The Ultimate Bench Press Workout to Increase Strength and Muscle

The ever-popular bench press has constructed its repute over the previous few many years as a ceremony of passage, a trial by hearth, and a founding member of the powerlifting “huge three.” This train is all that, and extra. The bench press is so well-liked that it even has its personal day of the week — “International bench day” has turn out to be synonymous with Monday in lots of gyms.

The bench press is a go-to train whenever you’re trying to enhance the dimensions and power of your chest, shoulders, and triceps. The stability of the bench and the fastened vary of movement of the barbell lets you use extra weight. And shifting extra weight means constructing extra measurement and power.

A person doing a bench press in the gym.
Credit: YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV / Shutterstock

If you’re in search of a standalone bench-focused exercise to extend power and muscle in your upper body, you have got come to the proper place. Let’s dive in beneath.

Best Bench Press Workout For Muscle and Strength

To gain absolute strength, you need to deal with shifting heavier weights, working round 85-90% of your one-repetition most. (1) The cluster set approach gives you all you may deal with on this regard — performing a number of “mini-sets” of low repetitions with heavy weights to build up important quantity. This helps set the desk for extra muscle as a result of a stronger muscle has the potential for extra measurement. After the heavy work, two completely different supersets think about workout routines that effectively enhance your chest measurement and power.

The Size and Strength Routine

Perform this exercise as soon as weekly as a part of your upper/lower body split. To progress with the primary train, begin at three full cluster units, do 4 the following week, after which 5. When you’re in a position to do 5 cluster units, add weight. The different three bench workout routines begin on the decrease finish of the rep vary and add one repetition every week. When you have got reached the higher vary, enhance the burden by 5 to 10 kilos and begin the method once more.

Bench Press Cluster Set

The flat barbell bench press ought to be a staple in your routine and your go-to for extra measurement and power everytime you wish to transfer probably the most weight. This benching variation focuses equally in your higher and lower chest for higher total muscle improvement.

How to Do it: Lay supine on the flat bench, arch your decrease again barely, and plant your toes on the ground. Pull your shoulder blades collectively to reinforce stability and upper back power. Grab the bar and squeeze your fingers arduous to flex your arm and grip muscle tissues maximally earlier than unracking the load. Lower the bar to your sternum/base of your chest. Press the burden up, preserve your again tight and your shoulder blades pulled collectively.

Sets and Reps: 3-5 x (4×2) — Perform 4 mini-sets of two reps, repeated a complete of three to 5 occasions.

Rest time: Rest 10 seconds between every mini-set. Rest three minutes after every full set.

Close-Grip Bench Press

The close-grip bench press has your fingers set shoulder-width aside and shift the load to your triceps and inside chest. (2) You might not be capable of elevate as a lot weight, however you’ll be coaching your chest and triceps from a distinct angle for improved muscle improvement.

How to Do it: Set up as you’d for the flat bench press, however place your fingers inside shoulder-width along with your elbows tucked into your physique. Pull the bar out of the rack and get tight. Pull preserve your elbows near your ribs whereas reducing the bar to your chest. Once you have got reached your required depth, press again up till lockout.

Sets and Reps: 3-4 x 4-6

Rest time: No relaxation earlier than shifting to the following train.

Seated Band Pull-Apart

After two urgent workout routines, you’ll get a break with this easy pulling train to strengthen your higher again and sustain the well being of your shoulders. This seated band pull-apart will enhance your higher again engagement (due to the steadiness of being seated) with out you leaving the bench.

How to Do it: Sit upright, holding a looped band at shoulder top along with your fingers shoulder-width aside. Pull the band aside, maintaining your arms almost straight. Keep your shoulders down and your chest up. Pull till your shoulder blades are collectively and your arms are prolonged to both aspect of your physique. Return to the beginning place and repeat.

Sets and Reps: 3 x 15-25

Rest time: Rest two minutes earlier than repeating earlier train.

Single-Arm Dumbbell Bench Press

This single-arm (unilateral) train received’t mean you can go as heavy as you may with the barbell bench press, however there’s nonetheless lots to love about this urgent variation. First, you’ll tackle any imbalances between sides of your physique, main to raised muscle improvement and improved joint well being. Second, you’ll have extra freedom of motion, as a result of the dumbbell bench press lets you alter your grip and arm angle to discover a urgent path that’s snug on your wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints.

How to Do it:  Place one dumbbell in your knee whereas sitting on a flat bench. Lean again and drive the dumbbell towards your shoulder utilizing your knee, whereas urgent the dumbbell up. Lower the dumbbell, maintaining your elbow at roughly 45-degrees out of your physique. Press the dumbbells as much as lockout and repeat. 

Sets and Reps: 3-4 x 8-12 reps per arm.

Rest time: Rest 60 to 90 seconds earlier than shifting to the following train. 

Dumbbell Chest Flye

The dumbbell chest flye is as near a chest isolation train because it will get. This train takes the triceps out of the motion and stretches the pecs for a extra intensive vary of movement, which provides you higher muscle-building potential. (3)

How to do it: Lie supine on a flat bench with a dumbbell in every hand. Begin with each arms locked out above your chest. Create a slight bend in your elbows and preserve this bend all through the motion. Lower your arms out to your sides in keeping with your shoulders. When you are feeling a stretch within the pecs, reverse the movement and squeeze the chest muscle tissues to return to the highest place.

Sets and Reps: 3 x 8-15

Rest time: Rest 60-90 seconds earlier than repeating the earlier train.

