Thread: Increasing Bench Press
01-03-2005, 04:21 PM #1
Increasing Bench Press
Sup guys, i've been wondering how often you guys increase your bench weight, i read the sticky, and it said that you should atleast try to add 2.5lb's to your bench each week so your making gains, which is hard for me because the smallest plates are gym has is 2.5 so the smallest amount of weight i can add is 2.5lb's to each side, so i shoot for 5lb's every 2 weeks. But my question is how many of you actually increase and notice gains on your bench each week. Right now i'm bulking and i usually hit bench for 4 sets with 6-8 reps per set increasing the weight each set as i go, but i must say when not cycling i maybe notice i only am able to add 5lbs to my total weight every 3 - 4 weeks. So my question is if you do add say 2.5lb's to your bench each week or every 2nd week, how many reps are you able to do with the new weight? Also wondering if this pyramid style lifting is what most you use when bulking, such as adding weight each set, or should my heaviest lifts be set 2 and 3 and then start to take maybe 5-10lbs off for my last set so i can get atleast 6 reps in. Because right now my 4th and final set is the heaviest which i'm not exactly sure is a proper technique for bulking.
01-03-2005, 04:42 PM #2
2.5 a week??? think about it man. that would come out to 10 pounds a month, and then 120 pounds a year. year after year, its just not possible. i can tell you the progress i look for out of myself. my goal is pretty much going up about 15 pounds in 3 months. doesnt sound like alot, but that is 60 pounds a year. since i am young, that is realistic for me and i have been achieving that
Last edited by IronReload04; 01-03-2005 at 04:45 PM.
01-03-2005, 05:45 PM #3Originally Posted by IronReload04
i quote this is from the Guidelines Of Growth;
"And it's better to add two pounds per week to the load rather than not improving at all. Two pounds per week for six months would be more than a 50-pound improvement in your limit strength!"
now i'm not saying thats realistic just said thats what i read and unless on a cycle that doesn't seem relistic, so i was trying to figure out what other people were doing.. your gains are roughly about the same as mine, thanks for letting me know your oppinion just wanted to see what others thought about this subject.
01-03-2005, 05:49 PM #4
If you just want strength,train like a powerlifter. Size will come with according diet. You won't be as happy with the muscular results using 2-3 reps but you will be strength wise. Boards,chains,bands,lockouts,halfpresses,rope presses..if u don't do this...i'd start with a couple of them and find what you think will work best for you.
01-03-2005, 07:32 PM #5
There is an article somwhere on this site that gives some very good info. However I could not find it so I will tell you what I remember and use.
When you get on the bench keep your shoulder blades tight and together
Keep your elbow in, instead of closer to your side instead of straight out.
Make sure the bar hits your lower chest(upper abdomen)
Push straight up
Use your legs to push you (kind of like you are trying to slide further up the bench) while you are lifting.- do not put a large arch in your back
Try to pull the bar apart (this will incorperate your tris)
Write down your reps, weight everytime you go to the gym. Each week make sure you either beat the reps you did last week or or do more weight. You should be able to increase at least 5 lbs every week to two weeks no problem.
This info has helped me alot. Currently I weight about 185 and benched 315lbs for 9 reps. I figure my max is somwhere around 390-400 ( I guess I wont really know untill i try it!)
I hope this helps
01-03-2005, 07:51 PM #6
gotta bust your tris and lats real hard for a big bench
01-03-2005, 08:20 PM #7Member
- Join Date
- Oct 2004
add the 2.5 every week and get a spot to help u with the last rep or last 2
01-03-2005, 08:44 PM #8
thanks for all the replys, got some really good information here, thanks for all your oppinions
01-03-2005, 08:54 PM #9
I'll say this again..ANY serious workout regimen for strength includes boards and chains. Westside,metal militia...Good legal arch..hit low..lock the blades tight..A lot of bench pressing huge weight is technique. Some people think its all muscle and it's not at all.
