A 315 bench press is the mile marker for many young trainees. Getting that third wheel on the bar is a sign to everyone that you’ve paid your dues and you are on your way. Not only does it signify an above-average level of strength, but it is a sign of things to come: more muscle mass, greater strength, elite performance. Not only will your frame widen to accommodate new levels of skill and performance, but your confidence will become broader and all-encompassing. Stronger people get stuff done. This article is a tool to overcoming that first hump on the road to improved strength and size. I will show you not just how to bench press 315 or how to increase your bench press fast, but overall how to get strong quick.
This is the most important aspect of bench pressing. Proper technique will lead to more efficient workouts (which mean faster gains) as well as a reduced chance of injury. I can’t teach you how to get strong quick or increase your bench press fast if you are also getting injured frequently. To start, your body needs to be as stable as possible. This doesn’t mean lying down like a fish. Get tight! Position yourself so that your bellybutton is under the bar. Position your hands on the bar so they are at least shoulder width apart. Now walk your feet back under you so that you are on your toes. Here comes the tough part: keep your feet, butt, and hands in the same position and move your shoulders further down the bench so that your chin is now under the bar instead of your bellybutton. This is called the arch; your body should be in a high arch and you should almost be cramping up from the amount of tension in your body. In this position you are a rock, and any force you generate will be applied directly to the bar, instead of being absorbed through your relaxed, squishy torso.
You’re not done yet. Before you can take the bar out of the rack and go to work, you need to make sure your shoulder girdle is stable. As you press, movement occurs in the shoulder joint. The actual shoulder girdle itself should not displace. Stand up and roll your shoulders forward. This is what I mean and this is what many trainees do that hinders progress and causes injury. To stabilize the joint (thereby preventing injury and improving gains), pinch your shoulder blades together as hard as you can. As your shoulder blades come back, your back should tense. Remember this position: you need to maintain it during the entire set.
Now you are tight and ready to increase your bench press fast; faster than anyone you’ve known. Take the bar out of the rack and position it directly over the highest point on your body. For some, the top of the belly is the highest point, but I find this too low. The bottom of the sternum seems to be most comfortable for most people. Now lower the bar in a straight line. Keep the elbows tucked. To illustrate this, stick your fists out in front of you as if you were going to bench. Now rotate your thumbs up. The position your elbows move into is the position you want them in as you lower the bar. Do this a few times to understand the movement pattern and then apply it to the bar. As the bar lowers, your chest should be high in the air, your shoulder blades pinched together, your elbows tucked, your forearm positioned under the weight perpendicular to the ground, and you should have a death grip on the bar. As you gently tap the upper most point of your torso, drive your feet through the ground and your entire body into the bar. Done correctly, this should be the most efficient, explosive repetition you have ever performed in a bench press. Before long, your query will change from ‘how to bench press 315’ to ‘how to bench press 405’. And then who knows?
Now that your technique is solid, I’m sure you are asking, “To increase your bench press fast there has to be more than just technique!” Well, you’re right. Exercise selection, rep ranges, and recovery are all things to consider when addressing how to get strong quick. The main principle is this: lift hard, lift often. Allow me to expand on this.
If you are under a 300lbs bench press, you will still be considered a novice. This means your program doesn’t have to be super specialized for you to make progress. In fact, you should be doing the opposite of specializing: focus efforts on building up accessory movers and potential future weak points now, and make progress continuously tomorrow. Bench pressing twice a week is plenty. Since benching puts a lot of strain on the connective tissue of the pectorals and shoulders, limit alternate pressing work to a couple sets. Young lifters have a tendency of shooting themselves in the foot by doing too much. Less is more. Stick with moderate rep ranges (5-8reps) as progress with these will carry over to progress with your 1 rep max. Training below 5 reps often will eventually lead to chronic inflammation and a burnt out central nervous system. There are very successful max-effort programs that have lifters train heavy, frequently and work around these problems, but they can be unnecessarily complicated. Keep it simple, stupid.
Workouts should start with an extensive warm-up, move into your primary bench press sets, and then taper into lighter accessory work that will add muscle to your shoulders, triceps, back, and biceps. Augmenting these muscle groups will not only increase your bench press fast, but give you a lean, muscular physique that I’m sure you want. You can choose one exercise for each and do 2 sets to absolute failure(utilizing drop sets, cheat reps, rest-pause, etc.), or you can do a simpler approach of 5 sets of 8-15 reps, using the same weight for all sets and adding 5-10lbs each session. Either one works well and, being performed twice per week, is more than enough to cause growth in the desired areas without overtraining.
Follow these principles and you will be on your way to a giant press in no time! For a more in-depth look at how to get strong quick, look out for Part II: How to Bench Press 405.