Home Top Ad

How to Bench Press More Weight: 5 Simple Tips

Alright, here it is. 5 simple tips you can implement right now to bench press more weight. Only the good stuff here!

Tip 1 – Stop training to failure!

One of the biggest misconceptions in the weights room is the idea that you have to push yourself to the limit, to the point where you’re screaming and grinding out that last rep with all your might.

Often it’s the guys who have been training a while and know a fair bit about lifting. They get the overload principle – they know you should be steadily adding weight and reps, and upping the intensity as you progress.

The problem is, when you push yourself to the limit and train to absolute failure each workout, your progress can go backwards. If you push yourself too hard to bench press more weight each week, you end up breaking your muscles down too much for them to fully repair by next session, and burning your nervous system out in the process.

The fatigue builds up, and even if you only bench once a week, you could end up overtrained and burned out without realising it.

If this how you bench press – struggling for 10 seconds on that last rep with everything you’ve got – every week – I recommend a week or two off.

If you’re really looking to bench press more weight, it’s more than worth it. Come back fresh, and keep a rep or two “in the tank” – i.e. rack the weight a couple of reps before that all out effort. Your nervous system will thank you for it, and in return, you’ll start gaining well again.

Tip 2 – Strengthen your Triceps.

Although most people see the bench press as a chest exercise, what they don’t realise is that the triceps do as much if not more of the lifting.

On any given rep, once you’re “out of the hole”, i.e. when the bar is 4-6 inches off your chest, the triceps are the muscle doing most of the work.

In order to bench press more weight, you must strengthen your triceps. Professional powerlifters, whose careers depend on performance on the bench, know the value of tricep training, and they know how to do it.

They’ve developed all manner of exercises specifically designed to train triceps for a stronger bench – many involving chains, bands, blocks of wood, and heavily loaded barbells.

For our purposes though, we’ll just take one leaf out of their book – the close grip bench press.

Essentially, the close grip bench press is a standard bench press movement, with elbows “tucked in”. That means, at the bottom of the lift, you want your elbows touching your sides rather than flaired out.

You keep your elbows in line as you press. If you’re doing it right, you should be pressing a fraction of your bench press weight, and your triceps should be pummelled like never before after your set.

Throw this in to your routine as the first exercise you do for triceps, go hard at it, 4-8 reps per set, and you’ll notice that you bench press more weight, more quickly, in the coming weeks.

Tip 3: Eat more, Sleep more.

To gain strength in the big lifts, your body needs ample fuel and recovery time. Your body has priorities, and if you’re sleep deprived or starving, it’s not going to waste resources building muscle fibres or strengthening neural pathways.

Ultimately, to bench press more weight and keep gaining week after week, you want your body to be in a well-rested, anabolic state – that means adequate sleep – 7-8 hours a night – and a surplus of calories and protein. The usual rules of weight lifting nutrition apply – 5-6 meals per day, lots of protein, complex carbs and water.

If you’re diet isn’t up to par, you won’t gain in the long term. Try upping your calories – throw in an extra meal or protein shake per day. Drink more water to stay well hydrated. Once you get your body back into the anabolic “sweet spot”, you might find yourself rapidly adding weight to the bar on bench day.

Tip 4 – Vary your Pressing Exercises.

Sometimes the body just needs you to switch it up.

It really is true that a change is as good as a rest – similar but distinct exercises cause the nervous system to send different patterns of electrical signals to the muscles, in turn stimulating different patterns of contraction in the muscle fibres.

The result? Some fibres get broken down more in different exercises, even though the movement feels similar. Which means … you can gain new size and strength just by switching up your routine.

How do you put this into practice? Very easily. If you’ve been doing barbell bench, switch to dumbbells for a period. Swap flat bench for the incline or decline. Even switching up the order in which you do flat and incline bench on chest day may be enough to cause a change.

Then when you switch back to your old workout, you’re likely to find that you bench press more weight and surpass your personal best.

Note: You still need to be pressing free weights. Pec-deck or cable flys will not strengthen your chest in any useful way for strength on the bench press. Stick to the basics, and switch them around from time to time.

Tip 5 – Improve your Bench Technique.

Most guys in the gym don’t know how to bench. Most personal trainers don’t really know, either. Unless you’ve had a strength or powerlifting coach go through the motions with you, then you likely have all sorts of little imperfections in your form that mean you aren’t fully applying your strength to the lift.

Here’s some things you can do to improve your technique and bench press more weight:

Get your feet off the bench!
God knows where the feet-on-the-bench misconception came from, but it’s such poor form that it’s laughable really. Any powerlifter will tell you that your legs form a base of strength for the bench, and to lift your max you must have them planted firmly on the floor, with heels pushing down as you lift. Not on the bench!
Tuck your elbows in
Not right in like the close-grip bench, but you certainly don’t want them flaired out. From a bird’s eye view, there should be a 45 degree angle between your upper arm and your torso.

This involves more shoulders and tricep throughout the lift, and takes some of the stress off the chest for the first 4-6 inches of the press.

As a result, you should find your lifts increase once you get used to the form. This angle is also a lot healthier for your shoulders and the all-important rotator cuffs.

Arch your back
Arching your back is not dangerous on the bench press. A common misconception is that it puts unwanted stress on the vertebrae and lower back – which is simply not true.

In the bench press, all the force is directed down through the arms and born by the shoulder blades and upper back in contact with the bench. This is true whether you arch your back or not. By arching your back, you tense your entire torso and create a stable base from which to lift.

This means that the muscles of the chest, shoulder and tricep have to do less work in stabilising the bar, and are free to exert more upward force. Hence, you bench press more weight.

So, there you have it. Remember, kickstarting gains is often about training smarter, not harder. Follow the advice layed out here and I guarantee you will improve your bench drastically.