Increasing Bench Press

Increasing Bench Press: 10+ Ways To Lift Heavy Weights!

The bench press is one of the most famous lifting exercises because you are proving real strength & power with this compound exercise. Increasing bench press weights to become stronger is something everybody wants to achieve. The question is: How can you increase your bench press and how can you lift really heavy weights with this awesome exercise? Check this in-depth guide to learn what you can do to break personal records and to become a real bench press master.

A strong chest stands for overall body strength. It will give your body a huge and strong appearance and you will feel very confident when going out with strong chest muscles. If this is your ultimate goal, then increasing bench press will be your #1 goal.

Let’s start with some basics before we talk about how to become better and stronger during your bench press workouts.

Chest Muscles – The Basics

Increasing Bench Press - Chest Muscles

Your chest muscles are one of the most visual appealing muscles. That’s why they are one of the most important muscle groups to workout. They consist of two main muscles:

  • Pectoralis major
  • Pectoralis minor

The main job of your chest muscles is bringing your upper arms across your body.

There are three heads you should all exercise differently

  • Clavicular bundle (upper chest)
  • Sternal bundle (middle chest)
  • Costal bundleupper (lower chest)

The Traditional Bench Press

Increasing Bench Press - Barbell Bench Press

Equipment needed: one barbell (with added weights), dumbbells, or Smith machine and a flat bench

Step #1

Lie down on the flat bench under the rack that holds the barbell. Your eyes should be approximately aligned with the front of the barbell rack uprights and your feet should be flat on the floor and relatively wide apart.

Step #2

Now grip a barbell with your hands slightly wider than the width of your shoulders and an overhand grip, with arms slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. The angle of your upper arms should be at about 45 degrees to the body (roughly).

Step #3

Remove the barbell from the rack, lock your elbows out and slowly lower the bar to your chest at the nipple line, while bending your elbows out to the side.

Step #4

Stop when your elbows are just below the flat bench you are lying on. Take a deep breath, press both of your feet into the floor and push the barbell back up above the chest with arms extended to get back to your starting position. Aim consistently (all the time) at the same spot on the ceiling. Don’t watch the barbell but focus on watching the ceiling instead.

Step #5

That’s one repetition. Perform around 8-12 repetitions each set and perform around 3-4 sets in total. Try to put as much weight as possible on the barbell so that you are able to perform 8-12 repetitions each set but not a lot more than that.

Step #6

After you’ve performed one set, replace the bar on the rack from the locked out position to finish your set. Move the bar backward gradually until you feel the rack uprights, then lower the bar to the rack rest.

See the traditional bench press exercise performed on youtube here!

Before we finally get to the bench press benefits, see some exercises for supporting muscles here.

Exercises For Supporting Muscles

If increasing bench press weights & strength is your main goal, you should also focus on the chest supporting muscles to help your chest lifting these heavy weights. It’s not a solution to do 100s of bench press repetitions. Instead, strengthen your shoulder, triceps and back muscles too to achieve maximum success.

Here are some supporting exercises you should perform:

Back Workout: Bent-Over Dumbbell Row

Bent Over Dumbbell Row

To do it the right way without risking any kind of injury, follow the steps below:

  1. Grab a dumbbell with your left hand and kneel down on a flat bench with your right knee. Place your right hand onto the bench and lean forward until your upper body is nearly parallel to the ground.
  2. Let the dumbbell hang down with your arm fully stretched.
  3. Now, pull the dumbbell up to the top at the side of your body.
  4. Hold this position for a few seconds and get back to your starting position, completing the repetition.

See the Bent-Over Dumbbell Row exercise on Youtube here!

Legs & Glute Workout: Glute Bridge

Glute Bridge

To do it the right way without risking any kind of injury, follow the steps below:

  1. Lie down on the floor with your feet, back and palms flat on the floor. Bend your knees.
  2. Now, press both of your feet into the floor to raise your hips into the ceiling.
  3. Hold this position for a second and get back down to your starting position to complete the repetition.

