How to Increase Your Bench

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To build a bigger Bench Press, athletes must focus on more than impressing their friends in the weight room. A big Bench results from both strength and endurance, and it enables you to effectively block opponents or shed tacklers late in a game. Follow these three guidelines to take your Bench to the next level.

Progression

For an athlete, ripping out a few sets of Bench Presses can never hurt; however, to build your Bench, you need a plan. Your muscles gradually adapt to an exercise and to specific training intensity, so following a scientifically-proven progression model is a key to constant improvement. The National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends a three-step program, with four to six weeks in each phase:

  • Hypertrophy: 10 – 15 reps; 50 – 75 percent 1RM; 30 – 90 seconds rest
  • Strength: 4 – 8 reps; 80 – 90 percent 1RM; 2 – 3 minutes rest
  • Power: 2 – 5 reps; 87 – 95 percent 1RM; 3 – 5 minutes rest

Also, try to keep increasing the amount of weight you are able to lift. As a guideline, increase weight by 2.5 to 10 percent whenever you're able to perform two additional reps on your last set.

Overload

Since endurance is an important aspect of a big Bench, it's critical to train your energy system to power the bar off your chest repeatedly. This is accomplished by overloading the muscles involved in the exercise. Lance Walker, director of performance for the Michael Johnson Performance Center, uses this technique to develop the massive Bench of athletes like Detroit Lions DT Ndamukong Suh—who performed 32 reps of 225 lbs. at the 2010 NFL Combine.

Suh exhausts his shoulders with the Incline Bench before moving over to the Bench Press. Immediately following the Bench, he further taxes his body's energy systems with the Band Press. Then, by eliminating the Incline and the Band Press, he can apply the extra energy to the Bench Press alone, helping to improve his results.

As an alternative, elite trainer Danny Arnold recommends using a drop set followed by Push-Ups to completely fatigue your muscles:

  • Perform max reps with 185 lbs.; rest 30 seconds
  • Perform max reps with 135 lbs.; rest 30 seconds
  • Perform max reps with 85 lbs.; perform Push-Ups until failure

Other Muscle Groups

Every move you make during an exercise or a sports skill has a muscular path through your body, called a kinetic chain. A muscle deficiency anywhere in the chain can reduce strength and power, which highlights the need to train all the muscles in the body.

Thus, for a bigger Bench, it's important to also focus on the front delts and triceps. This will help eliminate potential Bench-killing strength deficiencies. The Incline and Close-Grip Press work these muscles in a manner similar to the Bench Press.

To learn more about developing your Bench, click on the following links:

NFL Combine Training for Football
Ndamuhkong Suh's Combine Training
Bench Press Tips


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: BENCH PRESS | EXERCISES | POWER | ENERGY | EXERCISE | TRAIN | BENCH | PRESS | ENDURANCE | OVERLOAD