For some, learning how to increase bench press can take years.
However, if you have the right information and know what you are doing from the get-go, you can perfect the bench press right from the start, giving you a huge advantage over most other lifters in terms of muscle and strength growth.
In this article, we will tell you how to increase bench press based on scientific data and the experience of thousands of advanced lifters.
How to Do the Bench Press
Step 1 — Set Up
Before you even touch the barbell, it’s crucial you know how to bench press.
Begin by lying flat on the bench with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Your head, upper back, and butt should be in contact with the bench at all times.
Ensure that your body is in a stable and comfortable position, and adjust the bench height if necessary.
Step 2 — Grip and Unrack
Once you’re properly positioned, it’s time to grip the barbell.
Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on the bar, with your palms facing forward.
Make sure your grip is firm and secure. Next, unrack the bar by straightening your arms and lifting it off the rack.
Keep your elbows tucked in and your shoulders packed to maintain stability.
Step 3 — Load and Lower
As you lower the bar, focus on maintaining control and stability throughout the movement.
Engage your core, squeeze your glutes, and keep your feet grounded for a solid foundation.
Lower the bar in a controlled manner until it touches your mid-chest or slightly below while keeping your elbows at a 45-degree angle from your body.
Step 4 — Press Up, Powerfully
Now it’s time to press the barbell back up to the starting position.
Generate power by driving your feet into the ground and engaging your chest, shoulders, and triceps.
Push the barbell upward in a smooth and explosive motion, maintaining control and stability throughout.
Fully extend your arms at the top, locking out your elbows, and squeeze your chest muscles for an extra contraction.
Best Bench Press Cues
“Bring Your Chest to the Bar”
When performing the bench press, it’s essential to focus on bringing your chest towards the barbell.
This cue helps ensure that you’re utilizing the full range of motion and engaging your chest muscles effectively.
As you lower the bar, imagine driving your chest towards it, allowing your pectoral muscles to stretch and activate fully.
This movement recruits more muscle fibers and contributes to greater overall strength gains.
“Push Yourself Into the Bench”
To maximize your bench press performance, it’s important to generate force not only from your upper body but also from your lower body.
As you press the barbell upward, consciously push yourself into the bench using your legs.
By actively driving your feet into the ground and engaging your leg muscles, you create a stable base of support and transfer power efficiently from your lower body to your upper body.
This leg drive helps you maintain control, generate more force, and lift heavier weights.
“Use Your Legs”
Expanding on the previous point, incorporating leg drive into your bench press technique is crucial.
Start by positioning your feet flat on the ground, creating a solid foundation. As you press the barbell up, engage your leg muscles and drive your feet into the floor.
This leg drive not only aids in generating more power but also enhances stability and overall body tension.
By utilizing your legs, you tap into the strength of your entire body, resulting in improved bench press performance.
Things to Keep In Mind to Improve Your Bench Press
A Chest Anatomy Lesson
Before we dive into the specifics of improving your bench press, let’s take a quick trip to the anatomy class.
Understanding the muscles involved in the bench press can give you valuable insights into how to train effectively.
At the center of attention is the chest, or pectoralis major muscle.
It’s the largest muscle in your chest and plays a significant role in pushing movements.
The pectoralis minor, a smaller muscle located beneath the pectoralis major, assists in stabilizing the shoulder.
Being aware of these two muscles and focusing on them while working out can help to achieve a mind-muscle connection, improving muscle and strength gains.
Your Chest’s Support Muscles
While the chest muscles are the primary focus during the bench press, there are other muscles that play a crucial role in providing support and enhancing your performance.
The triceps, located at the back of your upper arm, are heavily involved in the pushing motion.
Strong triceps can help you generate more power and overcome sticking points during the lift.
Additionally, the deltoids or shoulder muscles are also actively engaged during the bench press.
Strong shoulders provide stability and contribute to better overall pressing strength.
