Everyone wants a bigger Bench Press. No matter the sport or age the first question someone asks when they find out you lift weights is, "what do you bench?" I will be the first to admit benching isn't a very good test of overall strength but who doesn't love to bench and get an upper-body pump? Want to increase your bench? Here are a few tips and tricks on how.
1. Technique is important!
You shouldn't be haphazardly dropping the bar to your chest, bouncing it, and using the trampoline effect to get it off your chest until your triceps take over. Practice solid technique to avoid injury and build true strength.
2. Build the lats and upper back
Often overlooked, the lats and upper back play a crucial role in the Bench Press. Control and stability in the bar path starts in the upper back and lats; build them to build your bench.
3. Heavy? Not all the time
You don't have to go heavy every time you bench. There are times to incorporate lighter weights to work on speed, technique and build overall volume with more sets and/or reps.
4. Light? Not all the time
No, this is isn't a contradiction to No. 3. Don't expect huge jumps in strength if you are doing strictly high-rep, very light sets. Strength requires heavy lifts in combination with lower weight, higher-rep hypertrophy or bodybuilding style work.
5. Variations are key
Just doing the regular barbell Bench Press will get you strong. But incorporating different variations of the Bench Press can build even more strength (and make things more fun.) There are countless variations, but experiment with pauses, grips, bench incline levels and even the type of bar you are using.
6. Build on your weaknesses
Pay attention to your lifts and even record them if you like to see where your weaknesses lie. If you miss a lift where did it happen? Stall coming off the chest? Did the momentum die out and you couldn't lock the bar out? Recognize trends in your training and fix them by doing extra work or focusing on the weak point. Maybe your triceps are the problem. Time to hammer them with extra tricep work or bench variations that place more emphasis on the triceps like Close Grip Bench Press, Board Presses or the Floor Press.
Realize that it will take time to build your bench or any other lift for that matter. It won't happen overnight, and a bigger bench requires consistent work and effort. The barbell doesn't allow for shortcuts.
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