Ideas to Increase the Bench Press
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Nowadays I tend to spend a lot of my time writing about the sport of Weightlifting. Some might think that I have totally forgotten the sport that made me popular as a strength athlete. That is definitely not true. I love all aspects of strength. You could say that I love the Barbell, and all of its variations. To show my Powerlifting Family some love, today I am going to shed some light on improving the Bench Press.
All of you weightlifters and CrossFitters should pay attention because a lot of great weightlifters and CrossFitters use the bench press to increase overall upper body strength. Travis Cooper of Team MDUSA uses the Bench Press regularly, and he has about the best pound for pound jerk in the business.
Here are some ways to increase your Bench Press:
1. Increase your volume of triceps work! If you are not currently targeting the triceps region, you should. This was one of the first steps that I took to increase my bench press. I used to do a sick superset of DB Triceps Extensions for 6-8 reps with Pushdowns for 10 reps x 6-8 sets with minimum rest. It totally took my bench press up at least 25 pounds.
This might sound Bro-ish, but it worked. You could use other exercises like dips, Close grip bench, or band pushdowns, but the real deal is to simply kick the crap out of the triceps. Two of my mentors taught me this: Louie Simmons and Charles Poliquin.
2. Use Boards for Post Activation Potentiation! I love using boards to feel heavy weight before taking a max or rep max to the chest. I would warm up with full reps up to 85-90%, and then I would add a 1-2 board. Use reps of 3-5 to the board, so the weight only reaches about 110-115% of your 1RM to the chest.
3. Practice the Pause! Pause every rep of every set so that you get good at the competition movement. I am speaking directly to the competitive powerlifters now. I actually am better at pausing than touch and go because that is what I practiced.
4. Pauses off the chest! If you have a sticking point, try bringing the bar to the chest, then driving to that sticking point and pause 2-3 seconds for a 1RM or Rep Max. Then I recommend performing a couple of drop sets the same way.
5. Bands with the Bench! This training stimulus probably increased my bench more than anything else, but it also hurt my shoulder because I was stupid with the amount of band tension. I recommend using mini-bands or at the most a couple of mini-bands at the most. Louie Simmons has some cool videos of band set up if you want to check that out.
Now I didn’t perform dynamic bench like Louie Simmons. I used the bands with Rep Maxes or 1 rep maxes with drop sets. I never seemed to get a real stimulus from the dynamic or speed work. I am not saying that it doesn’t work. I am just saying what I did.
These are five ways that I used to increase my bench press from one of the worst in powerlifting to a world record for 5 minutes. Yah someone came right behind me and beat it, but I had it. Increasing my bench press was one of the most rewarding challenges of my strength career because it was a big mountain to climb. Squats and deadlifts have always come to me easily. The bench press I worked for!
Here is a short video that I made on bench set up that might help you as well: