The Bench Press is one of the first exercises guys drift to. There's something about pushing a bar packed with iron off their chest that makes guys feel manly.
I'm not here to tell you to avoid the Bench Press. (Check out more Bench Press tips.) It's important for building upper-body strength. I'm am here to tell you how to increase your Bench Press numbers—to the point where you'll be shocked at the amount of weight you're putting up.
Add these five tips to your workout routine:
Do them once a week or once every two weeks. Pin Presses work on the top part of your Bench; you don't bring the bar all the way down to your chest. This allows you to place more weight on the bar, and it should improve your ability to move the bar smoothly and drive through sticking points.
To perform a Pin Press, adjust the pins in a full rack to six inches below where you would set them for a traditional Bench. Explosively push the bar off the pins and lower with control.
The Bench Press works the chest, but it doesn't hit every pec muscle fiber to the fullest degree. To hit the upper chest, perform Incline Barbell or Dumbbell Bench Presses. They also strengthen the shoulders, which can be a limiting factor in your bench.
A strong back helps your chest become stronger. When the antagonist (opposite) muscles in an exercise are strong, the exercise is easier to perform because of the additional support. When designing your program, include a 2:1 back to chest exercise ratio—e.g., if you do one set of Bench Presses, do two sets of Rows. (Start developing your back with these exercises.)
If you want to get stronger, you have to challenge yourself. Lifting within a range of 10 to 15 reps won't help. You need to lift in a range of 2 to 5 reps. That means you must add more weight to the bar so that you are challenged on your last two reps of each set.
I'm not telling you to neglect your chest in your upper-body workouts, but taking a week off from the Bench Press can help you blast through a plateau. Use the time to work on supplemental exercises, like Push-Ups. This will give your upper body a chance to recover from all the heavy lifting you've done over the past three or four weeks.