Increase Your Max Bench Press

How To Bench Press More Weight With Proper Technique

The Bench Press is one of the the most popular lifts in the gym. And it’s one of the lifts that people use to judge your overall strength and muscle progress.

In fact, I can remember back in my early days of weight training when I was still in school people used to regularly ask me 2 questions:

1) “How Much Can Ya Bench?”

2) “How long have ya been benching?”

It was as if the bench press was the only exercise anyone ever did. Now the bench press is certainly a good lift, but it’s only a small piece of your whole muscle building program. But non-the-less it’s an exercise that people put a lot of emphasis on.

Every single guy who lifts weights gets a rush of excitement whenever he sets a new personal record in the bench press. For most guys it’s a high that can last for days. You’ll feel on top of the world when your bench is getting stronger, and at the same time you can feel down in the dumps when you are stuck in a bench press plateau.

In this article you’re going to learn some very important technique tips that you can use to maximize your bench press strength by using proper lifting form. Not only will these tips help you bench more weight, but they’ll also reduce your risk of injury as well.

Most novice and intermediate level lifters (and even some advanced lifters) make a few critical mistakes with their bench press form that places the shoulders in a very vunerable position for rotator cuff injuries.


Need a spot on the bench?
Need a spot on the bench?

This blog post article will teach you how to Bench Press with proper technique so you can bench more weight without injuring yourself.




Click PLAY To Watch The Bench Press Tutorial Video:

NOTE: If you can’t see the embedded video clip above,
you can watch it on YouTube by Clicking Here




Improper Bench Press Technique…

Improper Bench Press Form

This picture shows improper bench press form. The lifter has his upper arms and elbows are pointed straight out to the sides, almost like a T shape to his torso. This places a lot of excess strain on the rotator cuff and the pec tendon.

You’ll also notice that the barbell is held right over the shoulders, rather than being held over the chest where you want to have the work load placed.

This is a common newbie bench press technique mistake. When people bench high and wide like this there is a greater risk of straining or tearing a muscle in the chest and / or shoulders. Plus it doesn’t direct the workload on the pec muscles themselves, which is the whole point of bench pressing in the first place.





Correct Bench Press Technique…

Correct Bench Press Form

This picture shows correct bench press form. The lifter has his upper arms and elbows tucked in at a 45 degree angle to his torso. This reduces the shoulder rotation and places less strain on the rotator cuff and the pec tendon.

You’ll also notice that the barbell is brought down to the lower chest. This directs the workload to the thick meaty part of the chest, which is exactly where we want it.

This is the proper way to bench press for generating maximum strength and power in addition to stimulating maximum growth in the pecs.





Proper Body Position For Maximum Power…

Many people do not realize how much strength they lose by making the bar travel further than necessary. The less distance you have to move the weight the stronger you will be. To shorten the distance that you press the bar you need to expand your rib cage and stick your chest out. While at the same time squeezing your shoulder blades back together behind you.

You can even try this now while sitting hear reading this. Just sit up tall in your chair and take a deep breath, expand your rib cage, and stick your chest out as far as you can. If you did this correctly your chest should have expanded by a couple inches or more.

Now keeping this position hold your arms out in front of you as if you were doing a bench press. At the same time squeeze your shoulder blades back together behind you as far as you can. You can even alternate back and forth between holding your arms out in front with your upper body relaxed and then holding your arms out in front with your chest expanded and shoulders pulled back just so you can feel the difference.

There will be at least a few inches of distance in the difference. By expanding your chest you can shave an inch or two off your bench press stroke. And by pulling you shoulder blades back together behind you you’ll reduce the distance by another inch or two. Look at the pictures below and you’ll see the difference. Look how far the elbows are in front of the torso in the first pic compared to the second pic. Yet, the arms are straight and locked out in both pictures.

Correct Bench Press Form

Just by using the set up as shown in the second picture when you bench press you will be able to lift more weight while at the same time stimulating more muscle growth in your chest. And that’s just one of literally dozens of valuable training tricks that you’ll learn about in the “Blast Your Bench” program. Give this tip a try in your next bench workout and I’m sure you’ll notice the difference in strength and muscle activation immediately!





Putting It All Together…

Give these bench press technique tips a try in your next bench workout. However, just realize that any time you make changes to your lifting technique it usually takes a few workouts to get used to the new form. Chances are you may even notice a drop in your strength while you are adjusting to the groove and position of the different lifting technique. But once you do master the form you’ll feel stronger and lift heavier than you were before.

What I’d suggest you do for your next few bench press workouts is take a light warm up weight and bang out multiple sets of low reps. Shoot for 10 sets of 3 reps. The idea here is to practice the set up and getting the right body position over and over again until it becomes second nature to you.

Don’t worry about repping out to failure or testing your 1 rep max just yet. Focus your efforts on mastering the proper bench press lifting technique. One you have your form down pat the strength gains will follow.

Proper Bench Press Form

If you’d like to get a complete Mass Building Bench Press Specialization Training System, than I’d highly recommend you check out the “Blast Your Bench” program. This program will show you how to cycle your training with the proper exercises, sets, and reps to maximize your strength and muscle gains quickly.

In addition to that there are specialization training programs for bringing up your max squat and max deadlift as well. So with the “Blast Your Bench” program you’ll get a complete mass and power building training system.

Just click here to download your copy of the program.


