Preston Turner’s 5 Tips for a Bigger Bench

Preston Turner’s 5 Tips for a Bigger Bench

Feb 19, 2013

“I got 99 problems, but a BENCH aint one”

 

The most common question I get asked is, “How can I increase my bench?” or “What do you do for bench training?”. There really is no secret methods, exercises, or potion to what I do. A lot 0f time, work, and luck has gone into making the bench press I have today, but hopefully after reading this, you can take some of the tips and apply them to your training, and send you on your way to pushing monstrous weights off of your chest.

1. “TRI”ceps

The muscle group on the back of your arm has the prefix “tri-” for a reason. “Tri-” meaning three and the greek root “ceps” meaning “heads” describes this muscle group perfectly. Three heads make up the triceps, and in my opinion, they should be trained both together and in isolation. Typical lockout work should be done such as board presses and close grip bench to train the muscle group together, but I want to place a specific focus on training these “heads” in isolation. Much like the over used team metaphor “you are only as strong as your weakest link”, a strong lockout and bench press depend on strengthening the medial, lateral, and long heads. When each part is stronger individually, they work more efficiently together. Reflect on as many failed bench attempts as you can. Now how many of those were failed at the top? Your chest is naturally a stronger muscle group than the triceps because they are much bigger, thus your triceps are the limiting factor of your bench (particularly in equipped benching after the support of the shirt decreases). Training the lockout is the most important part to increasing your bench! I like hitting each of the heads for 3-4 sets of failure when training them individually. Decrease the effect of the limiting factor of your bench press, and add some eye candy for the ladies by killing lockout/triceps every bench focus session.

2. Bench More

Yes, I know it sounds simple and may be common sense, but increasing your bench really is that simple. There is something called sport specificity. The basic concept of sport specificity is if you want to increase sport performance in a certain area, simply execute that motion more. This applies really to all sports, and all lifts. If you want a bigger bench, get in there and bench press more. I follow a high volume routine and bench 3 days a week following a Mon, Wed, Fri scheme. The trick here is paying attention to your recovery status. Although I bench 3 times a week, I do not do all I can do every session. Mondays and Fridays are much lighter, usually no heavier than 70%, and Wednesdays are more bench centralized where heavy work is done. Simply executing the bench press motion more often will increase the efficiency of the motor recruitment of the muscle groups involved, and lighter loads should be used on these days to prevent overtraining and injury. This will lead to a bigger bench.

3. Shoulders back

Make sure you are keeping your shoulders back. This will help keep your chest out more and decrease your range of motion. I believe everyone should implement an arch, whether a competitive powerlifter or not, and execute it every rep. It allows you to place heavier loads on the muscle groups involved while benching, thus increasing volume of training, size of muscles, and hopefully an increase in your max as well.

4. Bench Smart

I cannot tell you how many times I see people working up to near max attempts every training session. This is stupid and will not make you stronger, and may actually make you weaker. This is particularly important if you plan on implementing the three day benching program. Training too hard on monday may not allow you to fully recover by wednesday, which leads to a possibility of injury and decreased performance. Remember as mentioned earlier, Monday and Friday are supposed to be lighter days, just because you can do 315lbs for 6 reps doesn’t mean you should. Instead try executing it for sets of 3. This will allow you to get more reps, helping enforce tip number 2, while still keeping you fresh and make recovery much easier.

5. Core and Upper Back

Yes these muscle groups are not primary muscle groups during the actual execution of the lift, but a strong and solid foundation for benching can be a serious improving point for many, that will help your bench go up. As far as core goes, I find that isometric holds, planks, and other various exercises that engage your transverse abdominis tend to be superior to traditional crunches or an ab machine. This is due to functionality. Isometric holds and planks are much more functional for creating a more stable base and a stronger and tighter core for benching more. Take a deep breath, fill up your lungs, and tighten your core. This will keep you stable and help control the eccentric part of the lift much better. Creating a strong back is important for this same reason, but from a different perspective. Creating a thick and strong upper back will give you a much better platform to press from, and many of the top benchers in the world stress that the upper back is very important in obtaining a massive bench. I find that strong lats allow for greater stability at the bottom as well as better explosion off the chest.

 

Some of these tips may seem simple or like common sense, but they are my answers to questions I get asked regularly. Apply these training tips to your routine, and I promise you will see stronger, more explosive benches in your future.

BONUS TIP: Grow a beard.

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3 comments

  1. I know this is one are where I have not grown as fast as my squat and deadlift. I am changing my training around to “bench more” and hope to pack on some bar weight going into nationals.

    IA all day

  2. I wish I could handle that load of 3 times a week.Granted twice is under 70% but you are still going through the motions with more then zero resistance.That is impressive especially without overtraining the bench.

  3. Jeff McDaniel /

    Good article, thanks for sharing Preston.
    I completely agree with the Triceps, its an area i need to improve on but i agree that could be a #1 area to improve to help push through transition points.
    Benching more – I tried Smolov Jr. program for bench and it definitely gave me a jump start coming out of it. Helped me to improve form and get that muscle memory locked in.

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