Are you struggling to improve your bench press? Have you hit a plateau that seems impossible to break through? You are not alone. Numerous fitness enthusiasts face this challenge, but it doesn’t mean you can’t overcome it. This article lays out a step-by-step program to increase your bench press, designed to break plateaus and bring continuous improvement in strength and power.
Before diving into the program, let’s discuss the significance of the bench press. It is a compound exercise engaging major muscle groups including the chest, shoulders, and triceps. An increased bench press indicates enhanced upper body strength, and having a robust bench press program can contribute to overall muscle growth and improved athletic performance.
The first step is to identify your one-repetition maximum (1RM), the maximum amount of weight you can lift for one repetition of the bench press. This will serve as the baseline for your program. If you’re unsure how to calculate your 1RM, there are plenty of online calculators to assist you.
To increase your bench press, you need to work on strengthening the muscles involved in the lift. Accessory lifts such as the dumbbell bench press, incline press, decline press, and dumbbell flys help target your pectorals, while tricep extensions and dips strengthen your triceps. Incorporate these exercises into your workout regimen on non-bench press days to avoid muscle fatigue.
Progressive overload involves gradually increasing the stress placed on your muscles during training. For the bench press, this means slowly increasing the weight you’re lifting over time. Aim for a 2-5% increase every week. This gradual increase allows your muscles to adapt and grow, leading to strength gains and a higher bench press max.
Recovery is as important as your workout. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and fueling your body with adequate nutrition. Additionally, incorporate rest days between intense lifting sessions to allow your muscles to repair and grow. Remember, muscle growth occurs during rest, not during the workout itself.
Proper form is critical to lifting heavier weights. Ensure your feet are planted firmly on the ground, your back is flat against the bench, and your grip is slightly wider than shoulder-width. As you lift, the bar should follow a slight arc, moving from your lower chest up to above your shoulders. Engage your whole body, including your legs, to help stabilize and lift the weight.
Consistency is the secret sauce to any successful fitness program. Stick to the plan, even when progress seems slow. The road to a higher bench press is not linear and requires time, patience, and discipline.
Here’s a sample four-week increase bench press program based on the steps outlined above:
Week 2: Increase all bench press weights by 2-5%.
Week 3: Increase all bench press weights by 2-5%.
Week 4: Deload week – lift at 50% of 1RM to allow body to recover.
Repeat this four-week cycle, reassessing your 1RM every two cycles.
Boosting your bench press is a challenging yet rewarding endeavor. It requires dedication, a strategic approach, and meticulous attention to recovery. Remember, everyone’s journey is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. So, while this program provides a solid foundation, feel free to adapt it to suit your individual needs. With patience and perseverance, you’ll surely see your bench press numbers increase.
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