Simple Tips On How You Can Increase Your Bench Press!

The bench press is without a doubt one of the world’s most popular strength measuring exercises. Even if you are amongst the population of lifters who think deadlifts or squats are the king of the weight room, there’s no doubt in my mind that you started off your strength career asking folks “how much can ya bench?”. We’ve all been there. Building large weight numbers on the bench press isn’t all about cranking out as much volume as you can on each session.

Like anything gym related, only about 10% of what affects your performance actually happens within the gym setting, the other 90% depends on what you do outside of the gym. With this in mind, and since we’ve all still got a little something to prove, we’re going to be discussing the finer points of developing a strong chest, and creating powerful bench numbers.

We are going to cover 4 main areas you need to focus on how to increase your bench press and give you some sample routines that you can start to use.

4 Must-Haves To Bench More & A Killer Example Routine

Handsome fitness model train in the gym gain muscle

01.

The Training Aspect

Consistent Time In The Gym Is A Must!

The most effective way to increase your bench press is, surprise surprise, to bench press more often! While I say this jokingly, it is an important concept to grasp because at the end of the day strength is the result of stimulus applied to a muscle over time. In order to increase your bench press on a fundamental level, you have to give yourself more time under the bar.

If you are totally new to working out, this may mean benching once a week in a consistent manner over time. If you have some experience under your belt and you’re wanting to focus on bench strength, you could easily up this to two or three sessions a week.

Additionally, you need to become comfortable with the concept of increasing your weight each workout, a concept known as progressive overloading. Besides the number of sessions per week, it’s also important to track your volume, which we will get into later in this article.

02.

The Nutrition Side

Eat to Gain Lean Mass

The most effective way to increase your bench press is, surprise surprise, to bench press more often! While I say this jokingly, it is an important concept to grasp because at the end of the day strength is the result of stimulus applied to a muscle over time. In order to increase your bench press on a fundamental level, you have to give yourself more time under the bar.

If you are totally new to working out, this may mean benching once a week in a consistent manner over time. If you have some experience under your belt and you’re wanting to focus on bench strength, you could easily up this to two or three sessions a week.

Additionally, you need to become comfortable with the concept of increasing your weight each workout, a concept known as progressive overloading. Besides the number of sessions per week, it’s also important to track your volume, which we will get into later in this article.

Powerful athletic man with great phisique eating a healthy salad.

Generally the more lean muscle mass you have, the more protein you need, so it’s not uncommon to see people with 200+ pounds of lean muscle taking in 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per body pound. There are some studies​ that suggest there is an upper limit on how much protein you can take a day before it loses its effectiveness, but the strongest people in the world take in 3x their body weight in grams of protein and sometimes I think the results speak for themselves. Ideally, this is done in incremental meals over the day of at least 20-25 grams of protein per meal, which is the golden range for ​muscle protein synthesis​. Ultimately though, keep it simple, try a few different ranges and see what gives you the best results.

crossfit man tired relaxed after workout

03.

Rest and Recovery

Don't Over Train!

Allowing yourself adequate recovery time is essential to building your bench press. Strength is the process of tearing down muscle fibers, letting them rebuild stronger, and tearing them down again. The majority of your muscle recovery happens while you’re asleep so it is critical that you get at least 6 hours of sleep a night if you are trying to get stronger, though ideally you should be aiming for 7 or 8.

A word for intermediate lifters:​ If you are benching multiple times a week, try to limit your heavy session to just once per week. You can use your other session(s) to focus on movement patterns, technique, or assistance exercises. Try to give yourself at least 72 hours between sessions.

04.

The Workout Routine

Time To Pump Some Iron

Now that we’ve gone over the basics of what it takes to develop a strong bench press workout, I’m now going to give you a fantastic beginners routine to help get you started. This routine is built around the concept of 5x5, which is considered the all-time classic for developing strength. This routine is also built assuming that the athlete has performed adequate and appropriate warm up procedures <- MANDATORY!

power athletic guy , execute exercise press with weight

Primary Exercises You Should Do To Increase Your Bench

5 Sets x 5 Reps Strength Routine

All exercises should be performed in the order they are listed for 5 sets of 5 repetitions, with 1 to 2 minutes of rest between each set. For the beginner, it’s best to pick a weight that you can confidently do for each of your 25 total reps. The important thing here is to remember that by the time you are on your fifth set, you need to be on the verge of failing on your fifth rep. If you get to the end of your 5x5 and you still have gas in the tank -- you need to increase your weight next session! Basic equipment need is a weight bench, dumbbells and cable pulley.

ExerciseSetsReps
Flat Bench:
(The reason we’re here, needs no introduction.)
55
Standing Shoulder Press:
(An excellent accessory and a great strength exercise in it’s own right. The key here is to be strict as possible with no leg drive. Excellent for developing top of the lift strength in bench presses.)
55
Decline Bench Press:
(The decline bench press has more utility and crossover for flat bench than an incline bench press, and frankly is a much more natural and healthy chest movement in general. Since people can usually decline more they can flat bench, it also can help develop things like wrist dexterity.)
55
Dips/Tricep Push Down:
(Triceps are an essential part of the bench press. Ideally this exercise is dips, but if this hurts you feel free to do a cable based tricep push down instead. The goal here is to focus on the muscles that will help you out most during a critical phase of your bench press: the ending lockout.)
55

If you are an intermediate lifter and you want to add in another session per week, feel free to try out this accessories based routine:

  • Close Grip Flat Bench
  • Incline Bench Press
  • Cable Fly’s
  • Tricep Extensions/Skullcrushers

A note for intermediate and advanced lifters​:

You can dramatically increase the intensity of your secondary workout without increasing weight by swapping between barbell and dumbbell work, or by implementing close grip on any of your presses -- which I highly recommend!

Final Say On How To Get Better At Your Bench Press

You should perform your secondary session in the same 5x5 rep and set range as your primary session, and with the same philosophy that you should be exhausting yourself on the last 2 to 3 reps.

If you follow these 4 steps and this beginners routine to a T, you WILL get stronger. That said, there is so much more to bench pressing than what we’ve been able to talk about here today and this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are other things advanced concepts that can help improve your bench press as well like: technique tweaks, advanced routine programming, and more, but we will save those for later. See you next time!