Increasing Your Bench Press - Top 10 Tips

Stuck in a bench press plateau? Use these tips to mix up your workouts and bench training and add some pounds to your bench!

Bench press It’s a very common question I get asked all the time in the gym, via email and on the forums. “Can you give me some tips for increasing my bench press?” You see the bench press is often used to measure a guy’s strength. The heavier your bench, the stronger you are right? Wrong. Now anyone who’s knows anything about lifting weights and body strength knows that that this is absolutely not true. However, as far as upper body exercises are concerned it’s probably the best exercise to measure upper body strength.

So I’m going to give you my top 10 tips for increasing your bench press. I have hit bench press plateaus before, and I can tell you from personal experience that not being able to up your bench press for a matter of months is extremely frustrating. But using these tips below has always got me through the plateau to add those extra pounds.

Calculate your 1 REP MAX, use our Bench Press Calculator.

Top 10 Increasing Your Bench Press Tips:

1: Power up your triceps

I would say in about 80% of cases where guys have asked me for increasing bench press tips, their triceps have been holding them back. You need to hit your triceps hard with big exercises like close grip bench press and skullcrushers. Don’t waste your with cable machines, stick to heavy dumbbells and barbells.

2: Shock your chest into growth

I know it’s easy to stay with the routine your comfortable with. Ask yourself this question: “Am I really training out of my comfort zone?” Most people are not. Yes, they train hard but they’re not pushing themselves as hard as they are capable of. So switch your workout up, vary the intensity. Vary the rest between sets. Do supersets. Do 30 pushups at the end of each set. Get the picture?

3: Don’t overtrain

I know it’s tempting to train more often because you think the more you train the bigger you’ll get. This myth holds back many lifters, especially beginners. You have to get out of that mentality and start thinking about “less is more”. The quality of your reps, sets and exercises is more important than how many you do. Stick to training your chest once or twice a week, there’s no need for more unless you’re trying to break the world record bench press!

4: Get plenty of rest & sleep

This goes hand in hand with my previous tip, and is part of the basics of building muscle. Your muscles repair and grow while you’re sleeping and resting, so getting enough rest and sleep is essential for muscle growth. Get at least 8 hours sleep and plenty of rest between workouts.

5: Bench press negatives are your friend

If you don’t know what a negative is, it’s the lowering phase of an exercise. In the case of the bench press, it’s lowering the weight to your chest. Negative training involves very heavy weights (up to 1.5 times your 1 rep max) and simply lowering the weight slowly down to your chest and having 2 assistants lift it back up for you. Negative training is highly underestimated and can have a dramatic effect on your upper body strength and your 1 rep max.

6: Don’t train your triceps with your chest

If you really want to build strong triceps you need to train them when they’re fresh and you can’t do this after a heavy benching session.

7: Eat like there’s no tomorrow

If you want to get bigger and stronger you have to eat like you have the appetite of Ronnie Coleman! You should eat up to 7 meals per day and each meal should contain a good serving a protein (in various forms) and complex carbohydrates. This is essential for increasing your bench press. If you’re not eating enough calories per day, don’t expect and additional pounds on your bench.

8: Take a week off

Sometimes all you need is a break. Professional bodybuilders have scheduled 7 to 10 day breaks throughout the yearly routines. Your muscle may be fatigued and this is preventing growth. You can choose to go a week cold turkey, or a maintenance week where you drop the weights back and do 3 easy full body workouts.

9: Use supplements

Bodybuilding supplements the best way of delivering nutrients to your body fast and in my opinion are essential to increasing bench press. You should use supplements first thing in the morning, after your workout and before bed at the very least. For more info on supplements see the supplements section.

10: Correct your technique

You’ll be surprised how many experienced weight lifters are not using the correct technique. The bench press sounds like a simple exercise, but bad technique habits can develop and hold you back. Some common bad techniques are wrong hand position on the bar, not keep your body still throughout the set, feet off the floor, lowering the bar to the wrong position on the chest and wrong grip.

