Workouts that Increase Your Bench Press

Bench press

For most guys and many women, workouts that increase your bench press are bound to be of interest. Sure enough, you can make gains simply doing bench presses as the mainstay of your chest training every week. But if you want optimal results in the shortest time, you have to take on a more sophisticated approach.

Building Bench Press Strength

There's more to the bench press than a strong set of pecs (chest muscles). The bench press involves a substantial amount of tricep work (back of upper arms) and anterior deltoids (front shoulders), along with a slew of stabilizing and contributing muscles, some of which may be small in and by themselves, yet remain vital to the proper, safe execution of a big bench press.

Thus, workouts that increase your bench press should aim to strengthen all these individual components for a stronger whole. That is one part of how to grow stronger.

Another part is to do bench presses and progressively use heavier weights.

Finally, once you've reached at least Intermediate level (min. 12 months regular training) you can start experimenting with negative reps, assisted reps and other intensity-boosting techniques.

Negatives mean loading on 10 to 20 percent more than you can technically handle doing a single rep with; you can, however, resist the weight for a slow and controlled descent if your partner helps lift the weight back up for a set of 6-8 reps like this. This conditions the muscle to the heavier weight, thus boosting your "real" strength in a very tangible way. Note that this is an advanced technique that require a skilled partner; if you're not sure of exactly how to do this, don't try it since odds of injury are higher than normal reps.

Assisted reps are simply reps where you get a boost in the ascension phase, ie. your partner give the bar a little nudge on the way up so that you can squeeze out a few more reps. These are much safer than negatives, but doesn't pack quite as much oomph.

Workouts that Increase Your Bench Press

So, how would this work in reality? Here are two sample workouts intended for Intermediate or higher level trainers; let's call them Week 1 and Week 2.

Week 1

  • Triceps - Skullcrushers, 2 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Chest/Triceps - Close grip bench presses, 2 sets x 8-10 reps
  • Chest/Triceps - Dips, 2 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Chest - Push-ups, 2 sets to failure
  • Chest/Shoulders - Standing barbell military presses, 2 sets x 8-10 reps
  • Chest/Shoulders - Arnold presses, 2 sets x 8-10 reps
  • Rotator cuff - Dumbbell Side External Rotator Raises, 2 sets x 15-20 reps
  • Rotator cuff - Cable Internal Rotator Pulls, 2 sets x 15-20 reps

Week 2

  • Bench presses (after thorough warmup & stretching)
    • 1 heavy set - 3-4 reps with good form
    • 1 semi-heavy set - 5-6 reps with good form
    • 1 regular set - 8-10 reps with the last 1-2 reps being assisted reps
  • Chest - Cable crossover flyes, 2 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Chest/Triceps - Dips, 2 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Triceps - Tricep pushdowns (aka. pressdowns), 2 sets x 8-10 reps
  • Triceps - Dumbbell kickbacks, 2 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Chest/Shoulders - Standing barbell military presses, 2 sets x 8-10 reps
  • Rotator cuff - Dumbbell Side External Rotator Raises, 2 sets x 15-20 reps
  • Rotator cuff - Cable Internal Rotator Pulls, 2 sets x 15-20 reps

Closing Thoughts on Getting a Big Bench

As always, variation equals progress. Mix it up with cutting all weights 30% and try to do twice as many reps one week. Or chuck the regular routine altogether and challenge your partner to a best-of-five push up contest, military style, where the loser gets to buy the other a can of protein powder. Imagination is the limit; the only thing certain is that if you always do the same thing with the same weights, your muscles have little reason to change much either.

Finally, if you decide to use negatives and other intensity boosters, do your homework and make sure to check each other's form like a hawk. Also, don't use intensity boosters every workout; use them sparingly, like every 2-3 weeks or so, and not for more than a few sets at most. Good luck!

Workouts that Increase Your Bench Press