Ahh, the bench press... There's just no exercise like it. Even though powerlifting and strength training have popularized the barbell squat and the barbell deadlift, everyone knows that the barbell bench press is the king of all strength tests. "How much you bench, bro?" is the ultimate gym bro question, but you can hear it outside the gym too. Whenever there's talk about training, this question will pop up. In fact, considering how lifting is becoming increasingly popular among women too, don't get too surprised if you hear it on your first date too! However, that question can have a problematic answer.
If you can bench anything less than 225 lbs, you are likely to get this response: "Do you even lift bro?!." And things are getting worse, and the bar is slowly rising, so you better get to that 225 ASAP! Bench press not increasing? This article is for you! We will give you some tips that will help you bench more instantly but will also tell you how to increase bench press by 100 lbs. Although these tips are universal, if you already bench 335 lbs, adding 100 lbs more will be a bit more tricky. But, for those of you who are struggling to get to that famous 225, this article will help, A LOT!
How To Bench Press More Instantly
This section is intended for those who want to try and set a new personal record today. Of course, reading this section alone will not add 50 pounds to your bench press just like that, but it will help you squeeze out a bit more out of your max effort, which is just what it might take to set a new PR.
Warm Up Adequately
If you get injured, you're done with training, instantly. And going all-in to set a new record without warming up is one of the best ways to get hurt. Therefore, proper warm-up should be your priority.
First, get on a treadmill or a stationary bike as soon as you get to the gym. Doing light/moderate cardio for 5-10 minutes will raise your body temperature and get the blood flowing, kickstarting your body the right way, preparing it for the routine to follow. This kind of cardio won't tire your upper body muscles, and it won't affect your bench press efforts.
After that, do a complete warm-up routine, mainly focusing on your shoulders, as they are the ones that get injured the most when people bench press. But, you should also do dynamic warm-ups for your pecs, elbows, wrists, and even upper back and thoracic spine, as all of those muscles get involved when bench pressing. Stretching out your back muscles might seem unimportant, but doing it will help you create a better arch, which will reduce the bar path, helping you lift more.
Go Straight To The Bench And Skip Some Working Sets
After you've done your warm-up routine, you can do some pushups to tense up the pecs, but after that, you should go straight to the bench press.
Some claim that doing rows (the opposite movement of bench press) will warm up the shoulders even more, which can help with your bench press too. However, this might drain energy from you and might affect your PR efforts, which is why it's probably best to go straight to the bench press.
First, do some reps with just the bar, focusing on the technique. After that, add some weight, and keep adding plates - but don't go too near your previous PR! You want to warm up, but you don't want to tire out your muscles by doing too many unnecessary sets. Remember, this workout's goal is just to beat your PR and nothing else - you will work on building your muscles another time.
So, if you aim to try and beat 225, you shouldn't build up all up to 220 through 5-6 sets, that will drain you out too much. If you aim for a 225, your last warm-up set should stop at 200 lbs, max. Going above that will get you too close to failure and your max effort, which is not a good idea for this workout. So, go for about 80-90% of your best effort but only for one rep, and then rest at least 3-5 minutes. When you feel ready, go for it!!!
Congratulations, you've done it! You've increased your bench press instantly, and if you've done the warm up right, you should be completely pain-free and ready for the next challenges!
How To Fix A Weak Bench Press
While following our tips from above will help you increase your bench press, it will only get you so far. In all honesty, those tips will work only once, and you can't just repeat them the next time you visit the gym and break your record again - that would be too easy, and you wouldn't have to read articles like this one if that was the case. 🙂
If your bench press is not increasing, don’t worry! The good news is that fixing a weak bench press is possible, but it requires effort and a commitment level as you can't do it overnight. On the flip side, because you will earn that weight increase, it will not only stay with you as long as you train, but by following the same principles, you will continue to progress and add weight to the bar.
Although slower, the tips that will follow are more of a long-term strategy, which means that you can expect them to continue bringing results.
#1 Fix Your Technique
Although you can often see champion powerlifters executing their PR reps with a form that is far from ideal, those are only exceptions. The truth is that proper technique is not only the ONLY way to prevent injuries as much as possible but is also the most efficient way to lift. If you execute the lift with good form, you will achieve maximal muscle activation with minimal risk, resulting in stronger muscles and new personal records.
Bench Press Technique Tips
While the bench press technique is a never-ending topic of itself, we will cover some basic rules:
Keep your lower back flat on the bench.
Keep your upper back tightly pressed on the bench, with shoulder blades pushed back close. You can create an arch in your thoracic spine, but not in your lower back.
Your feet should be firmly in contact with the ground. Advanced lifters will learn to initiate the movement from their feet and carry the momentum to the bar. But if that is too complicated for you, just make sure your feet are tense, pressed firmly against the floor.
Your hands should be placed on the bar a little wider than shoulder-width apart. A narrower grip will activate the triceps more, while a much wider grip will put too much stress on the shoulders.
Squeeze the bar hard, and imagine trying to break it in half
When lowering the bar, your elbows and trunk should be at an angle that is lower than 90 degrees, ideally around 45 degrees. NEVER LIFT WITH YOUR ELBOWS FLAIRING OUT TO YOUR SIDES! THAT IS THE BEST WAY TO RUIN YOUR SHOULDERS.
Go slowly on the way down, and exploder back up.
The bar should travel in a diagonal motion; when going down, it should move in a direction towards your belly; when going up, it should go the opposite way, towards your spotter.
Pause for a brief moment at the bottom.