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140 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Fri, 01/22/2010 - 03:30

when im benching my weakness is getting it off my chest i can bench fine till i hit like 1 inch off my chest what should i be working on to fix this.

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Posted Sun, 09/12/2010 - 23:41
Sean Barrett

dont be afraid to bounce it off the chest a little bit

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Posted Wed, 08/15/2012 - 08:45

Dont do this. Partial Reps = Partial Development, lower the weight and use correct form.

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Posted Fri, 10/12/2012 - 15:14
Josh W

DO NOT bounce the bar off your chest for two reasons, first off it is dangerous for your sternum and secondly it shows that you are truly not doing a weight you can handle. If you must use momentum to get the bar up you do not get the same benefits as if you were to go say 5lbs lighter and able to do the exercise without bouncing the bar off your chest

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Posted Fri, 02/22/2013 - 08:29

not strictly true. you're assuming all here are bodybuilders. Powerlifters are encouraged to bounce the bar and arch the back. To a bodybuilder whos only interested in how he looks yes this is bad form, to a powerlifter or athelete who is trying to generate as much force as possible, this is acceptable.

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Posted Fri, 07/12/2013 - 04:18

Powerlifters need to bounce the bar? Have you been to a meet? There's a pause at the bottom. A pause should be trained in PL. Not a bounce. Dumbest statement I've heard in a long time.

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Posted Mon, 07/15/2013 - 21:32

That is true. But all power lifters start off with a sound foundation of correct technique and full range of movement. Form and technique is extremely important for all power lifters and Olympic lifters, and once these are established, then force production and speed development are then their concern, and yes this may sometimes include modifying technique to enable this.

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Posted Sun, 08/04/2013 - 01:05

We don't bounce the bar. A powerlifting bench requires a slight pause. In fact, a lot of lifters, like myself, have to specifically train ourselves to bench out of the hole with a pause.

Arching the back serves two purposes. One, it shortens the required range of motion. Two, it tightens the body. Arch the back and push down with the legs and it keeps you tight. Really helps with the lift. But the ass and upper back still need to be touching.

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Posted Sat, 01/15/2011 - 16:07

raising it off your chest is the biggest part lowering is 20% of the excercise if you cant lift it off then you need to push yourself harder, get the right technique or remove weigth

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Posted Fri, 07/29/2011 - 13:17

Your upper back and shoulders need to be worked.

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Posted Tue, 09/13/2011 - 16:11

The lower part of your bench press is easy to train. The work out for this problem is called a "goydo". I learned this from an old timer. I'll use my numbers to give you an idea.

I bench 225 10-12 times 3 reps. My max is approx. 315 so i'll put 185 on the bar and put out as many as I can for 6 seconds...only lifting from your chest to half way but fast and with complete control. Then I rack the bar for 10 seconds. I do this a total of 10 times, 3 sets and increase my weight each time. A spotter is absolutely necessary.

The key is working your lower bench press..going fast and with perfect form (which will come with practice).
I usually have my legs off the ground and on the bench so I know my chest is doing all work

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Posted Thu, 01/19/2012 - 22:33
Mike Howk

try training with chains its a kind of resistance it helps with getting through "slow spots"

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Posted Mon, 02/27/2012 - 13:39
Jordan Wendell

definitely don't be afraid to use your chest to your advantage.

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Posted Mon, 04/16/2012 - 07:51

Rest-pauses with dynamic effort with about 60% of your 1RM. Lower the bar to your lower chest, pause for a moment (letting the weight settle a bit) and explode back up while remaining tight (maintaining good form). Do this for 12 sets x 3 reps for a few weeks on chest day or once every other chest day for a couple months. This will help increase your starting strength and add explosiveness to your bench, thus becoming stronger on the bottom.

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Posted Tue, 04/24/2012 - 19:31
big boss

your triceps, after your about an inch off your chest, your triceps do most of the lifting.

