Unless you are a pro body builder, you probably do not want to spend all your time at the gym. Bench pressing saves you time by working out your chest and arm muscles in a single exercise with simple equipment. As with any exercise, it is common to hit a plateau where it becomes difficult to increase how much you lift. When you make a few small changes to your workout and eating habits, you’ll be lifting at a higher weight in no time.
Focus on your technique. Not only will lifting with proper technique allow you to lift more, it will also decrease your risk of injury from lifting. Dedicate an entire workout session to technique by choosing lighter weights. Keep your elbows in and push the bar up in a straight line. Contract your chest muscles at the top of the movement and breathe in as you lower the bar back to your chest.
Strengthen your supporting muscles, including your back, biceps and triceps. Add barbell rows to your routine to strengthen your back and add stability when benching. Perform two to three bicep and triceps exercises on non-benching days, and you’ll be able to press more weight on the bench.
Speed up your lift. A slow bench press movement is not nearly as effective in building muscle as a quick, explosive push. Ideally, lowering the bar should take twice as long as the lifting motion.
Add protein to your diet. Protein supplies the building blocks for new muscle, and if you are not eating enough protein, your bench press will plateau. You should be eating 1 gram (g) of protein per day for every pound of body weight for optimal muscle growth.
Push yourself. Your muscles grow and gain strength in response to stress. If you are not putting enough stress on your muscles, you will not see much progress in your bench press weight. Try to add either weight or reps each week to ensure you are putting adequate stress on your muscles.
- Always have a friend or trainer spot you when bench pressing to help with technique and to prevent injury.
- fitness equipment image by Sunshine Photos from Fotolia.com