75 Bench Press Tips To Improve Your One Rep Max Strength

Steve Shaw
Written By: Steve Shaw
October 18th, 2012
Updated: June 13th, 2020
Categories: Articles Training
315.2K Reads
75 Bench Press Tips To Improve Your One Rep Max Strength
This is a compilation of some of the best bench pressing tips you will find on the net. They are brief and to the point, and will help you improve your progress immediately.

Sick and tired of having an unimpressive bench press? Yes you are! This list is a compilation of some of the best bench pressing tips you will find on the net. They are brief, to the point, and when applied properly, effective.

75 Bench Press Tips​

1) Stop missing workouts. It you don’t get to the gym and get consistent with your training, how can you expect to make improvements?

2) Stop bouncing the bar off your chest and having your friends bro-row the bar up for you. Start using full reps and sets that don’t involve assisted reps.

3) Want to boost your bench press? Eat more food. Bigger benchers are generally stronger benchers. The more you eat, the more likely you are to see frequent bench press PRs.

4) Make sure you are eating a decent amount of protein, at least 180 to 200 grams per day. Undereating protein limits muscle growth and repair.

5) Don’t bench with your arms flared out at 90 degree angles. This is very poor form and leverage, not to mention it’s hard on your shoulders. Tuck your elbows.

6) Grip the bar hard!

7) Work on widening your grip. A wider grip shortens the range of motion.

8) Improve your back arch. A bigger back arch shortens your range of motion.

9) Setup with a tight, compressed upper back and lats. This will create a nice “shelf”, adding stability and shortening your range of motion (compared to flat back benching).

10) Use leg drive. Focus on driving your heels down during each rep.

Bench Press

11) Mentally picture yourself “rowing” the bar down to your chest. This will help you to keep your back shelf tight.

12) Bend the bar. Mentally picture yourself bending the ends of the bar together in the center, over your body.

13) You can never have enough tricep strength. Get your triceps brutally strong, with a combination of extensions and pressing variations.

14) You can never have enough back and lat strength. Back and lat strength helps with pressing stability and overall pressing strength.

15) Avoid direct front delt assistance work. Your front delts get hammered enough during heavy pressing and are rarely a weakness.

16) After unracking the bar, make sure you take a second or two to stabilize before you begin lowering the bar to your chest.

17) Weak off your chest? Utilize frequent paused reps.

18) Maximize your shoulder strength by including a heavy overhead barbell press variation.

19) Bench press first during your training day when you’re fresh.

20) Make sure your triceps have completely recovered from any previous shoulder/triceps training day before scheduling a bench press day or session. It is not uncommon for inexperienced lifters to train shoulders and triceps a few days before their bench press workout.

21) Remember that during your warmup sets you are also warming up your central nervous system. Avoid large jumps in weight as soon as the weight starts to get relatively heavy. At this point it may be beneficial to stick with 20 to 40 pound increases.

22) Perform 5 to 10 minutes of non-taxing cardio prior to lifting. This will raise your overall core body temperature, helping to prepare the body for heavy lifting, and help reduce the risk of injury.

23) During warmups, find that sweet spot on the ceiling where you are pressing the bar too. During your working sets, keep your eyes locked on this spot and drive the bar to it. This will help you maintain a more consistent bar path.

24) Rest properly between sets. Remember, you are training for strength and not endurance. Rest up to 5 minutes between heavy, taxing sets if need be.

25) Keep your butt on the bench at all times. Butt off bench pressing is incorrect form.

26) Do not press with your feet on the bench. This serves no purpose and will most certainly limit the amount of weight you can use.

27) Never use a thumbless grip. This is dangerous, in addition to the fact that you are not able to grip the bar tightly, nor “bend the bar”.

28) Your knuckles should be pointed directly to the ceiling. Drive your knuckles upwards during the press to help prevent your wrist from rolling forward or back.

29) Don’t baby the bar off your chest. Explode the bar, trying your best to throw it through the ceiling.

30) Remember that a sticking point is usually several inches below the point at which you notice the bar is starting to slow. By the time you notice the bar has slowed, it has already been decelerating for a small period of time.

31) To get used to holding heavier weight, and to train your CNS, if may be a good idea to use 10-20 second static holds with 110% of your one rep max.

32) Bench press shrugs are another great way to build a beefier bench press. Hold the bar at arm’s length, and while keeping your arms locked, shrug your shoulders up and down. Bench press shrugs can be performed with up to 110% of your bench press max.

33) There is no need to kill yourself with an endless amount of volume. Utilize a reputable bench press or strength building system or workout, and focus on getting stronger.

