75 Bench Press Tips
1) Stop missing workouts. It you don’t get to the gym and get consistent with your training, how can you expect to make improvements?
2) Stop bouncing the bar off your chest, or having your 5 friends bro-row the bar up for you. Start using full reps, and sets that don’t involve assisted reps.
3) Want to boost your bench press? Eat more food. Bigger benchers are generally stronger benchers. The more you eat, the more likely you are to see frequent bench press PRs.
4) Make sure you are eating a decent amount of protein, at least 180 to 200 grams per day. Undereating protein limits muscle growth and repair.
5) Don’t bench with your arms flared out at 90 degree angles. This is very poor form and leverage, not to mention it’s hard on your shoulders. Tuck your elbows.
6) Grip the bar hard!
7) Work on widening your grip. A wider grip shortens the range of motion.
Improve your back arch. A bigger back arch shortens your range of motion.
9) Setup with a tight, compressed upper back and lats. This will create a nice “shelf”, adding stability and shortening your range of motion (compared to flat back benching).
10) Use leg drive. Focus on driving your heels down during each rep.
11) Mentally picture yourself “rowing” the bar down to your chest. This will help you to keep your back shelf tight.
12) Bend the bar. Mentally picture yourself bending the ends of the bar together in the center, over your body.
13) You can never have enough tricep strength. Get your triceps brutally strong, with a combination of extensions and pressing variations.
14) You can never have enough back and lat strength. Back and lat strength helps with pressing stability and overall pressing strength.
15) Avoid direct front delt assistance work. Your front delts get hammered enough during heavy pressing and are rarely a weakness.
16) After unracking the bar, make sure you take a second or two to stabilize before you begin lowering the bar to your chest.
17) Weak off your chest? Utilize frequent paused reps.
18) Maximize your shoulder strength by including a heavy overhead barbell press variation.
19) Bench press first during your training day when you’re fresh.
20) Make sure your triceps have completely recovered from any previous shoulder/triceps training day before scheduling a bench press day or session. It is not uncommon for inexperienced lifters to train shoulders and triceps a few days before their bench press workout.
21) Remember that during your warmup sets you are also warming up your central nervous system. Avoid large jumps in weight as soon as the weight starts to get relatively heavy. At this point it may be beneficial to stick with 20 to 40 pound increases.
22) Perform 5 to 10 minutes of non-taxing cardio prior to lifting. This will raise your overall core body temperature, helping to prepare the body for heavy lifting, and help reduce the risk of injury.
23) During warmups, find that sweet spot on the ceiling where you are pressing the bar too. During your working sets, keep your eyes locked on this spot, and drive the bar to it. This will help you maintain a more consistent bar path.
24) Rest properly between sets. Remember, you are training for strength and not endurance. Rest up to 5 minutes between heavy, taxing sets if need be.
25) Keep your butt on the bench at all times. Butt off bench pressing is incorrect form.
26) Do not press with your feet on the bench. This serves no purpose and will most certainly limit the amount of weight you can use.
27) Never use a thumbless grip. This is dangerous, in addition to the fact that you are not able to grip the bar tightly, nor “bend the bar”.
28) Your knuckles should be pointed directly to the ceiling. Drive your knuckles upwards during the press to help prevent your wrist from rolling forward or back.
29) Don’t baby the bar off your chest. Explode the bar, trying your best to throw it through the ceiling.
30) Remember that a sticking point is usually several inches below the point at which you notice the bar is starting to slow. By the time you notice the bar has slowed, it has already been decelerating for a small period of time.
31) To get used to holding heavier weight, and to train your CNS, if may be a good idea to use 10-20 second static holds with 110% of your one rep max.
32) Bench press shrugs are another great way to build a beefier bench press. Hold the bar at arm’s length, and while keeping your arms locked, shrug your shoulders up and down. Bench press shrugs can be performed with up to 110% of your bench press max.
33) There is no need to kill yourself with an endless amount of volume. Utilize a reputable bench press or strength building system or workout, and focus on getting stronger.
34) Don’t shortcut your sleep. Get as much as you can, and try to limit bad habits that contribute to sleep deprivation. What’s more important, staying up until 3 am to kill the dragon, or a bench press PR?
35) Make sure you include some muscle building (hypertrophy) work for all major muscle groups. More muscle mass creates a great strength potential.
36) Listen to your body. If you feel beat up, take a deload week or a few extra days
37) Keep a Slingshot or Ram in your gym bag, and use them on days in which you have lingering strains or pains.