01-03-2005, 09:07 PM #10
Hey grady, post a pic I would like to see how big you are if you say your only 185lbs. 315lb for 9 reps. That seems a little bit strange to me. What do you think guys
01-03-2005, 09:18 PM #11Originally Posted by Moosepellet
It's very possible. Depends on how he trains and what he trains for. No offense to grady or anyone but i've seen more impressive lifts by people that never touched juice.
01-03-2005, 09:30 PM #12
I know! I have too, I was just tring to be a smart @ss! My roomate last year bench 315lbs for 7 reps clean, and he only weighed 165lbs ripped to the bone. The funny thing is he is only 5"6". I saw him about a week ago and he lost about 20lbs, and looks like complete sh!t. What a waste.
01-03-2005, 10:03 PM #13
why does having your elbows in instead of out make you stronger?
01-04-2005, 03:30 AM #14Originally Posted by IronReload04
01-04-2005, 05:23 AM #15Originally Posted by IronReload04
The reason it makes you stronger is because when your elbows are out alot of the weight is being lifted by your shoulders. When your shoulderblades are together and the bar hitting right about your chest with your elbow in you use your chest, back, shoulders, and tris. Your back is a much stronger muscle than your shoulders.
01-04-2005, 05:39 AM #16Originally Posted by Moosepellet
I am having problems with my web cam right now but tommarrow I will burn some pics to a cd and post them.
Just so you know I am only 5"7'. and have been lifting around 7-8 years.
01-04-2005, 05:47 AM #17
article on benching big
here is the article I was talking about i found it on a different forum
Bench Press 600 Pounds - A 12 Step Program
by Dave Tate
Obviously, not everyone has the genetic raw material to bench press 600 pounds. However, if anyone can teach you to increase your bench, it's Dave Tate. Dave's been assisting and training under Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell fame for over 10 years. He's also the co-owner of Elite Fitness Systems and has consulted thousands of athletes throughout the world. When an athlete wants to get stronger and gain an edge in the world of elite, world class competition, the name Dave Tate is often on the short list of strength coaches who can get the job done. As you'll see, Dave "walks the walk" as well as "talks the talk" when it comes to getting bigger and stronger. We're proud to welcome him as a Testosterone contributor.
I spend most of my weekends in transit these days. In fact, I'm writing this article on a plane headed to yet another seminar I'm conducting. This travel time gives me the chance to think, relax, and reflect on many issues detling with training and life. I also use the time to prepare for my upcoming seminar or consulting session. I normally sit here going over what topics I'll be presenting and how I can better relate them to my audience. But today there's a problem. No there's not a creature on the wing throwing monkey wrenches into the plane's engines, but it's almost that bad. The problem is all I can think about is my bench press!
You see, I train at Westside Barbell, which is renowned for producing world-caliber strength athletes. I've been a part of this group since 1990. Before that, I had spent five years stuck at a 1955 pound total in powerlifting. Then I tore my right pectoralis major tendon while trying to bench 500 at a bench press competition. I figured that was the end of competition days and thought about retiring from the sport. Then I thought to myself, retire from what? I haven't done anything yet!
I knew I had two options: I could keep training the way I always had and totally fall apart, or I could move to Columbus to train under the watchful eye of Louie Simmons. It wasn't that difficult of a decision. After the surgery I packed the car and moved to Columbus. That was over 10 years ago. Since then, my lifts have increased to a 935-pound squat, 585-pound bench and a 740-pound deadlift. This was after my surgeon told me I'd never bench over 400 again!
Although my bench press has increased 85 pounds, it's still a far cry from where it should be. At Westside we have 34 guys benching over 500 pounds and eight benching over 600. (In fact, six of those eight guys press over 650!) My bench pretty much sucks when compared to the others in the gym. When people ask me for bench advice, I cringe because I'm still chasing 600. I've missed that mark five times in competition atthe time of this writing.
