Mar 202014


Yo, how much you bench?

This is a common question asked when it comes to gym talk.  It seems the amount you can bench dictates how strong you are or how cool you are, especially among the bros.

I’ll be honest, I like to bench press.  It’s actually one of my stronger lifts but I’m still on my goal towards benching 315lbs for 5 reps at 175lbs.  Soon.

When it comes to bench pressing, everyone wants to be able to boast about their bench numbers.  So in this article, I’m going to give you 5 ways to help you increase your bench press numbers TODAY.

Maybe some of these you already do but I’m sure one of them will give you an extra edge.

1. Train Shoulders

At one point, I stepped away from the barbell bench press and focused on training my shoulders with the standing shoulder press with a barbell or dumbbell, push press, bradford press, and a lot of dumbbell incline work. Surprisingly, when I went back to the bench press, I actually lifted more than when I stopped training the bench press.

Jim Wendler said, “You can’t lock anything out that you can’t get off your chest.”  With this in mind, pressing a weight overhead really works on being able to lockout.  The Push Press especially has an awesome transfer over to the bench press.

2. Strengthen the Lats and Upper Back

Instead of focusing so much on your chest, you need to look at the whole picture.  What do you think supports the movement and aids in tracking the bar in the right path?  Also, by strengthening your lats and upper back you are taking care of the health of your shoulders.

For just as hard as you train the chest, you should train your back just as hard.  Get rowing and make sure you are doing them right with correct form. Can’t do a pull-up? It’s time to get started because you are either too fat, too weak, or just plain lazy.

3. Full Body Tension

How many times have I seen someone kicking their legs and wiggling while trying to press the bar? I call it the cockaroach.  Don’t be a cockaroach on their back.  Why? Because you are only waiting to be smashed.

This comes with working on proper form.  Pull your shoulders together and tight to create a solid and more stable surface to press from.  This goes in line with #2.  Your feet should be flat and firm on the ground, chest up, and squeezing the hell out of the bar.  Dave Tate found “that if you try to pull the bar apart or “break the bar,” the triceps seem to become more activated.”

Stay tight!

4. Get Stronger Triceps

I came across this idea when I started to do some powerlifting with several track athletes.  My bench press was already pretty good, but when it got to getting stronger they told me to start hammering my triceps .  Like many lifters, I always got stuck at midpoint when trying to press the weight up.  In that case, we did lockout rack press, 3,4,5-board presses, JM press, close grip bench press, floor press,and triceps extensions.

Their thought process was that if you can’t lockout X amount of weight, there is no way you will be able to bench it.

5. Tuck Your Elbows

Going back to my initiation with powerlifters.  My first bench session with them, thet told me, “We’re powerlifting, not bodybuilding.”

I was confused.

Then they want on to explain when you tuck your elbows you are putting more emphasis on the triceps and less on the shoulder joint.  When it comes to performance and strength, tuck your elbows to create a 45 degree angle with your body.  Make sure to keep the bar directly inline with your forearm and a tight grip on the bar.

6. Get Nasty

Now everyone has their own way of approaching a heavy lift.  Some people get outwardly aggressive while others are a bit more quiet.  What’s most important is that when you grab that bar and get into the right position, you have a direct purpose to dominate and crush the hell out of that weight. If you have a slight hesitation when you train and especially attempt a maximum lift, you have already failed.  It takes mental toughness just as much as physical strength.

Just think of someone who stole candy from you when you were a kid.