Blast Your Bench

About The Author

leehayward

Lee Hayward is a competitive bodybuilder and muscle building coach who has been online helping people build muscle, lose bodyfat, and get in shape since 1999. Lee was selected as one of the Top Fitness Trainers Online through YouTube's Next Trainer Program and his work has been featured in several international magazines such as: FLEX, Muscle Insider, Muscle Mag International, Testosterone, Ironmag, and Forbes.

21 Comments

  • bigrich81

    Reply Reply

    On your blog about the doing the squat, DL, shoulder press, and bench for 5 sets, with the 3 last working reps being for 5 reps, can i add barbell rows in there too, or add my upper back, lats, biceps and triceps the following day after that main mass core day? Rest on the 3rd and 4th day and then repeat?

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • bigrich81:
    On your blog about the doing the squat, DL, shoulder press, and bench for 5 sets, with the 3 last working reps being for 5 reps, can i add barbell rows in there too, or add my upper back, lats, biceps and triceps the following day after that main mass core day?Rest on the 3rd and 4th day and then repeat?

    If you really want to add in other exercises what I suggest you do is follow the program as is on Monday and Friday. But on the Wednesday workout you can do some other assistance exercises (i.e. rows, curls, abs, calves, etc.)

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • sidd

    Reply Reply

    BEST video..Lee..your videos are so informative, appreciate your efforts to give out such advice to us…. My hearfelt THANKS to you…

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • Riyaan

    Reply Reply

    Thanks for the article Lee.

    What is your take on also using a bit of leg drive when benching?

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  • Ali

    Reply Reply

    Thanks a lot for the informative article Lee!
    Keep them coming:)

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • Bali

    Reply Reply

    Would doing flys be better for chest development than the bench? Sure you can do more weight with benching but its absorbed by the delts and triceps. Ray “Thunder” Stern, a bodybuilder from the distant past, had some great pectoral muscles at his peak. It was said by some of his friends that he could perform incline dumbell flyes with a pair of 120-pound dumbells.

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  • Vinay

    Reply Reply

    Great Post Lee…

    I have been suffering from some pops, pains, and strains in the left shoulder. Especially when I’m working on my shoulders, Im getting pain… You know some time I throw my weights aside and run to home. It’s a real bitch to heal, takes 3-7 days to get heal.

    After reading your post https://leehayward.com/blog/rotator-cuff-exercises-for-rehabing-shoulder-injuries/ I Understand that I’ve some problem with my rector cuff, and started doing warm-up set accordingly.

    Now this post has lot of valuable suggestion and very import for a beginner, even advanced lifters forget these basics.

    Thanks for the valuable post.

    Cheers,
    Vinay

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  • Riyaan:
    Thanks for the article Lee.

    What is your take on also using a bit of leg drive when benching?

    Watch the video and you’ll see that I use leg drive when benching. However, you have to do it right and keep your butt on the bench at all times. Towards the end of the video I show some examples of setting up properly for the bench with proper form.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • Bali:
    Would doing flys be better for chest development than the bench? Sure you can do more weight with benching but its absorbed by the delts and triceps. Ray “Thunder” Stern, a bodybuilder from the distant past, had some greatpectoral muscles at his peak. It was said by some of his friends that he could perform incline dumbell flyes with a pair of 120-pound dumbells.

    Flyes are a good exercise, but they are secondary to bench presses. You should always focus primarily on big mass building compound lifts like the bench press, with secondary focus on isolation moves such as db flyes.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • Gary

    Reply Reply

    Thanks Lee, Friday is chest day and we are going to try this for sure. My partner says he does this all the time — funny I never noticed! I’ll let you know how it works out.

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  • bigrich81

    Reply Reply

    leehayward,

    can calves be trained 6 days a week like abs and pushups?

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • Gary

    Reply Reply

    Gary:
    Thanks Lee, Friday is chest day and we are going to try this for sure. My partner says he does this all the time — funny I never noticed! I’ll let you know how it works out.

    Worked great! Added 3 reps total to the first 4 sets — and was able to “work” with 185 for 2 additional sets of 4 reps!! I should be at 225 by the end of summer. Thanks Lee.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • Maraha

    Reply Reply

    Not just men like to increase BP. Women to. Well at least wen power lifters. Got to brag. Weighed in at 111 lbs benched 187. My new APA record

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  • Awesome! Really wanted some tips on increasing my bench!

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  • I think this is the first time I’ve seen this explained so well, the photos really make the point about inflating the chest. Thanks

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  • Dave T.

    Reply Reply

    Bench pressing is one of my favorites when it comes to working the chest from weight resistance. I often have trouble pressing a lot of weight from faulty body positioning. I guess the right approach would be trying to squeeze my shoulder blades together to expand the chest to make the path of the bar shorter than usual. I can’t seem to get over my 225-235 pound mark in a while. Lee Hayward has some good techniques for a beginning like me. Thanks for the information.

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  • I tell people to google this technique all the time. Guys in the gym with those wide grips and arms 90 degrees outside there ear lobs..lol

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  • Thanks for this great share. This site is a fantastic resource. Keep up the great work here at Sprint Connection

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  • mick oneill

    Reply Reply

    Can’t improve on the weights I lift. Can’t get stronger!

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  • Amol

    Reply Reply

    Thanx Lee, you always give best tips…………..you are my gym trainer ….I am following ur tips………I want to meet You once …….I m crazy about workouts………

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  • Hi Lee, you seem to know bench press in and out. Thanks for the tips. But what do you think about the (shallow) incline bench press? I’ve heard and experienced it builds muscle better to upper chest than the flat bench press. And indeed, upper chest is the place where most guys want more meat!

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