In this article, I will be covering the most important aspects of maxing out on an exercise such as the bench press. While this article is geared towards the bench press, you can apply most of these principles to any lift such as the squat or deadlift.
Without further ado, here are the top three rules to live by when learning how to max bench press:
1. Warm up thoroughly
This tip is extremely important and yet most lifters do not do this. It amazes we when people come in to the gym, throw 200 pounds on the bar for their first set and then proceed to miss the lift. With habits like that, it is not surprising this person still cannot bench press 225 pounds.
The stronger you get, the more you need to warm up. A warmup for someone benching 315 pounds should look like this:
– 45 for 20 reps (yes, the unloaded bar)
– 135 for 10 reps
– 185 for 5 reps
– 225 for 3 reps
– 255 for 1 rep
– 275 for 1 rep
– 295 for 1 rep
..and then max out at 315. It may seem like a lot of sets, but that is how to max bench press. Be sure to taper the reps to once you get up in weight. The warm up is not meant to fatigue you but rather prepare you for the max set.
The high rep sets with light weight increase the blood flow to the muscle and get the muscle literally warmed up. The heavier single repetition sets give the lifter a feel for the weight so that the lifter is psychologically ready and mentally focused when it is time to max. Additionally, the lifter should treat the 1 rep sets just like a max attempt so that he can get comfortable with benching form and bar path.
2. Use proper technique
I think it goes without saying that technique is a key aspect of how to max bench press. This topic deserves an entire article of its own. Check out my bench press technique article for more information.
3. Take time to prep for a max
If you really want to know exactly how much you can max, it is imperative that you take some time off leading up to the max in order to rest up. If you try to max right after a hard training week, you will not be at your true max.
For the average lifter, I recommend working up to a light max (about 90 percent of what you think your 1 rep max is) a week before you plan to max.
Then, over the next week, take it very easy in the gym and do not train hard at all. Each day, do sone practice reps with the bar and imagine what your form will be like on the day that you max. Do these with no weight on the bar.
About 3-4 days prior to your max attempt, work up to about 70 percent of your 1 rep max for a single rep. This should be very easy.
When max day comes, you should be fully rested and ready to set a personal record. Make sure you follow the warm up in step one and use good technique. Do this and you will now know exactly how to max bench press!
If you are wondering how to max bench press like the pros, world record holders start tapering weeks and even over month out of their main competition. This is not necessary for a beginner or even intermediate lifter that is trying to figure out how to max bench press.
How to Max Bench Press Wrap-up
When all is said and done, you should know that everyone is different and for best results, you should try different tapering methods to see what works best for you. This article has given you a good head start, but ultimately the best way to learn how to max bench press is to get in the gym and experiment.