Saturday, July 17, 2010

How To Increase Your Bench Press

How does one increase the bench press? That is a question I often ask myself while pounding the steel at the local gym. It seems that in the beginning, I increased the weight more often than I do now. It feels like I am constantly fighting for one or two more repetitions than I was able to do last time. Some days I win, some days I don't.

In a recent blog post, retired professional bodybuilder, Kevin Levrone, shared a valuable tip on how we can increase our bench press. As a part of his NFL Combine Challenge, a number of us are working to increase the 225 lb bench press by summer's end. For me, I need to successfully press more than 12 times. Can I get 20 reps, I ask myself?

To accomplish this worthy goal, I will need to shock and awe my pectorals into growth. Most of my workouts consist of 4 sets with 10-12 repetitions. According to Levrone, this needs to change.

Low Reps, Heavy Weight
The secret to increasing the bench press is forcing the muscle to grow. The mere fact of lifting weight is one way to do that, but if we are focusing on increasing the 225 lb bench press, we simply need to lift heavier weight.

I recall 8 time Mr Olympia, Ronnie Coleman, saying that he sticks to the basics and focuses on the 10-12 rep range for many of his exercises. If you know about Ronnie, then you know he is also HUGE.

At the same time, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kevin Levrone, share that 4-6 reps is the mass building range.   Additionally, Arnold recommended that we do heavy days at least one week a month.

In line with previous reports, Kevin Levrone starts this week with the 4 x 4. That means four sets of bench press with four repetitions. The amount of weight should be heavy enough to cause failure at four reps. If one can do more than that, the weight is probably too light.

Below, I provide two videos of me working on my chest. Both of them were filmed this past week. In the first video, I tried to follow Kevin's advice of adding 50 lbs, but it was a little too heavy. So, I spent the rest of the workout trying to find a weight where I felt most comfortable.

In the second video, I honed in on a weight where I felt challenged, but not overwhelmed. Also, after watching the first video, I noticed how often my legs moved. Therefore, I made an effort to stop them from moving and support the heavy lift.

In a few days, I'll be back for the third 4 x 4 bench press workout. The result of this week's effort should produce an increase on the bench.

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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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