One of the first questions two brahs ask each other when they are sizing each other up is “How much you bench, bro?” and for good reason. It’s the kind of all chest exercises and the ultimate ego lift. Many guys are now asking how can you increase your bench press?
Every guy wants to be able to bench multiple plates for reps as they know they will get a massive chest from doing so. So much time is spent training chest yet so many guys seem to plateau quickly.
Increase Your Bench Press With These 5 Proven Strategies
1 – Put on Weight
If there’s one consistent feature about guys with big benches it’s that they themselves are big dudes. There is a variety of reasons people think this might be the case, one of the funnier ones being that having a bigger chest means your arms don’t have to move the bar as far. While this is true on some level, it’s not the real reason that it works.
The truth is that bigger guys have more stability. How is that? Well, the best way to show this is by trying to do pull ups with only 3 fingers. Even though the weight you’re lifting is the same, your are no longer able to pull yourself over the bar as the connection isn’t stable enough.
Many guys have trouble putting on size due to low testosterone levels which can hinder making the progress your body is capable off, so make sure your testosterone levels are in check if you have trouble putting on lean muscle mass and strength. Just by putting on more muscle mass you should be able to increase your bench press.
Your body has an internal mechanism that shuts down when the support isn’t strong enough. This is an evolutionary function as your body wants to protect you from doing something that could hurt you. In the case of the pull-ups, although you have enough strength in your arms and back to lift yourself, your body is worried about the lack of support with only 3 fingers on the bar and decides it’s not safe to proceed.
As you gain weight, even fat, the tissue wraps around the body and acts as a support, giving your joints a lot more stability. As a result, your body doesn’t freak out when you have a big weight hovering two feet over your chest.
We know it doesn’t seem fair that a fat guy has an advantage over you on the bench press from eating all of that fast food but hey, it’s the way it is. Guys even reported that a mere 20-30 pounds of weight gain lead to a 50-60 pound gain in bench strength.
As you can see, this is a disproportionately large increase relative to the weight gain. The good thing to take away from all this is that when you are on a bulk, the mere fact that you are gaining muscle and some fat (hopefully not too much unless you are on a dreamer bulk) will make your bench stronger.
2 – Do Cluster Sets
What is a cluster set, you ask? This is when you perform a single repetition then take a short 10-30 second rest, followed up by another rep. Since you are doing a single rep you will be able to move some very serious weight here so we recommend performing this with a spotter.
Having said that, you will be able to do more reps at the higher weight, thereby increasing the intensity of your workout and likely showing your muscles something it hasn’t seen before. By using this technique you should be able to increase your bench press in the next few weeks.
There are two ways you can go about doing this. The first is to just do one giant cluster set. Take a weight that is approximately 90% of your 1RM and load it up on the bar. Perform a single rep and rack the weight.
Sit up, take a few breaths and rest for about 30 seconds then lie back down and perform another one. You can do up to 20 reps this way but the ideal range is 8-12. Once you hit your target stop the set and move onto the next exercise. Next week when you perform it again add 2.5-5lbs (depending on your bench strength) and run the exercise again.
The other way you can do this is by performing multiple sets. Take a lower weight, approximately 85% of your 1RM and perform 1 rep and rest for about 15 seconds and perform another rep, going up to 6 reps. Then take a few minutes to rest and perform the next set for a total of 3-5 sets. Each week when you perform this exercise add an extra 2.5-5lbs.
These are a great way to build strength while still maintaining good form. Don’t rely on these all the time as they will lose their effectiveness but they are great for busting through a plateau. They also get you used to holding and moving the higher weights, which changes your mindset from “this is really heavy” to “this is something I can lift”.
It might not seem like a big deal but this subtle shift can be a powerful force when it comes to how much weight you can lift. If you find this training style effective for increasing your bench press you might also find it useful your rows.
3 – Negative Reps
Negatives are one of the most underutilized training tools out there. You see, a lot of people focus entirely on the positive portion of the exercise and then just drop the weight quickly for the negative.