38) Use wrist wraps. They are inexpensive, and the extra stability can only be beneficial.
39) Chalk your bar and/or hands especially if you train in a cool environment where the bar tends to feel wet, slick or smooth.
40) Cover your nutritional bases with the basic supplements – a quality multivitamin and fish oil.
41) Try creatine. It’s popular for a reason, and can only help. If you find it to be of limited value, toss it aside. It’s inexpensive to boot.
42) Feel fatigued entering your workouts? Sample a few pre-workout formulas. They are generally very effective, and can add energy and focus.
43) Your form is NEVER perfect. Remember that. Continue to try and improve your form during every workout.
44) Read every bench press training and form article you can find on the net. They are a great resource.
45) Watch every bench press training and form video you can find on the net. They are a great resource.
46) Find a partner or bench press crew that is stronger than you are. They will have higher standards, and help push you to accomplish things you might not have thought possible.
47) Log your workouts – no excuses! You must track your progress.
48) Stuck in a rut? Go on a month long crazy bulk. Eat as much as you can. This will almost certainly help you to bust through a stubborn plateau.
49) Use reasonable expectations. Most gym lifters never hit a 300 pound bench press. Even if you’re “only” adding 30-40 pounds to your bench press per year, this is still quality progress. Over the course of 5 years this will yield over a 150 pound boost to your one rep max. At some point you will stop seeing 5-10 pound bench increases every month. This is NOT a plateau. It is a normal, natural slowing.
50) If your lockout is weak, focus on improving your tricep strength starting with close grip bench presses, board presses and tricep extensions.
51) If you are weak off the chest, consider adding speed work (dynamic effort).
52) At some point in time you will need to start adding heavier work to develop strength. This usually involves training above 80% of your one rep max with singles and triples.
53) When working above 80% of your one rep max, make sure your training volume is reasonable when compared to Prilepin’s chart.
54) Tired of close grip bench presses? Blast your triceps with high rep (10-20) dumbbell bench presses for a nice change.
55) Stay tight. You want everything tight from head to toe, from abs to legs.
56) Use intelligent assistance work. Study how powerlifters structure workouts to maximize bench press. Stop using workouts designed by bodybuilders for bodybuilders, or by fitness freaks for fitness freaks.
57) Stop training body parts and start training movements.
58) Training the bench once a week may not be a good enough frequency. Consider dropping the daily volume and increasing training frequency to 2 times per week – a heavy day and a moderate or rep day.
59) Have experienced, successful bench pressers critique your workout.
60) Stop trying to max out so frequently. This is dangerous and unnecessary. Trust your program, and improve on the work you are given.
61) Strengthen your rotator cuff with pre-hab exercises.
62) Always control the weight. Never get reckless.
63) No need to train to failure. Stop a set when you feel like you might fail on the next rep, or when your form starts to slip or you lose your tightness.
64) Hold each rep for at least one second at lockout. This will increase time under tension and help strengthen your body for future heavier poundages.
65) Develop leg strength. Yes, squat. What good is leg drive without leg strength?
66) Consider using bands to help work stubborn areas of the bench press.
67) Don’t fear the weight. Lifting actually becomes more mentally challenging the stronger you get. Many lifters experience a decrease in progress because they do not have the mental fortitude to get their butt under the bar and perform heavy singles and triples. The more you practice heavier singles or triples, the easier they become mentally. Practice!
68) Complicated programming is not necessarily better programming. Keep it simple, and only complicate things when your training stalls and commands changes.
69) Stop thinking you need steroids to build a 300, 400 or even a 500 pound bench press. All of these weights are possible naturally. Be patience and train smart. And when all else fails, eat more food!
70) Ignore the Smith machine. It is a towel rack, and nothing more. If you can’t find spotters use dumbbell presses instead of jumping over to the Smith machine.
71) Stop trying to lower the bar to your mid-chest. This is a shoulder-destroying, old school muscle magazine practice. The bar should be lowered naturally with elbows tucked, in the area of the lower pecs.
72) Stop over-killing cardio. Several 20-30 minute sessions per week are great for overall health, but more than that may be detrimental to strength building.
73) If you pick up an annoying strain or unusual pain during a benching session, stop training. Do not risk injury by pushing yourself.
74) Keep your joints healthy by staying well hydrated, and by eating plenty of healthy fats.
75) Always perform bench press rep work after heavy work, and never before. You want to be as fresh as possible when pushing the greatest amount of weight.
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