34) Don’t shortcut your sleep. Get as much as you can, and try to limit bad habits that contribute to sleep deprivation. What’s more important, staying up until 3 am to kill the dragon or a bench press PR?

35) Make sure you include some muscle building (hypertrophy) work for all major muscle groups. More muscle mass creates a great strength potential.

36) Listen to your body. If you feel beat up, take a deload week or a few extra days off.

Titan Super Ram

37) Keep a Titan Ram or Super Ram in your gym bag, and use them on days in which you have lingering strains or pains.

38) Use wrist wraps. They are inexpensive, and the extra stability can only be beneficial.

39) Chalk your bar and/or hands especially if you train in a cool environment where the bar tends to feel wet, slick or smooth.

40) Cover your nutritional bases with the basic supplements – a quality multivitamin and fish oil.

41) Try creatine. It’s popular for a reason and can only help. If you find it to be of limited value, toss it aside. It’s inexpensive to boot.

42) Feel fatigued entering your workouts? Sample a few pre-workout formulas. They are generally very effective, and can add energy and focus.

43) Your form is NEVER perfect. Remember that. Continue to try and improve your form during every workout.

44) Read every bench press training and form article you can find on the net. They are a great resource.

45) Watch every bench press training and form video you can find on the net. They are a great resource.

46) Find a partner or bench press crew that is stronger than you are. They will have higher standards, and help push you to accomplish things you might not have thought possible.

47) Log your workouts – no excuses! You must track your progress.

48) Stuck in a rut? Go on a month long crazy bulk. Eat as much as you can. This will almost certainly help you to bust through a stubborn plateau.

49) Use reasonable expectations. Most gym lifters never hit a 300 pound bench press. Even if you’re “only” adding 30-40 pounds to your bench press per year, this is still quality progress. Over the course of 5 years this will yield over a 150 pound boost to your one rep max. At some point you will stop seeing 5-10 pound bench increases every month. This is NOT a plateau. It is a normal, natural slowing.

50) If your lockout is weak, focus on improving your tricep strength starting with close grip bench presses, board presses and tricep extensions.

51) If you are weak off the chest, consider adding speed work (dynamic effort).

52) At some point in time you will need to start adding heavier work to develop strength. This usually involves training above 80% of your one rep max with singles, doubles or triples.

Prilepin's Chart
Sets and Reps vs. Intensity
Load (% of 1RM) Reps/Set Total Reps Total Reps
55-65% 3-6 24 18-30
70-80% 3-6 18 12-24
80-90% 2-4 15 10-20
90+% 1-2 4 1-10

53) When working above 80% of your one rep max, make sure your training volume is reasonable when compared to the Prilepin chart.

54) Tired of close grip bench presses? Blast your triceps with high rep (10-20) dumbbell bench presses for a nice change.

55) Stay tight. You want everything tight from head to toe, from abs to legs.

56) Use intelligent assistance work. Study how powerlifters structure workouts to maximize bench press. Stop using workouts designed by bodybuilders for bodybuilders, or by fitness freaks for fitness freaks.

57) Stop training body parts and start training movements.

58) Training the bench once a week may not be a good enough frequency. Consider dropping the daily volume and increasing training frequency to 2 times per week – a heavy day and a moderate or rep day.

59) Have experienced, successful bench pressers critique your workout.

60) Stop trying to max out so frequently. This is dangerous and unnecessary. Trust your program, and improve on the work you are given.

61) Strengthen your rotator cuff with pre-hab exercises.

62) Always control the weight. Never get reckless.

63) No need to train to failure. Stop a set when you feel like you might fail on the next rep, or when your form starts to slip or you lose your tightness.

64) Hold each rep for at least one second at lockout. This will increase time under tension and help strengthen your body for future heavier poundages.

65) Develop leg strength. Yes, squat. What good is leg drive without leg strength?

66) Consider using bands to help work stubborn areas of the bench press.

67) Don’t fear the weight. Lifting actually becomes more mentally challenging the stronger you get. Many lifters experience a decrease in progress because they do not have the mental fortitude to get their butt under the bar and perform heavy singles and triples. The more you practice heavier singles or triples, the easier they become mentally. Practice!

68) Complicated programming is not necessarily better programming. Keep it simple, and only complicate things when your training stalls and commands changes.

69) Stop thinking you need steroids to build a 300, 400 or even a 500 pound bench press. All of these weights are possible naturally. Be patience and train smart. And when all else fails, eat more food!

70) Ignore the Smith machine. It is a towel rack, and nothing more. If you can’t find spotters use dumbbell presses instead of jumping over to the Smith machine.

