“How Much Do You Bench?”
The bench press has long been the measuring stick of upper body strength within bodybuilding and powerlifting circles and has recently filtered down into the CrossFit community and performance sports. And if we skip over the standard alpha-male go-to response “How Much Do You Weigh?”, being able to reply with an impressive number immediately garners respect from the person or persons asking the question.
So how do you bump up your bench?
Being consistent with your workout plan, training with intensity and perfecting your bench press form is incredibly important if you want to post some big bench press numbers. However, there are some simple bench press tips that can help you maximise your chest workouts, reach that powerlifting record, and/or crush your CrossFit WODs.
So for your bench pressing pleasure, we have compiled a list of the top 5 tips for a bigger bench press. Enjoy!
1: Pull The Bar Apart
The most obvious, arguably easiest, yet least correctly performed tip for a bigger bench is to show that bar who is boss! Keeping a tight grip on the barbell throughout the entire movement will create more tension through your working muscles – and thumbs around the bar (conventional) grip is a MUST – using a suicide grip is only going to cause you to go Kamikaze on your bench press.
A great technical cue is to visualise pulling the bar apart, or bending the bar in half, throughout the movement. This will ensure every muscle in your upper body is “turned on”. Your forearms, upper arms, shoulders, chest, upper back and rear deltoids will all be engaged and ready to press a new PR.
2: Pull Your Elbows In
Having your elbows tucked into the side of your torso throughout the bench press movement is a quick fix top-secret tip for a bigger bench.
Unlike a traditional bodybuilding bench press where your elbows are close to 90 degrees to your torso to recruit more force from your pectoral muscles (and less from your triceps and deltoids), a traditional powerlifting bench press will have your elbows at 45 degrees to your body. This technique will allow you to recruit a lot more force from your triceps, which will not only beef up your bench but also assist with pushing through your mid-way sticking point and lock out.
3: Position Your Feet Correctly
Creating a stable base with the positioning of your feet and driving through the ground during the concentric portion of your bench press will add kilos and pounds PRONTO!
Similarly to Point 1, having a strong foot position and foundation will help create more tension throughout your whole body during the lift and will also assist with creating more drive and power from the bottom of the bench press.
There are two typical methods of feet positioning whilst pressing:
- Keep your feet flat, out in front, and slightly to the side of the bench, or
- Keep your feet back towards your hips with just the balls of your feet on the floor.
Try both and see which technique suits your bench better.
4: Keep The Bar Moving
Keep pressing throughout the entire movement.
Pretty obvious, hey? Yet everyone who has ever tried and failed at a 1RM bench press will have found and failed at their sticking point. For some people, this may be an inch from their chest whereas some people may find they get stuck just before lockout. This almost always becomes a mental issue for most of us as you know that as soon as the bar hits that certain spot, the weight will stop moving and feel one hundred times heavier than it actually is.
Don’t let this get to you. Keep the bar moving as quickly as possible. As long as the bar is heading away from you, keep pushing, and don’t give up or give in.
5: Focus On Accessory Movements
This may sound like a strange concept when you are wanting to increase your bench press, however, focusing on accessory movements and bringing up weak points and weak muscle groups will transfer over to a bigger and stronger bench press.
Weak triceps are often one of the limiting factors when shooting for a new bench press 1RM. Focusing on the heavy close grip bench press, dumbbell bench press, as well as heavy overhead extensions and weighted dips, will strengthen your triceps giving you greater pressing strength and assisting with your lockout.
Focusing on strengthening your front delts using exercises such as standing military press, incline bench press and seated dumbbell shoulder press, which will also assist in sky-rocketing your bench press.
There You Have It!
It’s a guaranteed recipe for success! By gradually introducing these bench press tips into your workout routine you will give yourself the best opportunity to blow away your existing records.
These tips combined with a smart training program and consistency in the gym are guaranteed to result in a bigger bench press and new muscle gain.