Neglecting these support muscles can limit your progress, so it’s essential to incorporate exercises that target them into your training routine.
Focus on Energy Transfer
Now that we have covered the muscles involved let’s talk about energy transfer. The bench press is not just about raw strength; it’s about efficiently transferring that strength into moving the weight.
Mastering the art of energy transfer can significantly impact your bench press performance.
First and foremost, maintaining proper form and technique is crucial. It ensures that you engage the right muscles and distribute the load evenly.
Focus on keeping your back flat against the bench, your feet grounded, and maintaining a stable arch in your lower back.
This alignment allows for optimal power transfer from your upper body through your core and into the bench.
Another factor to consider is the mind-muscle connection.
By visualizing and actively engaging the target muscles during the lift, you can maximize their involvement and increase the effectiveness of each repetition.
Imagine pushing the weight away using your chest and triceps, and you’ll be surprised at the difference it can make.
Furthermore, incorporating accessory exercises that improve explosive power and stability can also enhance your bench press.
Movements such as push-ups, dips, and shoulder presses can help develop the necessary strength and coordination needed to excel in the bench press.
5 Exercises to Help Boost Your Bench Press
To perform a barbell row, start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in your knees.
Bend at your hips while keeping your back straight and grasp the barbell with an overhand grip.
Engage your back muscles and pull the barbell up towards your lower chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement.
Lower the barbell back down with control and repeat for the desired number of reps.
The barbell row primarily targets the muscles in your upper back, including the rhomboids, trapezius, and rear deltoids.
These muscles play a crucial role in stabilizing your shoulder blades and maintaining a solid foundation during the bench press.
By incorporating barbell rows into your training routine, you can develop a stronger back, which translates to increased pressing strength.
Floor Glute Bridge
When it comes to increasing your bench press, you might be surprised to learn that your glute muscles can play a crucial role in boosting your performance.
One exercise that specifically targets and activates your glutes is the floor glute bridge.
To perform a floor glute bridge, start by lying flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
Place your arms by your sides with your palms facing down for stability. Engage your core and squeeze your glutes as you lift your hips off the ground, creating a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
Hold the position for a moment, focusing on contracting your glute muscles, and then slowly lower your hips back down to the starting position.
Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
To improve your bench press, it’s important to focus on developing strength in your upper body, including your shoulders.
The shoulder press is an exercise that specifically targets the muscles in your shoulders, allowing you to build upper body strength that directly translates to a stronger bench press.
To perform a shoulder press, start by standing or sitting with a dumbbell or a barbell in your hands at shoulder level, palms facing forward.
Engage your core and press the weight straight overhead until your arms are fully extended.
Slowly lower the weight back down to shoulder level and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
If you’re looking to improve your bench press, it’s crucial to target not only your chest but also your triceps, which play a significant role in pushing movements.
The close-grip pushup is an effective exercise that specifically focuses on strengthening these muscles, ultimately leading to a stronger bench press.
To perform a close-grip pushup, start in a standard pushup position with your hands placed closer together than shoulder-width apart.
Your fingers should be pointing forward or slightly inward.
Lower your body by bending your elbows until your chest is close to the ground, then push yourself back up by extending your arms.
Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
To perform a dumbbell pullover, lie on a bench with your upper back and head supported, feet flat on the floor.
Hold a dumbbell with both hands, arms extended overhead. Keep a slight bend in your elbows as you lower the weight in an arc behind your head, feeling a stretch in your chest and shoulders.
Then, engage your chest and pull the dumbbell back up to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of reps.
The dumbbell pullover primarily targets the muscles in your chest, particularly the pectoralis major and minor, while also engaging the latissimus dorsi and the muscles of your shoulders.
By incorporating this exercise into your routine, you can strengthen and expand your chest muscles, which will contribute to greater stability and power during your bench press.
Additionally, the dumbbell pullover helps to improve shoulder mobility, allowing for a more efficient bench press movement.
