10 Steps to a Bigger Bench
Updated: Feb 16, 2020
The bench press seems to be one of the more popular ways to gauge strength. No one ever cares to ask how much you curl, row or leg press... ever! Maybe they ask how much you squat and deadlift if you, or they, are into powerlifting or strongman competitions, but, if they do, I bet that usually comes after they’ve asked, “How much ya bench?” So to help you increase your bench and build up your pecs, I’ve come up with 10 steps to master the bench: Step #1: First and foremost, always load the bar with a weight you can lower and press in a controlled manner for the desired rep count. If you’re unsure, ask someone to spot you and if the bench press has safety guards – use them! Step #2: Now that we have the safety protocols out of the way, lets talk about proper positioning. To start, lie back on the bench so that your eyes are inline with the bar and plant your feet firmly on the ground. Step #3: Next you’re going arch your lower back and pull your shoulders back into the bench. Keep your butt on the bench tho. Step #4: Now it’s time to grip the bar. To focus on your pecs you want to take a wide grip. If you’re unsure about the proper distance between your hands, use the same distance as you would if you were in the push up position. There are also vertical lines/marks on the bar you can use to line up your grip (with pinky or ring finger around the line/mark). Step #5: Position the bar so that it sits low in your palms. You’ll be able to transfer more force into your lifts and have better control over the bar when compared to gripping the bar at the top of the palm. Step #6: Unrack the bar and hold it above your shoulders, Take a deep breath and hold it in. This will create a solid base from you to push off from and help keep your body rigid. You see, the goal of the bench press is to focus the stress of the weight on your pecs. To do this your upper body must stay stable. That means not allowing your upper body to twist or shift at all during the exercise. Keep your upper body rigid and your bench press will eventually soar. Step #7: While still holding your breath, keep your chest up and lower the bar in a controlled manner to nipple level. Lightly touch the bar to your chest (do not bounce the bar off your chest). Your elbows should move down past your torso and slightly away from the body - about a 75-degree angle from your waist to your shoulders.
Step #8: Press the bar diagonally from your chest to above your shoulders (not straight up and down from your chest). During the press, push the bar up (as if you're trying to push yourself into the pad of the bench) and drive your feet into the floor. (Resist the urge to drive your head into the pad tho.) Step #9: As you push the bar upwards and back, you have two options when it comes to holding your breath. You can either continue to hold it until the bar reaches the top of the movement or breathe out as you push the bar up. Step #10: Once you reach the top of the movement take another deep breath before lowering the weight again. Continue doing this until you meet the desired rep count and then rack the bar.