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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136 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Wed, 01/14/2015 - 20:54

my back cramps up when arching what can i do to stop this??

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Posted Sat, 09/27/2014 - 12:14

Bunch of mc squared mf on here.. I hate reading fitness comments.. alot of you guys lift with your egos

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Posted Sun, 09/07/2014 - 11:00

There will always be arguments on which is the best technique, or which exercise works best but at the end of the day we all train because we enjoy it. Bodybuilding, power lifting, or just training in general should be something you enjoy, and not something that forces you into competition with the guy next to you just because he can lift heavier weights.

Forget about the amount of weight you can lift. Just concentrate on getting your technique right, maintain a healthy diet, and most importantly enjoy your training.
The rest will happen in time. I promise.

Training is a way of life. Enjoy it.

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Posted Fri, 06/13/2014 - 19:19

Im just starting to train and ino im really weak so i want summet thats going to give me mayby a lil boost to help me get started off help me rip up and training for a while what could help and best im looking to be toned up strenth muscle guys ?

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Posted Wed, 01/22/2014 - 18:26

It is ok to bounce the weight but its flip momentum do not bounce it on your chest but at the moment before it touches your chest because it has to touch your chest to be an official bench but not slam into your chest just barely touch.

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Posted Thu, 12/19/2013 - 15:55

My right shoulder hurts really bad when I first he it off the rack then it kinda pops and it's fine should I be worried

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Posted Mon, 09/30/2013 - 00:26
Cornelius Q Mer...

I find that I like to load up the barbell with several plates on each side and whatever else kind of weight I can find. I never use a spotter, because spotters are for wussies. I like to bounce the weight off my head too. I believe this is what they call skull-crushers? I also eat spoonfuls of creatine before I work out. I don't add water, just straight up dry spoonfuls. Also, make sure you lift with your back too. The back is your strongest muscle and least important. Who cares if you screw it up? Women don't like backs anyway.

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Posted Thu, 07/17/2014 - 19:51

This guy is a genius

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Posted Tue, 09/17/2013 - 07:34
Been there

The best way to get stronger is changing your routine, sticking to a step routine of six to eight weeks, with progress increase in weights with good form, rest a week or lite workout, start over again. ( like 5sets of 5, when you can't do 5 sets of 5 in good form you need to go back in weight until you can. Change your routine up, maintain good form and incorporate negatives and or over lift with assistances to get use to lifting heavier weight. The best advice I was given many years ago "less is more". Also concentrate on weak areas the second day of the cycle. If a powerlifting it would be the second day of a seven day cycle.

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Posted Wed, 09/04/2013 - 17:58

Why the fuck did i read all this? The ammount of wrong content from these posts is crazy...

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Posted Fri, 03/15/2013 - 03:41
capt revo

The principle of progressive overload is commonly misconceived. Many who have attempted to incorporate this essential technique into their training regimen have utterly missed the mark. Benchpress, as with any exercise, can be difficult to see progression from following the initial gains for the first month to a year depending on genetics. It should be understood that your muscles respond to the stimulus training provides because the tissue will become damaged when a proper weight lifting routine is performed. What many don't realize is that your body will respond in two wSomalians ways; increased strength and size to take on the routine next time as well as simply

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Posted Tue, 03/12/2013 - 18:07
Michael Ford

Where is the proof to your research? Where or what are resources that validate your claim on bench press techniques?

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Posted Tue, 03/12/2013 - 09:54
Billy Juice

i heard that deca durabolin is a great supplement

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Posted Fri, 02/01/2013 - 09:40

Hello , i've got a question,
i'm 18 yrs old at almost 150 lbs ( 67-68 kg ) & about 5.7 ( 174cm ).
And i wonder how i should put up my sets when am benching ...
Cuz i seem to be kinda stuck at 154lbs ( 70kg )
I bench like this

1. Warm up, 88lbs - 110lbs - 132lbs with not too many reps at each stage, just enough to ready myself n warm up the joints

2. Then i get to 154lbs and i do something like 7x154lbs, 6x154lbs, 5x154lbs
(3 sets n dropping from about maximum 7 reps to minimum 5)

3. And last i lower the weight for 2-3 sets , looks something like 132lbs x 2 sets at 6-8 reps then finish at 110lbs with 6-8 reps

I have a good benching technique, I crouch my back, i've got a pretty narrow grip that works for me and i dont bounce the bar off my chest to make those reps at 154lbs, Just my elbows might be coming up a bit on the last 1-2 reps of a set when it gets a bit too heavy.

