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The bench press is one of the foundational lifts for anyone who is looking to get stronger. No matter if you’re new to weightlifting or have been at it for years, you’ve probably experienced a plateau. This is when you can’t seem to add more weight to the bar no matter how hard you try.
If you’re looking to bench 1.5x or even 2x your body weight, now is the time to switch up your routine in and out of the gym. Doing the same old routine for months on end won’t give you the progress and gains that you want. But we’re here to help.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know to increase your bench press by 50lbs in 90 days.
Record yourself bench pressing
The only way to increase your bench press is to first check your form. The best way to do this is to record yourself lifting so that you can get a slow-mo view of every second of the move. Bring a friend with you to the gym and have them record you benching from every angle, including front, side, rear, and 45-degree front and side angles.
Now comes the fun part - watching yourself! Though it can feel a little weird, now is the time to critique your bench press so that you can get it down pat. Here’s what you need to look for when reviewing your lift:
Bar path and location - Many people make bench pressing much more difficult by using a vertical bar path that’s directly over the chest. This puts you at a mechanical disadvantage while also increasing the risk of shoulder impingement. Be sure that the bar is following a slightly diagonal path. It should be over your chest at the bottom of the press, but over your shoulders at the top.
Grip - Make sure that the barbell is not resting mid-palm. Instead it should be resting on the heel of your hand. You should feel most of the weight on the outer parts of your hands, directly above your wrist. Using the proper grip keeps your wrists straight and the bar on the right path. To maximize your strength, keep your hands shoulder-width apart.
Chest positioning - For a solid bench press, raise your chest towards the ceiling by arching your back. Make sure that your butt remains on the bench and slightly rotate your rib cage up as well. This chest positioning shortens the bar path and helps you to have a naturally diagonal path.
Shoulders - Keep your shoulders tucked in throughout the press. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and when you push the bar up, make sure your shoulders are pressing directly into the bench.
Elbows - Make sure your elbows stay tucked in and directly below your wrists. You should maintain this position each time you lower the bar. However, make sure your wrists aren’t tucked in too far - they should never touch your torso. As you press the bar up, your elbows should slightly flare out.
Leg drive - Your legs shouldn’t directly help you in your bench press. Instead, your leg drive should keep your butt pressed into the bench. At the same time, it should create slight tension in your upper body. This helps your chest and other upper body muscles to exert more force. You’re doing it wrong if your butt ever leaves the bench.
Feet - Your feet positioning supports leg drive. Keep your feet slightly behind your knees. You can spread them out on either side and keep them flat on the ground, or tuck them under your thighs with your heel raised off the floor.
After reviewing all these factors, the last thing to look at is your consistency. Make sure that the bar keeps the same path with every rep. Touching the bar to your chest can help you to keep a consistent range of motion.
Should I pause at the bottom of each rep?
One of the most common questions people have about bench pressing is whether or not they should pause at the bottom of each rep. Most people will find that pausing negatively impacts their strength and momentum, which makes it harder to push the bar back up.
If your goal is to increase your bench press by 50lbs in 90lbs, pausing will only hinder your progress.
At the same time, pausing does allow you to spot-check your form. On days where you’re lifting lighter and focusing on your technique, pausing can be beneficial during the first few sets.
Try cluster sets
Most people who bench do the standard 5x5, and while this works great for beginners, you’ll find that you eventually max out your weight and struggle to put up more. One way to break through a plateau is by incorporating cluster sets.
Cluster sets involve dividing sets into mini-sets, typically three. Each set has short rest periods between them. When it comes to bench pressing, you’ll want to use both strength and technique cluster sets. This way you’re improving in every aspect of the lift.
For strength cluster sets, choose a weight that’s your 3-rep max. You can also go a little heavier and go with 80-90% of your one-rep max.
Position yourself on the bench and then perform two reps. Then re-rack the barbell, rest for 30 seconds, and then pump out two more reps. Re-rack the bar again and rest for another 30 seconds and then do one last rep. This counts as a single strength cluster set.
Strength cluster sets are nice because you can lift heavier weights at a greater volume. By lifting heavy, you’re recruiting the strongest groups of muscle fibers, known as high threshold motor units (HTMUs). Typically you only engage HTMUs during later reps.
When it comes to increasing your bench press, technique is key. Technique cluster sets allow you to perform high reps with minimal fatigue. Instead of focusing on lifting as heavy as you can, these cluster sets are all about strictly focusing on your form and technique.
Choose a weight that’s roughly your 5 or 6-rep max. For technique cluster sets, you’ll perform one rep, re-rack the weight, and then rest for 15 seconds. You’ll then rinse and repeat for 10-12 minutes.
As your arms and chest start to get tired, you can increase the rest period by 5-7 seconds. Be sure you’re resting for no more than 30 seconds between reps. If you feel like you’ve lifted to failure and can’t regain your strength, end the set.
