How to Increase Bench Press

Training your triceps for a big bench has to involve heavy extensions and close-grip pressing movements such as close-grip flat and incline bench presses, close-grip board presses, and JM presses. While pressing you have to create the most stable environment possible. This can't be done if most of your shoulder blades are off the bench. When you pull your shoulder blades together you're creating a tighter, more stable surface from which to press. This is because more of your body is in contact with the bench. These
techniques also change the distance the bar will have to travel. The key to pressing big weight is to press the shortest distance possible. You want the pressure around the supporting muscles. This is accomplished by driving your feet into the floor, thereby driving your body into the bench. Try this: Lie on the bench and line up so your eyes are four inches in front of the bar (toward your feet). Now using your legs, drive yourself into the bench to put pressure on the upper back and traps. Your eyes should now be even with the bar. This is the same pressure that needs to be applied while pushing the barbell. Pull your shoulder blades together, tuck your chin and elbows, and bring the bar to your upper abdominals or lower chest. This will minimize the pressing distance and reduce the amount of shoulder rotation and strain. The elbows must remain tucked to keep the bar in a straight line as explained above. Keeping the elbows tucked will also allow lifters to use their lats to drive the bar off the chest. Football players are taught to drive their opponents with their elbows tucked, then explode through. This is the same for bench pressing. Bench pressing is all about generating force. You can generate far more force with your elbows in a tucked position compared to an "elbows out" position. For maximum attempts and sets under three reps, you must try to hold your air. If you breathe out during a maximum attempt, the body structure will change slightly, thus changing the groove in which the barbell is traveling. Also remember to breathe with your belly, not your chest. Push the bar with maximal force. Whatever weight you're trying to push, be it 40% or 100% of your max, you must learn to apply 100% of the force to the barbell. If you can bench 500 pounds and are training with 300 pounds, you must then apply 500 pounds of force to the 300-pound barbell. You'll never lift big weights if you're in a relaxed physical state while under the barbell. The best way to get the body tight is by squeezing the bar. Also, try to pull the bar apart or "break the bar," the triceps seem to become more activated. The bench press should be trained using the dynamic-effort method. This method is best defined as training with sub-maximal weights (45 to 60%) at maximal velocities. For the second bench day of the week (72 hours after the dynamic day) you should concentrate on the maximal-effort method. This is best defined as lifting maximal weights (90% to 100%) for one to three reps. This is one of the best methods to develop maximal strength. The key here is to strain. The downfall is you can't train above 90% for longer than three weeks without having adverse effects. Try performing a max bench press every week for four or five weeks. You'll see you may progress for the first two, maybe  three weeks, then your progress will halt and begin to work its way backward. You can combat this by switching up the maximal-effort exercises. Rotate maximal-effort movements such as the close-grip incline press, board press, floor press, and close-grip flat press. These exercises are all specific to bench pressing and all have a very high carryover value. You must perform rows, rows, and more rows. If you want to bench big then you need to train the lats. Stick to the barbell row (horizontal) if you want a big bench.


Dave Tate