to work!
• Power of Visualization
Another trick to increase your bench press is to visualize yourself performing a successful lift with heavy weight. This psychological tactic is more effective than most gym may goers believe. Once you believe you can lift a certain weight, odds are you’re more likely to make it happen (within reason).
TRAINING FOR A BIGGER BENCH PRESS
• Bench Press First
One of the easiest ways to increasing your bench press is to make sure that you perform the bench press before any other exercise. If you are bench pressing towards the end of your workout, then you are not able to generate a maximum amount of force. This is due to muscular and nervous system fatigue, which will make it harder to increase your bench press. This may seem obvious but many gym goers do not follow this simple rule: Do Compound Lifts First — Always.
Often times, most guys who are trying to increase their bench press stick to the same repetition range each workout. Remember that your muscles need new forms of stimuli and overload to progress and grow. Varying your rep ranges will recruit different muscle fibers and “shock” your chest into growth and strength gains.
Some workouts you could be performing heavy sets in the 1 – 3 repetition range. Other workouts in the 8 – 12 repetition range. Try mixing it up, but make sure to get at least one heavy (1-5 reps, 90% or more of your one-rep max) training session in per week. You won’t add numbers to your bench press if you’re always doing 8 to 12 reps with the same weights.
When training at greatest intensity with a wide variety of rep ranges, you are exposing your body to different types of overload. This forces your body to adapt and get stronger.
BUILD YOUR LOWER CHEST
One common mistake many gym goers make is to put emphasis on their middle and upper chest with little emphasis on the lower chest. By working-in a variety of decline chest exercises you will develop surrounding muscle groups. Exercises like decline bench press and decline dumbbell fly help develop the clavicular pectoralis and anterior deltoids. These muscle groups are crucial for bench press strength and stability.
INCREASE YOUR TRICEPS STRENGTH
Your triceps are another vital muscle group that is utilized during the bench press. If you are having trouble “locking out” on heavy bench press sets, focus on increasing triceps strength. Exercises that force your triceps to get stronger will all help build your bench press. These workouts may include weighted dips, skull crushers, and tricep extensions. Moreover, try bench pressing with a closer grip to really incorporate the triceps more in the movement.
There you have it, simple and effective tips and techniques that you can implement this very moment to drastically improve your bench press (and keep improving it over time). Remember, focus on proper bench press form and technique as it will significantly increase the safety and efficacy of the movement. The last thing you want to do is hurt yourself or tear a muscle because of improper technique.