The Barbell bench press has been a staple exercise for all types of lifters for generations. The barbell bench press is considered to be king of all upper body exercises. Whether you’re a bodybuilder, powerlifter, or even a fitness enthusiast, you will ultimately be faced with this question: “How much ya bench?”
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Why the Barbell Bench Press is Important
The barbell bench press is considered to be the king of upper body exercises because it is the lift that you can lift the most amount of weight when compared to other upper body exercises.
For powerlifters, the barbell bench press is the only upper body movement in a competition. For non-powerlifters, the bench press is mandatory to perform. In my opinion, every strength training enthusiast should try to increase their bench press because it offers some unique benefits.
If we have the goal to increase our bench press, we will have to take the required steps needed to make progress. If we don’t have strength goals and train without a plan, the results will not be very impressive.
If you can go from benching 135lbs to 225lbs, your upper body will look significantly better because of the increased muscle mass. If you can go from 225lbs to 315 lbs, you will have developed an impressive upper body.
How to Increase The Barbell Bench Press
Good Bench Press Technique
Most people don’t know how to bench with the correct technique. If you want to improve your bench, you must first understand that it is a compound movement, which uses multiple muscles.
Most people treat the bench press as a chest isolation exercise. A correct bench press uses the chest, shoulders, and triceps. If you want to study the correct bench technique, look at the best powerlifters.
Retract shoulder Blades
People get shoulder pain because they fail to retract their shoulder blades. Shoulders should be pushed down and back and should remain there throughout the movement,
Tuck the Elbows
Most people make the mistake of flaring their elbows to use more chest. Slightly ticking the elbows to about 45 ° will use the chest, shoulders, and triceps correctly. ‘Bend the bar’ is a good mental cue for this is.
Arch the Upper Back
You don have to have an extreme arch like some powerlifters but having a slight arch will help keep your shoulder in a safer position. By arching, you can create a solid base for your upper back and traps to rest on on the bench. This area will be directly below the weight you will be pressing
Staying tight throughout the movement is a must to lift the most weight safely.
Range of Motion
Touch the chest and pause. This will ensure that you do the complete range of motion and stay tight at the bottom of the movement.
Even though the bench press is an upper body movement, the legs play an important role. The legs help with stability and balance. Great bench pressers are also able to use leg drive to accelerate the weight out of the bottom.
If you’re still not sure about your bench technique, you can use a tool such as the Slingshot to reinforce good technique.
Bench Press More Often
Strength is a skill that is developed through repetition. If you want to get good at benching, you have to bench more to get really good at it. Most people bench 1x per week. This can definitely work, but if you want the best results, benching 2x a week or more can definitely help you get better and faster results.
Use Exercise Variations
While specificity is extremely important, exercise variation is also important. Doing the correct accessory exercises, can help prevent plateaus, strengthen weak points and also keep training interesting. Here are some secondary and accessory exercises to help improve the Barbell Bench Press:
- Flat Barbell Bench Press
- Close Grip Bench Press
- Incline/Decline Bench Press
- Dumbbell Press
- Overhead Barbell and Dumbbell Press
- Dumbbell/Cable Flys
- Machine Press
Build Muscle Mass
The bench press by itself is a great muscle builder, especially for the chest, triceps and shoulders. Building more overall upper body muscle mass in the rear delts, upper back, traps and even biceps can also help indirectly.
Good Upper body Exercises
- Lat pull downs
- Barbell and Dumbbell Rows
- Rear-Delt Flys
- Bicep Curls
Use Different Rep Ranges.
Using different rep ranges is important for long-term muscle and strength development. Low reps are great for improving 1 rep max strength, which will carry over to lifting more weight for higher reps as well.
Doing higher reps make it easier to get in more training volume in a shorter period of time. Training volume is the most important driver of strength and hypertrophy.
Gaining weight is the fastest way to improve bench press. The bench press is a lift that is directly affected by changes in bodyweight. Gaining weight can help improve leverages for benching. Gaining too much weight too quickly might not be a good option in the long term. Focusing on lean bulking will ensure that most of the weight gained is quality muscle.
When we lean bulk using a small caloric surplus, we build a good amount of upper body muscle mass as our bench goes up. This is a great way to build up the bench press in the long term.
Use Wrist Wraps
The equipment we train with can have a huge impact on your bench. The actual bench we use for pressing is very important. Most commercial gym benches are not conducive to benching really heavy. They are often too low, narrow and slippery.
An important piece of equipment I use is Wrist Wraps
Benefits of Wrist Wraps:
They help support and help keep the wrist joint safe.
They help keep transfer force to the bar more efficiently by keeping the wrist straight
They make it easier to keep your fist closed to grip the bar.
Even if you’re not a Powerlifter, having a goal of increasing the Barbell Bench Press is a good goal to have. In the pursuit of a bigger bench, you will build overall upper body strength and size.
How to increase the Barbell Bench Press?
- Learn the Proper Bench Technique
- Bench More Often – 2x per week minimum
- Use Exercise Variation
- Build Overall Muscle Mass
- Use Different Rep Ranges
- Gain Weight
- Use a Good Bench and Wrist Wraps.
Did I miss anything? What do you think are some of the best ways to increase the bench press?