6 ways to increase your bench press
To the more experienced lifter some of these maybe a staple of your training regime already, whilst to some this may be the key to help you break your current plateau.
In short here are the top 6 variations of bench press that we will discuss in this blog post. Having a bench press variation is great, however remember that ultimately it comes down to a combination of things such as reps, sets, volume and tonnage as well as frequency that help you progress on the bench.
1. Paused bench press
2. Block bench press
3. Bench more often
4. Close grip bench press
5. Slingshot bench press
6. Incline Bench press
So lets break each one down. I will also link a video on the side running trough each lift.
1. Paused bench press.
Pausing is essential in a powerlifting competition to complete the lift, it is also one of the best variations that can help you stay tighter during the bench press, reinforce the bottom part of the lift and develop you shoulder, tricep and pecs strength.
2.Block/Board bench press.
The two most common areas the bench breaks down at are, the bottom and the mid way point about where the lockout and tricep strength has to push. Block bench pressing is one of the tools to really work on that specific skill. After all lifting weights is a skill and the more you do it the better and more efficient you become. Blocks can come in many different sizes from a 2 cm weight plate all the way to a 15 cm foam roller being used as a block. With this you can then tailor a specific part of the bench and over load it with a shorter range of motion.
3. Bench press more often.
I know, not what you might of expected. But going back to what matters in the top section and remembering that lifting weights is a skill, the more you do it the better you become at it. Bench pressing more frequently can help improve your pressing. Just remember to account for added volume, intensity and recover enough, between bench sessions.
4. Close grip bench press.
I don't mean grabbing the bar with your hands literally touching together and putting pressure on your wrist. Remember just like the examples mentioned before these are variations that require minimal changes to see differences. For example say your normal bench press is having your index finger on the ring on the barbell, well to you, a narrow grip bench press maybe moving one finger closer to yourself and having your middle or ring finger on the ring of the barbell. That is enough of a change to become a variation and a close grip bench press.
5. Slingshot bench press.
Now this one may not be as easily available or even needed. Essentially its a band around your elbows that helps you push more weight with assistance. The reason this can be a good variation is using it to over load the total tonnage in the session. Also using loads that might normally be too challenging to lift, you can increase the total reps. Say your 1 rep max is 100 kg. With a sling shot you maybe able to rep that for 3 to 6 reps.
6. Incline bench press
Now this one may go against what I talked about regarding skill practice as this in itself is another lift with a different skill. However having greater muscle mass on your upper chest, stronger shoulders and triceps, which are all really emphasised during the incline, can carry over to a stronger over all bench press. Again the principal of having accounted for total volume, intensity and tonnage as well as rest still applies.