How to Increase Your Bench Press — Tips and Programs to Try
Push Your Upper Limit
1. Bench Press: 5 sets of 3 reps
2. Floor Dumbbell Press: 3 sets of 8 reps
3. Cable Pull-down: 3 sets of 12 reps
4. Reverse Band Press: 5 sets of 3 reps
Set Your Bar Higher
5. Close-Grip Bench Press: 5 sets of 5 reps
6. Barbell Military Press: 3 sets of 6 reps
7. Barbell Bent-Over Row: 3 sets of 8 reps
8. Rhomboid Shrug: 3 sets of 10 reps
Bench Press Tips and Tricks
Implement Technique Work
One of the first steps in improving your bench press is to focus on your technique.
It’s crucial to establish a solid foundation and perform the lift with proper form. This includes maintaining a stable back, a slight arch in your lower back, and utilizing leg drive for additional power.
Take the time to study and practice proper bench press technique, and consider working with a qualified coach or trainer who can provide guidance and feedback.
Warm Up Thoroughly
A thorough warm-up is key to a successful bench press session.
Start with some light cardio to get your blood flowing, followed by dynamic stretching to loosen up your muscles and increase joint mobility.
Gradually increase the weight with a few warm-up sets, focusing on proper technique.
Warming up not only helps prevent injuries but also primes your nervous system and muscles for optimal performance.
Vary Your Intensity
The longer we lift, the more our bodies adapt to any exercises we throw at it.
This is why varying intensity is so important.
You can manipulate intensity so you push harder on some workouts than others, giving your body a chance to grow and bust past plateaus.
Select the Right Accessory Exercises
In addition to the bench press itself, incorporating accessory exercises into your routine can greatly enhance your overall bench press strength.
Targeting muscles such as the triceps, shoulders, and upper back can provide the stability and power needed for a stronger bench press.
Consider exercises like tricep dips, shoulder presses, rows, and chest flyes.
Choose exercises that complement your bench press and address any weak areas in your lifting
Breathing might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about bench press improvement, but it plays a crucial role in maximizing your performance.
Practice taking a deep breath before each rep, holding it as you lower the bar, and exhaling forcefully as you push the weight back up.
This technique, known as the valsalva maneuver, helps stabilize your core and provides a solid platform for generating power.
Mind Your Recovery
While it’s tempting to push yourself to the limit every training session, adequate rest and recovery are essential for making gains in your bench press.
Allow your body enough time to recover between workouts, ensuring you get enough sleep and proper nutrition.
Incorporate rest days into your training plan and consider incorporating techniques like foam rolling and stretching to aid in recovery and prevent muscle imbalances.
Best Bench Press Programs
Greyskull Linear Progression
The Greyskull Linear Progression focuses on building both strength and size by gradually increasing the weight you lift while incorporating various rep ranges.
The program typically involves three sets of bench press, with the last set being an AMRAP (as many reps as possible) set, where you push yourself to the limit.
The beauty of the Greyskull Linear Progression lies in its simplicity.
It allows for consistent progress by increasing the weight slightly each session, ensuring that you constantly challenge yourself.
Additionally, the AMRAP set at the end of each session helps gauge your progress and gives you an opportunity to push beyond your limits.
Wendler’s 5/3/1 is another popular bench press program that emphasizes slow and steady progression over time.
With Wendler’s 5/3/1, you’ll focus on hitting a prescribed number of reps at different percentages of your one-rep max (1RM) for each training session.
The program incorporates different sets and rep ranges, allowing for both volume and intensity throughout the training cycle.
The key principle behind Wendler’s 5/3/1 is that progress should be sustainable and manageable.
By gradually increasing the weights and focusing on proper form and technique, you can steadily improve your bench press strength without burning out or risking injury.
The Texas Method
If you’re looking for a program that balances volume and intensity to enhance your bench press, the Texas Method might be a great fit.