I kept telling myself that once I push up 600 pounds I'd write a
definitive article on benching. Well, I haven't hit that mark yet, but I
do have the biggest bench out of everyone on my flight, so I'm feeling
like an authority on benching at the moment. Who knows, maybe writing
this article I'll teach myself something, or remember something I've
forgotten? I also feel the need to write this because of the vast amount
of misinformation out there on this subject. I feel there're 12
components to a great bench press. If we apply these 12 steps, then
perhaps you and I both will reach our bench press goals.
12 Steps to a Bigger Bench
1 - Train the Triceps
Years ago, if you had asked Larry Pacifico how to get a big bench, he'd
have told you to train the triceps. This same advice applies today. This
doesn't mean doing set after set of pushdowns, kickbacks, and other
so-called "shaping" exercises. 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
Various barbell and dumbbell extensions should also be staples of your
training program. Don't let anyone try to tell you the bench press is
about pec strength. These people don't know the correct way to bench and
are setting you up for a short pressing career with sub-par weights. I
just read an article in one of the major muscle magazines by one of
these authors on how to increase your bench press. The advice given was
to train your pecs with crossovers and flies and your bench will go up!
This, along with many other points, made me wonder how this article ever
got published or better yet, how much the author himself could bench.
I believe articles should go under a peer review board before they get
printed. I'd like many of my peers to review these authors in the gym or
better yet on the bench to see how much they really know. Bottom line:
Train the triceps!
2 - Keep your shoulder blades pulled together and tight.
This is a very important and often overlooked aspect of great bench
pressing. 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. The bench is only so wide and we can't change this, but we can
change how we position ourselves on 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. The tightness of your upper back also
contributes. These techniques also change the distance the bar will have
to travel. The key to pressing big weight is to press the shortest
[b]3 - Keep the pressure on your upper back and traps.
This is another misunderstood aspect of pressing. 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.
4 - Push the bar in a straight line.
Try to push the bar toward your feet. The shortest distance between two
points is a straight line, right? Then why in the world would some
coaches advocate pressing in a "J" line toward the rack? If I were to
bench the way most trainers are advocating (with my elbows out, bringing
the bar down to the chest and pressing toward the rack) my barbell
travel distance would be 16 inches. Now, if I pull my shoulder blades
together, tuck my chin and elbows, and bring the bar to my upper
abdominals or lower chest, then my pressing distance is only 6.5 inches.
Now which would you prefer? If you want to push up a bar-bending load of
plates, you'd choose the shorter distance.
Here's another important aspect of pressing in this style. By keeping
your shoulder blades together and your chin and elbows tucked, you'll
have less shoulder rotation when compared to the J-line method of
pressing. This is easy to see by watching how low the elbows drop in the
bottom part of the press when the barbell is on the chest. With the
elbows out, most everyone's elbows are far lower than the bench. This
creates a tremendous amount of shoulder rotation and strain.
Now try the same thing with the elbows tucked and shoulder blades
together while bringing the barbell to your upper abdominals. For most
people, the elbows are usually no lower than the bench. Less shoulder
rotation equals less strain on the shoulder joint. This means pressing
bigger weights for many more years. I've always been amazed at trainers
that suggest only doing the top half of the bench press, i.e. stopping
when the upper arms are parallel to the floor. This is done to avoid the
excess shoulder rotation. All they have to do is teach their clients the
proper way to bench in the first place!
5 - Keep the elbows tucked and the bar directly over the wrists and
This is probably the most important aspect of great pressing technique.
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.
The most important aspect of this is to keep the barbell in a direct
line with the elbow. If the barbell is behind the elbow toward the head,
then the arm position becomes similar to an extension, not a press.
6 - Bring the bar low on your chest or upper abdominals.
This is the only way you can maintain the "barbell to elbow" position as
described above. You may have heard the advice, "Bring it low" at almost
every powerlifting competition. This is the reason why. Once again, the
barbell must travel in a straight line.
7 - Fill your belly with air and hold it.
