3 Keys to Add Over 100 Pounds Your Bench Press in as Little as 4 Months!
GalleryWhat would you think if I told you that it's possible to add over 100 pounds to your bench press inside of 4 months? Would you think I'm crazy? Well, I'm here to tell you that it absolutely is possible. I know because I did it. A few years ago, my bench press went from 185 pounds to 300, in just over 3 ½ months! In case you are wondering, I have never taken any performance-enhancing drugs. I didn't even take any supplements at that time. So how did I do it?
Well, there were a handful of contributing factors, but believe it or not, there were only three keys that were absolutely essential: 1) I used very strict exercise form, 2) I made a regular practice of attempting to lift more weight than I thought I could (with proper form, or course), and 3) I gave each muscle group enough rest days to fully recover in between workouts.
What do I mean by "strict exercise form"? In the case of the bench press, strict form means keeping your feet on the floor and your butt on the bench. If you feel the need to lift up your butt or arch your back like you're trying to do a back bend, that means the weight you are trying to press is more than you can handle. Period. You're better off training with less weight for a few weeks, and then coming back to the current weight when you can maintain strict form. This may mean putting your ego on the shelf for a week or two, but suck it up! It's a small price to pay for a commitment to doing things right!
Strict exercise form also means staying within the correct range of motion. You need to keep your range of motion consistent with how the human body is designed. In other words, only lower the bar until your elbows are to the sides of your ribcage. If your elbows drop any lower, some of the weight your pecs are bearing with will shift to your shoulder joints. This creates a weak link in your lift, which not only gives you a less-effective workout, but over time will create rotator cuff issues.
By the way, the old notion that a bench press rep is "not complete unless you touch the bar to your chest" is simply not true, for 99.9% of the population. The remaining .1% have deep, barrel chests and short arms, which makes for good power lifter. At the point where the bar touches a power lifter's chest, his elbows are about even with the sides of his ribcage. If this doesn't describe you, however, that bar shouldn't come anywhere near touching your chest.
The second key I mentioned is to bite off more weight and reps than you think you can chew. As I made my way to benching 300 pounds, my workout partner and I would make sure the heaviest sets of each of our workouts were with more weight than we thought we could lift.
For example: Let's say we saw in our workout log that in our previous chest workout our heaviest set of bench presses was with 205 pounds, for 6 reps. This workout, we felt confident that we could bench 215, but 225 would be too heavy. So how heavy would we decide to go this time? 225, baby! And to our amazement, we almost always lifted the weight! As you can imagine, these unexpected successes resulted in very fast strength gains! I must stress again that even on our heaviest sets, we always lifted with proper form. If we couldn't lift the weight without cheating, that set was over.
As for sets and reps, we would start with a weight that we could perform around 15 to 20 reps with, and then add weight each set until we had to give it our all just to squeeze out even a few reps. Our sets generally totaled 4 or 5.
Finally, we made sure to give our bodies plenty of rest in between workouts. This meant training each body part no more than one time per week. Remember, your body builds muscle in between workouts – not during – so you're better off erring on the side of too much rest than not enough.
And there you have it! Make sure your exercise form is crisp before you jump into doing super-heavy sets. It won't do you any good if you injure yourself because you can't control the weight you are lifting. The old adage, "If you are going to do something, it's worth doing right!" never applied more.
Lift hard and lift safely!