Classic Training Camp
Muscular Development|June 2021
Increasing Bench Press Strength
By Chris Bumstead

What’s the best way to increase my bench press? My PR now is 185, and I’d like to hit 225 in another month. What were some ways you brought up your bench press?

When I started out lifting, I didn’t do anything crazy; just basic, progressive overload. When you’re a rookie, you can keep making strength gains that way for quite a while. As you become more advanced, you do need to start playing with different variables to continue making progress like volume, load, and things like drop sets and forced reps. The bench press was always a weak point for me compared to my squat and deadlift. One thing I did early on when I hit a plateau was to stop flat barbell bench pressing for a few weeks and switch to heavy flat dumbbell presses. When I returned to the bar after that, I always got stronger within a couple of weeks.

Volume is another aspect to play with. Instead of always working up from higher reps to a one-rep max all the time, spend at least a couple of weeks doing five sets of five as heavy as possible. Yet another tactic for increasing your strength is to use those little 2.5-pound plates. Trying to bench press 10 pounds more every week is too much for most people, but 5 pounds is doable.

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