When it comes to the bench press there’s something I see in the gym on a regular basis.
Basically, people are benching the same amount of weight, using the same rep range, week in week out.
And of course, this also means that their bench press has plateaued and therefore they aren’t getting any bigger or stronger.
I will say this actually happens to pretty much all of us and it’s so easy to get into this habit.
So, I’d like to provide you with 2 bench press tips, which will definitely change things up, and will also force your chest to grow.
Get ready to gain some serious chest muscle.
Here’s the 2 Bench Press Tips to increase chest size:
Tip #1 Use different rep ranges within the same workout.
The best way to achieve this is with pyramid training.
Personally, I prefer to perform a descending pyramid.
So, start light with higher reps, increase weight with each set while decreasing the reps.
Tip #2 Use drop sets for bench press.
With this method I like to perform a total of 3 sets per drop set.
So, start heavy and perform 6-8 reps, remove some weight from the bar and perform 6-8 reps, remove more weight from the bar and perform a final burnout set of 12 reps.
Use Different Rep Ranges in the Same Bench Press Workout
So, one of the main things you’ll typically hear if you’ve plateaued on a certain exercise is to train in different rep ranges.
This actually makes a huge deal of sense, as your body has become accustomed to the weights and reps you’re using.
So, it stands to reason that if you change things up then your muscles are going to be stimulated slightly differently.
However, I would hazard a guess that most people would completely change their rep range for an entire workout.
This is absolutely fine if you train bench press multiple times a week.
In fact, as an example, if you’re specializing in the bench press, let’s say training 3 times per week, you can perform the movement in the strength, hypertrophy, and muscular endurance rep ranges.
This way you’re getting a lot of variation in, which in itself can stimulate growth.
That being said, let’s say that you’re only able to train bench press once a week, it then makes much more sense to vary your reps ranges during the same workout.
So, rather than always trying to hit 6-10 reps every single set of every single workout, why not focus on strength and hypertrophy within the same workout?
How to Bench Press in a Descending Pyramid
My favoured method of doing this is to perform a descending pyramid, typically using a total of 7 sets.
Plus, this will feel extremely intense, and therefore could count as your entire workout for that day.
Furthermore, this increases time-under-tension and also increases blood to the working muscles.
This of course is fantastic for hypertrophy.
Now, my 7 sets will involve reps of 10, 10, 8, 8, 6, 4, 2.
And this will be after I have performed a full body warm up, especially focused on stimulating my pecs and my lats.
It also helps if you know your specific max weight for certain reps.
The reason for this is that due to the high volume and intensity of this workout you’re going to find it difficult to stick to your actual max weight for reps.
So, I typically use a weight of a slightly higher rep range.
As an example, my sets of 10 reps will be performed with my 12-rep max.
My 8-rep sets will be performed with my 10-rep max, 6 reps with 8-rep max, 4 reps with 6-rep max, and finally 2 reps with my 4-rep max.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, namely how can you grow your pecs if you’re not lifting with full intensity?
Well, as I’ve mentioned you’re going to be performing a lot of volume here and this also increases your time-under-tension.
Trust me, by the time you hit your 3rd of 4th set you’re going to be glad of the slightly reduced weight.
I will also say that there are various ways to do pyramids with bench press, so simply choose something that resonates best with you.
Drop Set Bench Press
Sticking with the principles of volume and intensity, increased time-under-tension, and increased blood flow, you should try drop sets.
In fact, I would regard drop sets as a fantastic way to build muscle and to blast you out of a plateau.
Drop sets can be such a shock to the system that your muscles have no other option but to grow.
For this exercise though we’re going to kick up a notch and perform a total of 3 “sets” per drop set.
Therefore, you are essentially performing a drop set for every set of this workout.
So, for your first set I want you to bench press as heavy as you can for 6-8 reps.
Then immediately drop the weight by 25-45lbs (depending on your starting weight) and perform another 6-8 reps.
And then for the final set of this drop set lower the weight again and perform an all-out burnout set of 12 reps.
This means that for your one drop set you’ve managed to combine heavy training with high volume work, which is ideal for getting bigger and stronger.
But, it’s not over yet, after taking adequate rest you should perform 2 more sets of drop sets, so 3 sets in total.
Finally, this is not something I’d suggest unless you’re really strong, but check out this 605lbs bench press drop set.
So, hopefully you can see that if your bench press workouts have become a bit stale it makes sense to change them up a bit.
And for me, the best way to achieve this is to combine heavy lifting with lots of volume, while increasing time-under-tension and blood flow, especially to the pecs.
You’ll also find that training in this way every once in a while provides a real shock to the system.
And I usually find that this is when growth best occurs.
Okay, so that’s the bench press dealt with, but here’s something that is extremely important, regardless of what exercise you’re performing.
Check out the ONE Exercise you need to be using to improve core stability, and don’t forget, a more stable core means that you’ll be pushing more weight with ALL lifts.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.