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December 13, 2021 9 min read

The bench press is the epitome of upper-body strength equipment, and one of the most popular exercise choices for building upper body mass and strength.

Favored by novices, powerlifters, bodybuilders, and gym bros alike, if your goal is to get bigger and stronger, it is undeniable that the bench press will be a mainstay into your program. Not only will it help you develop strength and a well-defined chest, they have quite a reputation when it comes to building shoulders like boulders too.

bench press competition powerlifting powerlifter to perform attempt

How Does the Bench Press Work?

Bench presses are one of many exercises that help to build strength in the upper body. It is a compound exercise that not only isolates the muscles of your arms and chest but also activates other muscles that assist in the range of motion, such as  your triceps, lats, rhomboids, rear deltoids, and more. When done correctly and with proper form, the bench press also activates muscles of the lower body.

While benching alone will not make you a pro heavyweight champion, this fantastic exercise can be used to improve upper body strength, and also endurance.

How to do Bench Presses Properly

Like many other gym exercises, when doing bench presses, it is important to focus on holding proper form. This would enable you to target the necessary muscles while avoiding injuries.

To do bench presses:

  1. Start with choosing weights you are comfortable with. Set the bar to an appropriate height and load the bar with the plates.
  2. Lie flat on your back on the bench. Position yourself so that your eyes are underneath the bar while your feet are flat on the floor.
  3. While on the bench, attempt to “stand taller” by throwing your shoulder blades back a little and puffing your chest.
  4. Grip the bar with your hands at shoulder-width or slightly wider than shoulder-width. Hold the bar with a strong pronated or overhand grip, which is simply a grip with your palm facing towards your feet. Rest your pinky finger on the ring mat of your bar.
  5. Dig your feet firmly into the floor. Engage your core as you inhale. Lift the weighted bar off the rack by straightening your arms. 
  6. Lock your elbow and move the weighted bar over your shoulder. Lower it towards your chest while keeping your elbows at an angle until the bar is almost touching your chest.
  7. Exhale as you push the bar back up to the starting position. This is one rep. Complete as many reps as you feel comfortable. If you're looking to build strength, work in the 1-5 rep range, if you;re looking to get bigger, work in the 6-12 rep range.

Muscles Worked in Bench Press

Bench presses are holistic to getting shredded ad it primarily works the chest muscles and the frontal deltoid. It also aims for the triceps, pecs, and shoulder muscle groups.Bench press works the pecs or pectoral major of the chest, assisting you to reach your peak in the muscle-tension contraction. It activates the posterior, lateral, and anterior deltoids of the shoulders, contributing to the bulking  of the upper body. 

Bench presses also engage the lateral and medial head of the tricep muscle group. The muscles isolated depends on the variation of bench press you engage in. These variations differ in the way you hold the bar or the angle at which you incline your body when lifting the bar. It also activates the rotator cuff muscles, lats, and the serratus anterior of the upper ribs. All in all, bench presses contribute to the activation of major muscles of the upper body to build strength and achieve massive gains.

Benefit of Bench Presses

Bench presses are extremely good for stripping the  muscle. Because the presses activate a lot of the muscles of the chest and upper back, it is one of the perfect exercises for muscle sculpture, muscle hypertrophy, strength training, and endurance training. Along the way, the more weights you can bench press, the more results you see on your upper body.

How to Increase your Bench Presses Faster

Increasing your bench presses simply means being able to lift more weights in progressive overload. How long this might take varies widely with your workout regimen, your diet macro constituents, and how fast your muscles can adapt to the plates you stack. Increasing your bench press doesn’t happen overnight. It isn’t a big jump, but a slow process. Here are some tips on the fastest way to improve your bench press;

    1. Warm Up

      The tip to preparing yourself to lift more weights is getting your body ready for the pump. Although warm-ups are essential to the body and should be done before every workout routine if possible, warming up before bench presses gets your heart rate up for that much-needed cardio and “wakes” your muscles. Think about it as preparing strength and stability in your upper body in order to tackle the monstrous weights of a bench press.

      There are various warm up or body weight exercises for the upper body, but you should engage in dynamic warm-up and not restrict your horizon to simple  exercises. Stretches and cardio are as important as any bodyweight exercises. Warming yourself up to take on bench presses goes past, making yourself do light exercises. 

      Studies show that verbal self-hype is just as effective as getting you to do better.

      It improves concentration, helps you look forward to exercising, and in the long run, along with the necessary input, presents you with excellent muscle gain feedback. Simply create time before bench pressing to psych yourself up and put yourself in the mood. Give yourself a ted talk, practice deep-breathing, do a bit of yoga, or simply anything that makes you feel better.

        2. Set-up Properly

          Another trick to being able to increase your bench press is setting up your equipment properly. You have higher chances of growing into heavier weights if you learn to set up properly for lightweight exercises. Proper set up helps to put you in proper form. Good form is directly associated with targeting the right muscle groups to stimulate growth of the muscle mass.

          Targeting the right muscle groups would help you build strength and prepare you for goodbyes to lightweight bench presses. It is simple bro science. When setting up the bar, it is important that your eyes are directly under the bar, and the bar is at arm’s length. If the position of the bar is off even by a few inches, chances are you are going to grip it wrongly and waste a perfectly good chance to target the right muscles.