By focusing on your form with each set, you’re able to practice the full motion of a bench press, to include re-racking the bar with every rep. Taking a break in between each rep gives you just enough time to regroup, refocus, and work towards perfecting your technique.
Try bands instead of weights
By nature the bench press comes with an uneven strength curve. At the end of the day, everyone is weaker at the bottom of the motion. This means that the bottom movement robs the shoulders of a true growth opportunity, since they’re mostly used at the top.
To even out the strength curve, use resistance bands. Variable resistance training helps to keep the movement as even as possible.
Start by attaching elastic bands to either end of the bar. As you lower the bar, you can decrease the level of resistance while increasing it as the bar goes up. This effortlessly evens out the strength curve.
One study found that incorporating resistance bands may double your power and strength gains when compared to the traditional bench press.
Make sure you remove some weight when using elastic bands. They account for 20% of the total resistance which means you’ll need to reduce your load.
Add the right strength-building supplements
While supplements aren’t necessary to increase your bench press by 50lbs in 90 days, they definitely make the process a little easier. These days there are countless products that are designed for people just like you who want to put on lean muscle while getting stronger.
From protein powder to BCAAs to creatine, there are all sorts of supplements you can add to your daily regimen to help you reach your bench press goals. Here are some of the top supplements to consider trying during your journey to getting swole.
1. Elm & Rye Protein
Protein is one of the most important nutrients to build muscle and strength. While you can eat high-protein foods like poultry, seafood, meat, and legumes, taking a protein supplement makes it much easier to reach your protein goals. While there are plenty of protein supplements on the market, Elm & Rye Protein is one of the best.
This supplement is made from free-range, pasture-raised, grass-fed cows. It’s formulated with proprietary protein blend along with a whole-body restorative formula. Each scoop of Elm & Rye Protein provides BCAAs, collagen, turmeric, ashwagandha, and a mushroom complex.
With Elm & Rye Protein is available in three delicious flavors: Chocolate, Vanilla, and Cookies & Cream. At 20 g of protein per serving, your bench press will increase in no time!
2. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein
Another great protein supplement that we wanted to feature on our list is Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein. Optimum Nutrition is a well-known brand in the supplement industry, and their whey protein is one of the top options on the market today.
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein contains whey protein isolates, which are the purest form of whey protein. Each scoop of this supplement offers 24 g of muscle-building protein that will help you power through your workouts while supporting a healthy recovery afterwards.
This protein offers great mixability and also works as a great base for a protein-packed smoothie. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein is available in delicious flavors, including Vanilla Ice Cream, Double Rich Chocolate, Strawberries and Cream, and many others.
3. MuscleTech Platinum Creatine
Creatine is a must-have for anyone looking to take their bench press to the next level. Creatine enhances your power while also supporting muscle-building and maintenance. Research has even shown that those who take creatine typically experience 5-15% higher gains in performance and strength.
A top choice to add creatine to your regimen is MuscleTech Platinum Creatine. This supplement is formulated with micronized creatine, which is the most clinically researched form of the compound. Each scoop works to deliver creatine directly to the muscles so that you can perform your best in the gym.
MuscleTech Platinum Creatine not only helps you to build muscle and gain mass, it plays a crucial role in increased recovery. This means that you can get back in the gym sooner while feeling better than ever.
4. 1st Phorm BCAAs
Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) are essential compounds that your body needs to increase muscle growth and protein synthesis. They also decrease muscle fatigue so that you can make the most of each workout. BCAAs can even prevent your muscles from going into a catabolic state, which can happen during intense training.
Support your muscles with 1st Phorm BCAAs. This supplement is designed for intra-workout consumption and offers great mixability and flavors. It offers one of the best ingredient formulations that works to increase fat loss, preserve lean muscle, and increase workout intensity.
Each serving offers BCAAs, B vitamins, electrolytes, and a mineral blend. 1st Phorm BCAAs is available in delicious flavors, including Apple Juice, Blue Raspberry, Lemonade, and others.
5. BSN No Xplode Pre-Workout
Pre-workouts prime your body for an intense workout ahead. Fuel your body with some of the most advanced ingredients available today with BSN No Xplode Pre-Workout. This supplement is scientifically engineered to support energy, focus, performance, and endurance. Each bench press pump will feel better than the last.
One scoop of BSN No Xplode Pre-Workout is loaded with caffeine, creatine, taurine, potassium, magnesium, L-tyrosine, and a blend of other vitamins, minerals, and compounds. With this pre-workout, you can make the most of each workout, no matter how intense it is.
BSN No Xplode Pre-Workout is available in two delicious flavors: Blue Raz and Fruit Punch.
6. Optimum Nutrition Essential AmiN.O. Energy
Want to boost focus, energy levels, and muscle recovery? If so, now is the perfect time to add Optimum Nutrition Essential AmiN.O. Energy to your workout regimen. Each dose offers 100 mg of natural caffeine from coffee bean and tea leaf along with 5 g of amino acids to optimize muscle recovery.