If you know a way i could put up my sets in a better way, please make a reply :) thx

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Posted Wed, 12/05/2012 - 09:45

iv just started doing weights on a weight bench which is 30kg and doing set of 10 x6 and a vary of of different exercises with the weights an hour every two days and I am eating every three hours I can see a difference already , am I doing the right thing to gain muscle mass
cheers pete

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Posted Mon, 12/03/2012 - 12:41

im getting a weight bench to build my muscle back due to I broke my hand and have lost a lot of muscle I know to work out everyday second day and I have a schedule aswell which I have wrote out and am eating every 3 hours how long do you recon I will get a build that ill be proud of
it would be much appreciate for your in put
cheers pete

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Posted Tue, 11/20/2012 - 05:36
James Rudy

I'm telling you Waffles are the fundamental to everything.

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Posted Tue, 11/20/2012 - 05:34

eat waffles, it taste good.

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Posted Sun, 11/11/2012 - 23:21

Im 13 years old and ive been working out for about a year and a half nowand during my first year i gained about 100 pounds on my bench press, but for the past 2 months i have been stuck at 155 any advice to get past this?

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Posted Fri, 09/28/2012 - 17:09
Patrick S

Wasup guys, so we don't really have good workout food at my house and my schools lunches are, well, pathetic. I'm working out everyday. I'll do chest and biceps, then shoulders and triceps every other day. So I'm just about working out everyday. I have a question. Is it a good idea to stick with the protein shake for my lunches everyday and do you think this will be perfect for my diet or do I need to mix it up?

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Posted Tue, 11/20/2012 - 05:39
James Rudy

Waffles man, It has everything in it i like to put chocolate in it, but that's just me and for the syrup use like Aunt Jemimah Syrup, because syrup is the key to your day.

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Posted Tue, 09/04/2012 - 14:48

I'm 65 and bench pressing 100lbs 4 sets 20 to 25 reps each. Also I'm doing 60 lbs. Preacher pad curls 25 to35reps each. Ev or bad?ery other day. Good or bad? Arms are getting bigger bany suggestions
Thank youut not much definition

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Posted Thu, 09/06/2012 - 14:08

As long as you feel good, keep doing what you're doing.

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Posted Sun, 08/26/2012 - 20:20
John Kalos

To increase the strength of your bench press when the bar is right above your chest (1 inch), try going all the way down on your DB bench press. That should give you that strength when the barbell is all the way down to your chest, without relying on the bounce factor, if that makes sense. At least, I found that this method worked for me.

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Posted Thu, 08/23/2012 - 09:20

hey steve ive been doing bar bells for the longest peroid of time and my maximum is 25 on each arm and 5 sets of 20 everyday well i finally just got a bench and im just takin my time cause ik i wont be able to bench like i could a year ago so im startin at 70 and my maximum a year ago was 150-170 i need help with increasing my weight and to get my 1 max back again cause im havin trouble im not to big but im fit

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Posted Thu, 08/16/2012 - 10:40
Raven hyatt

My rotator has been strained almost torn, how can I help keep it from tearing after it's healed? (I didn't use alot of weight)

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 08/23/2012 - 15:11

I would talk to a doctor before getting back in the gym and ask him how to proceed.

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Posted Fri, 09/14/2012 - 21:04
Raven hyatt

Done that. Got back in school and have advanced weightlifting everyday and at the rate I'm increasing my max on bench squat and clean I should beat records for my state in no time. I added 10 on bench and squat and 40 on clean in two weeks

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Posted Wed, 08/08/2012 - 07:39
Brian Walople

Bench pressing is without question one of the most popular exercises used in modern day gyms to help build strength and size in the upper body. More often than not it is overused or performed incorrectly, leading to injury, poor posture, and/or severe imbalance between upper and lower body musculature giving way to the chicken leg phenomenon sported by many gym goers today. However if done as part of a well balanced programme that incorporates corrective exercise protocols that offset any negative effects of over pressing, it is a powerful exercise. Using the correct bench press technique, you can progressively increase the weights you lift and get excellent strength and muscle gains in a short span of time.

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Posted Fri, 07/13/2012 - 15:21

So last year i was able to max out in bench press at 290, what is there i can do to get me to jump those 10lbs to 300. I keep trying everything and i can get more. I am 5'10 170lbs!

