The best way to Enhance Your Bench Press

“How a lot do you bench?”

It is perhaps probably the most steadily requested query amongst hardcore “health club bros” and skilled health club veterans trying to set up a pecking order, in addition to curious learners trying to strike up a dialog. It’s additionally one of the vital fashionable (if misguided) methods to inquire about somebody’s strength, health, and basic functionality within the health club.

Credit score: antoniodiaz / Shutterstock

Some would possibly think about the notion of bench press-specific standing ridiculous, however you possibly can’t erase the truth of the state of affairs. Additionally, some individuals simply need to have an enormous bench press for themselves. Chances are you’ll as nicely place your self to maneuver some spectacular numbers, and transfer the burden safely.

Right here’s learn how to fine-tune your bench press, optimize your method, and arrange a plan to start out pushing larger weights.

Bench Press Approach Overview

A robust bench press is constructed round one factor: Stability. Right here’s a step-by-step method to creating atmosphere for an enormous elevate. All of it begins with beginning place earlier than you even unrack the burden.

Step 1 — Discover Your Contact Factors

person in gym doing flat bench press
Credit score: Morit Summers

When you’re positioned on the flat bench, the bench press requires 4 factors of contact. Your two ft positioned firmly on the ground counts as one level. Your butt and upper back are two extra factors, as they’re pressed laborious towards the bench and stay in place all through the elevate.

Lastly, your head should even be firmly towards the bench and keep put throughout every repetition. Once you arrange, get your eyes straight beneath the bar earlier than taking the burden out of the rack. This four-point setup is the inspiration for high quality set. 

You will have seen that your decrease again is not in touch with the bench, and that’s really an necessary distinction. Some lifters imagine that having an arch within the lumbar area (decrease again) when bench urgent is harmful to your backbone, when honestly, the arch should be there.

The bench press is taken into account a horizontal pushing exercise (because of the place of the load relative to your physique), which suggests the power angle doesn’t line as much as create spinal loading the way in which a standing overhead press, squat, or deadlift would have an effect on your decrease again. The joint that bears probably the most load throughout a bench press is your shoulder joint, not your backbone, so arching your decrease again doesn’t expose it to any important pressure.

When you’re in place, it’s time to get your arms on the bar. 

Step 2 — Get a Grip

person in gym preparing to bench press
Credit score: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

Most barbells you’ll discover at a typical health club can have knurling on both aspect for grip, but in addition some shiny “rings” on even factors on either side. In aggressive powerlifting, these rings characterize grip-width boundaries a lifter isn’t allowed to exceed.

In case you’re not a aggressive powerlifter, you should use the rings as reference factors as to the place your arms belong. Relying on what’s comfy to your arm size, align the identical finger on every hand with the ring on both aspect. Many lifters will go for both their center or ring fingers, however everybody’s most popular grip shall be barely completely different.

Simply concentrate on setting your arms too shut collectively together with your pinkies far inside the rings. This morphs the train from a typical flat barbell bench press to a close-grip bench press which emphasizes your triceps. (1)

As soon as your arms are in place, shut a powerful fist across the bar and also you’re able to elevate. 

Step 3 — We Have Elevate Off

The best way you are taking the bar out of the rack is extra necessary — and extra technical — than meets the attention. Secure and environment friendly method requires your shoulder blades to stay retracted (pulled collectively) on the bench. This helps to arch your decrease again whereas elevating your chest and ribcage.

The small “press” that may occur as a lifter takes the bar out of the rack can pull your shoulders out of place (with protraction, the alternative of retraction). Protracted shoulders will make your chest sink down and place extra stress on the shoulder joints in consequence. That is troublesome to right by the point the burden is in your arms, making it robust to re-adjust.

Making the trouble to boost your hips throughout elevate off might help with this, putting them again down as quickly because the bar’s unracked and in place over your chest. Lifters with out a spotter can use this methodology to start the motion in a powerful place with out sacrificing type.