71) Stop trying to lower the bar to your mid-chest. This is a shoulder-destroying, old school muscle magazine practice. The bar should be lowered naturally with elbows tucked, in the area of the lower pecs.

72) Stop over-killing cardio. Several 20-30 minute sessions per week are great for overall health, but more than that may be detrimental to strength building.

73) If you pick up an annoying strain or unusual pain during a benching session, stop training. Do not risk injury by pushing yourself.

74) Keep your joints healthy by staying well hydrated, and by eating plenty of healthy fats.

75) Always perform bench press rep work after heavy work, and never before. You want to be as fresh as possible when pushing the greatest amount of weight.

Do you have any good bench press tips that we missed? Post them in the comments below!

Brian Welling
Posted on: Sun, 08/14/2022 - 19:58

Surprised there was no mention of heavy negatives, especially on the last set.

Posted on: Mon, 10/25/2021 - 22:01

Never lift to failure. It ruins mental fortitude planting a seed of doubt for the next heavy lift. Always believe that it will be lifted. (Within reason)

Jacob Fisher
Posted on: Wed, 11/18/2020 - 15:06

Do not arch your back like #8. That’s just cheating yourself of a full range of motion and making it more of a decline bench

Posted on: Sat, 07/18/2020 - 03:54

If your scared of the weight powerlifting isn’t for you

Posted on: Tue, 09/27/2016 - 14:44

Tricep dumbbell pullovers. It was good enough for Arnold.
It hits everything from the bottom of your pecs to your abs, lats and triceps.
A great exercise to help increasing your bench press max.

christopher a l...
Posted on: Thu, 07/14/2016 - 11:55

I didnt see anything about proper breathing, & I believe it's probably top 5 most vital things while benching.

Posted on: Thu, 04/21/2016 - 17:21

Great Tips.The most important (In my opinion): Build strong shoulders, Build strong triceps, On last 30% of the lift, ignite the triceps like you mean it. My tip: First set at 45 pounds, next at 95, next at 135, next at 185, next at 225, then get to work. Every fiber of the pecs must be warm. Do not fear fatigue, WARM UP.

Posted on: Wed, 08/06/2014 - 10:43

whats wrong with using the smith machine? i have lousy genetics and can use all the help i can get.

Posted on: Wed, 12/27/2017 - 18:49

If that's the case, why not use a forklift to benchpress?

Posted on: Thu, 01/24/2019 - 16:02

are you eating right? How long have you been lifting? Are you eating enough? Are you lifting enough? There are plenty of ways to get past crappy genetics. Ur prolly small because you use that cursed machine.

Posted on: Mon, 05/13/2024 - 11:02

Smith machine doesn't allow natural range of motion. A bench press is a bench press which engages stabilizer muscles that the Smith machine does for you .only way to gain is to do the bench the way it was meant. For some reason the big ego trip comes from how much you can bench ..I walk into a gym. Doing my normal work out and that gyms biggest bencher want to compete. I am a old guy but kinda strong. They usually stop at 365-405 . Which I can do 455 . But I don't change my workout just for idiots. I see a guy rep 225 for 5 then put a slingshot on and get crushed by 315. Use rep max calculator to know where you are at..225 for min 12 reps gets you 315. 275 for 7 will get you 315- 335. The calculator gets off when you do more that 20 reps. I could do 27 reps of 225 and max out 365 when calculate said 405 .

Posted on: Mon, 08/04/2014 - 09:12

Although I never go for max benching since I think reps are more beneficial, I have managed 275 for 4 reps this year, not partials,touching my chest. And I'm an old fart at 61 years old!

Posted on: Sun, 01/20/2019 - 07:13

if this was true, you would be the world record holder for the masters division in the IPF because you are repping a weight that they can barely move for one rep, the amount of bullshit someone can read on this kind of main stream posts is insane

Mike jowan
Posted on: Sat, 03/02/2019 - 00:14

???? It doesn't seem too unbelievable that a 61 year old man in good shape could bench 275lb 4 times. He could be a big guy that's been training for years.

Posted on: Mon, 05/13/2024 - 10:50

Very believable! I can do 275 for 14 fairly easy! I am 59 and took off from lifting for 25 years. Been back at it for 1.5 years. Problem is getting any stronger my elbows and shoulders can't take it.