See the Glute Bridge exercise on Youtube here!

Shoulder Workout: Barbell Military Press / Overhead Press

Barbell Military Press

To do it the right way without risking any kind of injury, follow the steps below:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and place a weighted barbell onto your upper chest.
  2. Push the barbell straight upward and shrug your shoulders to raise the barbell even higher.
  3. Hold this position for a second and get back down to your starting position to complete the repetition.

See the Barbell Military Press exercise on Youtube here!

Chest Workout: Traditional Push Up

Traditional Push Up

To do it the right way without risking any kind of injury, follow the steps below:

  1. Get down on your hands and feet, with your arms slightly wider than shoulder-width.
  2. Straighten your body and extend your legs.
  3. Now, bend your elbows to lower your chest to the floor. Keep your body straight all the time.
  4. Hold this position for a few seconds and get back to your starting position, completing the repetition.

See the Traditional Push-Up exercise on Youtube here!

Triceps Workout: Triceps Rope Pushdown

Triceps Rope Pushdown

To do it the right way without risking any kind of injury, follow the steps below:

  1. Stand under the cable pulley and grasp each end of the rope attachment with a neutral grip (palms facing each other).
  2. Pull your elbows down to your sides and lean forward a little at the hips, keeping your back straight.
  3. Now, extend your elbows and push the rope all the way down. As your arms extend, twist your wrists so that your palms face down at the end of the movement.
  4. Hold this position for a few seconds and get back to your starting position, completing the repetition.

See the Triceps Rope Pushdown exercise on Youtube here!

These are the main exercises for your supporting muscles when it comes to increasing bench press weights & lifts.

Check here to learn in detail how you can create a highly effective and challenging workout routine with nothing but two kettlebells.

Now, as you know how to support your chest muscles for increasing your bench press, learn next why this exercise is so good and what bench press benefits there are which will help you along your fitness journey.

Benefits of Bench Press

  • #1: You Will Get Strong
  • #2: You Will Get Big
  • #3: You Will Grow Big Arms
  • #4: It Strengthens Your Bones
  • #5: It Boosts Your Testosterone Levels
  • #6: It Improves Your Functional Strength
  • #7: It’s a great assistance lift
  • #8: There Are So Many Variations
  • #9: Great For Your Ego
  • #10: It Prevents Muscle Imbalances
  • #11: Your Body Will Build A Very Strong Mind-Muscle Connection
  • #12: It Will Increase Your Grip Strength
  • #13: Awesome For People over 40 Years

Learn more about these 13 benefits in our step-by-step guide on bench press benefits!

Increasing Bench Press – The Ultimate List

Finally, we will talk about increasing bench press and lifting heavy weights now. What can you do to become better and to achieve new personal records when benching? Let’s get into it right now:

Warm-Up Properly

Warming up is always very important. The bench press involves the whole body but its main purpose is to build up the chest and to increase power and strength in the upper body. So, your warm-up routine should increase your heart rate and make you sweat a little bit to get ready for lifting heavy weights and increasing bench press.

Learn more about some awesome warm-up routines in this in-depth guide!

Have A Spotter

Performing the bench press with heavy weights can be quite dangerous if you’re doing it all on your own. What if you try to lift the barbell but you run out of power? Then you will need a spotter helping you get the weight back up and secure it. A good spotter will help encourage you to lift heavier to maximize your bench press.

Increasing Bench Press - Bench Press Spotter

Strengthen Your Supporting Muscles

This is also very important for increasing bench press efforts. Perform the exercises mentioned above to increase your overall body strength – especially the muscles supporting your chest muscles while benching. You will increase your progress and decrease the risk of injury.

Lift Big To Become Big

Try to increase the weights you are lifting as often as possible and as soon as possible. To build giant & strong chest muscles, you have to lift heavy weights. Warm-up with one or two sets, start with low weights and build your way up to the real heavy weights forcing your muscles to their maximum. This is the secret sauce for becoming stronger and increasing bench press results.

