Boost Your Bench Press

Discover how to increase your bench press fast with these routines, techniques, and exercises while minimizing your risk of injury!

Dear fellow weight lifter, bench press enthusiast, or athlete:

I created this website in order to provide guidelines and techniques for rapidly increasing your bench press while minimizing injury risk. I love to bench press and enjoy helping others bench press more.

Not everyone shares my enthusiasm for benching. Critics say that the bench press is not a good measure of athletic ability or that it has a high injury risk. While there may be some merits to these arguments, the bottom line is that the most vocal critics of the bench press tend to be those who cannot bench press very much themselves!

Even if you do not like to bench press, there is no doubt that you recognize the importance of increasing your bench press. If you are an athlete, the bench press is a standard test for many collegiate sports. Bench pressing more can help your chance of getting a scholarship or even being drafted by a professional sports team.

If you are a regular guy in the gym, the bench press is the standard by which your strength and advancement is compared to other lifters. No matter what the situation, everyone wants to increase their max bench.

The Three Golden Rules of Improving Your Bench

Below, you will find the three golden rules for increasing bench press numbers fast. These are three time-tested strategies and are likely the most important thing you will pick up from this website. In the section below, you will find a table of contents with links and descriptions for more specific details about benching, such as technique, routines, and information on injury prevention and rehab.

Rule #1: Bench Press Frequently

One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to increase their bench press is simply not bench pressing frequently enough. While it seems all too logical that in order to increase your max flat bench press you need to flat bench press, many people do not even perform a flat barbell bench press regularly in their routine and wonder why their bench is stuck.

While other similar movements to the flat bench press can be great assistance exercises to use to help improve your max bench press, you must get in regular work on the flat bench press if you want to maximize the strength of your flat bench press.

I think that the ideal frequency for benching movements is 2-3 times per week, with flat bench being chosen for two "exercises" in a week. For example, if you are training your bench press two times per week with two benching exercises, that leaves you with 4 slots to fill. Two of these should be bench press, whereas the other two could be a similar movements like incline bench press or dips.

More advanced trainees will only need to bench press twice per week, whereas new trainees (or those with a low max bench) can bench three times per week. As you get stronger, you are capable of inflicting more damage to the muscles, hence the need for only two training sessions.

Of course, you can train yourself to bench more frequently, especially for short periods of time. This can be useful when trying to peak for a competition or when trying to blow out your new max. The success of peaking programs like the Critical Bench Program is evidence of that.

People benching more than 3x a week or less than 2x a week for more than 12 weeks in a row are outliers and should not be emulated. Most people will find success with 2-3 bench training sessions per week.

increase bench press

Rule #2: Train for Reps

Another mistake and perhaps the one that took me the longest to figure out is that the average, natural lifter that is not using equipment will have far more success training for reps than they will trying to max out all the time.

It took me about a year of dealing with a plateaued bench press before realizing the power of this rule. Each week, I worked up to a max on a bench-related exercise and then did reps of a similar movement, but avoided performing sets of flat bench for reps. Over that year, I literally only added 5 pounds of my bench press (I was already quite advanced at the time).

After looking through my logs, I realized that the only thing I had changed when my bench plateaued was I stopped doing sets of flat bench press for reps. I started adding in a few sets of 8-10 reps after my first exercise of the day, and within 3 months my formerly stuck max bench was up another 20 pounds!

There is something about training for reps that boosts the max bench press. Whether it induces hypertrophy (muscle growth), helps improve neural efficiency, reinforces good technique, or all of the above cannot be said for sure, but I can tell you that it works.

The favorite mistake that newbies and would-be exercise gurus make is trying to copy the popular Westside Barbell (a very successful powerlifting gym) workout style. This is style involves maxing out on the bench press every week. These would-be gurus try to then use the program with athletes or gym enthusiasts that want to bench press more. This is wrong on so many levels.

The main problem is that this workout program is designed for people wearing powerlifting equipment. If you are not wearing powerlifting equipment (i.e. bench shirts and squat suits), the "speed work" as well as the bands and chains, which is a large part of the program, will not work for you.

Secondly, the Westside approach does not have nearly enough volume in a single workout for a regular gym-goer. The people using this approach are often professionals or otherwise have given up their life outside of work in order to train 20 hours a week. At a serious powerlifting gym like that you have people coming in for 5-10 supplemental workouts a week in addition to their 4 Westside workouts. Obviously, these extra 5-10 workouts make a big difference.

