Bench pressing is a great exercise not only to build muscle but to reduce fat in your body. Over time, you will want to increase the amount of weight you are pressing, in order to get even stronger. Sometimes this can be a little difficult, so check out our ten best ways to bench press more weight and learn all about completing a proper bench press set.
RELATED: 7 Best Pull Exercises with Dumbbells
What Is a Bench Press?
A bench press is a compound exercise that targets the upper muscles in the body. You lie on a bench and push the weight upwards using either a barbell or a pair of dumbbells. You start with the weight in the air and lower it down to chest level and push it back up, completing one repetition. There are many types of variations, including lying flat, at an incline or decline, or putting your hands closer together to increase the difficulty.
How to Do a Bench Press
- Start out lying on a flat bench with a barbell gripped between your hands that are slightly wider than shoulder-width.
- Press your feet into the ground with your hips on the bench for the whole exercise.
- Slowly lift the bar or dumbbells off the rack and lower the bar to your chest, allowing the elbows to bend out to the side.
- Stop lowering when your elbows are just below the bench, and slowly push the bar back up to its starting position. This is one rep, and you can complete 5-10 reps in three total sets.
Muscles Used During a Bench Press
While you’re completing a bench press, you are using several different muscles in your upper body. These include the chest, shoulders, and arms; specifically the pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, triceps brachii, biceps brachii, and serratus anterior. The amount that you are using them may vary, depending on what bench press variation you are performing.
Benefits of Completing a Bench Press
Doing bench presses are a way to make your upper body muscles stronger, and are also known as strength training. Bench presses have several benefits, including improved muscle mass and strength, stronger bones, burning more calories, better mood and sleep, and it helps with body composition getting rid of fat and replacing it with muscle mass.
Ways to Bench Press More Weight
Check out our ten best ways to bench press more weight:
10. Warm Up
Warming up is a great way to get your muscles loose and ready to bench press more weight. Theoretically, you should be doing warm ups before every workout routine, it’s especially important for bench presses as it get your heart rate up and “wakes” up your muscles. Your prepping your muscles to lift an immense weight, instead of throwing them right into the workout.
The best types of warm up exercises are ones that are dynamic and are not restricted to just simple exercises. Stretching on a yoga mat or cardio are great ways to get that heart pumping and your muscles loose.
9. Get Your Feet Underneath You
Leg drive is an important key in order to bench press more weight, but often is overlooked since you are mainly focusing on your upper body. To maximize your bench pressing ability, position your feet directly underneath your hips. The main reason you want to do this is so you’re “pressing” your heels into the ground, and driving not only with your arms but your legs as well.
Next, slide your feet out until they are a few inches away from the sides of the bench. You should feel tension in your hips and quads, and as you lift make sure to squeeze your glutes. Bench pressing is not only an upper body exercise, and if you utilize other muscles in your lower body, you can bench press more weight.
8. Set Your Shoulder Blades
When you are bench pressing and using your upper body, it’s pretty important where your shoulders blades are positioned. In order to bench press more weight, you’ll want to “put your shoulder blades in your back pocket” – basically make sure the shoulder blades are together and pressed downwards. You will be more steady to support heavier weights, and will keep those shoulder blades healthier in the long run.
7. Build Your Triceps
Since your using the upper body for the majority of a bench press, the best way to bench press more weight is by strengthening all parts of your arms, which includes the triceps. Bigger arms will equal more weight you can bench press, so it wouldn’t hurt to add in some tricep exercises like tricep extensions, skullcrushers, and close grips to build muscle in your triceps. Your muscles work together to lift the weight, so make sure you are exercising all of the muscles in your arms, and you’ll be lifting more in no time.
6. Let the Bar “Settle” Before You Press
This might seem a little confusing, but when you unrack the barbell, you’ll want to make sure it “settles” before lowering the bar. Letting the barbell “settle” basically means you get your bearings before starting to lower the bar. Take a breath and let the weight settle into your muscles before completing your reps, and you’ll be able to bench press more weight.
A good strategy on how to do this is to slide the barbell off the hooks to maintain your shoulder blade position, take a few seconds to “settle,” and lower the barbell. While you lower the barbell, think about meeting it in the middle with your chest to keep those shoulder blades in the correct position, and then lift it back up. You should have no problem adding ten pounds to your max.
5. Have a Spotter
This should be something you are already doing, because safety is paramount when you are exercising. If you do not use a spotter, then you might want to try one. Not only will the spotter be watching you and making sure you don’t hurt yourself, it’ll also bring some peace of mind to you because someone has your back. Another benefit of having a good spotter is that they will push you to lift more and be that person in your corner to hit those bench press goals.
4. Try Slower Tempos
It makes sense that bigger muscles would be stronger, and will help you lift more weight than before. One of the most effective ways to bench press more weight and push a muscle to grow more is by increasing its “time under tension,” also known as TUT. Time under tension means you slow down your reps in order gain stronger muscles, and you’ll want to do this during the lowering phase of the bench press. Once you slow down and focus on the movements, your muscles will have to work harder to keep the weight up, and thus get stronger because of it.
3. Lower the Reps and Increase the Weight
Most people recommend 3 sets of 10 reps for every workout, but this may not be the best option if you’re looking to bench press more weight. If you want to improve your power, then doing less reps and increasing the weight will be your best chance to get bigger and stronger muscles.
2. Longer Rest Periods
Needing time to recoup after a heavy bench press set does not mean you are weak – you are just replenishing the energy in your body to complete the next set. You should have a two-to-three minute break between each set in order to have a consistent break, and be ready for that next set. In terms of days per week, also shoot for two or three, and make sure you give two days of rest in between bench press workouts to fully heal.
1. Vary Your Chest Exercises
By completing the same chest exercises over and over, you are only going to strengthen certain muscles and after a certain amount of time hit a wall. To beat the wall and bench press more weight you’ll want to vary your chest exercises so that all muscles are getting attention, and getting stronger because of your diligence.
Why am I struggling to bench more?
If you are working on bench pressing more weight and hit a wall, you might need to take some time to strengthen your upper back. Take some time off the bench press and complete some upper back exercises like Rows, Pull-ups, Face Pulls, Deadlifts, and Snatches in order to get your upper back to full strength. Then you should have less trouble bench pressing more weight.
Should I increase bench by 5 or 10 pounds?
If you can handle ten extra pounds without losing control of the bar, then adding ten is safe. If you are struggling quite a bit with ten pounds, then just try moving up five pounds and going from there. Listen to your body, as it will let you know if you can move up or down in weight. For instance, the best time to increase your weight is when the current weight becomes easy to lift.
How many times should I bench a week?
If you are striving to add bench presses to your workout routine, try to do these exercises two to three times per week. You want to give a day in-between in order to let your muscles rest and recover. Your reps for each workout will depend on your skill level, what you want to get out of the bench presses, and how intensive your workouts are.
Bench pressing is a great exercise to get your upper body strong, but should always be done safely. Increasing weight is a good thing, and whenever you seem to hit a wall come back to our ten tips to bench press more weight and meet your goals.