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Posted Fri, 02/22/2013 - 08:32

absolute rubbish! dont comment on here if you dont know what you are talking about, youre giving newbies bad advice and wrong info. Your triceps are under load for the top half of the excersise 85-90% more than they are at the bottom of the rep. Simple laws of muscle mechanics

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Posted Fri, 09/14/2012 - 14:35

use less weight and more reps go all the way down and half way up...

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Posted Wed, 10/17/2012 - 19:17
lee villers

hi there i train with 2 world champion powerlifters andy cusick and jamie burke you can check them out on you tube the best way to improve that would to be doing a lot of shoulder work and upper back also try floor pressing sit the bar on the floor and lie under it push up as though your pressing when u return to the bottom your arms will prevent you from going rite down do reps with this go for speed on the up movement also try band work or chains good website to check out for tips and advice would be the west side barbell club very good lifters hope this helps you

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Posted Thu, 01/24/2013 - 16:25

Work your shoulders with dumbells and barbells

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Posted Sun, 04/28/2013 - 09:24

I had the same problem. then one day my coach told me to work on my tricebs. Thats where the Triceps come in.

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Posted Fri, 09/06/2013 - 01:17

Hi Aaron,

Whenever I am at this point, what I personally do is drop back down in weight.. say 20lbs and begin adding 5 lb increments - you want to be at the point where you are just below the weight that you can't fully lift.
That way you find out where your sticking point is. Then, I slowly lift the weight. Make it a machine like motion, pay attention to form and detail, and slowly move the weight. You have to OWN it. Do that for 3 sets, and make sure there is a pause at the top and bottom of the lift - no false motion or momentum, is allowed and don't lockout your elbows when you lift. You simply raise the weight and hold, then lower the weight and hold. Repeat. Rest a few minutes, and add extra set. Each day, try to push that final set a little faster.

I would begin doing this EVERY DAY for a week, but that is me, most guys will tell you to only workout every three or four days. The idea is to shock the muscles into growth. Then, after those 5 days of lifting hard, don't do any chest exercises for 2 or 3 days. Then when you come back to it after taking those few days off, see if you haven't moved up in how much you can lift. All of this depends upon you having correct form. Feet on the floor, ass and shoulder on the bench, i pinch my shoulder blades together to give maximum stretch to the pecs.
i learned how to bench from a guy who can bench 500lbs 8 times in a row and he OWNS it. It still floors me, and he's about 48 years old. I figured, if I wanted to learn how to do it - I needed to ask somebody who can bench a lot of weight. I will periodically go through adding extra sets and extra days. I know the average person at the gym doesn't do it that way, but to be honest, most of them aren't working out to their full potential. I realized from talking to him that I was not working at a high enough level to maximize growth.

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Posted Sat, 11/08/2014 - 14:28

Aaron I had the same problem what I found helped out most of all was hitting bench with rubberbands that way you will work on your explosion off your chest because of the bands constantly pulling it down. After a few weeks of this I bet you will have hit some gains.

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Posted Wed, 02/10/2010 - 00:16

Try doing the negative sets, or do intervals with lighter weight. An interval (or at least how I learned it) is when you hold the weight about an inch off of your chest for about three seconds. Then explode up as fast as you can, and do that for 5 to 8 reps. This will help you work though the "sticking point" in your rep. Also doing tons of push-ups helps a bunch. Hope this helps.

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Posted Thu, 02/11/2010 - 10:52
Brent Schatz

mY name is Brent i have just turned 16 and have been working out since i was 13 so i am pretty strong. But i want to take some of those bodybuilding supplememnts. Could you tell me which one works the best and how much it would be.

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Posted Sun, 05/02/2010 - 23:53
Ross Barker

One supplement that works really well is Anabolic Halo. But that one i highly recommend and works great

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Posted Fri, 07/15/2011 - 06:58

Yo man White flood is a good preworkout, so is super pump and Hemo-Rage those 3 are my top pre workouts and i just stick to protein after the workout and i weigh 150 pounds and my max is idk if thats good or whatever you think but just giving you my opinion.

