In order to drastically increase your bench press, begin with a bench press form that uses your legs to provide drive during the bench press. Then, train by performing bench first thing in your workouts. A good bench press routine will focus on 3–5 sets of 3–5 reps twice per week. As you conquer your current weight, gradually add more weight to the bench press. In addition to bench press, perform additional chest, shoulder, and tricep-strengthening exercises to raise your bench press ceiling. Cap this off with a high protein diet and plenty of rest to improve your max bench press by leaps and bounds.
How Quickly Can You Increase Your Bench Press?
How quickly you improve on the bench press depends on your current skill level. If you’re a beginner weightlifter, you’re likely to advance quickly. Your chest muscles have not yet been trained near their capacity, so you have a lot of room for advancement on bench workouts.
- Beginner weightlifters can advance quickly—often doubling their bench press in a few months.
- Intermediate and advanced weightlifters will experience bench press gains more gradually, sometimes taking months to add 50 pounds to their flat bench.
- Improving bench press performance requires dedication both in the gym and during the recovery phase.
If you’re an intermediate or advanced lifter who has been benching for years, bench press gains will come more slowly. When you’ve already progressed a hundred or more pounds from your starting bench press weight, it gets progressively more challenging to advance to heavier weights. However, the correct training focus can still help you build a stronger chest, even if you’re not new to upper body exercises.
Can You Bench 3 Times a Week?
Don’t lose sight of your overall fitness goals in pursuit of bench press gains. Tried and tested workout programs such as the Upper/Lower split and PPL program include chest workouts no more than 2 times per week. This is perfect for dialing in the optimal sets and reps for bench press improvement while still allowing you to work the other major muscles.
- Although it is possible to bench 3 times per week, it’s not recommended.
- Elite training programs such as body splits and PPL include bench 2 times per week.
- You’ll get excellent bench press progress by benching 2 times per week. 3 times per week distracts from total-body fitness.
Never bench press less than 48 hours after working out your chest, shoulders, or triceps. These muscles are all essential to the bench press and require 48–72 hours to recover between workouts. Due to these rest requirements, it may be possible to bench 3 times per week, but your other lifts will suffer. Focusing on the bench and ignoring other exercises can lead to muscle imbalance, injury, and serious setbacks.
8 Tips to Increase Your Bench by 100 Pounds
If you want to dramatically improve your performance during bench workouts, take the following steps. By rethinking your form, workout schedule, and recovery habits you’ll move heavy weight sooner. The following tips are designed for improving the barbell flat bench but can be applied to nearly any bench press exercise.
Rethink Your Form
Bench press may be billed as a chest exercise but moving heavy weight on the bench requires you to use your legs, back, shoulders, and arms as well as your chest muscles. Good bench press technique incorporates all of these major muscle groups and uses them toward the single goal of pressing the bar up off your chest. To do the bench press correctly:
- Lay on the bar with your shoulder blades pulled together and down.
- Place your butt firmly on the bench with a slight, natural arch in your back.
- Plant your feet on the ground on either side of the bench with your knees bent so that the balls of your feet are firmly planted on the floor.
- Grip the bench with arms about twice as wide as your shoulder width.
- Lower the bench slowly to your chest. It should touch your chest at the nipple line.
- Drive with your legs as you push the bar up and off your chest until your arms are extended.
- Keep your butt firmly on the bench at all times.
- Repeat for the optimal number of reps (we’ll get to this later).
If you’ve been benching without using leg drive, simply learning good form can instantly raise your bench press by 10–15 pounds. This can help you break through plateaus and drastically raise your ceiling on the bench. It also illustrates why you shouldn’t cross leg day off your schedule in favor of another bench day. You need strong legs to excel at the bench.
Make Bench Press a Priority
You’ll perform best and make the fastest advancement if you make bench press the first exercise you perform when you get to the gym. This is because your mind and muscles are the freshest. So, when you get to the gym on chest day, head straight for the flat bench.
- Make bench press the first exercise you perform on any day that includes the flat bench.
- Perform active warm ups, followed by warm-up sets, before you bench. This is key to prevent injury.
Most weightlifting programs pair bench press with shoulder and triceps exercises, as well as a host of other upper body workouts. No matter what plan you’re on, warm up safely and start with the flat bench. This will ensure you work at full power throughout the full range of motion of the bench press.
Optimize Sets Per Week
In order to increase the size and power of your chest, perform 10–15 sets of exercises dedicated to the chest. For optimal results, spread these sets across 2 weekly chest workouts. Each bench press session should include 3–5 sets of bench. If you bench twice per week, this leaves 5–9 sets for additional chest exercises.
- Perform 10–15 total sets of chest-specific exercise each week.
- Split your chest exercise sets across 2 weekly workouts.
- Chest exercise should not consist solely of bench. Follow a comprehensive chest-training program.
Chest-building exercise is not limited to the flat bench press. So, there’s no need to do 15 sets of bench press each week. Mix in the incline bench press, dumbbell flyes, dips, and cable crossovers to build muscle mass and power in your chest. This will drastically improve your upper body strength and bench press performance.
