Prevailing wisdom suggests that the bench press is a futile and dangerous exercise, not just for elderly folks, but for everyone.
And while everyone is free to have an opinion, we’d like to insist on the fact that the bench press is inherently safe, no matter if you’re twenty or eighty, so long as you perform it correctly and don’t feel any pain while doing it.
Today, we’ll go over why bench pressing is beneficial, how to train the exercise correctly, and how to press more weight.
Why Improving Your Bench Press Strength Is Beneficial For Your Fitness and Everyday Life
The bench press is incredibly beneficial for our overall fitness, and it even has a carryover to our everyday life.
For one, the bench press improves our upper body pushing strength which can be beneficial for other physical activities. Second, the bench press does a great job of developing a range of upper-body muscles, including our chest, triceps (the back of the upper arm), and shoulders.
Third, like with other major exercises, the bench press supports bone health, and research has shown that it can improve bone mineral density, prevent the development of osteoporosis, and drastically decrease the risk of bone fractures.
How to Bench Press More Weight: 4 Invaluable Tips For Seniors
So long as you abide by the four tips below, you will start bench pressing more weight in your very next workout.
#1/ Improve Your Bench Press Technique
Here are the five most vital aspects of proper bench press technique:
- Shoulders Back
As you lie on the bench, the most important thing you need to do is pull your shoulders back and bring your chest out. This will serve to keep your shoulders in a safe position while allowing you to engage your chest better and push more weight.
- Feet Planted Firmly
Most people skip this step, which is a huge mistake. Your feet are the foundation, so having them planted firmly on the floor ensures whole-body stability throughout the movement.
Plus, that allows you to use leg drive and transfer force from the floor through your body and into the bar.
In simpler terms, if you want to bench press more weight, you need to plant your feet.
- Engage Your Glutes and Plant Them On The Bench
Okay, so you’ve created upper back stability, and your feet are stable. What’s next?
The middle point between the two – your glutes.
To bench more effectively, you must squeeze your glutes while performing the exercise. This will allow for a more efficient transfer of force and you will be able to stay glued to the bench and press more weight.
- Grip The Bar Firmly
Gripping the bar firmly is vital for two reasons:
First, it makes the exercise safer – after all, you’re pressing a weight over your body, so you need to hold on to it tightly.
Second, gripping the bar more firmly can be helpful with force transfer and allow you to press slightly more weight. Also, you should grasp the bar a bit wider than the shoulder level, as this has been shown to be the safest position.
- Take A Deep Breath Before Lowering The Bar
Breathing correctly while exercising is vital for your performance. When it comes to the bench press, the most important thing you can do is take a deep breath before lowering the bar to your chest.
This will help you maintain upper back tightness throughout the movement and will help you become fatigued more slowly.
#2/ Take Your Time
It can be tempting to try and progress too quickly. But, it’s important to remember that slow and steady wins the race here.
For one, the bench press is a complicated exercise and you should only add weight on the bar if you’re 100 percent certain that you’re performing it correctly. If you can’t tell yourself, have a coach examine your technique.
It’s also important to remember that trying to lift too much too early can lead to overtraining. Because of that, it’s much better to pace yourself and work within your limits. Sure, the initial progress might be a bit slower, but you will ultimately progress more.
#3/ Give Yourself Enough Time For Recovery
When it comes to building strength and making overall fitness progress, recovery plays a crucial role.
You see, training is a stressor to the body – it causes fatigue, it impacts our central nervous system, it creates a short-term hormonal disruption, and it depletes some of our energy reserves.
Once we’ve done with our workout, we are in a weakened state. And this is where recovery swoops in and allows for improvements to occur.
This is the basis of getting stronger:
You exercise ⇒
You go back home to eat and rest ⇒
Your body adapts to that stress and makes the necessary improvements (i.e., strength gain and muscle growth) ⇒
You go back to the gym and find yourself a bit stronger
Another thing to keep in mind is that you should give yourself enough time for recovery between individual sets of a workout. As a general rule, you should rest for at least 90 seconds to ensure that you don’t do any of your sets in a fatigued state. When done correctly, you should be able to do the same number of repetitions across all sets.
For example, if you can do 15 repetitions on your first set, you should be able to get at least 13 on your last.
#4/ Bench Press More Frequently
Bench pressing more weight comes from three main things:
- Building muscle mass.
- Developing the skill of bench pressing.
- Improving your neuromuscular adaptation.
All three of these factors matter, but to develop the latter two, you need to practice the exercise more frequently. Think of it like this:
You wouldn’t only golf once per week if you wanted to improve your stroke quickly, would you? Then why would it make sense to only bench press once per week?
Treat it like a skill that needs to be worked on. Bench press two or three times per week, don’t do too much work in any single session, recover well, and you will be bench pressing more weight in no time.