That’s a huge mistake given that the negative portion actually yields great benefits in terms of strength and size gains. The people who do incorporate them into their workouts usually do so on occasion and certainly don’t think to do so more frequently.
The great thing about them is that your body can usually handle more weight on the negative portion of a lift than on a positive. After all, it’s easier to lower something down in a controlled manner than it is to lift it up. By interpreting negative reps into your chest workout you should be able to increase your bench press and lift heavier weights.
When performing negative bench press make sure you aren’t doing too many as these put a lot of stress on the muscles – stick to approximately 4 sets of 3 reps. To make these effective make sure you aren’t dropping the bar too fast while lowering it.
Also don’t spend too much time at the top of the movement because this is when you are the strongest, instead you can go past the first 25% of the rep at normal speed then slow down for the remainder.
Also you want to make sure you are using the same form as you would for a regular bench set so that you make sure you are working the same muscle groups. The bar should touch your chest at the spot it usually does – if you can’t keep it under control then the weight is too heavy for you.
Negative reps are great for getting your body used to lifting higher weights. Like we mentioned earlier, it’s often a mental limitation that prevents us from lifting the real heavy weight. However, once your body sees that it can at least control the bar during the downward motion then it becomes more motivated to actually lift the weight.
You might find that after a few negative training sessions you all of a sudden are able to lift that weight for a couple full reps, so you will absolutely increase your bench press.
4 – Training Twice Daily
You probably thought you were done two-a-days when you graduated from high school. Well, we’ve got some bad news: it’s back with a vengeance and we’re happy to say this method is actually quite effective for increasing your bench press.
Go to the gym twice per day (preferably once in the morning and once in the evening) and train chest each time. You might think that you will have no energy left to lift but you will be surprised.
As long as you didn’t do a ton of volume at heavy weights for your first session then you should be good to go. In fact, some people even report that they are stronger for the second session – go figure.
By training twice per day your testosterone production will most likely increase, so you will be able to get more gains in a shorter period of time.
Make sure you have at least one meal between workouts, preferably two. Account for the fact that your body is fatigued from the first session so dial-down the intensity a bit for the second one. Keep it to 10-25 reps on the bench this time around over a few sets.
5 – Make The Most Out Of Your Hard Work
When training hard nutrition is key, make sure that your body has always the right nutrition to keep getting stronger and grow at a faster rate. By having your diet in check along with training hard and using the training principles described above you will be able to increase your bench press at a faster rate.
Make sure that you don’t have any injuries in your shoulders when training hard to increase your bench, because that can later down the line ruin your progress (for example: if you have to stop benching).
Keep your testosterone levels in check at all times so your body will use it’s full potential to get stronger and build lean muscle mass.
—–> PS. To increase and keep your testosterone levels in check make sure to check out our testosterone boosting guide to make sure that you are getting the most out of the hard work you are putting in.
Most Important from this article:
There you have it boys, four methods that will help get you past your current bench press plateau. These are not the most widely-known methods but hey, we aim to find you the best. These exercises of course are not meant to all be used together – as doing so will put a ton of stress on your body and may even lead to injury.
Additionally, don’t perform them year-round as their effectiveness will decrease over time. What you should do is bust these out when you need a dependable way to break out from a plateau and add some weight to your bench. Make sure that your testosterone levels are high enough to support muscle growth and strength gains.
One of the themes discussed in this article is the idea that your mind can often be responsible for limiting your potential. It’s true that when a weight seems heavy and we tell ourselves it’s going to be tough we often have a hard time lifting the weight.
Many pro bodybuilders have realized this over time which is one of the reasons you hear Ronnie Coleman yell “light weight” before performing a difficult exercise. We decided not to include yelling on this list just in case you workout at planet fitness and set off the lunk alarm.
Having said that, one of the reasons many of these exercises are effective is simply because they trick your mind into thinking they are within your capacity to lift. Use these principles described above and I guarantee you that you will increase your bench press faster than ever before!
Now go forward and crush some bench!