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5 Ways to Increase Your Bench Press

I remember reading an article by a renowned author when he commented on his squat and deadlift being relatively easy to increase the poundage on in comparison to his bench press. I think for many of us, this rings true.

The bench press has a tendancy to go stagnant after a while, and we have to

fight for every small incremental increase.

The reasons for this aren't incredibly complex but its an intricacy I don't want to delve into with this article. As usual, simplicity is often the easiest way of getting my point across. Here are __ tips that should jack up your bench press considerably until you stagnate again. When you stagnate, come back and revisit these tips and implement them again. & again.

1. Get strong shoulders

If you're weak off the chest then chances are your shoulder strength is lagging behind. This problem is very prevalent myself after ignoring direct delt training because I thought I did enough indirect movements for them anyway. I have learnt that shoulder strength is still paramount and cannot be ignored if you want a positive correlation to your bench press.

As Jim Wendler says, "The best way to bench press 400lbs is to press 300lbs". The translation of this: get strong at pressing overhead and take your progress seriously. Start integrating standing military presses & seated dumbbell presses into your workouts and treat them with the same purpose and intent you would the flat bench.

Note: Don't mistake this for a cue to go out and perform more sets of lateral raises.

2. Get strong triceps.

Perhaps you're the opposite of what I've described; you're strong off the chest, your shoulders are firing on full cylinders, but cometh the half way point, you're struggling like hell. This means you have weakness in your triceps. Which sucks for you, because contrary to popular belief, these are the primary movers in the barbell bench press.

Once again, the solution is simple. Getting strong tricep exercises means the following: close grip bench press, floor presses, pin press, some extention support work if necessary, and if you have the facilities, board presses. Get strong on them and watch your bench surge in reply.

3. Build an Upper Back

Unless you're a member of the chest & biceps crew, I expect you to be training your back seriously and realise its importance. If you're not, then you probably look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame by now and it'd be a reasonable time to start for your overall health and longevity.

Why the upper back? The upper back is crucial to a big bench press. If you're benching properly, you should have a very stable arch and a big, thick retracted upper back to support the weight you're pressing. Many people don't realise just how imperative upper back strength is to stabilising the actual weight but also assisting in pressing. Regardless, here's your antidote: weighted chins, pendlay rows, and one-arm dumbbell rows. This doesn't mean 90 degree barbell 'hitches' for rows. get your back parallel to the floor and your ass out and learn to row properly. If you don't know what Pendlay rows are then google it or look on Youtube and thank me later.

4. Get heavier

Why? Because adding weight / mass will decrease your range of motion and allow you to move the bar through a shorter path. Simple.

5. Keep the feet stable and hips tight

I didn't want to turn this into an essay on form, but I've been noticing this problem with increasing frequency wherever I train. Guys let there legs flap about at the end of the bench like a fish out of water. Get the damn things stable and in a position that allows you to drive through your hips as well. This doesn't mean levitating with your ass off the bench. Just be tight and stable throughout the movement.

If you have a training partner, get him to gently slap your quads before a set. This is a tip I learnt off Mike Robertson and if you can do it without looking gay then all the better.

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