What's not to admire from a thick chest and well-rounded shoulders? Just go to any weights section on a Monday evening and you'll find mobs of bro lifters looking to make some gains. Here are some useful tips to apply if your bench press has plateaued.
First, let's run through some form-based tips. There is no point embarking on a complex training program to improve your bench press if you haven't got the basics right. The first tip is that the bar has to touch your chest with every rep. I feel stupid telling you to use a full range of movement (ROM) but you’d be surprised by the number of people who don’t do this. You'll stimulate more muscle fibres with full ROM, which will increase growth. Ultimately increasing your bench press.
The next two tips are good ways of improving from the basic movement. Make sure to pinch your shoulder blades together before you lift the bar off the rack. This will reduce your risk of injury and will set your chest and shoulders in an optimal position to press. Make sure to keep elbows tucked in to avoid injuries to the shoulder joint. This will transfer pressing power away from the shoulder onto your chest and triceps.
Now once you’ve got the basics right you can apply these training based tips. Keeping your rep range varied is a great way to stimulate new growth as it will keep your muscles guessing. Your body will adapt to certain stresses. Keep it under new stress. I like to cycle between 5 sets of 5 reps, 4x10 reps, and 3x12reps.
Increase how many times you bench press a week. If you're following a program which trains a body part once per week, you are missing out on some crucial growth. Replace a chest day with a push day (chest & shoulders) and hit it twice a week. Reduce volume and increase frequency to see your bench press increase.
The final tip is to put in place some tempo training. For example, try four second eccentric (lowering phase) bench press for 10 reps. Essentially bringing the bar down over four seconds. Studies have shown superior strength and hypertrophy gains from using a four second eccentric phase, as opposed to normal speed bench press - even if both trained to failure. It will teach you how to control the weight and bar. Which will reduce the risk of injury.
All of these tips should see your bench press increase.
Enjoy the growth.
Alex - Body Transformation Coach
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