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How to Increase My Bench Press

The bench press is called the king of upper body exercises. It is the number one exercise for chest development. It is also the universal gauge of a person’s status in the gym. How often have you heard, "What’s your bench?"

The bench press is much more complex than it looks at first. Anyone can lay on a bench and bring the bar down then push it back up. The question is how do you increase your maximum lift in the bench press. First it is important to understand that the bench press involves more than just the pectoral muscles. The tricep muscles, the deltoids (particularly the anterior), the latissimus dorsi, the biceps, and the abdominals all play a major role in the bench press. The rest of the muscles in the body play minor and stabilizing roles. Ensuring your training program covers all of the muscle groups is the first step in increasing your bench press.

Proper form is important when doing any exercise to prevent injuries and to get the most out of the movement. This is no different for the bench press. Start with position on the bench. Make sure the body is centered on the bench and the bar is at about eye level. The feet should be flat on the floor and solidly planted. To get the correct arch in your back pull your shoulder blades together and down toward your waist. Make sure the shoulders and hips are firmly planted on the bench. Grip width should be shoulder width or a little wider. This will take some trial and error and depend on your structure and muscular strengths. If pectoral and deltoid strength are your forte then a wider grip may be beneficial, but if tricep and back strength are your strengths
then a narrower grip should help you. The path of the bar should follow a modified "S" shape.  The bar needs to touch at nipple level and then drive up and back beginning to come forward again at the very end. Having someone watch your form or videotaping yourself while performing the bench press is a good way to ensure you hit all the form points.

The training program for improving the bench press must include a variety of exercises for the chest. Relying on the bench press, and its immediate variations, will result in an early plateau.  Changing the workout every four to six weeks with a variety of compound and isolation exercises will help keep the progress moving. Don’t neglect the incline bench press, the flyes and crossovers. Machine exercises can be a great change up once in a while but should not make up the majority of a workout. It is also important to vary the repetition schemes with a program of high repetitions thrown in every once in a while for recovery and shocking potential.

There are other techniques that are used to improve bench press maximum. Focusing on not gripping the bar too tightly will help to conserve energy for the pressing part. Using partial reps is also a crucial tool in increasing the bench press. Overloading by adding more weight than usual and only doing the top one third of the motion for no more than six reps will help to train the receptors to feel the weight. Then working only the bottom portion of the lift will help to blast through the usual sticking points. It is important to remember that all parts of the lift must be worked to avoid causing a sticking point that wasn’t there before. Work all the muscles, varying the routine, watching form, and use partial reps and you will see your bench increase.

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