          The bench should be at the proper height. With this done, it will ensure that your feet are firmly on the ground and your upper body is on the bench. If setting up is a challenge, ask for help from an experienced gym buddy or a spotter. It is equally important to note that setting up properly goes past your bench press. Setting up involves how well your form is as you unrack the bar and during the rest of your exercise.

              3. Learn the Proper Technique

                You have better chances of increasing your bench presses when you take time out to learn the proper range of motion and lifting techniques. If you have been doing it wrong, it is okay to ask for help and advice. Getting help is better than tearing a muscle. Learning the secrets to lifting properly would help you breeze through additional plates in less time.

                4. Lift with intent

                    Once you learn proper lifting technique, one of the best ways to increase strength and mass is to lift with intent. This is also referred to as 'compensatory acceleration', which simply means that you explode from the bottom of the movement all the way through the lift. Many lifters do enough work to get the bar moving off their chest, but then let momentum take over at the top part of the lift. Do not do this. Instead, imagine you are throwing a punch. You would not slow the punch down when your arm is extended before it landed would you? Of course not, as that would reduce the amount of force that you are generating. Now, when you are lifting the barbell, lift with the same intent you would as throwing a punch, which is to say generate as much force as you possibly can all the way up. This is one of the easiest ways to increase the effectiveness of this lift, and the best part is you can use this mental trick on any lift to great effect.

                    5. Get a Spotter

                      It is no secret that two heads are better than one, yet most people are averse to the help of a spotter. Spotters are simply those individuals that assist, especially in weightlifting exercises for beginners and experts alike. Their job is to ensure that you not only do your exercises but also them correctly. Spotters are quite helpful in helping you increase your bench presses but also in helping you avoid injuries.

                      They help to set up your equipment, watch your form, and often even push you to keep up the pace by spurting words of encouragement.  Working with a spotter can help you focus on increasing your bench presses by assisting you with literally spotting and taking out any challenge that stands in your way. Besides, you can lift more and be confident about not tearing a muscle with someone literally watching over you.

                        6. Bench More Often

                          You have more chances of increasing your bench press when you prioritize doing bench presses. The mastery of any skill requires more practice. That being said, it is no point being a weekend warrior when you are aiming to get strong-af. Aim for two solid bench sessions with 10-12 working sets spread out over the week.

                          Research shows that higher training frequency results in faster muscle and strength gains. This goes on to show that the faster you get used to lifting a specific amount of weight, the faster you can increase load to get bigger and stronger. Fortunately, the bench press is an exercise that can be recovered from quickly, which allows you to do it more often.

                            7. Diversify Your Rep Range

                              Instead of focusing on doing the same amount of repetitions each time you bench, increase your rep max instead by varying the rep range. For instance, if you choose to do 5-6 reps per set today for strength, increase it to about 8-10 rep per set the next training day that involves the bench for increased hypertrophy. This is excellent for getting your muscles used to varying amounts of work and will help to improve strength and muscle growth over time.

                                8. Bench More Weight

                                  You cannot increase your bench press if you do not increase the amount of weights. A simple way to do this is to incorporate progressive overload into your bench routine by simply adding 2.5 to 5 additional lbs to your bench press each time you step in the gym. Of course there will come a time when you can't add 5 more pounds to the bar, but when you reach that point you will know your absolute strength limit, and can reduce the load from there. Go slow. Don't try to add 25 pounds to your lift from one workout to the next. You do not want to risk an injury.

                                  young bodybuilder in the kitchen, smiling, with two plates of healthy food

                                    9. Rest and Diet 

                                      To increase your bench press, you need strength. Take time off to help your muscles recover. It’s not just important to have rest days but also more testing time in between each set to ensure that you are not snapped up. Eating right is equally important. Your macros are as important as the amounts you bench when it comes to getting that gym bod. Along with a good diet plan, invest in a pick-me-up nutrition to get you started at the gym.

                                      ADABOLIC is a brilliant investment if you are looking to increase your performance. 

                                        10. Do Accessory Exercises 

                                          Accessory exercises like the incline barbell bench press, close grip bench press, shoulder press, barbell row, and dumbbell press will help train the main movers required for a big bench. Since these exercises help you go through a similar concentric range of motion, practice similar forms, and employ the use of heavy weights, they are your best bet to getting stronger and increasing muscle mass.

                                            11. Build Your Triceps

                                              The state of your triceps is a big part of how well you can bench press. It is no surprise then that your ability to scale up weights depends on how strong your triceps are. Bigger arms are a not-so-secret cheat to being able to bench more. If you are looking to get arms even The Rock would throw a fit for, you simply need to build your arms. Utilize tricep exercises like tricep extension, skullcrushers, and close grip bench press to better your chances of increasing your bench press.

                                                12. Supplements are Your Friends

                                                  Supplements can improve your muscle resistance, and muscle groups grow through hypertrophy. They are also great for repair muscles after strenuous exercises, ensuring that your body gets all the protein it needs to perform your regimen while also making sure that your muscles recover well. Increasing your bench press is not a walk in the park. It requires dedication, planning, and consistency to achieve the results you want.

                                                  Now armed with the right tips, check out this  3-day bench press strength training program as a bonus. It will help you develop a solid bench press routine that will have bench pressing big weight in no time.