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BOOST YOUR BENCH PRESS!
BOOST YOUR BENCH PRESS!
Add 50 pounds to your bench in just 6 weeks.
In life, you can be guaranteed three things: death, taxes, and being asked the inevitable question in the weight room: “How much ya bench?”
All of us would like this number to be a little higher; we’re never satisfied with the status quo. So, I’m going to give you six tips and a six-week program to add 50 pounds to your bench press.
Something very important about benching that we have to look at before we increase your bench press is how you bench press. Make no mistake, a good bench press number has to be a good bench press, so let’s be very clear about some ground rules of a good bench press rep:
• If it doesn’t touch your chest, it doesn’t count
• If your spotting partner is doing half the weight in an upright row, it doesn’t count
• If your partner actually touches the bar, it doesn’t count
• If your feet are kicking and flailing around, it doesn’t count
If you’re going to bench press, let’s make it a nice rep.
Now that the ground rules are covered, let’s go over six ways to improve your bench press.
The following program matters, but just think for a second about these six tips. If these six tips add 10 pounds each, there’s 60 pounds right there on your bench press. Even if they add five pounds each to your bench press, you can increase your bench press by 30 pounds.
It’s very common for me to work with one of my athletes and fix one of these things in his bench and watch him add 10 to 20 pounds to a personal best in one workout.
How you bench press matters, and by following these six tips, you’re guaranteed to become stronger immediately.
SIX TIPS FOR A BAD-ASS BENCH PRESS
Tip 1: Always Warm Up Properly
I know what you’re thinking: Boring. Well, warming up is boring until you blow out your rotator cuff, tear a pec, or hurt yourself. Then you will pay far more attention to your warm-up than before. Trust me, I know. So take 10 to 15 minutes and warm up correctly before getting under the bar. It will make you stronger and also prevent injuries.
Some key points on the warm-up:
• Raise core body temperature; do something to get a little sweat and heart rate going.
• Warm up with training bands when possible.
• Add in mobility work.
• Warm up your whole body, not just your upper body (benching is a full-body exercise when done properly).
• Use this time to warm up your mind as much as your body—start focusing.
Tip 2: Get Set Up Right
Every good lift is made in the setup. If you have a good setup, you’ll have a good lift. I can almost watch someone from the liftoff and the setup and see if he’s going to get the lift even before the descent of the bar. Never neglect the importance of the setup.
Some key points on the setup:
• Always use the same setup; find a way to set up that works for you and continue with the same approach and setup all the time.
• Treat the bar the same way you would treat 315; it’s important to always have the same setup and build good movement patterns.
• Set up so that you can use your whole body with the bench press, not just your upper body.
• Always position yourself on the bench so that your head, shoulders, and glutes have a firm contact with the bench.
• Always position your feet on either side of the bench in such a way that you can dig your heels in and achieve full-body tension.
Tip 3: Grip the Bar Correctly
The contact you make with the bar is very important when benching. Don’t neglect this and just grab the bar any way and go.
Some key points on bench press grip:
• Use a full grip, not a false grip (suicide grip).
• Make sure your hands are evenly spaced (this is so basic but important).
• Grip the bar and try to break it.
• White-knuckle the bar; if your knuckles aren’t white, you’re not squeezing the bar hard enough.
Tip 4: Don’t Forget to Breathe Right
This one alone will improve your bench press immediately. Learning how to breathe and how not to breathe during the bench press will make you stronger and improve your lift and decrease the chance of injury immediately. It’s one of the first things I fix with my clients because it can make them so much stronger.
Some key points on breathing for bench pressing:
• Take a big, deep breath into the chest at the top of the rep.
• Hold your breath during the lift.
• Breathe out only on the top half to third of the lift; otherwise, keep your breath and don’t lose it.
• For low reps (1–5), reset your breath every rep.
