Increasing Your Bench Press

Question

How do I increase my bench press? I’m stuck at 300lbs and want to hit 315, I think it’s a mental block. How do I get past my sticking point (off the chest)?

Answer

For all its reverence, I feel bench presses are a poor exercise. If you aren’t competing, I think the weighted dip or pullovers are far superior in building the chest.

Having said that, let’s say you’re competing and the bench is a necessity.

Sticking Point

A sticking point off the chest can be addressed in several ways.

Some gyms have so called cambered bars, or a bar that’s “bent” in the middle for lack of a better term. This means when lowered to your chest, your hands actually sink lower than normal, by about 2 inches or so.

Some people claim dumbbell benching will help here, but they’re wrong on several counts.

First, the total amount of weight you can lift is less, lowering the overall tension. Second, if you don’t remain proficient with the barbell, your barbell lift will suffer for it. Third, people mistakenly think DB’s offer greater range of motion.

In fact, the opposite is true because when lowering until the bells touch your chest, it’s actually a shorter range of motion vs. greater.

If you don’t have a cambered bar, you can approximately re-create that movement by performing wide grip benches.

Now please DO NOT use an ultra wide grip. All that does is greatly increase your injury risk from tearing in the pec/delt tie in area.

Instead, just go out 1 hand length past your normal grip. Reps of 5 to 6 seem to work best here, so let that rep range dictate the weight. You do NOT want to train to failure, or otherwise do anything crazy. 1-2 work sets are all that’s necessary, and within 3 weeks you should see a major difference.

Triceps

Also, even though the bottom is the further point away from lockout ALWAYS remember the primary mover in the bench is NOT your chest – it’s triceps.

As such, extra work strengthening them will only help you. Close grip 3, 4 or even 5 board presses do the most to overload the triceps.

Alternatively, you can perform close grip work with doubled up minibands, which offer PLENTY of resistance for the triceps, as they make the resistance greater the further you push the barbell away from you.

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Coach Rob Regish

Coach Rob Regish

Rob Regish is an internationally recognized name in the field of health and fitness. He's been a weekly contributor to Superhumanradio.net for almost a decade, answering listener questions from around the world.

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