There isn’t a weight training exercise that people will try to find out how much they can lift for one rep on as much as the bench press. For competitive powerlifters it’s a must to increase bench press max. However, even average weight trainers will test their strength for one rep on the bench press every now and then. The biggest reasons for this are that many people will ask how much you can bench if you look like you lift weights and it’s an easy exercise to max out on – all you need is a spotter watching you. Whatever the case, increasing bench press max is a major goal for many weight trainers.
One key to increasing your bench press one rep max is to use proper form on the exercise. This doesn’t mean that you should keep your back perfectly flat when you bench. Of course, it also doesn’t mean that you should raise your hips up off of the bench to greatly decrease the distance you have to lift the weight. You can decrease the distance you have to lift the weight by pulling your shoulder blades inward and contracting the upper back muscles. You can also keep a natural arch in your back while keeping your rear end on the bench. This is actually the most efficient way to bench press as you’ll focus more of the resistance on the pecs. Doing this will certainly help you at increasing bench press max.
One technique you can use to increase bench press max is to identify which part of a rep you are weakest on and do some sets focusing on just that area. Do you have trouble when you first start lifting the weight off of your chest? Do you have a problem locking out the weight at the top? You can remedy either of these problems by doing bench press sets in a squat rack with stoppers set up that force you to only do partial reps that focus on your weakest point. Strengthening your weak point on a rep will certainly help you succeed at increasing your bench press maximum.
There is a mental aspect to increasing bench press max. Say your goal is to bench 300 pounds. You have been able to bench 295 for a while, but just can’t seem to get 300 whenever you try it. One day, you do your usual 295, but when you look at the weight you realize that you actually had 300 or 305 on the bar. You just broke 300 without knowing it. Your mind couldn’t get around the number 300 – it was all in your head. This happens to many lifters when they get to those ‘milestone’ weights. You may even find that your max weight starts going up again when you finally break one of these milestones.
Another way to increase bench press max is to get your body used to heavier weights. You can put on a weight that’s 10 pounds more than your max and have a spotter assist you for a rep. If you have a spotter to watch each side of the bar you can even try some negative only reps. To do these you slowly lower a very heavy weight to your chest and have the spotters lift it off of you. This will allow your body to ‘feel’ super heavy weight and could make it easier for you when you try increasing bench press one rep max.
Work on your benching techniques and always try to do just a little bit more weight. With some hard work, you’ll be able to reach your goal of increasing bench press max. If you want to increase your bench press max by as much as 50 lbs. you should check out Critical Bench.