How to add 20kg to your bench press

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Add 5kg: Get a spotter

Having someone to spot you can significantly increase the amount of weight you lift, according to the journal Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise. Men who were supervised during lifts also posted a greater one-rep max, in part because they could push themselves harder knowing someone was there to help if necessary.

Add 5kg: Do clap press-ups

Explosive moves such as clap press-ups trigger a process called post activation potentiation. A study in the Journal Of Strength And Conditioning Research reported that undergoing near-maximal muscle contractions recruits more muscle fibres and nerves, increasing the muscle's potential.

Add 4kg: Work your back first

Working opposite muscle groups such as your chest and back, during the same session can result in an increase in power output of up to five per cent, according to a report published in the Journal Of Strength And Conditioning Research. Opposing muscle groups have a stabilising role in lifts, which helps activate more muscle fibres.

Add 3.5kg: Get the right grip

Simply moving your hands can result in a greater lift, according to The Sport Journal. It reported that a hand position on the bar of 190 per cent of the width of your shoulders resulted in the maximum activity in the prime mover muscles involved with the exercise. So aim for a grip just shy of twice shoulder-width for a bigger lift.

Add 2.5kg: Plant your feet

The bench press may work the chest and shoulders, but you need your feet on the floor for the stabiity to lift heavy. This also allows you to drive your heels into the ground generating power through your body – but make sure your glutes stay on the bench.

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Joe Warner
Former editor of Men’s Fitness UK

Joe Warner is a highly experienced journalist and editor who began working in fitness media in 2008. He has featured on the cover of Men’s Fitness UK twice and has co-authored Amazon best-sellers including 12-Week Body Plan. He was the editor of Men’s Fitness UK magazine between 2016 and 2019, when that title shared a website with Coach.