3 ways to build a bigger bench press
Building a bigger bench press isn't just a powerlifting goal. Whether you're trying to gain muscle mass, lose weight or just get fitter, the bench is a lift you don't want to miss out on
Here are 3 tried and tested methods to boost your pressing performance:
1 - Build your back
Back training for a better bench press? This may surprise you, but hitting your back muscles with increased volume can boost your bench considerably.
Although you don’t ‘lift’ the bar with your back, it serves to keep you stable on the bench. This is an integral part of nailing the correct technique. Failure to engage the back muscles could prove the difference between successfully pressing the weight or dropping it on your face.
Take the example of WWE wrestler Triple H, whose shoulders and joints were left torn and injured from years of hitting the canvas. He took Joe DeFranco on board - an elite-level strength coach.
DeFranco had Triple H perform over 100 resistance band pull-aparts per day in order to grow his upper back, traps and rear deltoids. After following this for six weeks, Triple H could bench 100 kilos for 100 reps...pain free!
2 - Bench with your buddy
The bench is a fantastic exercise that triggers growth in your pecs, shoulders and triceps. It aids overall strength and power, is assessed in sport and burns a whole load of calories in the process.
Despite the benefits, your health could be jeopardised if not performed correctly. If you thought it was as simple as pressing the weight from A to B, you’d be mistaken.
Your shoulder blades should be retracted for stability, your elbows should be tucked in to take the stress off your shoulder joints and you should press in an upward curve motion.
All this means you could probably do with a little help from a friend, PT or other gym user. Benching alone is tricky business.
Ball State University conducted a study that found training with a spotter significantly increases the weight you can lift on the bench. Lean muscle growth and endurance were also experienced.
3 - Prepare properly
If you live a desk-based lifestyle, this can aggravate your joints. Your shoulders often become internally rotated from lots of typing, for example. As a key component of the bench press, this can prove problematic.
Don't stress, though, as there are many warm-up drills you can perform to counteract this. If you're suffering a shoulder niggle, work through this pre-pressing exercise rather than calling it quits:
YTWs can be done at a TRX station or with dumbbells. Named after the shapes made by your arms while performing the move, they activate smaller, hard-to-target muscles in the mid and lower trapezius (traps for short).
This isn't warm-up for the YMCA, even if it looks that way. Developing your traps helps to take the pressure off the rotator cuff muscles so you can enjoy pressing pain-free.