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Posted Tue, 11/15/2011 - 22:40

I know this is a late reply but considering you could only be as old as 17 by now, you still have a long road ahead and I would like to suggest something to help you out. I have seen the bodybuilding world from the inside out without being a BB myself. I have personally trained with some IFBB pros and trained while eating clean and healthy while using many OTC products. I also use some pro hormone products twice.

With my experience, I would say dont waste a dime on anything other than amino acids, health food type fat blends, and good food with some protein in each meal. Your body will never be in better shape inside and out from just training hard and heavy at times, eat healthy and get your rest.

If you find yourself chasing the bodybuilder look, taking creatine and or prohormones or obsessing about getting bigger and bigger you may come down with the self image illness that body builders get. This is not a masculine trait. If you want to be in shape strong and attract healthy hot women, dont let yourself go down that road.

Bodybuilding: Feminine, waist of time.

Bodybuilding supplements: 99% waist of money, placebo effect.

Weight training/ strength training/ healthy food: good idea!

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Posted Fri, 07/30/2010 - 16:28

What are things I should do right before my max rep for me to perform my best?

Steven's picture
Posted Sat, 07/31/2010 - 10:36

Hi Jason,

I recommend building up to it using 20 to 30 pound steps of single reps. You don't want to jump up straight from your warmup sets. When the weight starts to feel heavy, you might want to reduce those steps to 10 to 15 pounds. Also make sure you rest at least 3-4 minutes between heavy single attempts.

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Posted Tue, 08/31/2010 - 06:31

hello Steve,

I'm following a work out plan to lose fats but without losing mucsles but the thing is on that program (which I got it from this site)there is an upper body days and on these days we exercise both triceps and chest on the same day but here I find rule number 6: Don’t train your triceps with your chest , makes kind of conflict with i'm doing as I'm aiming to get a bigger chest with losing fats as well, so what do you suggest ?


Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 08/31/2010 - 14:26

Hi Salah,

If you have weak triceps, I would separate heavy tricep work from heavy chest work. That piece of advice is mainly for strength and doesn't pertain as much for muscle.

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Posted Sun, 09/05/2010 - 05:06

What is the "adequate" or "proper" amount of rest in between workouts to prevent over-training? Say, I do chest/back on Mondays, is it OK to do shoulders/traps on Wednesday or Thursday? I most do compound exercises and I am fully aware that working out your chest and shoulders, you also work out your triceps at the same time. I am a little bit confused when it comes to the "standard" rest times to prevent over-training a particular muscle group (the triceps in this case). I know that getting a good bench press or military press also involves having a strong tricep. Any kind of clarification on this matter would be highly appreciated. thanks!

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Posted Tue, 09/07/2010 - 11:58

Hi Jon,

If you are doing a higher volume of chest sets on each workout (say 8 or more), I would work chest every 5 to 7 days. You could train chest twice, or even 3 times a week, but you don't want to increase the volume.

Keep the same weekly volume no matter what the frequency. So you could either work chest once a week for (say) 12 sets, twice a week for 6 sets, or three times a week at 4 sets per workout.

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Posted Thu, 10/21/2010 - 21:33

If I am doing 4-6 sets of bench twice a week and want to get maximum results, how many reps should I be doing?

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 10/22/2010 - 08:33

Hi Ben,

I would keep your sets between 5-12 reps.

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Posted Wed, 11/17/2010 - 18:51

Is it okay to train cardio in the week off from training or will it fatigue the muscles further and cut down on your overall recovery?

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 11/17/2010 - 18:58

Hi Shane,

You can perform cardio several times per week. It won't impact recovery if you are eating enough and resting properly.

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Posted Fri, 11/19/2010 - 07:58

i've been training for almost a year but for the past 6months i've been doing the same weight with my excercises try to increase but i fail
is there any tips you guys can give me so i can build much more strength?

