The 300-pound bench is the hallmark of a strong guy. You can bench press 300 pounds in only 12 months- no matter how much you weigh- if you develop proper technique, work hard and consistently, use a training program that develops your muscles and nervous system, and follow a scientifically sound nutrition program that builds muscles and provides energy for intense training.
The Bench Press is a Whole-Body Exercise
Bench-pressing heavy weight is a skill. Learn a precise motor pattern that will allow you to bench press a heavy weight for just one rep. The bench press is a whole-body lift. A big bench press requires strong pecs, deltoids, and triceps, but also strong legs, abdominal, and back muscles that act as stabilizers during the lift.
Use an Olympic bar designed for powerlifting, and avoid bars bent from overuse. Use a bar with comfortable knurling (roughened part of the bar). Finding a bench you like can make a huge difference in how much weight you can lift.
Use the major muscles of your body to bench press- not just your chest, arms, and shoulders. Place your feet flat on the floor, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Try to move your feet backward toward your head, while keeping them flat on the floor. This position provides stability and will help keep your back arched and chest up during the lift. It will also allow you to drive with your legs during the exercise without lifting your butt from the bench. The arched back technique will allow you to make large, rapid improvements in the bench press because you don’t have to push the bar as far and the position gives you an exceptionally strong base.
Pull your shoulder blades together and try to keep them retracted during each repetition, and stabilize your spine by pulling down with your lats. This position provides spinal support and helps to maintain a high chest and arched back during the lift. Grasp the bar firmly with your thumbs aligned in the opposite directions from your fingers. Grip spacing is highly individual, so experiment with wider and narrower grips. Brace (tighten) your ab muscles to increase stability.
Lower the bar under control to a point below the nipple line. Pause briefly, squeeze your glutes together, and then push the bar explosively in a straight line above the chest, keeping the elbows in, shoulders back, while keeping an arch in your lower back. Pushing the weight explosively from the bottom activates more motor units and decreases the chance of the bar stalling during the lift. Have the spotter help you rack the bar after completing your last rep.
Training Aids to Boost Your Bench
Training aids and exercise accessories include bench shirts, power rack training, band and chain training, and board training. A support shirt can increase your bench press by 50 pounds or more with little training- after you get used to it. If you choose to wear one, use the shirt once a week during the peak cycle (high weight, low volume).
Power Rack and Board Training: Put a bench inside the power rack and set the pins so that you work different parts of the range of motion of the lift: bar at chest level; bar 2 inches from the chest; bar 4 inches from the chest; and lockouts. Board training involves placing boards of various heights on your chest to alter the range of motion during the lift.
Chains and Bands: Chains and bands increase the resistance at the end of the range of motion of the lift. Bands also increase the intensity of the eccentric part of the lift (lowering the weight to the chest) and will help increase your capacity to accelerate the bar.