For maximum attempts and sets under three reps, you must try to hold
your air. Everyone must learn to breathe from their bellies and not
their chests. If you stand in front of the mirror and take a deep
breath, your shoulders shouldn't rise. If they do you're breathing the
air into your chest, not your belly. Greater stability can be achieved
in all the lifts when you learn how to pull air into the belly. Try to
expand and fill the belly with as much air as possible and hold it. If
you breathe out during a maximum attempt, the body structure will change
slightly, thus changing the groove in which the barbell is traveling.
8 - Train with compensatory acceleration.
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. This is known as compensatory acceleration and it can help you
break through sticking points.
These sticking points are known as your "mini maxes," or the points at
which you miss the lift or the barbell begins to slip out of the groove.
Many times I'm asked what to do if the barbell gets stuck four to five
inches off the chest. Everybody wants to know what exercise will help
them strengthen this area or what body part is holding them back. Many
times it isn't what you do to strengthen the area where it sticks, but
what you can do to build more acceleration in the area before the mini
max. If you can get the bar moving with more force then there won't be a
sticking point. Instead, you'll blast right through it. Compensatory
acceleration will help you do this.
9 - Squeeze the barbell and try to pull the bar apart!
Regardless of the lift, you have to keep your body as tight as Monica
Brant's behind. 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. We've also found that if you try to pull
the bar apart or "break the bar," the triceps seem to become more
10 - Devote one day per week to dynamic-effort training.
According to Vladimir Zatsiorsinsky in his text Science and Practice of
Strength Training, there are three ways to increase muscle tension.
These three methods include the dynamic-effort method, the
maximal-effort method, and the repetition method. Most training programs
being practiced in the US today only utilize one or two of these
methods. It's important, however, to use all three.
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. The key to this method is bar speed. Percentage
training can be very deceiving. The reason for this is because lifters
at higher levels have better motor control and recruit more muscle than
a less experienced lifter.
For example, the maximal amount of muscle you could possibility recruit
is 100%. Now, the advanced lifter _ after years of teaching his nervous
system to be efficient _ may be able to recruit 70 to 80% of muscle
fibers, while the intermediate might be able to recruit only 50%. Thus,
the advanced lifter would need less percent weight than the
intermediate. This is one of the reasons why an advanced lifter
squatting 80% of his max for 10 reps would kill himself while a beginner
could do it all day long.
If you base the training on bar speed, then the percentages are no
longer an issue, only a guideline. So how do you know where to start? If
you're an intermediate lifter, I suggest you start at 50% of maximal and
see how fast you can make it move for three reps. If you can move 20
more pounds with the same speed then use the heavier weight.
Based on years of experience and Primlin's charts for optimal percent
training, we've found the best range to be eight sets of three reps.
Based on Primlin's research, the optimal range for 70% and less is 12 to
We've also found it very beneficial to train the bench using three
different grips, all of which are performed within the rings. This may
break down into two sets with the pinky fingers on the rings, three sets
with three fingers from the smooth area of the bar and three sets with
one finger from the smooth area.
11 - Devote one day per week to maximal-effort training.
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. We've
combated this by switching up the maximal-effort exercises. We 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.
12 - Train the lats on the same plane as the bench.
I'm talking about the horizontal plane here. In other words, you must
perform rows, rows, and more rows. "If you want to bench big then you
need to train the lats." I've heard both George Hilbert and Kenny
Patterson say this for years when asked about increasing the bench
press. When you bench you're on a horizontal plane. So would it make
sense from a balance perspective to train the lats with pulldowns, which
are on a vertical plane? Nope. Stick to the barbell row if you want a
Now that my trip is over and I'm back in Columbus, I no longer feel like
an authority on bench pressing. My 585 pound bench press is considered
sort of "puny" by Westside standards, after all. By writing this
article, however, I've realized a few things I need to change about my
bench pressing. I bet you have too. Hopefully, I've helped you correct a
few problems that might've been keeping you from breaking your own
personal record. Remember, the smallest things often bring the biggest
01-07-2005, 05:45 AM #18
I have tried to upload pics three times and cannot. I do not know what the problem is . I can send through email if you want
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