The most asked question I get and continue to receive from gym patrons, friends, and clients continues to and probably will always be, how do I increase my bench press? It seems as though no one is happy with or at least wants to bench press more weight. Why is this? This is the one way we as males can judge our man hood. How many times have you asked someone such as a friend, coworker, gym acquaintance, or even a stranger how much they can bench? This is our means to see how tough we are? This is how we gauge our progress in the gym. This is how we compare ourselves to the other gym rats. This is how we make sure we are still male. Why are we obsessed with the strong? Are we just modern day Romans?
This phenomenon will be with us today and 500 years from now. We males and some females will always want a bigger bench. So how do you increase your bench press that you say has been the same weight for the last 3 years? I fell into the trap that many have which lead to the 385lbs bench press for 4 years. I decided to research further and enter a Powerlifting meet to crack me through the barrier. This is what I learned.
From years of training and a jump from 385lbs to 480lbs (legal meet lift) in the bench press in two years I have developed some key points to help many in this endeavor for the barrel chest and massive bench. My plan includes strength training, speed training, and power training. Most of us enter the gym on chest day and bench, then bench some more, then bench again and do 30 more sets of assistance. This continues for years with no success. Now it is time to create a plan. You will work all three aspects of a successful bench.
Speed training includes training a muscle to fire rapidly so that the weight you are attempting to lift will begin moving at a rapid pace. If you attempt to bench press a maximum weight and cannot explode the bar off your chest the bar will not move very far off your chest in the initial stage of the bench. The slow movement causes you to fail at an early point in the movement.
The speed off the chest is carried through with the strength to continue pushing the weight. Strength cannot kick in till the bar begins moving. It is far greater to begin fast then slow. To work muscle speed you will use a 12 set 2-rep scheme. Two quick explosive reps follow by thirty-second rest. The weight used should be one that the weight moves rapidly. This is about 60% of my one rep max.
Strength training includes training a muscle with heavy weights through a full range of motion. I recommend using a rep to weight scheme from 5-8 reps with a weight that is tough but one that does not require assistance. You want to handle heavy weight yet not sacrifice form. Your strength is what is going to carry a heavy load though out the entire bench press. However, strength is just a piece of the puzzle. While observing thousands of bench pressers, I have noticed that most only work the strength portion of the bench press. Most of us forget to work speed and power.
Power training. Now the bar is exploded off your chest and you have the strength to continue the movement. What usually happens next? You usually get to a point about ¾ of the way and the bar stalls. You then fail to complete the lift. This is called your sticking point. You must work your power training to give you the ability to drive right through a sticking point. This form of training is conducted using short range of motion movements. This can be in the form of lockouts in a squat rack. I like to use a range of motion around 3-5 inches. This range gives you the ability to handle large amounts of weight since you only have to press a short distance. My rep and weight scheme usually is around 3-4 reps with 110-120% of a one-rep max.