Try These 5 Exercises for a Bigger Bench Press |

Try These 5 Exercises for a Bigger Bench Press

ON CHEST DAY, lots of guys work with the sole aim of piling as much weight as possible onto a barbell in order to bench press. The strength training staple is one of the premier exercises that will consistently be one of your heavier training lifts.

But you should also remember that the bench press is powered by more than just your chest muscles—you’ll recruit the shoulders, triceps and even your core to an extent in order to pull off your max lifts. Knowing how those muscles play a role in performing a solid bench press, and which muscle group may be the cause of your failure to bust through a sticking point, say Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., and Advisory Board member David Otey, C.S.C.S.

“We tend to neglect how much bracing foot contact five points of contact throughout the bench feet and hands,” Otey says. “They play such a critical role and we can learn a lot of this stuff through some of these extra exercises that will put us in a better position for that barbell.”

In other words, mastering the king of chest exercises takes full-body effort. So it’s important to get acquainted with other accessory exercises that can help enhance your bench press and find a way to add them to your routine.

5 Exercises to Help Boost Your Bench Press

Half-Kneeling Overhead Press

3 to 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps


Oftentimes shoulder pain or instability drive people away from performing bench presses, so it would make sense to work on strengthening your shoulder muscles. The half-kneeling overhead press is a great unilateral exercise to really focus on a precise pressing motion and concentrate on just your shoulders.

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The half-kneeling position forces to you to think about stabilizing the pelvis and also keeping the rib cage down and abs tight—which adds a bit of core training to the move as well. Be aware, however of not arching your back—stay straight and think about keeping this move a vertical press, not incline.

Pushup with Band Resistance

3 sets of 8 to 12 reps


If you can regularly knock out 25 to 30 reps of pushups, you’re going to be in need of a greater challenge to your chest. Adding a bit of resistance to your pushups will help you make greater bench press gains. By adding a resistance band, you’re going to be working on adding acceleration and explosion to your pushups—which should translate to a more powerful bench press down the road.

Once again, keeping your core activated throughout the movement is important—remember you want to be transferring energy from the ground up for an explosive bench. A resistance band will help achieve this. Burnout is not the goal, instead, work toward continuing to master the lockout form. Some good options include working these as a drop set on a bench press day or even thrown in on an accessory work day.

JM Press

3 to 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps


If increasing your bench press load remains difficult, there’s a good chance your triceps are lacking in the strength department. One unique exercise to help fix this is called the JM press—a close-grip bench press and skull crusher hybrid variation that’s going to give lifters a unique opportunity to explore pressing away from the body.

The JM press allows you to lift a little heavier than other triceps exercises—which makes it an equally effective arm day workout as well.

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It could be done with a barbell or dumbbell, and could be a bit tricky at first, so be aware of these setup steps.

  • Be sure to stack your elbows, shoulders and wrists over your chest.
  • Dumbbells should be placed more toward your eyebrows space.
  • Create shoulder tension to stabilize a little more.

From there let the elbows descend toward the sides of your ribcage—do not flare your elbows—as the weight drops toward your chin ad collarbone.

Chest-Supported Incline Row

3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps


Adding chest support to a row, the standard pulling movement, allows you to focus entirely on your posterior chain. While that might strike you as being unrelated to the chest-centric exercise, it’s actually a key (and often overlooked) accessory to improving your bench press.

This exercise is going to strengthen your lats, which play a key role when it comes to bench pressing when it comes time to stabilize yourself on the bench. The goal is to grab the bar, and place your shoulder blades in an optimum position in order to explode the weight off your chest. But if you don’t have that proper posterior chain placement, the negative effects may carry over to your front.

This chest-supported row allows you to arch in our thoracic spine, allowing your chest to possibly come off the bench. It also allows you to target your middle and upper traps, which comes to play when it comes to a tighter setup on the bench.

One great benefit of the chest-supported row is that you’ll discover after a while how and where should be placed alongside your torso. This is a key element that will carry over to your bench press form.

Floor Press

4 sets of 6 to 8 reps


Sometimes not utilizing a full range of motion can be useful—and there’s no greater example of this than the floor press.

This variation is safer for your shoulders, allowing you to lift heavy without as much risk of injury as the standard form of pressing, and it can be performed with a variety of implements (dumbbells, barbells, etc.). The movement hits your triceps, and works great as means to improve the “lockout” portion of the bench press. A similar variation—the pin press—is another effective exercise that you can load weight and work through that shorter range of motion, and is a great post-bench press accessory move.

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