The Texas Method is known for its emphasis on heavy lifting and structured progression.
The program typically consists of three weekly training sessions, with each session dedicated to a specific aspect of bench press training.
The volume day focuses on high-rep sets to build muscle and work on technique. The light day allows for recovery and active rest.
Finally, the intensity day is where you push your limits with heavy weights and low reps.
By incorporating different training modalities within the same week, the Texas Method provides a comprehensive approach to bench press improvement.
It challenges your muscles with higher volume, allows for adequate recovery, and then tests your strength with heavy loads.
if you’re ready to take your bench press to the next level and are willing to embrace a more demanding program, Smolov Jr. might be the answer.
Smolov Jr. is a specialized bench press program designed to increase your bench press numbers significantly over a short period.
The program involves four intense weeks of training, with the focus primarily on bench press.
It incorporates high volume and frequency, requiring you to bench press multiple times per week with heavy weights and specific rep schemes.
Smolov Jr. is not for the faint of heart and should only be attempted by experienced lifters who are injury-free and have a solid foundation of strength.
It is known for its challenging nature but has yielded impressive results for those who can handle the workload.
Blast Your Bench
At this point, we have given you all the tools you need to blow up your bench.
However, as one final tip, we would just like to mention that increasing your frequency is going to make a huge difference in how fast you progress.
You could even bench every other day if you truly want to maximise muscle and strength gains.
The more often you bench, the better and bigger your bench will be.
It’s as simple as that.
How To Increase Bench Press – FAQs
How Much Should A 70 KG Man Bench Press?
A 70 kg man who is new to the gym should be able to bench press around 44 kg.
However, this can vary drastically depending on how long you have been lifting and genetics.
Is 20 KG A Good Bench Press?
A 20 kg bench press could be good for you depending on your height, weight, age, and gender.
However, unless you are a small woman or extremely skinny, a 20 kg bench press is generally not going to be considered a “good” bench press by most.
Is 80 KG A Good Bench Press?
Depending on your weight and weight, an 80 kg bench press would put you at the novice level.
This is one step above beginner, where you have been hitting the gym consistently for at least a few months.
Is 50 KG A Good Bench Press?
A 50 kg bench press could be good for you depending on your current situation.
However, a 50 kg would generally not be seen as an impressive bench press unless you are extremely light and small.
How To Increase Bench Press Powerlifting?
The best way to quickly improve your bench press for powerlifting is to widen your grip when bench pressing and maintain good form throughout the entire movement.
If you practise good form by using your legs and keeping your shoulders firmly planted on the bench, you could see a weight jump almost instantaneously.
How To Increase Your Bench Press Instantly?
You can increase your bench press instantly by taking a wide grip on the bar and using your legs to drive and help push the weight up.
What Are the Best 5 Ways to Increase Your Bench Press?
Here are the best 5 ways to increase your bench press:
- Use a wide grip
- Keep your shoulders firmly planted on the bench
- Make a slight arch with your back
- Push with your legs
- Grip the bar tightly
What’s The Best 4-week Bench Press Program?
While there is no best 4-week bench press program, here are a few of the best options:
- Greyskull Linear Progression
- Wendler’s 5/3/1
- The Texas Method
- Smolov Jr.
How To Increase Bench Press by 100 Lbs?
Increasing your bench press by 100lbs will require hard work and dedication in the gym for months.
You should train bench press at least twice a week, and make sure you eat in a caloric surplus and consume enough protein.
How To Increase your Bench Press by 50 Pounds?
You can increase your bench press by 50 pounds by performing bench presses on a regular basis for at least a few months.
For beginner trainees, increasing your bench by 50 pounds will not take long at all.
We hope we have been able to give you a better idea of how to increase bench press.
If you follow all of the tips we have given you today, you will zoom past your peers and achieve your strength and muscle growth goals much faster.
For more lifting advice, feel free to head over to MovingForwards to see what else we have to offer.