If there was one exercise every man has probably done (besides push-ups) in their lifetime, it is the bench press. Go to your gym right now (especially during the evening time), and you will likely see a ‘Soul Train’ line of fellas waiting to use the bench press.
When it comes to building quality upper body muscle, bench press is worthy of its popularity. When benching correctly, you will engage your chest, shoulders, and triceps muscles.
How to properly use the bench press
The issue so many men make when it comes to the bench press is lifting their egos instead of the weight. What I mean by that is so many try to lift weight they really can’t handle. Thus, contorting their body to lift the weight up instead of controlling the weight. If you want to build muscle with the bench press or any other exercise, you must use weight that challenge your muscles yet is controllable.
With that said, here are 5 steps how to use the bench press to build muscle:
- Use a weight you can lift at least 12 times and lift it for 3 sets between 8 to 10 reps. (Once you can 3 x 10 without much struggle, increase the weight by 5lb)
- Please keep your feet on the ground when you bench press. (I have no idea why guys lift their legs in the air while benching except wanting to see if they’re actually covered for life insurance.)
- Grip the bar very tight and press down it like you are trying to rip it apart
- Take a deep breath prior to lifting bar off the rack (to gather up energy)
- Lower the bar down slowly (about 3 seconds), pause at the bottom (about 1 second) and explosively lift the bar up. That is 1 rep (When you lower the bar with control, you place more stress on your muscles. More stress= more muscle)
Note: If possible, always have a spotter, especially if you’re a beginner
3 Methods To Adding 50lb To Your Bench Press
Now that I got that public service announcement out of the way, let’s discuss 3 methods to get stronger on the bench press.
- Make The Bench Press A Priority in Every Workout
You’re probably going “Duh” over there but some brothas make this mistake. They desire to bench press weight heavier than the Notorious B.I.G., yet don’t make it a priority in their workout. Like the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. The best way to get stronger in the bench press is to…. bench press.
From my experience, it’s best to bench press at least 2 times per week to build consistent strength on a weekly basis. However, if you’re a beginner (been working out consistently less than 1 year), I suggest you perform the bench press every workout. You need to bench as much as possible to master proper form.
- Gain Weight
Have you ever notice that guys who are benching 300lb+ are typically big as shit? That’s not by accident. When you gain weight, your body can withstand heavier weight. But how so? Improved shoulder stability.
See, the bench not works your chest and arms, but your shoulders as well. The shoulders are the main muscle group responsible for keeping the weight stable on most upper body exercises, the bench press included. When you gain muscle, you will increase that stability. Also, if you add body fat, you will still increase shoulder stability while bench pressing. That’s why I said gain weight, not gain muscle.
Of course, it’s best you just gain muscle instead of fat unless don’t mind being a fat ass with a big bench press.
- Perform Pause Reps
This last method is very beneficial if you’ve been benching for at least 5 years (Beginners can do this too on one of their workout days). To continually build strength, you need a great amount of muscle fibers firing. That’s where performing pause reps (or isometric training) on the bench press comes into play.
One of the main benefits of isometric training is that the body can activate nearly all the available motor units – something that is usually very difficult to do. In the 1950s, researchers discovered that individuals who held two-thirds of their lifting max for six seconds per rep boosted strength by 5% during a 10-week study. Another study found out saw that participants’ static strength continued to increase long after the conclusion of the 5-week study.
Overall, if you have been experiencing strength plateau, isometric holds should help you break out of it.
To perform pause reps on the bench press correctly, follow these 3 steps:
- Slowly lower the barbell (Use a weight that you can lift normal for 8-10 reps)
- Hold in the bottom position for about 5-10 seconds
- Explode the weight up! Repeat 2-3 times.
Do pause reps ONLY 1-2 times per week (because they’re very taxing on the body).
If you follow my advice, expect to add about 5lb per week on the bench press, especially if you’re a newbie. So, you should be able bench 50lb more in 3-5 months, maybe more or less time. It depends on your genetics, nutrition, and, of course…consistency.