The bench press is the ultimate test of upper-body strength, and it's a great exercise to build impressive muscle mass in the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Unfortunately, the bench press has a bad rap for causing shoulder injuries. But this is not due to the bench press being an inherently dangerous exercise. It's because so many people use the bench press incorrectly.

A correct bench press does not involve flaring the upper arms straight out to your sides as you lower the bar down to your upper chest. The correct way to bench press is to tuck the upper arms into your sides more so that your upper arms form about a 45- to 60-degree angle with the sides of your torso.



The Simple Way To Skyrocket Your Bench Press

Bench Press

To do this, activate your lats by drawing your arms in as if you were holding a grapefruit in each armpit—contracting the lats as you lower the bar to your lower chest. Then, as you drive the bar back up, allow the bar to follow an arcing path versus a straight-up-and-down vertical path. Using your lats in this manner will not only spare you from shoulder injuries, but will also help to increase the amount of weight you can press from the bench.

Once you've mastered proper technique, the next challenge becomes integrating the bench press into your overall chest-building program. Follow this four-week plan to raise your bench press max and increase chest muscle mass!

Training Schedule

Week 1
1
Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip
4 sets, 8-10 reps
2
Reverse Triceps Bench Press
3 sets, 8-10 reps
3
Incline Dumbbell Flyes
3 sets, 10-12 reps
4
Cable Chest Press
3 sets, 12-15 reps
Week 2
1
Superset
Dumbbell Flyes
4 sets, 12-15 reps
Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip
4 sets, 12-15 reps
2
Superset
Incline Dumbbell Flyes
4 sets, 12-15 reps
Incline Dumbbell Press
4 sets, 12-15 reps
Week 3
1
Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip
4 sets, 6-7 reps
2
Barbell Incline Bench Press Medium-Grip
3 sets, 8-10 reps
3
Flat Bench Cable Flyes
3 sets, 15-20 reps
4
Low Cable Crossover
3 sets, 10-12 reps
Week 4
1
Cable Chest Press
3 sets, 15-20 reps
2
Dumbbell Flyes
3 sets, 15-20 reps
3
Bench Press - With Bands
4 sets, 15-20 reps
4
Reverse Triceps Bench Press
4 sets, 15-20 reps

About the Author

Jim Stoppani, Ph.D.

Jim Stoppani, Ph.D.

Jim Stoppani holds a doctorate in exercise physiology from the University of Connecticut and has been the personal nutrition and health consultant to numerous celebrity clients, including...

View all articles by this author