Dial-in Reps for Power
In order to increase strength and raise your maximum bench press weight, perform 3–5 sets of 3–5 reps each time you bench press. This set and rep range is proven to build power. Performing more sets will focus more on muscle mass and endurance, but it won’t help you increase your maximum bench as quickly.
- Perform 3–5 sets of 3–5 reps each time you bench.
- This set and rep range is proven to increase strength gains more quickly than any other.
- Choose a set and rep combo in this range on day 1 of your program and stick to it for at least 12 weeks.
Choose your number of sets and reps on day 1 of your program and stick to it. Whether you plan on performing 3 sets of 5 reps, 5 sets of 5, or 4 sets of 3, all will help you progress. Choose your number and stick to it for 12 weeks. Your progress will be based on sticking to this plan.
Progressively Overload Your Muscles
Now that you’ve dialed in your bench press frequency, sets, and reps, it’s time to ensure you progress. Every time you complete your goal sets and reps at your current weight, add 5 pounds to the total weight the next time you bench press. So, if you completed 4 sets of 4 reps at 135 pounds, add a 2.5-pound weight on each side of the barbell next time you bench. This will bring your total bench press weight to 140 pounds. If you add 5 pounds every workout for 12 weeks, you’ll add 120 pounds to your max bench press by the end of the program.
- Each time you complete your goal sets and reps at your current weight, add 5 pounds to your bench next time.
- If you fail at a goal weight, try again.
- If you fail 3 times in a row at a goal weight, reduce your bench press by 10% and work back up.
Don’t get frustrated if you don’t set a new record every time you’re in the gym. Some days will be better than others. If you fail at a heavier weight, try it again next time. If you fail 3 times in a row, reduce the total bench press weight by 10% and work your way back up. This process of progressive overload will help you break through plateaus and set new records on the bench.
Include Bench-Improving Exercises
As we’ve covered, the bench press isn’t strictly a chest exercise. It recruits muscles throughout the entire body to move that loaded barbell. In order to increase your bench press, perform ancillary chest exercises such as incline bench, decline bench, and weighted dips. You can even try exercises with battle ropes or an EZ curl bar.
- Improve your bench press by performing chest exercises such as incline bench, flyes, and dips to reach 10–15 weekly sets of chest exercise.
- Strong shoulders are key to an improved bench press. Include 10–15 weekly sets of dedicated shoulder exercises.
- Boost your bench with 10–15 weekly sets of tricep-isolating exercises.
Another key to improving your max bench press is to build stronger shoulders and triceps. In addition to 10–15 weekly sets of dedicated chest work, perform 10–15 weekly sets of both shoulder and triceps exercises. Overhead press, front raises, and upright rows will improve shoulders for increased bench performance. Exercises such as the french press, rope pulldown, skull crushers, and close-grip bench press will build your triceps for a better bench press.
Follow a High-Protein Diet
Your muscles can only increase in size and strength if they are provided with adequate fuel. Your body uses the protein you consume to repair and build muscles. In order to really build power, eat 1.2–1.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day.
- Your daily diet should include 1.2–1.7 grams of protein for every pound you weigh.
- Follow a bulking diet that puts you in a 300–500 calorie surplus every day.
- Stick to this high-protein, bulking diet even on rest days.
- High protein intake, combined with a calorie surplus, gives you the energy to lift heavier weight.
Building power and increasing your bench press drastically requires you to consume a calorie surplus. This is often referred to in weightlifting circles as a “bulking diet.” This diet typically requires you to eat 300–500 surplus calories daily. This can allow you to put on up to 2 pounds per week and helps build muscle quickly.
Get Adequate Rest
Always allow 48–72 hours between chest workouts. This allows your muscles to recover and rebuild before the next workout. This rest period also applies to secondary muscles required during bench, such as shoulders and triceps. Allowing adequate rest is one of the main reasons you should never work out chest the day after shoulders. Instead, follow a program that puts the bench first, followed by shoulder and tricep lifts later in the workout. The next chest/shoulder/triceps workout should not appear on your schedule for 2–3 days.
- Allow 48–72 hours of recovery between bench press workouts.
- You can work other muscle groups between bench press workouts, but avoid working chest, shoulders, and triceps.
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep each night to fuel muscle recovery.
In addition to allowing adequate days of rest between workouts, do what you can to make those days count. Get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. You can still work out other muscle groups while resting your benching muscles, but adequate sleep is key to building a fitter body.
How to Add 100 lbs to Your Max Bench Press
There is a simple formula for increasing bench press strength and boosting your bench press by up to 100 pounds. The 8 keys to success are:
- Use proper bench press form that incorporates leg drive.
- Make bench press the first workout of the day each time you bench.
- Perform 10–15 total sets of chest exercise split between 2 weekly sessions.
- Do 3–5 sets of 3–5 reps on bench each time you perform bench press.
- Add 5 pounds to your total bench press each time you complete your goal sets and reps at your current max weight.
- Follow a program that includes additional chest, shoulder, and tricep exercises.
- Eat a high-protein diet that places you in a calorie surplus for muscle and strength gains.
- Allow 48–72 hours between bench press workouts.
These 8 points are what you need in order to unlock your ultimate bench press potential. Now that you have no more excuses, hit the gym and watch your bench press numbers skyrocket.