Are you struggling to increase your bench press? While squats and deadlifts seem to improve easily, the bench press can be a challenge. The primary issue is often a lack of shoulder and upper back training. Building a strong bench press requires more than just technique; it requires developing strength in supporting muscles. Here are three steps to help you improve your bench press without injuring your shoulders.
Strengthen Your Vertical Pressing
Prioritize Shoulder Training Don’t overlook shoulder training! By increasing your strict overhead press, you can expect your bench press to follow suit. Prioritize seated or standing overhead presses for a few weeks before revisiting your bench press. Loading your shoulders with a vertical press will help develop your anterior deltoids, a critical muscle group often overlooked by those who emphasize chest training. Focus on developing your shoulders rather than solely targeting your chest.
Upper Back Strength is Key
Build Your Upper Back Your upper back is the foundation of your bench press. If your upper back is weak, your shoulders will suffer, and your bench press will plateau. Build strong lats, mid traps, and rear delts to maintain a stable position and pressing base. Chest supported rows, pull-ups, and face pulls are excellent exercises for developing your upper back and strengthening your bench press.
Utilize Bench Press Variations Take time to explore bench press variations such as floor presses or incline presses. These variations can help address weak points in your bench press. If you struggle with the lockout portion, a floor press or board press can help build triceps strength. For those who get stuck pressing off the chest, paused reps are an excellent technique to try. Identify your weak points and focus on exercises that target those areas.
Improving your bench press requires developing strength in your shoulders and upper back while utilizing bench press variations to address weak points. Prioritizing shoulder training, building your upper back, and utilizing variations will help you achieve a stronger, more stable bench press. Incorporate these three steps into your training program and watch your bench press numbers climb!