Rule #3: Eat More

There is something about gaining weight that boosts your bench press beyond what is typically experienced by the other big three lifts (bench, squat, and deadlift). I have seen individuals (and personally experienced) adding large poundages to a max squat or deadlift without gaining any weight. In fact, adding weight to a max deadlift after losing weight is quite common.

In those that are already advanced lifters, I have never seen a large increase in benching strength without a corresponding increase in body weight. This includes fat mass, not just muscle. Now I am not necessarily advocating getting fat in order to increase your bench press, but gaining a few pounds is an easy way to break even the most stubborn plateaus in the bench.

Here is where it gets interesting: if your bench press has plateaued, you can slowly gain weight over 12 weeks and likely see marked improvements in strength. Then, over the next 12 weeks, you can slowly lose the weight (no crash diets), and likely maintain all of your new strength!

Adding fat decreases the distance the bar has to be lowered and lets you handle more weight. Perhaps this extra weight places more tension on the muscles which in turn leads to a new and more powerful training effect, resulting in increasing a stubborn bench press. These gains could then carry over after the fat is lost.

Whatever the reason, gaining weight works. If your bench is stuck, try adding in an extra 500 calories per day for 12 weeks. This will result in around a 10-pound weight gain, some fat and some muscle. Make sure you get adequate enough protein and train hard during this time and your results will be good!

Boost Your Bench Table of Contents

There is no way I could fully explain how to increase bench press performance on a single page. These articles provide the specific details you need to boost your bench press to new personal records:

Bench Press Technique - A guide to perfect bench press form and technique. Learn how to set up every part of your body for the most powerful bench press and how to actually perform the movement properly.

Bench Press Training Program - Our very own "Boost Your Bench" program can be foudn here. This is a solid and effective program designed to increase your bench press steadily and is a program that can be followed year round. It is flexible, allowing you to choose the number of workouts you want to do per week as well as set and rep schemes.

Benching 225 For Reps - Practicing for a max rep test with 225 or another weight? Want to see how you compare to your favorite NFL and college football players? This article details the easiest and most effective method for improving your performance on a max rep bench press test. 

Breaking Bench Press Plateaus - Have a stubborn bench that just will not budge? These proven strategies have been used by many lifters to get their max bench press increasing again.

Flat Bench Press Versus Decline, Incline, and Smith Machine - Not including machines or cables, there are 9 types of bench press - flat, incline, and decline using the barbell, dumbbells, or smith machine. This article breaks down the difference between all of these movements so you know how to get the most out of each of these variations. 

Fixing Shoulder Pain With Bench Pressing - Many lifters fail to increase their max bench press not because they have a bad diet or are not training hard, but rather just keep injuring their shoulder or pec. This article details simple yet effective strategies for eliminating shoulder pain while benching and details how to get back into benching after a shoulder or pec strain.

Preventing and Reducing Elbow and Wrist Pain While Benching - Just like with shoulder pain, elbow and wrist pain also keep people off the bench press. Wrist and Elbow pain commonly occur together and their cause may surprise you.

Choosing a Bar for the Bench Press - Bars come in various shapes and sizes. Learn the pros and cons of the various types of barbells here so you know which ones are best for not only the bench press but other exercises as well.

The Bench Press Diet - Even if you have the best bench press training program, if your diet is inadequate, you are going to struggle to improve your max bench press. This extremely flexible guide provides you with 3 simple rules that you can follow in order to start building more muscle mass right away.

Critical Bench Program 2.0 Review - The Critical Bench program is an excellent 10-week program designed to cause your body to peak - allowing you to perform at your true max capacity by the end of the program. This allows lifters to realize strength increases at a much faster speed than they are accustomed to. This can be used prior to a competition or when you are trying to reach a new personal record such as one of the major bench milestones like 225, 275, 315, or even 405+.

About the Author

Who am I to make these claims about improving your bench press? I have an undergraduate degree in Kinesiology (the study of human movement) and have been coaching individuals for nearly 10 years. However, most importantly (do not get caught up in the certifications of so-called fitness gurus) I have bench pressed 405 pounds (4 plates a side) raw, that is without any equipment (bench shirts) or "supplements". I have also bench pressed two times my bodyweight, again with no equipment.

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