Increasing your bench press is hard.
When you get it, it’s the easiest thing in the world – just benching more makes your bench go and your chest grow. If you’re one of those lucky guys you prolly look at all the poverty benchers and wonder what their problem is.
Are they just pussies? Or do they hate being jacked and awesome?
Not everyone has it that easy though.
What about the poor guys like me who no matter how much they bench, their strength and mass goes nowhere? I spent years going around in circles because I didn’t know why it was happening.
The problem with benching is that your body will always follow the path of least resistance – so if you’ve already got strong shoulders, or if your body is just put together to favour shoulders a bit when benching, you’ll continue to recruit those preferentially over your chest and triceps.
And because they’re such a small muscle group, progress will be slow and injuries certain.
If the bench press is driven by your chest, triceps and shoulders, the obvious solution is to figure out how to make your chest and triceps stronger.
Triceps is an easy one – there’s lots of different variations that hammer your shoehorns.
Close grip, board press, pin press, floor press, skull crushers etc etc…
The challenge is getting your chest to play ball in the bench press, without allowing your shoulders to come in and take over.
If you’re a powerlifter, or guy/girl who really wants a bigger bench, I believe the best way to do it is thru movements that look like a bench press, that challenge your chest more than a regular bench does.
I don’t mean things like dumbbell benching and flys, sure – they’re cool, but they lack the specificity of bigger, harder exercises that’ll have a more beneficial carryover.
MY 3 FAVOURITES FOR INCREASING YOUR BENCH PRESS
Low Pin Press (I like to set the pins slightly higher than in this vid, say 2-3 inches off the chest): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SS087khOc90
Spoto Press: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmZ0u7qso3g
Feet Up Bench (done with a normal width grip – close is show in vid): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFhldejrozs
Using a feet up bench is a bit controversial because it’s more unstable and very “bodybuilder-y”, buuuuut try it and tell me it’s not WAY more chesty, because, remember, that’s why we’re doing it.
TRAINING THE LIFTS
When it comes to training the lifts, assuming you don’t have a competition coming up, we’ve seen our best results using a wide variety of bench variations done daily.
So on day 1 you might have a low pin press x15,12,10,8,6 (increasing weight each set) and on day 2 and 3 you might use feet up bench and spoto press.
“But that’s a lot of benching, I’ll overtrain”, you cry. No – you won’t. You’ll adapt.
If you do 75 other upper body and shoulder exercises during the week, you might feel the ill effects, but if you’re bench pressing 3x a week and following up with some assistance work like a low pin press, spoto press and feet up bench, you wont’.
Plus having that 15-12-10-8-6 rep range gives a nice variation between high rep mass work and low rep grunt-y strength work.
Try it out for 6-8 weeks and see what happens!
BEFORE YOU GO: This weekend, Sunday 14th August 2016, we’re running a one day Ladies Lifting Workshop in RevFit. It’s for girls who are only getting started in the gym and want to learn how to lift weight the right way and avoid all the frustration, self consciousness and annoyance that comes from walking into a gym and not knowing what to do.
** There is just 2 spaces left ** Find our more, including a full run thru of the day and who it’s for, here: https://revolutionfitness.leadpages.co/ladies-barbell-bootcamp-1-day/ (once you click the button on that page and put in your email we’ll send you a booking link)
PS – I didn’t mention anything about weighted dips in there because I wanted to talk only about bench press variants, don’t misconstrue their lack of attention in this post – they’re one of my all time favourite upper body strength increasing exercises too