4 Ways to INCREASE YOUR BENCH PRESS!
4 ways to improve your bench press
Subs for the bench
Dont take the bench press for granted. Even this most foolproof of muscle-building moves can put the brakes on your gains and lead you down the path toward injury if not deployed correctly. Fortunately, this workout essential is also endlessly adaptable. Here, personal trainer Scott H. Mendelson (completegymsnutrition.com) shows you how to manipulate your bench routine to get what you need from the move, whether you want to boost your one-rep max, target your weak spots, or ramp up your explosive power.
1. Improve your one-rep max
How much you can bench is your badge of honour on the gym floor, and upping your PB will provide an unbeatable confidence-booster. Adopt the right techniques, says Mendelson, and you can smash your record in no time. A slightly wider than shoulder-width grip and emphasis on keeping your elbows close to the sides of your body allows for the strongest bench stroke, he counsels. This close grip gives your triceps a prominent role in raising the load, alongside your chest muscles. Touch the bar to your sternum and press straight up to maximise power. Pushing the bar back even slightly towards your head increases the length the bar must travel and is an unnecessary waste of effort, adds Mendelson.
2. Increase your lifting speed
Drop the weight youre benching down to 50-60% of your one-rep max and work on building your explosive power. This should almost immediately increase your one rep max, says Mendelson. How? By improving the speed at which you lift and thus allowing you to blast through the sticking points of the move with heavier loads. Perform 6-8 sets of 2 accelerative reps concentrating on lifting as rapidly as possible with 60-90 seconds of rest between sets. This should fire up your nervous system and allow you to pile on the weight for a couple of heavy sets afterwards.
3. Target your weaknesses
Altering your bench press grip is a great trick, originally developed by powerlifters, which allows you to mix up which muscles are recruited by the move. The wider your grip the greater the involvement of the pectoral muscles, explains Mendelson. Go too wide, however, and you risk overstressing your shoulders. Try starting with a grip three inches wider than shoulder-width for the first two sets then move one inch closer to shoulder-width with each set thereafter.
4. Slow down the lowering phase
Increasing your lifting speed (see tip 2) will help up your one-rep max, but slowing the lowering phase will help you build more muscle overall. Most benchers lower the bar over around two seconds with no pause at the bottom of the movement. Increasing the length of time you take to execute the move may cut down your load temporarily, but will result in accelerated growth if you are disciplined enough to stick with it. Lowering the bar over a four second count with a one second pause at the bottom of the movement and accelerative lift of the bar will dramatically increase the stimulation of muscle fibres necessary for growth, says Mendelson. Keep the reps in the 4-6 range as you want to keep the weight high enough to gain the full benefits of the changes in tempo. Be sure to use a spotter for safety at all times. The bench press, much like Dr Evil, does not tolerate failure.
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Video: How to INCREASE Your Bench Press: 3 Common Mistakes | Silent Mike & Alan Thrall
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