Step 4 — Decrease and Press

person in gym lower barbell in bench press
Credit score: Hryshchyshen Serhii / Shutterstock

The bar ought to descend beneath management to make contact in your chest. Goal for touching the bar to your mid- or decrease chest, and make that time of contact constant from rep to rep. The completed, locked out place needs to be a bit extra in keeping with your higher chest or shoulder-level, which means the bar will journey on a barely slanted path.

At all times keep in mind that a real testomony of power in an enormous elevate like this doesn’t come from how rapidly you possibly can carry out the reps, it comes from how slowly and well-controlled you possibly can carry out them. Particularly on the eccentric (decreasing) part, take the pace down a few notches. You’ll be able to even add a pause with the bar on the chest to exert much more management over the burden — simply make sure to keep tight and never chill out beneath the burden.

Make every particular person rep rely and also you’ll slap on power and measurement. 

Bench Press Errors to Keep away from

No one needs to turn out to be the following “YouTube fail” video, normally that includes individuals butchering the bench press motion or, worse, stepping into life-threatening conditions as a consequence of a disregard for security. Be sure you’ve obtained your bases lined by stopping these points earlier than they begin. 

Lifting Your Hips

Other than giving your self a elevate off (if wanted), your glutes ought to by no means depart the bench in the course of the train. Lifting your hips received’t make you any stronger on the elevate. It’s merely a cheat tactic and an indicator that the burden is simply too heavy to elevate correctly. That is the bench press equal of doing standing biceps curls and leaning your higher physique again to get the burden up.

Person in gym doing flat bench press
Credit score: Serghei Starus / Shutterstock

Preserve the motion trustworthy to your skill. You’ll construct power over time if you apply good type.


Stopping shy of full vary of movement — from full lockout to the bar touching your chest — does nothing to correctly service your chest muscle mass (the prime movers of the bench press) or entry the power the physique can put into the burden. (2)

In case you really feel like you possibly can solely carry out half reps, likelihood is the burden is simply too heavy, your shoulders are too unstable, or each. As an alternative, cut back the load and follow staying tight by full vary of movement.

person in gym performing bench press
Credit score: Sarayut Sridee / Shutterstock

If that also hurts your shoulders, it might be as a consequence of weak point within the motion itself or it might stem from a scarcity of higher again power to stabilize and shield the shoulder. Be certain your coaching plan contains loads of upper-back pulling exercises like face pulls or reverse flyes.

Utilizing Collars on the Bar 

This isn’t essentially a degree about growing your bench press, nevertheless it’s an necessary situation any time you’re benching heavy. It’d sound counterintuitive or controversial however, in case you’re lifting alone, securing the burden plates with collars is a doubtlessly high-risk maneuver.

person helping lifter perform bench press
Credit score: antoniodiaz / Shutterstock

Widespread sense would say you normally “ought to” safe the weights to stop them from transferring round. The reality is that, in case you do fail a rep and handle to get pinned to the bench, it might spell hazard in case you’re not robust sufficient to press the bar off your chest all the way in which again as much as the rack. You’ll be able to’t at all times depend on rolling it down over your hips and waist (which will be extraordinarily painful and uncomfortable by itself).

In case you’re an individual who lifts unsupervised at home, it’s finest to go away the weights unclipped in order that, within the occasion of failure, you possibly can tip the weights off one finish of the bar and free you from being stapled. It’s higher to crack a few tiles on the exercise room flooring than to crack a few ribs or your larynx.

Three Suggestions for Extra Positive factors

Getting the fundamentals down is an efficient first step, however taking issues to the following degree entails slightly deeper considering, the place this train is anxious. 

Leg Drive 

Tuck your ft nearer to your butt to create a knee angle inside 90-degrees. That is important to benefiting from a vital and missed precept — the bench press is extra than simply an “higher physique” train.

