3 Advanced Techniques to Build a Bigger Bench and Stronger Chest

Plateau'd out on the Bench? Try these three techniques from STACK Expert Robert Taylor.

The Bench Press is one of your favorite exercises. You perform it nearly every week, yet fail to see meaningful improvements. You're stuck and don't know what to do. A lack of progress is discouraging, especially if your teammates are lifting more than you are. But odds are, you simply don't vary your Bench Press workouts often enough, and you've hit a plateau. If that's the case, try the three Bench Press routines below to challenge your muscles like never before. Soon enough, these intense methods will lead to the results you've been longing for.

RELATED: Want a Bigger Chest? Don't Focus on the Flat Bench

Drop Sets

Drop sets involve four sets performed consecutively with no rest. Instead of resting, you strip weight off the bar so you can continue working. This recruits more muscle fibers and stimulates muscle growth.

How to:

  • Set 1: Choose a weight with which you can complete between 8-12 perfect reps. Perform as many reps as possible within this range.
  • Decrease the weight on the bar by 20%.
  • Set 2: Perform 6-10 reps.
  • Decrease the weight by 20%.
  • Set 3: Perform 4-6 reps.
  • Set 4: Perform as many Push-Ups as possible with an emphasis on a slow lowering phase.

Post-Exhaust

This technique pre-fatigues the muscles during the Bench Press, then puts them into a fatigued state with a complementary assistance exercise, such as a Chest Fly—again recruiting more muscle fibers.

How to:

  • Set 1a (Bench Press): Choose a weight with which you can complete 8-12 perfect reps. Perform as many reps as possible within this range.
  • Set 1b (Chest Fly): Without rest, complete 8-12 reps.
  • Set 2a (Bench Press): Decrease the weight by 20% and complete 6-10 reps.
  • Set 2b Chest Fly: Without rest, complete 6-10 reps.
  • Set (Bench Press): Again decrease the weight by 20% and complete 4-6 reps.
  • Set #3b (Chest Fly): Without rest, complete 4-6 reps.

Note: Maintain constant tension in your muscles when performing the exercises.

Elevator Variation

Elevator sets train the muscles of the chest, shoulder and triceps through multiple angles and rep ranges, which should promote muscle growth. Also, training at different angles achieves a greater range of motion, which leads to healthier joints.

  • Set 1 (Shoulder Press): Choose a weight with which you can complete between 8-12 reps. Perform as many reps as possible within this range.
  • Lower the adjustable bench to a 60- to 75-degree angle.
  • Set 2 (Incline Press): Using the same weight, complete 6-10 reps.
  • Lower the adjustable bench to a 30- to 45-degree angle.
  • Set 3 (High Incline Press): Using the same weight, complete 4-8 reps.
  • Lower the adjustable bench to flat.
  • Set 4 (Bench Press): Using the same weight, complete 2-6 reps.

Editor's Note: Check out Coach Taylor's SMARTER Team Training Audio Interview Series here.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: CHEST | BENCH PRESS | EXERCISE | TRAIN | BENCH | PRESS | MUSCLE GROWTH