Martin Applegate
Posted on: Mon, 12/04/2023 - 11:05

I do a powerlifting routine that has me doing 3, 2, and 1 rep maxes every 6 weeks. I can do 275, 285, 295, 305 ande 315 for 5 reps so my 1 rep max is about 365 at 68 years old. Be safe and warm up and always use a spotter. I have not missed any reps on my routine in a year, I do paused reps on all 3 rep and lower sets. I use leg drive and am pretty strong. Many masters records in Maryland and Florida.

zach larney
Posted on: Wed, 11/06/2013 - 07:34

8) "Improve your back arch. A bigger back arch shortens your range of motion" WRONG!!!!!!! a back arch desquritoes your back an will mess up your bench

Dave Breker
Posted on: Wed, 08/19/2015 - 12:38

Do you have any research or proof to back up this statement, or are you just throwing out an opinion based on nothing? The strongest benchers in the world all utilize an arch in their back and spine injuries due to bench pressing are essentially non existent

Posted on: Fri, 05/20/2016 - 09:59

Absolutely, the right set up can add as much as 20 lbs to a working set.

Posted on: Mon, 09/25/2017 - 20:18

I'm no expert but trying to arch my back has caused intermittent upper back pain. For the past 6 + years. I personally think a slight arch is ok and beneficial but extreme arch is not worth the risk. Based on my experience only.

Posted on: Wed, 03/09/2016 - 03:54

I believe that trying to make your grip wide and your arch extremely high to make ROM shorter is cheating in competitions!!! What is so great about short ROM? The whole point is to have a nice smooth rep with motion! Not a one inch move where you pop your elbows out and back in lol! I agree!

Posted on: Mon, 11/14/2016 - 13:47

No, that is not cheating and wherever you got that from, they are wrong.

Posted on: Sun, 05/12/2013 - 11:32

Great article! Been stuck at a max bench of 305 for 2 months, and really frustrated. This helped Thanks.

Posted on: Sun, 04/21/2013 - 21:22

Hi, I was in a state weightlifting competition this weekend and I struggled a lot on my bench. I was in the 129 weight class and I had a best bench I'd 180. When I went to try 190 I got to the first 3"-6" and was stuck. Ou know that part where it is the hardest for negatives. I was wondering what I could do to make it a lot easier at that point and also increase my bench for next year so I have a better shot at winning. Please let me know what I can do to cut the stall on the explosion. Thank you.

Posted on: Sat, 02/02/2013 - 16:33

Hey Steve im 15 and I'am trying to build muscle mass and strength for for Football next season. I bench 200 lbs right now and I only squat about 250 lbs and power clean 165lbs. What is the best workout or anything to improve my maxes fats and build muscle mass fast?

Posted on: Sun, 04/21/2013 - 21:25

Hey I play football too for for power clean I have noticed that the biggest thing for me is for in a month and a half I went from cleaning and jerking 150 to 180. Bench I'm trying for the same advise.

Posted on: Sun, 05/12/2013 - 12:38

I play lacrosse at my high school. I've noticed I get the most gains when I take protein about 30 minutes after each workout, and eat "ALOT" at any other meal. Unfortunately I don't get to take protein alot because of the time i workout at so my maxes are only 215 on bench, 200 on clean, and 300 on squat.

Veeral patel
Posted on: Sat, 10/20/2012 - 18:15

Steve you have been helping me ample amount with your articles. I am pretty experienced but still learn more and more from you. This is just another great piece of work from you. My favorite lesson thus far is the article with 5 minute burnout sessions, my workout volume and pain threshold have went up tramendously. Please keep 'em coming. Your faithful reader VP

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 01/31/2013 - 01:49

Glad you like them. They are a great tool.

manuel Marin
Posted on: Tue, 04/02/2013 - 19:46

Can you guys give me your honest opinion and tips about my form? Thank you

Greg Trimble
Posted on: Fri, 10/19/2012 - 15:10

What is a pre have exercise? I can do more weight but my rotator cuff starts hurting. Any advice would b great. I love the articles. I've never weightlifted and started 3 yrs ago without knowledge. This helps tremendously.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 10/19/2012 - 22:33

Hi Greg,

Many lifters do rotator cuff work for pre-hab. I wish I could give you more specific advice but I do not perform much myself.

Posted on: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 00:48

get on a cable machine and do a few sets of internal and external cable rotations

Posted on: Thu, 12/13/2012 - 23:09


It cant be said enough! Trust me I'm not a monster lifter with amazing benching skills or even great genetics! But after watching a few power benching technique vids on utube I lifted my bench 20kg (44lb) and haven't had more than a slight ache in my shoulder since! I'm 185lb and just last night lifted a pb of 285lb twice unassisted! (with a spotter ofcourse) Stick to it man. Even arnie was a novice once! haha a very long time ago