Tip 5: Pull the Bar Down
A big mistake I see with people when bench pressing is that they passively lower the bar to the chest. Big mistake. You can’t see them, but all those big muscles behind you are very important when benching. The more you can activate the antagonistic muscles when bench pressing, the stronger you’ll be. Get your lats and traps fired when you bench.
Some key points on pulling the bar down:
• Be sure to pull the bar down as though you were doing an overhand row; don’t let the bar just drop to your chest.
• Squeeze your lats and shoulders together as you pull, creating tension in the upper back.
• Pull your shoulders back and pinch them as if there were a pencil between your lats.
Tip 6: Train for Speed
If you want to be strong, you have to be fast—period. So, when training bench press, be sure to train AFAP (as fast as possible) unless you are doing a tempo-based program.
Some key points on bench press speed:
• Train as fast as possible in the warm-up (even with the bar).
• Condition yourself to train fast.
• As you get heavier, the bar may not be moving as fast, but your goal is to move it as fast as you can.
There you have it—six tips for a bigger bench press and a six-week program designed to increase your bench press strength and technical ability. Be sure to really focus on improving technique, and your strength will go up. As well, be sure to take rest days; they’re important for your training and strength. I know that with this program and these tips, adding 50 pounds or more to your bench press in six weeks will happen.
Train hard and smart and stay strong.
The Bigger & Badder Bench Program
I like to keep my training programs simple. It’s important to have a goal in training, and every six-week block I usually like to focus on one goal and one goal only.
For the next six weeks, your goal is to get stronger on bench press while keeping injuries to a minimum. That’s not an excuse to skip leg day, but the priority is your bench press.
The goal is to add 5 to 10 pounds to your Day 1 rep scheme on every Monday.
Day 1: Bench and Upper Back Day
Warm up: 10–15 min.
A1. Flat bench press: 5 sets warm-up, then lift the following rep scheme for the same weight:
5 reps, 4 reps, 3 reps, 2 reps, 1 rep
B1. Heavy bent-over rows: 5 sets of 8 reps
C1. TRX T’s / C2. TRX Y’s / C3. TRX W’s: Superset 3 sets of 8–12 reps of each exercise
D1. Plyometric push-ups: 3 sets of 8 reps
E1. Single-arm dumbbell or kettlebell suitcase carry: 3 sets of 1 minute each
Day 2: Rest
(Active Recovery) I don’t like full rest days, so use this time for some light sled work, bodyweight workout, mobility—nothing heavy, but do something to recharge.
Day 3: Legs
A1. Squats: 5 sets of 12–15 reps
B1. Stiff-legged deadlifts: 5 sets of 5 reps
C1. Walking lunges: 3 sets of 15 lunges per leg
D1. Hamstring curls: 5 sets of 5 reps
E1. Farmer’s carry: 3 sets of 1 minute each
Day 4: Rest
(Active Recovery) Same as Day 2. Do some sled work, bodyweight, mobility etc.
Day 5: Light Bench (Technical Bench Day)* and Arms
*This workout is not about going heavy. It’s about working the six tips above to improve technique. This is critical.
A1. Bar bench press: 5 sets of 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, but not heavy
B1. Lying dumbbell triceps extensions:
5 sets of 10 reps
Rest 30 seconds
B2. Seated incline
5 sets of 10 reps
C1. Zotman curls:
5 sets of 8 reps
Rest 30 seconds
C2. Triceps push-downs:
5 sets of 20 reps
D1. Suitcase carry:
3 sets of 1 minute each
Day 6 & 7: Rest
(Active Recovery) Same as Day 2. Do some sled work, bodyweight workout, mobility, etc.
About the Author
Rob King is an entrepreneur, fitness writer, strength coach, and body transformation expert. He is a competitive powerlifter and martial arts black belt, and has been featured in publications such as T-Nation, Inside Fitness, EliteFTS, and more. He is also certified in the following: CPPS Level 1, BioSig Certified Level 1, Training For Warriors Certified Level 1 & 2. Website: RobKingFitness.com, Facebook: Facebook.com/RobKingFitness