Person in gym doing barbell bench press
Credit score: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

In reality, your legs have a critical function to play in selling total bracing and tightness. As you press, take into consideration driving your ft into the bottom laborious. The bar isn’t simply transferring away out of your chest, it’s transferring away from the ground, so this cue will turn out to be useful so as to add extra power to your elevate by growing total muscle recruitment. (3)

Tuck Your Elbows 

If you wish to shield your shoulder joints, deal with enhancing bench efficiency whereas utilizing a barely narrower grip (versus a comparatively broad grip) and tucking your elbows in the course of the motion.

short-haired person in gym doing barbell bench press
Credit score: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

The nearer your higher arm is to your torso, the much less weak place your shoulder joints shall be put into. Your shoulders will immediately really feel happier, extra steady, and extra highly effective by aiming your elbows extra ahead than sideways. 

Use a Thicker Bar or Thick Grip Attachments

Utilizing a bigger diameter bar with extra floor space unfold throughout the palms of your arms normally feels extra comfy when you get used to the distinctive grip. It can also cut back joint stress within the elbows and shoulders by growing forearm recruitment and muscle pressure for added stability. (4)

The better diameter disperses the load and reduces the stress transferred to your joints. In case you don’t have entry to thick barbells, you should use thick grip attachments like “Fats Gripz.” This straightforward pair of detachable handles will be one of the vital helpful instruments to have in your health club bag, since it may be used with any train that requires grabbing a barbell, dumbbell, or deal with.

Construct a Higher Bench: Strategies That Work 

In case you’ve been coaching within the health club for some time, the traditional 3 x 10 or 4 x 6 would possibly not likely be doing the job to get you previous your power or measurement plateau. In case your lifting numbers aren’t budging, it’s value considering a bit additional exterior the field to seek out methods to stimulate your chest

One-and-a-Half Rep Bench Press

Particularly if a lifter has longer arms, it may be a problem adding muscle to the chest for a greater aesthetic. The comparatively lengthy vary of movement and large quantity of lockout house a lifter must transfer by could make the triceps and shoulders take over a typical chest pressing sample. This leaves the chest much less fatigued over the course of a set.

Performing a “one and a half rep” bench press entails unracking the barbell and decreasing all of it the way in which to chest degree. Stay tight and press the burden from chest degree to midway up, and pause. Your higher arms needs to be at roughly 90-degrees. Decrease the burden as soon as extra to chest degree, after which press all the way in which as much as the highest — that whole sequence counts as one single repetition.

This high-tension method will make your chest work greater than your triceps and shoulders as a result of the latter two muscle teams aren’t considerably concerned within the bottom-half of the motion.

Your chest is within the strongest biomechanical place, and is probably the most concerned, by this part of the train, and the one-and-a-half rep method takes benefit of that. Three to 4 units of 4 to 6 reps can be ideally suited right here, remembering that every “one and a half” equals one rep. 

Cluster Units

Cluster units deserve extra point out than they usually get in the case of increasing your strength and size. Understanding how the physique works from a physiological degree might help create extra appreciation for cluster coaching and its import.

In terms of quick bouts of explosive energy like a 100-meter dash, a primary down in soccer, or a heavy, low-rep set of weight coaching, the physique depends on adenosine triphosphate (ATP) as its main supply of power to make muscle mass work laborious.

The ATP shops depart the physique after 10 to fifteen seconds and the first muscle mass in use start to close down and create lactic acid as a byproduct. It normally takes one to 2 minutes to sufficiently replenish these shops of ATP within the affected muscle mass.

Figuring out that, you possibly can make the most of this replenishment part whereas nonetheless lifting heavy weights. A set of three reps will be prolonged to 4 and even 5 whole reps if quick breaks are taken between every particular person repetition.

This mini-rest will partially replenish the shops of ATP accessible within the physique. This will enhance your power over time and likewise expose you to the next cumulative quantity of heavy reps, which may result in extra muscle progress.  Listed here are among the simplest methods to make use of clusters. 

