I don’t know how many times I have heard this before: “How can I increase my bench press?”
If you have been working out for a prolonged period of time, it is probably safe to say you have hit a plateau on your bench press.
This is common, so don’t worry. I have a solution! Follow these 4 activities below and you will see noticeable results in your bench press!
1. More muscle recruitment. In order to lift more you need more muscles working- PERIOD! Here is one way to do this hold a push-up in the up position for a 5-second “isometric” hold and then lower at a moderate pace and again hold in an “isometric” position for another 5 seconds at the bottom portion of the push-up. Now within a minute perform your normal bench set. The result will be more muscles “synergistically” working together resulting in a more efficient and easier lift.
Coaches Point- Include this with your dynamic warm-up before your first set and only one time.
2. Only lift chest 2 days per week. The first day focus on a hypertrophy (muscle building) and the second day a “speed day” with 30-50% of maximum focusing on getting weight off the chest quickly and explosively through the entire range of motion. Ultimately, you are creating neural patterns for SPEED.
Coaches Point-You have many choices for the “speed day” to include dumbbell, barbell, resistance bands, towels, body weight, etc.
3. Give yourself a rest day. It will be difficult, but you will notice that the extra time off will result in increased recovery and a feeling of refreshness. Not only physically, but mentally and also allow your Central Nervous System to recover.
Coaches Point-I know it will be difficult, but find a “good” book or spend the extra time with your family.
4. Plyometrics with the upper-body. Choose 1-2 exercises and perform 1 to 2 times per week from a credible source. Here is simple example lay on a bench with your arms bent in front of your chest and a partner standing above you.
Now, drop an appropriate (low/medium) sized medicine ball about 6-12 inches from your partner’s hands. Once the ball touches your hands (almost anticipate) immediately (amortization phase) explode them upward pushing/throwing the ball upward in a bench movement. Your partner will catch the ball and repeat the movement 3-6 times. This is one set. Rest 1-minute and complete 2-5 sets. Don’t use too heavy of a ball as it will decrease the speed of the movement which is the complete opposite of the goal of this exercise. Also don’t be fooled by the colorful, harmless and light equipment as they can hurt you if you are unfortunate enough to get hit in the face with it.
Coaches Point-Remember, the most important concept of “Plyos” is the quickness of the exercise and not the weight/height, etc. of the implements. For an advanced individual increase the distance between your partner and yourself.
Lastly, allow for a minimum of 48 hours rest between sessions.
Again, remember it is not always about more. Don’t forget to include a “speed” day along with a plyometric day and watch your power and explosion increase which will ultimately increase your strength and bench press!
Stay tuned for Part II on how to “Increase Your Bench.”