Taking Another Look at Your Bench Press

By Richie Rosales; Photographs by Jason Tablante

Tips to a Bigger Bench

Avoid injury. Incorporate prehab exercises into your workout, stretch and warm up well.

Go really heavy on your deltoids, and triceps. Make them real strong.

Eat right. Consume 6-8 small balanced meals a day. Drink a high-protein shake 45 minutes after workout to help your body recuperate faster and get you ready for your next workout.

Do minimal cardio and keep your body fat low.

Do not forget to work out your legs, back and core as the bench press is a whole-body exercise.

Get adequate amounts of sleep and rest.

Do not be afraid to experiment. Be smart in your training and listen to your body. Stay focused.

Finish your workouts in 75-90 minutes. You're slacking off if you take longer.

Place a 4-5 inch PVC pipe underneath your lower back while benching to help you loosen it, and give you a bigger arch.

Keep your elbows close to your sides.

How many times have you been asked, "How much do you bench?" It's a very common question for guys who frequently hit the gym. In general, a big bench is everybody's goal, much like having the biggest biceps.

The bench press exercise, contrary to what you may think, is not as simple as just lying down on the bench and pressing the weight up. There is more to the bench press than that. This article will not only discuss improving your bench press, it will also help you boost your one-rep max (1RM). A better 1RM is useful: It helped me become the very first and only Filipino to place at the Men's World Open PowerLifting Championships.


You need to bench twice a week in this program. The first day will focus on developing speed and explosiveness, will include some volume training, and will have heavy delts action. Speed day "teaches the lifter to display explosive strength and to improve the rate of force development," says Louie Simmons, world-renowned strength and powerlifting coach. As you recall in high school, your science teacher taught you that power is equal to the force multiplied by distance, divided by time. The quicker the amount of work in a given time, the more power is given. In your case, the faster you are able to press the weights to lockout, the higher your 1RM will be. Choose exercises that will make your weak points on the bench stronger, and do a lot of heavy triceps work on the second day. This day will also prepare you physically and mentally. You'll really go heavy on the exercises. Aside from these two days, do two days mainly for strengthening your legs, the back, and the core.

I believe that what you bench, you should squat easily. Do a lot of chins, pulldowns, and rows for the back. Build up your core as well. A better core will greatly aid your program, as it is the center of your strength.


A major factor that will help you bench bigger is the setup. Setting up is a very important part of benching—as seen by the Japanese lifters, currently the top benchers in the world. Setting up correctly will give you poundages to your max. Lie on the bench, use a wide grip (pointer finger where the line on the bar is), tuck your chin and shoulders in, as if shrugging, bring your shoulder blades together, arch your back, and keep your buttocks on the bench. Place your feet flat on the floor and bring them as far back as you can from your head. These will decrease the distance of the bar to the highest point of your chest, and will give you a solid platform for you to press the weight.

My Three Chosen Exercises

After you unrack the bar, adjust yourself to keep your body tight, inhale deeply, and press the bar onto the highest part of your chest in a straight line. Pause on the chest and explode the bar up to lockout.

Two-Board Press

You will need a three-inch long 2x6 board screwed on top of a 15-inch 2x6 for this exercise. Place the board on your chest, bring the bar down on the board and rest it momentarily and press it back up. You will be able to train with really heavy weights for this, and in turn it will help you with the middle portion of your bench and also the lockout.

Reverse Jump Stretchband Press

Set up the bar so that it is suspended from the rack with jump stretchbands. Bring the bar down to your chest, and press it up just like a regular bench. The bands will help you at the bottom and middle portion of the movement and decrease its help at the lockout, forcing you to do most of the work. This will help you overcome your sticking point. (The sticking point is where you decelerate or most often fail in the concentric or elongation movement of an exercise.)

Floor Press

Lie on the floor, use a narrow grip, press the bar down, and as your arms hit the floor, before the bar touches your chest, pause for a moment then press the bar up. This will give your starting, ending, and triceps the strength they need.


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