In this article, I will be revealing 5 bench press tips you can use to start lifting more weight in the gym right away!
I am going to skip the obvious bench press tips such as “use good form” and cover some lesser-known tactics. If you need help with bench press form, please see the bench press technique article. With that said, here are my top 5 bench press tips:
Tip #1: When benching, try to “pull your hands apart” when gripping the bar.
This tip actively engages the triceps on the bench press. Instead of trying to just pressing straight up on the bar, try to spread your hands apart as if you were trying to “tear” the bar.
By engaging the triceps, you can squeeze a few more pounds out of your bench press.
Tip #2: Squeeze the lats when descending on the bench press.
When lifting a heavy load, it is very important for the lifter to feel like he is in control of the weight. If the lifter feels comfortable moving the weight, he will be much more likely to be able to press it!
Squeezing the lats helps control bar speed and improves stability. In particular, the lats are a major contributor to keeping the bar under control when it comes down to the chest and switching from eccentric to concentric lifting (lowering to raising the bar). Most unequipped lifters will fail off the chest, so squeezing the lats is a major part of a good bench press.
Tip #3: Drive your feet into the ground during the concentric phase.
If you choose a good foot position as outlined in the bench press technique article, you are set to use leg drive to help you press the weight.
Pick a foot position that allows for some tension in the hips. Lower the bar, and as soon as you touch your chest with the bar, drive your feet into the ground. This extra tension significantly improves pressing power, particularly pressing strength off of the chest.
This is one of the best bench press tips as a good leg drive can put anywhere from 5 to 30 pounds on a lifter’s bench press max.
Tip # 4: Practice bench pressing on off-days.
If you are serious about improving your bench press, you should start practicing your form on off days. You can just lift the unloaded bar with good form for a few sets of 10 to 15 reps each day.
The purpose of this exercise is not to induce muscle growth but rather to perfect your technique. This is no different from a baseball player or golfer taking practice swings.
You do not need to spend a significant of time doing this. Five minutes per day is plenty of time and can have a significant positive impact on your bench press.
I know there are plenty of times when a form mistake has ruined both my bench press sets and max-out attempts. Practice is the most overlooked of all the bench press tips but can add up in a big way if you do it regularly.
Tip #5: Take some time off.
If you have been bench pressing regularly and you find yourself stuck at a certain weight, it can be beneficial to take a month off from bench pressing and instead focus on other movements such as an incline barbell press or an overhead press.
When it comes to breaking through plateaus, sometimes less is more.
By following these bench press tips, you can significantly increase your bench press max. Tips 1-3 will boost your bench right away whereas tips 4 and 5 will add up over the long haul. Be sure to use both sets of bench press tips and you will find yourself bench pressing more weight than ever before!