Think about it. How can powerlifters bench 700+ lbs while bodybuilders on the same 'stuff' can only at best bench 500lbs even though they appear much more muscular. It is all in the training. Reaching a PB in any lift requires intelligent training, diet and rest. For some people benching 500 might be a goal and for others 200 might be more realistic. Which ever category you fall into these tips will help you achieve your goals and reach your potential.
1. Train Heavy
No-Brainier huh. Define heavy? Last chest session I bet you did 6-8 reps and felt like your chest would cave in. TOO LIGHT!!! You cannot afford to do more than 5 reps if strength is your goal. Don't worry you won't lose muscle by dropping back the reps, in fact you probably will gain a bit. You need to do 5's, triples, doubles and singles to get stronger.
2. Add more sets
Instead of doing 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps, do 8-12 sets of 3-4 reps. This is not overtraining, it's training for strength.
3. Train with a partner
If you can't lift the bar after your fourth rep of 350lbs you are in a spot of bother.
4. Train explosively
Louie Simmons, the man who has trained more big benchers than anybody and the owner of the Westside barbell club, recommends this. Get a weight 60% of your 1RM and do 8-12 sets with 2-3 reps. Move the weight VERY fast in both the positive and negative direction without losing control. This will train the neural system to explode with power, exactly what you need when you have a loaded bar across you chest. Do this as a separate session to your normal chest work NOT at the same time.
5. For your chest train the rest
Your chest is not the only piece to the big bench puzzle. The Lats, triceps and delts all play major roles. Train the body parts hard also. If your lockout is poor then it is probably your triceps but it you have trouble just off you chest your lats need work. Do assistance work like lockouts, rows and dips.
6. Never Max out week to week
You should only Max out every 8 weeks or so. You can Max out on assistance work, in fact it is encouraged week to week, but don't Max on your bench.
Got a sticking point off the chest or at lockout? Try this. Set a bench in a power rack. Position the pins at the area of problem e.g.. 2 inches off the chest, two inches short of lockout or in the middle. Get a bar, with no weight and press it just like a bench press up against the pins. Breathe in and HOLD YOUR BREATH. Press the bar against the pins for a count of 12 seconds before you stop. After a few weeks you can gradually bring that back to 8 seconds. If you want you can even do isometrics for each of the areas: top, middle and bottom.
8. Take Creatine Monohydrate
Form personal experience I know this adds HEAPS to you bench press Max and regular sets. It is a must and the bodybuilding.com store has some of the best prices I have seen.
9. Eat Lots
High protein high calorie just like mass gaining.
Don't train too much. You also must have at least 72 hours between your heavy bench and speed bench days.
There you have it. 10 steps to a bigger bench (or curl or squat or whatever). Apply these principles and you will get stronger. Another plus is when you resume training normally you will be stronger therefore you can lift more weight and gain more muscle. Give it a go, and who knows you may never be Anthony Clark but that doesn't mean there aren't billions of others to beat.
Train hard and smart,