Single-Rep Clusters

Put 90-95% of your one-repetition max on the bar. This weight is usually a two-rep max, however you’re about to do 4 reps with it. Carry out one repetition, and rack the burden for 10 to fifteen seconds. Then take the burden off the rack and carry out one other earlier than re-racking it. Repeat till you’ve carried out 4 reps. Relaxation a minimum of two minutes and carry out a complete of two to a few full units.

Resetting between single reps additionally permits you to guarantee right method on every separate effort. 

Multi-Rep Clusters

Put your five-repetition max on the bar. Carry out 4 reps earlier than racking the burden and resting for 10 seconds. Take the bar off the rack and carry out two extra reps. You’ve simply carried out six reps together with your five-rep max. Full three to 5 full units.

It is a good strategy to improve time spent beneath pressure (TUT), which advantages muscle progress, whereas working with barely lighter-than-max masses, which received’t impression restoration as a lot as very heavy lifting. (5

Excessive-Rep Clusters, aka Ladders, for Dimension

Loads of heavy lifting can do a quantity on the nervous system, particularly if heavy lifts are employed on the common. A great change of tempo (that doubles as a good way to interrupt a measurement plateau) is to make use of high-rep strategies with the identical method.

Ladder units are simply the ticket. Use your 10 to 12-rep max weight. Carry out a mini-set of two reps, then three reps, then 5 reps, and at last 10 reps with 10-second breaks between every mini-set.

This creates 20 reps of muscle-building stimulus with a weight that “ought to have” solely allowed 10 to 12 reps. One or two units will be loads. It’s a psychological killer as a lot as it’s a muscular killer, all whereas maintaining the nervous system in verify because of the larger rep vary and comparatively lighter weight.  

Go Construct a Greater Bench

The bench press is arguably the preferred elevate within the health club. With that status, it ought to be probably the most correctly executed, however that’s not at all times the case. With this data now in hand, you’ll be set aside within the health club and can have discovered a strategy to prepare sensible whereas additionally coaching laborious. Quickly your efficiency shall be turning heads and also you’ll have a reliably spectacular reply subsequent time you’re requested “how a lot do you bench?”


  1. Saeterbakken, A. H., Stien, N., Pedersen, H., Solstad, T. E. J., Cumming, Ok. T., & Andersen, V. (2021). The Impact of Grip Width on Muscle Energy and Electromyographic Exercise in Bench Press amongst Novice- and Resistance-Skilled Males. Worldwide journal of environmental analysis and public well being18(12), 6444.
  2. Pinto, R. S., Gomes, N., Radaelli, R., Botton, C. E., Brown, L. E., & Bottaro, M. (2012). Impact of vary of movement on muscle power and thickness. Journal of power and conditioning analysis26(8), 2140–2145.
  3. Gontijo, L. B., Pereira, P. D., Neves, C. D., Santos, A. P., Machado, D.deC., & Bastos, V. H. (2012). Analysis of power and irradiated motion sample ensuing from trunk motions of the proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation. Rehabilitation analysis and follow2012, 281937.
  4. Krings, B. M., Shepherd, B. D., Swain, J. C., Turner, A. J., Chander, H., Waldman, H. S., McAllister, M. J., Knight, A. C., & Smith, J. W. (2021). Affect of Fats Grip Attachments on Muscular Energy and Neuromuscular Activation Throughout Resistance Train. Journal of power and conditioning analysis35(Suppl 1), S152–S157.
  5. Burd, N. A., Andrews, R. J., West, D. W., Little, J. P., Cochran, A. J., Hector, A. J., Cashaback, J. G., Gibala, M. J., Potvin, J. R., Baker, S. Ok., & Phillips, S. M. (2012). Muscle time beneath pressure throughout resistance train stimulates differential muscle protein sub-fractional artificial responses in males. The Journal of physiology590(2), 351–362.

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