Have you been dedicating time and energy to the same chest-centered routine week after week with minimal or no results? It’s time to switch up your routine if you want to maximize your bench press results.
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In order to increase your bench press, you will need to give just as much attention to the supporting muscles. This may seem counterproductive but remember that the bench press doesn’t activate just one muscle. It involves several muscles including:
- Pectoralis major (chest)
- Serratus anterior (ribs)
- Anterior deltoid (front of shoulder)
- Posterior deltoid (back of shoulder)
- Trapezius (shoulder blade)
- Triceps (back of upper arm)
- Abdominals (stomach)
By strengthening the supporting muscles, you will effectively increase your overall bench press. The way to do this is by focusing on total neural motor recruitment. This means activating the highest number of muscles at once. There is no better way to do that than through compound movements.
Compound movements are the time-tested and proven exercises that offer the most bang for your buck. The famous four include:
- Clean and press
- Bench Press
Perform these four movements together for an effective full body workout. Do this two to three times per week to complement your chest-training day.
Exercises to Live By
While the Big Four may reign supreme for total body improvements, when it comes to your chest specific days, you need to add variety. When incorporated into your chest day program, the following exercises can ensure a well-balanced resistance training session.
- Chest Fly (standard, incline, decline)
- Cable Crossover
- Chest Dip (optional: weight belt)
- Push-up (and all of the variations such as Decline Push-ups, Spiderman Push-ups, Plyometric/Explosive Push-ups, and Staggered Hands Push-ups)
- Medicine Ball Throw (must have a sturdy wall)
- Incline/Decline Bench Press
It’s All About How You Lift
You have the right tools but do you know how you should be lifting? You have to ensure you are lifting with flawless form as it safely ensures you are executing through a proper range of motion while getting the correct neural motor connections to fire. Most importantly, it prevents injury.
What’s more, if you want to boost your bench, you need to focus on explosive movements. Explosive exercise motions should be performed as quickly and safely as possible. While you may be moving fast, you are still using perfect form, posture, and technique.
- 2 to 3 – Warm-up sets
- 4 to 6 – Working sets (1)
- 1 to 5 repetitions (1)
- 85% to 100% of your one-repetition maximum (1)
- 1 to 3 minutes (1)
- As fast as possible (while maintaining proper form) (1)
- 5 to 15 minutes of cardiovascular exercises such as jump rope, jogging, or exercise bike.
- 5 to 10 minutes of stretching and foam rolling
Dumbbell Flat Bench Press:
- 1 to 3 warm-up sets of 8 to 15 repetitions (50% to 60% of your 1RM)
- 4 to 6 sets of 1 to 5 reps
- Incline Barbell Bench Press: 4-6 x 1-5
- Decline Push-ups: 4-6 x 10-15
- Hammer Strength Chest Press: 4-6 x 1-5
- Flat Bench Chest Fly: 4-6 x 1-5
1.) Clark, M.A., Lucett, S.C., Sutton, B.G. (2012). NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
CATEGORIES: Working Out, Workout, Fitness, Strength Training, Bench Press, Weight Lifting, Strength, Fitness Tips