The bench press is very probably the most popular lift that guys will perform in the gym. When you go to the gym it is a common occurrence to hear “what do you bench?” Getting a big bench then is something that would be a goal many of us may want to achieve.
There are many methods of improving your bench press. The main one is improving technique. If you improve your bench technique then you will instantly have more chance of pushing larger weights.
A great video of how to perform the bench press to lift maximum weight can be found here:
Once you have perfected technique it is down to other methods to improve your bench press. Another great way of improving any lift is to periodise your training programme. Having microcycles where the rep ranges, weights lifted, rest periods and intensities vary are more likely to yield results than simply performing the same training every time you go to the gym.
Once you have a solid training programme and bench technique sorted you can then look at working on assistance exercises to help with the bench press.
The bench is a compound lift that utilizes a lot of different muscles in the body. There are many different parts of the lift that can be improved individually and you can train the individual muscles that aid the lift to combine together for a stronger bench.
So here are my top 3 exercises to improve the bench press –
A large problem that people have with the bench press is the lockout phase of the rep. they can drive the weight up off their chest with force but cant keep that speed going into the lock out. This leads to a failed lift. A great method for developing lockout strength is to doo floor presses. Floor presses don’t allow you to go all the way to your chest as your elbows hit the floor. This means that you only ever perform the top half of the rep and therefore develop strength in that area. When you first do these it is likely you wont be able to use as much weight as you would with normal bench as you wont have the momentum developed in the initial drive off the chest. However after a few weeks of doing them you may find you are actually stronger on floor presses than you are on normal bench. This will carry over to give you an overall improved bench press.
Power push ups:
Speed is key with this exercise. Developing speed in the bench press motion will help carry the weight up to the top of the lift. Momentum is mass times velocity so if you can create a greater velocity of the weight from the initial push then you can gain momentum on the bar and have an easier lockout. Power push ups are the best exercise I have found for this as you will develop maximum force on every single rep. there is no limit to how hard you can push and you will push this hard on every rep with great speed.
Although this is more of an isolation exercise, it is very beneficial for the bench press as the triceps play such a huge role in the lockout portion of the movement. As the triceps are the sole muscles responsible for extension of the arm at the elbow it makes perfect sense to develop strength in them.
So if you do want to improve your bench press or you struggle particularly with the lockout phase of the rep then include these exercises into your weekly routine. You will see the benefits pretty quickly.