You can follow this example as a general guideline:

  • 1st Week: 5×5 80% 1RM
    (rm = rep max. This is the maximum weight you are able to lift for one repetition)
  • 2nd Week: 6×4 85% 1RM
  • 3rd Week: 7×3 90% 1RM
  • 4th Week: 8×2 100% 1RM
  • 5th Week: 10×1 100% 1RM

Longer Rest Periods

The time you rest between each set can make a real difference for your bench press efforts. Take a break of 2-3 minutes between each set to fully prepare for your next heavy weight set. This gives your body plenty of time to replenish the ATP-PC (energy) system.  

Resting Time

Pump Yourself Up

If you an experienced weightlifter, you know the importance of being mentally prepared for heavy lifts. You can psych yourself out or up and hit or miss a lift accordingly.

A study conducted by researchers at AUT University with elite rugby players found that when they pumped themselves up for a Bench Press set, force production increased by 8%.

Pump yourself up for heavy lifts, focus on every single repetition and fully concentrate for maximum progress when increasing bench press efforts.

Perform Explosive Lifts

This study demonstrated that, when bench pressing, lowering the bar quickly (1 second) and, without pause, then exploding it upward results in greater power gains than a slow descent followed by a pause and explosive ascent.

That said, don’t bounce the bar off your chest at the bottom of the rep. This isn’t only cheating, it can hurt quite a bit as the weights get heavier.

Don’t simply “drop” the weight toward your body, either–you want to feel as if you are pulling the bar toward your chest, which is something we’ll be talking more about soon.

Find Your Ideal Workout Frequency

For increasing bench press, you have to make sure to not over- or under-training. Find the right balance between the number of workouts each week, number of exercises each workout, number of sets and the number of repetitions.

How should you find out what’s best for you? Check our in-depth guide on training frequency to get the answers to these questions and much more.

Don’t Forget Your Upper Chest

Increasing Bench Press - Upper Chest

The upper chest is called the “clavicular pectoralis”. It’s one of the muscles a lot of lifters forget but you have to make sure to add this muscle to your workout routine. Perform the incline bench press (learn here how it’s done) along with the traditional bench press for maximum gains.

Vary Your Grip Width

There are different grips you can use when increasing bench press efforts (narrow grip, shoulder-width etc.). Make sure to use different variations to focus on different muscles which will result in an overall awesome workout routine.

Some of the grips you should use are:

  • Narrow Grip
  • Wide Grip
  • Traditional Grip

Combine all of them for best results.

Stay Away From The Smith Machine

The smith machine is a bit like marmite, you either love it or you hate it. However, when it comes to the bench press it doesn’t matter how you feel.

If you want to improve your bench press then you should steer clear of it.

  • Research (13) found that the free weight bench press created greater muscle activation than the smith machine bench press and is superior for the development of upper body muscle mass.

  • Research (14) also shows that strength is significantly greater when performing the bench press as a free weight exercise in comparison to the smith machine bench press.

Increasing Bench Press – Putting It All Together

The bench press will remain one of the most famous exercises you can perform. Increasing bench press results is the number #1 goal for a lot of lifters so there are a lot of ways you can improve yourself.

Apply these tips mentioned above and you will see awesome results for yourself too. It can be quite challenging in the beginning but the more often you perform the bench press exercise the better you will feel. Things will get easier with time and your progress will increase & improve a lot.

What’s Next?

We’ve linked to some more step-by-step guides within this article. Check all these resources plus this one here to get the most out of your workout routine and to become the strongest version of yourself.

Finally, if you liked reading our guide about increasing bench press results, we kindly ask you to share this guide to your social media followers and your own blog & website.

We highly appreciate that and we wish all the best to you for achieving any of your fitness goals.

You are awesome so you deserve awesome results!

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