Chest Anatomy

The chest is a big superficial fan-like muscle, and the 2 chest muscle tissues are the pectoralis main and the pec minor. It has two attachment factors — the clavicular head on the upper chest and the sternal head attachment on the mid-to-lower chest. The pec main is in your anterior (entrance) ribcage, whereas the pectoralis minor is a small muscle beneath the pec main.

Credit: Ihor Bulyhin / Shutterstock

The pec main’s clavicular head originates, as anticipated, in your clavicle’s (collarbone) anterior or entrance floor. The pec main’s sternal head originates on the sternum’s anterior floor. Both muscle heads insert on the humerus (higher arm) and are concerned in most upper body movements. The two main chest capabilities that the coaching above focuses on are:

  • Shoulder flexion — Raising your arms up by pushing or lifting in entrance of your physique.
  • Horizontal adduction — Bringing your fingers (and joints) collectively in entrance of your pecs, as you do throughout a chest flye, bench press, or push-up.

Besides creating an enormous and muscular chest, the pecs are the first “hugging” muscle. Pec measurement and power assist sort out, seize, and fend off opponents within the sporting enviornment, in addition to throw and swing tougher and quicker in the event you play sports activities like soccer, baseball, or tennis. 

How to Warm-Up for Your Bench Workout

Have you ever seen somebody stroll off the road beneath the barbell and begin urgent away to their coronary heart’s content material? Don’t be that individual, they’re asking for accidents and poor efficiency. Although not warming up might not an enormous situation on uncommon events, over time, it could result in a lower in efficiency and elevated harm danger.

It’s higher to take the time to warm-up and get the blood shifting by your working muscle tissues, whereas get your shoulder and elbow joints prepared for motion.

Because your higher again and rotator cuffs are concerned within the bench press, make sure you carry out any higher again motion that’s efficient for partaking your scapula and rotators — face pulls with exterior rotation or band pull-parts.

After that, a number of gentle ramp-up units on the bench press (low rep, gentle weight units getting progressively heavier), focusing arduous on partaking your chest muscle tissues, could have you able to roll.

If you resolve to take extra time for an intensive warm-up, take this upper-body prep for a spin. There are a few higher back-focused workout routines right here as a result of your lats and higher again stabilize your chest throughout benching. You’ll have to get your again prepared for chest day to completely defend and put together your shoulders and rotator cuff.

  • Face Pull with External Rotation: Secure a resistance band to a steady object at eye-level. Take an overhand grip and step again till your arms are prolonged straight forward. Drive your elbows again in keeping with your shoulders whereas pulling your fingers to the highest of your head. In the height contraction, your thumbs ought to level behind you and your palms ought to be close to your ears. Return to the arms-extended place. Perform two units of 15 reps.
  • Scapular Push-up: Begin in a push-up place, along with your fingers and toes on the bottom and your physique straight. Keep your arms stiff and locked as you pinch your shoulder blades collectively whereas reaching your chest towards the bottom. Drive your fingers “by the bottom” as you prolong your shoulder blades down and push your chest away out of your fingers. Perform two units of 10 reps.
  • Rear Delt Fly: Take a pair of sunshine dumbbells in every hand, or stand in the course of a lightweight resistance band and maintain every finish. Bend ahead on the waist, almost parallel to the bottom, and let your arms grasp towards the bottom with a slight bend in your arms. Drive your arms up in keeping with your shoulders. Don’t enable your arm angle to alter all through the train. Pause briefly earlier than returning to the stretched place. Perform two units of 12 reps.
  • Spiderman With Rotation: Begin in a push-up place, along with your fingers and toes on the bottom and your physique straight. Step ahead along with your left leg, aiming to get your foot close to the pinky of your left hand if mobility permits. Keep your proper leg straight. Without bending your proper arm, elevate your left arm to the ceiling, turning your higher physique to permit a full rotation. When your arm is perpendicular to the bottom, really feel a total-body stretch earlier than returning to a push-up place. Alternate sides with every repetition. Perform two units of 5 reps per aspect.
  • Incline Plyo Push-up: Setup close to a steady flat bench or field, in a push-up place along with your fingers on the bench, your toes on the bottom, and your physique straight. Lower your chest towards the bench and explosively drive upwards, letting your fingers depart contact with the bench. Catch your self with barely bent arms and brace your core. Take a breath and reset rapidly earlier than performing the following repetition. Perform two units of eight reps.

Happy Benching

There are many various methods to focus on your chest, shoulder, and triceps, however the bench press is the preferred and, probably, the simplest software. You can build muscle and power by specializing in a handful of the simplest actions to enrich the bench press. Always warm-up your chest and shoulders, after which assault the muscle tissues utilizing the in-depth, final bench exercise laid out above. Your Mondays won’t ever be the identical.


  1. Schoenfeld, B. J., Grgic, J., Van Every, D. W., & Plotkin, D. L. (2021). Loading Recommendations for Muscle Strength, Hypertrophy, and Local Endurance: A Re-Examination of the Repetition Continuum. Sports (Basel, Switzerland)9(2), 32.
  2. Lockie, Robert & Moreno, Matthew. (2017). The Close-Grip Bench Press. Strength and Conditioning Journal. 39. 1. 10.1519/SSC.0000000000000307.
  3. Baroni, B. M., Pompermayer, M. G., Cini, A., Peruzzolo, A. S., Radaelli, R., Brusco, C. M., & Pinto, R. S. (2017). Full Range of Motion Induces Greater Muscle Damage Than Partial Range of Motion in Elbow Flexion Exercise With Free Weights. Journal of power and conditioning analysis31(8), 2223–2230.

Featured Image: YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV / Shutterstock

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