The bench press is the move that separates the boys from the men in the gym. This is a single exercise that guys the world over use to measure their strength and compare it with one another.
Want to know how strong someone is? Then very likely the first question you’re going to ask is how much they can bench!
The bench press is also an incredibly satisfying exercise and one of the more enjoyable moves in the gym. And when you’re good at it, you will build massive pecs that give you a superhero-like physique.
So the question is: how do you get better at the bench?
The first and most obvious answer is: get stronger.
But specifically, what you need to focus on is your pecs. Your pecs are the main pushing muscles that will help you through the movement and the more power you can generate from your pecs, the more repetitions you’ll be able to perform with heavier weights.
But it’s not just the pecs that you need to be focussing on here. Equally important is to focus on the other pushing muscles that support the pecs through those reps. These include your triceps, your shoulders and your traps – so make sure you’re giving them some care and attention too if you want to improve your performance here.
One problem a lot of people have with the bench press is that one side is working harder than the other. This can even lead to a scenario where one pec is visibly larger than the other – which is not a great look!
The solution is to train using dumbbells. This way, you’ll be able to focus on each muscle independently without the other stepping in to ‘help out’. That means it’s impossible for one to get ahead of the other. Perform dumbbell presses for a while until your pecs even out, then get back into the bench press.
Strengthen Your Grip
In any movement, it’s important to try and avoid ‘energy leaks’. In other words, you need to make sure that 100% of your effort is going toward moving that weight and not being wasted! To that end, you should strengthen your grip in order to make your connection with the bar as strong as possible.
Practice Your Technique
Practicing technique is important but what’s also crucial to recognize here is that everyone is different. Take it with a pinch of salt when a trainer or a friend tells you that there’s a ‘right way’ to lift weights. Experiment, find what works for you and then stick with it!
Some people will find that they lift more with their feet planted more firmly on the ground. Others like to arch their back. It’s up to you!
Use Warm-Up Sets
When trying to beat your PB, always start with a warm-up set. This will allow you to activate the neural pathways that control the press movement and in turn, to lift heavier when you go for your real attempt!