Everyone knows to build muscle mass one of the best exercises for the upper body is the bench press. One of the first questions you are likely to be asked by another bodybuilder is ‘how much can you bench press?’ Whilst it may not be the best measure of overall strength it does have a certain macho feel to it and a big bench press is certainly very impressive. So lets cut to the chase and find out how we can get a bigger bench press:
Grow your triceps. Your triceps are a crucial muscle in performing the bench press and make up two thirds of the muscle mass on your arm. It may well be that under-developed triceps are restricting your bench press progress. The best exercises to build muscle mass on your triceps are using barbells and dumbells: close grip bench-presses and skull crushers. Isolation exercises like tricep press-downs are less effective. They should definitely help notch up your bench press.
Try training your triceps separately. More often than not muscle building programs will suggest that you train the triceps along with the chest. Try training them on their own for a change. Doing this allows you to attack them when they are fresh and really concentrate and focus on hammering them to stimulate growth. Do this for a number of weeks and see how much more poundage you can press.
Variety. have you been following the same routine for a number of weeks or months? time to mix it up then. After your muscles have done the same workout a few times, they have already adapted to it and therefore the need to grow has been removed. Keep changing things, they can be subtle changes like altering the grip width or reversing the order of your routine or they can be larger changes like doing super sets, compound sets and so on, these will give you a real pump by the way.
Make sure you are not doing too much! While with most things in life more is better, in muscle building this is not quite true. If you do too much and overtrain your chest then it can struggle to recover and find it hard to grow more. Instead of focussing on quantity, focus on technique and intensity. A short intense workout is much more effective than a long drawn out one.
Quality rest. Your muscles do not grow on the weight bench! They grow when they are at rest. If you don’t allow then enough time to recover they ain’t going to get bigger. Of course, never train when your muscles are sore and a good guideline is only do 6-9 sets each session for the chest, more than this risks over training.
Take some time-off. if you have hit a chest muscle mass building plateau then have a break. let your body fully recover, get rid of all the niggles aches and pains and then comeback fresh a week or two later with renewed energy and motivation.
Use negatives as a form of pushing your chest muscle harder during a bench press workout. Negatives are when two spotters (gym partners) help you press the weight up but then let you lower it under full control. We do this because you can actually lower more weight than you can lift. So if we can get the body used to lowering more weight this will help you get stronger for the lifting/effort phase. The lowering/negative phase also stimulates more muscle growth than the effort phase.
Check your diet. Are you eating 5-7 meals a day with approximately 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight? If not then you may be restricting your progress by not following an effective muscle building diet. Each meal should be roughly 50% carbohydrate, 30% protein and the rest made-up of fats. Use supplements if you can such as whey protein, essential fatty acids and multi-vitamins.
Focus on your technique. Are you pressing correctly. Poor technique can shift the focus away from the chest muscles and can also put you at increased risk of injury. Make sure you are not lifting your feet off the ground and that your hands are not too close together, these are two very common errors.
By following the guidelines above you will be giving yourself the best chance to build muscle mass on your chest fast. Go get em!