So, how much do you bench?
Odds are at someone point in every man’s life he will be asked this question. While the bench press is not always a great indicator of strength, it is the movement your average person knows best, and a favorite amongst most gym goers.
So now let’s take that bench press to a respectable number! Assuming all things related to form are correct, there are a handful of key points to focus on when building a bigger bench press.
Improving your chest strength
The first one is obvious, chest strength. Obviously there are a number of movements to build a bigger and stronger chest. The ones we will focus on will be the bench, pause bench, and incline dumbbell bench.
These done in a correct combination and rep range will add quality size and strength to your chest. That is not to say there are not other important aspects of the chest, but we are trying to build a bigger bench NOW.
Improving your triceps strength
The second area we will focus on is triceps. The triceps are a big mover of the bench, especially the top end of the movement. Most often when people fail on the bench before lockout it is due to weak triceps.
There are lots of ways to fix this, but for a beginner lifter, there is no need to overcomplicate things. For the purpose of this training template we will focus on close grip bench, dumbbell skull crushers, and push downs.
Improving your upper back strength
The third area that we will focus on is the upper back. Look at the biggest bench pressers in the world. None of these guys have a small back.
Having a bigger back allows for a larger surface areas to push off of. It will also allow you to control the weight as it comes down to your chest. And besides, who doesn’t want a big back?
Improving your shoulder strength
A forth area that will help move your bench press is that of the shoulders. For this you will focus on overhead press work.
In most cases this will not be heavy. Just continue to grow weak points that may surface as you get stronger.
12 week bench press program
For the purpose of this training program we will focus three days of each week on the four previously listed areas. This is not to say you should neglect your legs and other areas. Just know that the bench press will be your current focus for the next 12 weeks.
Day one. Day one is a bench training workout. This is the day where we focus on the bench press as the main lift, and follow up with two accessory exercises.
Day two. Day two will be an upper back day with all work supporting the upper back. This will be followed by some light overhead press work, or overhead press work followed by upper back movements.
This day will allow for some recovery and build a bigger base to bench from. The first movement of the day is the heaviest, and the movements that follow are auxiliary work and should not be done with a weight that causes failure.
Day three. Day three will be a bench assistance day. You will do a bench press movement, followed my more tricep work.
You will use either a close grip bench or a paused bench for the main movement of the day. This will be whatever lift that was not used as an auxiliary movement on day one. It is followed by two tricep exercises to end the training day.
Let’s take a look at a sample template.
Bench press reps are cycled as follows:
- Weeks 1 & 2 – 3 sets x 6 reps
- Weeks 3 & 4 – 3 sets x 5 reps
- Weeks 5 & 6 – 3 sets x 4 reps
- Week 7 – 3 sets x 3 reps
- Weeks 8, 9 & 10 – 3 sets x 2 reps
- Week 11 – Complete rest
- Week 12 – Test your new one rep max
Week 11 is a rest week. Do not workout during this week.
When 2 exercise choices are listed, you are to alternate these exercises week to week. For example, on day one you would start with dumbbell skullcrushers during week one for 3 sets of 8 reps, and then do 3 sets of 20 reps for tricep extensions during week 2.
Your complete week one, day one workout would be:
- Bench Press – 3 sets
- Close Grip Bench Press – 3 sets x 8 reps
- Dumbbell Skullcrushers – 3 sets x 8 reps
Your complete week two, day one workout would be:
- Bench Press – 3 sets
- Paused Bench Press – 3 sets x 8 reps
- Tricep Extensions – 3 sets x 20 reps