How to Improve Your Bench Press

The SECRET to Exploding Your Bench Press Numbers

In many a lifter’s careers, the thought of, “how can I bench more than everyone at this gym” has crossed their mind.

Whether admittedly or not. There’s a certain level of satisfaction in being able to out-bench even your close circle of friends.

In this article, we’ll explore the in’s & out’s of exploding your bench press numbers.

How to Program for A Higher Bench Press

Assuming that you’re already benching with proper technique, the next key to improving your bench press will be programming for strength.

In order for you to program for strength increases consistently, you need as part of your routine:

  • High-intensity (defined by intensities between 75% & 85%) training loads.
  • Hypertrophy-inducing volume to build muscle
  • Exercises that are specific to the movement pattern targeted (in this case: the bench)
  • Nutritional parameters that support the growth of additional muscle tissue

In the beginner powerlifting program that I have published on this website, as part of the bench programming, the lifter is subjected to:

  • An average training intensity of ~81%
  • 96 weekly total reps
  • Highly specific exercise selection
  • Recommendations of a caloric surplus with enough protein & carbohydrate intake to support hard training and muscle growth.

These are parameters that will help anyone increase their bench press substantially if applied as recommended.

You might notice that both the average training intensity & weekly total volume is quite high: that’s because the bench press, when compared to the squat & the deadlift, has a lower total fatigue-inducing effect on the body.

For that reason, you can bench relatively frequently with higher average intensities and still recover in time for sustained progress in the lift.

How to Incorporate Higher Frequency & Intensity Programming

If you’re already training with a set program, incorporating four bench exercises might need some juggling.

If you’re not already including heavy benching several times a week in your routine, I would build up to this frequency & intensity progressively.

Start out with just twice a week of heavy benches. For instance:

  • Day one: Touch & Go Bench 6X4 (six sets of four reps)
  • Day two: 2-Count Paused Bench 5X5 (five sets of five)

After two weeks, try adding in an extra bench session.

  • Day one: Touch & Go Bench 6X4 (six sets of four reps)
    • Close-grip Bench 5X5 (four sets of six reps)
  • Day two: 2-Count Paused Bench 3X7 (three sets of three)

And after two weeks of this, try adding in a fourth bench session.

  • Day one: Touch & Go Bench 6X4 (six sets of four reps)
    • Close-grip Bench 6X4 (six sets of four reps)
  • Day two: 2-Count Paused Bench 5X5 (five sets of five)
    • Feet-up Bench 3X7 (four sets of six reps)

Try that out and see how well your body responds to higher-frequency benching. Try to leave 1 or 2 reps in the tank on each set.

Going to failure at this level of volume and intensity will cause the fatigue to accumulate much faster. If you find yourself getting sore too often (especially after a few weeks have gone by), I would go back to three benching sessions a week.

Or replacing one of the benching sessions with some kind of barbell overhead pressing movement.

Eat More to Bench More: Diet Plan for A Four-Plate Bench

With all the proper strength programming and hypertrophy work covered, what’s ultimately going to predict whether you will bench more is if you actually build additional muscle tissue.

By just adding more benching into your routine, you might see some improvements as a result of technique practice or increases in locomotive efficiency: but these won’t be drastic improvements.

At best you might add some 10-20 lbs to your bench. If you want to see real results with this kind of programming, you need to be steadily gaining weight.

And that is: useful bodyweight (read: muscle).

To do so, I’d recommend setting up your macros like this:

  • 200g of protein
  • 70g of fat

Then figure out how many calories you currently maintain at & add about 300 daily calories to that.

Then fill the rest with carbs.

For most of you that will be between 2,500 – 2,700 daily total calories. If that’s so your carbohydrate intake might be:

Between: 267.5g of carbs – 317.5g of carbs.

Split your meals into 400-600 calorie servings and eat in 3-5 hour intervals (there should be at least 3 hours between meals) to maximize muscle protein synthesis.

Following the template found in this article, and eating food according to these parameters, I feel generally comfortable making a prediction that your bench should go up about 60 lbs within 12 weeks of training in this fashion.

Don’t miss a bunch of sessions and ask why it’s not working. Don’t go lighter than prescribed and ask why it’s not working. Don’t skip meals or go on a cut and ask why it’s not working.

For this program to work, you need to week by week, perform all prescribed reps, at the appropriate intensity, and eat in a fashion that maximizes your ability to add additional muscular tissue.