7 Techniques to Instantly Increase Your Bench Press

USP - 7 techniques to instantly increase your bench press

7 Techniques to Instantly Increase Your Bench Press

By Joey Hayes

By far the most commonly asked question I receive is, ‘How Can I Improve my Bench Press.’

I’m going to outline 7 of the best ways I’ve found to break through plateaus on the bench Press.

1. Utilising the Max Effort and Dynamic Effort Method. The Max Effort Method is best defined by utilising weights that are approximately 85-100% of your 1 Rep Max. Often athletes stick within a typical rep range of 8-12 reps which may be a good for a beginner but won’t do much for an athlete that’s been training for a few years. The Max Effort Method allows you to lift heavy to optimise your neural and muscular system to become more efficient and more co-ordinated when performing the lift. The Dynamic Effort Method is a fancy name for Speed Training. It involves using a weight that is approx 40-60% of 1RM with the emphasis on generating Speed and Acceleration throughout the movement. To perform the Dynamic Effort Method the athlete can perform a bench press with chains or bands or implement Plyometric Exercises involving a medicine ball or moving the athletes’ body weight.

Joe D Spotting Bench Press with Chains

2. Increase Overhead Pressing Strength and you will often increase your bench press. This is due to improving strength ratios between vertical pushing and horizontal pushing. My experience and that of Broncos Strength and Conditioning Dan Baker suggests athletes should be able to lift approximately 66% of Bench Press 1RM for Overhead Pressing Movements. This ensures optimal strength ratios and balance around the shoulder girdle which is conducive to sports performance and injury prevention.

World Champ Karate All Styles Matt Parks works on Overhead Pressing Strength with a Log Press

3. Rotate Exercises every 4-6 weeks. It’s quite common for athletes to constantly perform the same exercise for weeks on end without change. This is a sure fire recipe to guarantee you plateau. A great way to ensure this doesn’t occur is to rotate exercises every 4-6 training sessions. The variety and ability to stimulate the muscle from various angles with help increase your bench press and ensure you do not plateau.

Nat Barnes Performing Incline Barbell Bench Press

4. Work Your Back Muscles, you’d be surprised how large and strong world champion bench pressers back muscles are. A large back increase surface area on the bench and provides stability when bench pressing. Training your back muscles provides structural muscle balance between your chest and back which is vital for injury prevention and performance enhancement. If the chest muscles become too strong or dominant, neurological inhibition may occur to protect the shoulder joint which will reduce the amount of weight lifted in the bench press.

5. Work Your Weak Points In The Lift. When you’re bench pressing, get a friend to video your technique to see where you fail in the lift. Do you fail immediately off your chest at your midpoint or at lockout? This information will provide you with the necessary information to know what area to focus on during your training. Athletes with a weak lockout may have weak triceps so rack lockouts would help alleviate this weakness.

6. Vary the rep range. When straight sets (e.g. 3 x 12) have lost their effectiveness it can indicate that it’s time to change the rep range. I favour the Use of Wave Loading and Cluster Sets to increase an athletes’ strength.

Wave Loading looks like this:

7,5,3 / 7,5,3

1st Wave 2nd Wave

7 Reps at 80%1RM
5 Reps at 85% 1RM
3 Reps at 90% 1RM
7 Reps at 82.5%1RM
5 Reps at 87.5% 1RM
3 Reps at 92.5% 1RM

The benefit of wave loading is that is allows you to use progressively more weight on each wave or set due to increased neural activation. Wave loading allows you to accelerate your strength development, increase work capacity and increase your explosiveness.

Cluster Sets Look Like this:

A) 3 x (3/3) 15 sec
B) 3 (2/2/2) 20 sec

Cluster sets involve using a weight and lifting it for the desired number of reps then having a brief intra-set rest period, this helps to replace energy substrates and allows you to use a heavier weight for sets of 3 at 85-92.5% 1RM rather than 80-85%1RM if you were to do traditional set of 6 straight reps. It allows you to work at a higher percentage of your 1RM which will result in increased strength gains and neural efficiency.

Using the example outlined above A) the Athlete would perform 3 reps then rest 15 secs then perform another 3 reps. And then perform another 2 sets in this manner after a 2-5 min rest period. Likewise in example B) the athlete would perform 2 reps rest for 20 seconds, perform another 2 reps rest for 20 seconds and then perform another 2 reps before completing another 2 sets in this manner after 2 -5 minute rest period between sets.

7. Advanced Training Tools & Modalities. Use chains, bands, weight releasers
Chains: Accommodating Resistance The use of chains attached to the end of
the barbells allows the athlete to overload the lift at the lockout forcing the athlete to accelerate all the way through the entire lift in comparison to straight weight which forces the athlete to decelerate the bar towards the end of the lift.

USP - Bench press and chains


Bands: Accelerated Eccentrics The use of bands attached the end of a barbell accelerates the eccentric component of the lift and forces the athlete to accelerate through the concentric portion of the lift which results in higher power outputs and teaches the athlete to accelerate through the sticking point of the lift which is overloaded at the top of the lift
due to the stretch on the bands.

Weight releasers allow the athlete to lower a Supramaximal load which is
released at the bottom of the lift. Training in this manner increases eccentric, isometric and concentric strength due to reduced neural inhibition. Will increase your capacity to control external force. Helps you psychologically to get used to lifting heavy weights, De-sensitise Golgi tendon organs and increases functional muscle mass.

Weight Releasers: Supramaximal eccentric training

By implementing these methods has allowed me to increase hundreds of athletes’ bench press PR’s and break through many of their sticking points and plateaus as well.

All the best,

Joey Hayes