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Posted Tue, 05/15/2012 - 14:17
Vince B

I am 17 now 280 pounds and my bench is 415 max.
I usually start with my own type of workout to increase bench its:
say your max is 200 do for reps of 175 then increase it 5lbs everytime you can do more then 4 reps and incorporate pushups. i do 250 a day 150 in am 100 at night.
hope this helps and just because people like bragging about bench do not only work on that. My squat is 650 and powerclean is 320ish. also eat right even tho i dont lol I love me some starburst and skittles.
Supplements= a preworkout just for energy

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Posted Sun, 04/22/2012 - 19:21
Josh knight

My problem is I don't think my grip and/ or the way I press the bar forward is correct. What do I need to focus on?

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 04/24/2012 - 13:14

Any chance you can video your form and post in in the forum for a critique?

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Posted Wed, 04/18/2012 - 13:50

I've been in football ever since 10th grade and started out benching 115 and then went up to 135 by the end of the year. I have now increased to 165 on my bench but need some advice getting it up there around 225-250. I am willing to do anything to get there within the next 3 months. Is there some pay I could get there fast? And is it better to work out with your arms in wide grip or is it better to work out with close grip and put on heavier weights
Max Bench: 165
Goal: 250
Weight: 185
Height: 6 foot 1 inch
Age: 17

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Posted Wed, 04/18/2012 - 22:18

Hi Menkin,

You're making progress, so whatever you're doing is working. Stay consistent and keep using the same program as long as you are seeing results.

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Posted Mon, 04/09/2012 - 14:47

Iv been training for about year and a half always when i do chest i get a bigger pump on my left pec specially when i hit the barbell bench press dont no if this is bad form or genetics? But frustrating as always left is bigger Help?

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Posted Tue, 04/03/2012 - 12:38
Emery Andrus

Is working out your chest once a week good enough??? On the bench i do 4 sets with 6 reps on each set with 135 pounds. Afterwords i do 4 sets on incline same weight but with 5 reps in each set. Then i do 4 sets with dumbells with 30 pounder 35 reps on each set.

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Posted Sat, 03/24/2012 - 22:46

Hi Steve,
I am currently bench pressing 220 and squating 315 and power cleaning 220.
I'm 17 and only recently started working out hard with the entire football team.
I'm a little worried about getting my bench press up cause of my hand placement. I keep my elbows locked in tight but I want a bigger chest and I'm a little scared to move to wide grip bench press cause I know I won't be able to do as much.
Any tips on helping me with this?

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 03/27/2012 - 14:41

A wider grip generally allows for more weight.

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Posted Thu, 03/15/2012 - 03:07
Big O


Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 03/15/2012 - 15:44

That's a big jump and will be hard to accomplish in a year, but it's worth a try. I would need to take a look at your programming before making recommendations. Send me a PM on the forum.

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Posted Tue, 03/13/2012 - 13:36
kenneth roper

im a freshman in high school i bench 270 im only 14 but i cant jump up weight

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Posted Sun, 03/04/2012 - 15:13

hey i weigh 140 and i bench 90 how can i increase my weight i bench

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Posted Sun, 03/04/2012 - 15:13

hey i weigh 140 and i bench 90 how can i increase my weight i bench

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Posted Sat, 02/25/2012 - 17:23

Hi, great article. I'd love some help, though. I've been training hard and eating healthy. I've been getting gains in EVERY exercise but bench press. I've actually gone backwards a bit. What do you think?

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Posted Mon, 02/06/2012 - 06:36

im 67kg and the heaviest ive benched is 100kg with 3 reps then another 3 with help from a spotter thats the heaviest ive done, but i havn't been able to do it again for a couple of weeks and my bench feels weaker im failing on 90kg after 5 reps, i work in pyramids doing 5 sets starting at 12 reps and increasing the weight by 10kg each time , how can i get back to benching the 100kg

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Posted Tue, 01/17/2012 - 19:32

Im 13 years old and im benching 105, but I feel like I can improve any advice.

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Posted Mon, 01/16/2012 - 08:32

iv read most of the posts n i thnk a foundation of bodybldng is required.hit the gym hard n heavy focusin on compound movements.avoid muscle imbalances as these hinder growth big time so train back,legs n shouldrs t n ur arms wl grow w less thn 100% effort.plz rest @ lst 2 consecutive dys n ur body wl thnk u 4 patient w urslf eat well ñ hv a life outsd e gym

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Posted Sun, 01/08/2012 - 00:32

doing squats before any work out will most defenitly increase yor max within a months time

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Posted Thu, 12/15/2011 - 07:43

I've been training for about 20 years and my max is 515 on a control set, 460 with just a lift off, I weigh 222-225 I want to be able to lift 500 with just a lift off, any suggestions?