The rep finishes with your elbows fully extended and arms straight, and the bar should just touch your chest.
Don't bounce the bar off your chest! It can break your ribs, and it does nothing.
ALWAYS LIFT WITH A SPOTTER, OR AT LEAST USE SAFETY PINS.
#2 Work On Your Weak Points
Addressing your form should increase your max lifts, but once you've perfected it, you will likely find one portion of the lift harder than the other.
If you struggle at the bottom and are often unable to move the bar off your chest while the upper portion goes smoothly, your pecs are weak.
On the other hand, if you are struggling at the top and having issues with completely extending the arms, your triceps aren't strong enough.
Focus On Your Weak Parts Using Bench Press Variations
The first strategy you should adapt is fixing the exact part of your bench press that is lagging.
So, if you struggle at the bottom, try doing pause bench press, holding the bar on your chest for three seconds. You can also do pin press, where you put the bar on safety pins at chest level. Pin press is a much better option if you don't have a spotter, as it will allow you to escape if you can't lift the bar.
If you struggle with the upper part of the lift, incorporate the close-grip bench press. That will work your triceps more, helping you extend your arms fully once you get back to the regular bench.
You can also change your lifting tempo, slowing it down, which will put more strain on the muscles, stimulating growth. This will also help you get through those tough spots you struggle with.
Focus On Isolations
If you have lagging body parts, doing only compound movements like the bench press is not good enough. When performing compound movements, multiple muscle groups are involved at once. That means that stronger muscles will often cover for the weaker ones. The strong muscles will keep getting stronger too, and the imbalance will stay. That's why you have to do isolations.
So, if you have weak pecs, doing cable flyes and cable crossover will help. If you have weak triceps, doing some skull crushers and overhead extensions will definitely make them stronger.
#3 Change Your Training Approach
While you are likely to see increases overall, no matter what your training approach is, if you have such a specific goal and you want to improve your bench press, you should focus on strength training methods.
Training for strength gains is different from hypertrophy (muscle-building) workouts and is much more different from endurance and fat loss sessions. But, lifters often confuse strength and hypertrophy training, so we will stick to that.
Training For Muscle Size Will Only Get You So Far
When training for muscle size, a medium rep count works best. That's around 8-12 reps per set while staying off failure on most sets.
The goal is to get the most time under tension per muscle group while still using quite heavy weights. But, the one rep max, in this case, is secondary.
Also, when training for mass, breaks between sets are usually shorter. Lifters often include supersets and giant sets, which allows them to train multiple muscle groups at once or hit the same muscle group from different angles, which will provide more stimulus.
As expected, the #1 goal of this type of training is aesthetic, increasing muscle size. Sure, you will still get stronger, but you can't expect as much strength gains as if your main focus is precisely that.
Basics Of Strength Training
If you are wondering how to move up in weight bench press, your best approach is to go the old school way, and just train heavy. Increasing your intensity will mean decreasing your volume but will also mean increasing your rest times.
Lower Rep Count
Instead of going 8-12 reps per set, you should go no more than 5. Keeping the weights heavy and lifting 1-5 reps per set will push your every workout much closer to your 1RM. So even if you don't try to repeat or beat your personal records, going all-in for sets of three will put you much closer to your goal and new personal best.
Also, make sure you rest appropriately between sets, 3-5 minutes, and even more if you are doing singles or doubles. And don't do other exercises between sets! Strength training is extremely taxing on the nervous system, and superseting your strength workouts is risky.
Also, because you are upping your intensity that much, you will not be able to train as often, and you will need proper periodization.
So, spread out your overhead press, deadlift, squat and bench press into separate workouts, only focusing on them and on secondary movements that will fix your weaknesses.
Remember to spread out your OHP and bench press day, as you don't want tired shoulders and triceps to interfere with your max effort attempts.
Your Life Outside The Gym Matters Too
While it is true that nothing can replace hard work, neglecting other parts of health and fitness will take a toll on your gym efforts. Therefore, you need to make sure everything is in line if you want to know how to move up in the bench press.
If you are training for strength, you are taxing your body very hard. And for it to properly heal, you will need good nutrition and adequate rest.
First, when trying to increase your strength, it is best to stay off a caloric deficit. If you are trying to cut, gaining strength won't work, and you might risk injuries. So, caloric maintenance, or even a surplus, will work much better when trying to break personal records.
Focus on quality food choices rich in protein. Proteins will give you enough fuel to build muscles, which is why you need to intake enough. If you struggle with real food intake, consider protein supplements.
Also, don't restrict carbs, especially around your strength workouts. Going all-in will require a lot of glycogen, which is why it makes sense to eat quality carbs around your workouts, so you can top up those reserves.
Last but not least, rest! Nothing can replace 8 hours of sleep per night. Sleep balances out your hormones and spurs growth, which is crucial for strength increases. And make sure to have one day off between your strength workouts, and avoid going to the gym over 4x per week.
Bottom Line: How To Increase Bench Press By 100 lbs
If there is a way how to increase your bench press by 100 lbs, that sure is strength training. Focusing all your efforts on increasing the weight you lift, and doing it over a prolonged period, is the only way to increase your max by that amount. It won't happen overnight, on the contrary, it might take you year(s). But, if you are persistent and you follow a proper training structure that focuses on progressive overload, you are destined to make that massive jump.
Of course, you need to combine the gym effort with proper nutrition and recovery, which might also mean supplementation. But, nothing will replace hard work, fixing your technique, correcting imbalances, and trying to train slightly harder than last time, so focus on that. Good luck!