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 11/19/2010 - 08:04

Hi Victor,

A few questions:

1) What does your daily diet look like? How many calories and grams of protein are you eating per day?
2) What does your workout routine/split look like?

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Posted Thu, 12/02/2010 - 22:23

been working out few years try to do a pyramid cycle do low reps. heavy weight no more than 5 reps. sets of 4. Get s spoter! Go up 10 pounds each set, eat as much as you can take a good wayprotein. youwill gain weight but thats good weight go up bench will go up!!!!! Do free weights bar and dumbells. 6 weeks cycles

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Posted Sat, 11/27/2010 - 20:56

Hi, I was wondering if you had any tips for increasing power...because right now for bench at least, i can do probably 40 reps of 100lbs in a row, 15 reps of 135lbs, or about 6 reps of 155, but weight higher than that becomes very difficult. I think its because I am doing to many endurance lifts as opposed to power lifts. Any suggestions? (I only weight 157 btw).

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 12/06/2010 - 13:21

Hi Jon,

If you want more strength, some higher reps sets is ok, but you first and foremost should be focusing on progression of weight in the 5 to 10 rep range. Stick with a solid routine and don't jump around from week to week. Using good form, always push yourself on every set. When you can perform the recommended number of reps for a set, add weight. Lastly, make sure you are eating properly so you can gain strength (and muscle). Here is an article that can help:

Also, here is a strength building article that might help:

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Posted Wed, 12/22/2010 - 01:26
Abel Rojo

doesnt matter how much weigth lift on bench press like 160 pds is good

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Posted Wed, 03/16/2011 - 22:43

Hello! Does the pyramid work in helping bench max? My friend recommended it to me and told me that it is used to build strength, so therefore, I started trying it. I first started out with ten reps, then eight reps with a ten pound increase and so on.

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Posted Thu, 03/17/2011 - 07:17
Jake Mac

I have done reps on the bench 3 times a week for the past 6 weeks and i am seeing no progress. what am i doing wrong? I am feeling sore after every workout, but my max hasnt increased!

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Posted Mon, 08/01/2011 - 19:50

You are overdoing it. Unless you are only doing like 2 sets of 6 3 times a week, you aren't giving your body enough time to heal. Remember that there are other things involved with lifting other than muscles. The other soft tissues and bones require time to heal also. You don't want to risk a tear or rupture in the tendow because it is wore down. Sometimes it's good for the body to take a complete week off.

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Posted Fri, 04/22/2011 - 13:35

Hi,im 16 and im known for my football team of my strong legs and im tired of not being one of the stronger bench pressers. i eat 6-7 meals a day, i rest properly, i just now started working more on my triceps, and i bench probly 5-6 times a week, im benching 115 about 12 or 15 times? my max is around 180, and i was just wondering if you could help me with anything else, im also not taking any supplements or taking protein shakes or anything like that, but i do eat high protein meals. thank you.

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Posted Tue, 07/19/2011 - 03:55

hi i had the same problem you had what i started doing was doing just 2 sets of bench press for 5-8 reps once i could do 8 reps i added weight. so if i only did 5 or 6 reps i stayed at th same weight till i could do 8 reps then added another 5-10 pounds. other than that just eat alot of protein and carbohydrates and if you arent getting results it comes down to either your over training, you're not eating enough or you're not resting enough. im a hardgainer but with this i have gone from 130 lbs to 176 lbs and bench has gone from 135 to 215

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Posted Thu, 04/28/2011 - 21:54

Been working out for 3 months not much i know but i weight 125 and bench 95 for a month and it wont go up it sucks

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Posted Thu, 05/26/2011 - 05:45

I've been working out for 3 months as well... fast metabolism... weigh around 120. I have got some muscle tone, but its still not much and its discouraging. I take protein every here n there. Any suggestions on how to get more mass..? An answer would be greatly appreciated.