With micronized free form amino acids, this supplement offers faster absorption so that you get the most benefit. At just 10 calories per serving, you can feel good about taking Optimum Nutrition Essential AmiN.O. Energy before, during, or after your workouts.
Optimum Nutrition Essential AmiN.O. Energy is available in all sorts of flavors, including Green Apple, Blue Raspberry, Peach Lemonade, Watermelon, and others.
7. Jacked Factory Beta Alanine
Increase your strength and stamina with Jacked Factory Beta Alanine. This pure beta-alanine powder makes for a great pre- and post-workout supplement to amplify your workouts while reducing muscle fatigue and soreness.
Jacked Factory Beta Alanine is more convenient than capsules as you can add the powder to any drink or smoothie. It's formulated to mix easily without any clumps. Since it's unflavored, you won't even know you're drinking it!
One scoop provides 1,600 mg of beta-alanine, which is an optimal dosage to make the most of your workouts.
8. American Metabolix Lean Muscle
Increase your body's protein synthesis by more than 200% with American Metabolix Lean Muscle. This supplement is designed for athletes and bodybuilders who want to get stronger and leaner. It not only helps with strength and muscle gains in as little as 14 days, this product also revs up the metabolism to melt away fat.
American Metabolix Lean Muscle enhances performance when you're in the gym and gives you a metabolic advantage when you're resting. With this supplement you'll improve your muscular endurance, which allows you to max out your weight and your reps.
Each capsule provides a healthy dose of ginseng, GABA, L-carnitine, and other ingredients that will help you increase your bench press.
9. Omega JYM Omega-3 Fish Oil
While omega-3 fatty acids are best known for their heart and brain health benefits, these compounds can also help anyone who is lifting heavy weights on a routine basis. Research has found that supplementing with fish oil may alleviate DOMs, also known as delayed onset muscle soreness.
While there are tons of fish oil supplements on the market, Omega JYM Omega-3 Fish Oil is one of the best. This product is specifically designed for weightlifters and athletes who want to support and improve their heart health, joint health, and overall well-being.
Each capsule provides the three most important omega-3 fatty acids: DHA, EPA, and DPA. Take just four capsules a day to give your body all of the fatty acids it needs to perform as its best.
10. Dymatize 100% Whey Isolate
Give your body hourly muscle support with Dymatize 100% Whey Isolate. This whey protein supplement provides fast-absorbing protein that delivers the results you need, when you need them. Whether blended into your favorite smoothie or shaken with almond milk, this is a protein powder that you don't want to be without.
Each scoop of Dymatize 100% Whey Isolate offers 25 g protein, 5.5 g BCAAs, and 2.7 g of leucine. With just 2 g of sugar and less than 140 calories per serving, this protein supplement makes for the perfect snack in between meals or post-workout treat.
Dymatize 100% Whey Isolate is banned substance tested, gluten free, and is crafted to give your muscles the fuel and support they need. It's available in two simple yet delicious flavors: Rich Chocolate and Gourmet Vanilla.
11. Beast Sports Nutrition Creature
Add more reps to your bench press and pack on endless lean muscle with Beast Sports Nutrition Creature. This supplement is formulated with performance and strength in mind. It supplies your body with quality ingredients that enable you to perform at your best for extended periods of time.
Each scoop of Beast Sports Nutrition Creature contains five-cutting edge creatines which accelerate results from every angle. With this creatine supplement you'll enjoy increased muscle endurance and size along with faster recovery.
Beast Sports Nutrition Creature is available in four tasty flavors, including Pink Lemonade, Fruit Blast, Cherry Limeade, and Unflavored. For best results, take this supplement daily before and after your workout.
12. Muscletech Muscle Builder PM
When you sleep, your body recovers and repairs. Intense exercise, especially weightlifting, requires the right amount of rest to enable the body to heal. Give yourself an edge and hit the gym feeling more ready than ever with a recovery supplement.
Muscletech Muscle Builder PM is a nighttime recovery formula that's loaded with ashwagandha, melatonin, boron, and Cindura, a botanical muscle building ingredient that naturally promotes muscle growth and muscle energy production.
This powerful blend of ingredients supports healthy recovery and optimizes your testosterone levels, all while you sleep! Because Muscletech Muscle Builder PM is formulated with melatonin and ashwagandha, you'll get quality sleep while also feeling less stressed and anxious.
13. Crazy Muscle Three-atine
Fuel your muscles with high quality protein with Crazy Muscle Three-atine. This supplement is formulated with three different types of creatine: monohydrate, pyruvate, and alpha-ketoglutarate. With over 5,000 mg of creatine per serving, you can guarantee that you'll lift heavier weight and complete more reps.
Creatine works by supporting lean muscle mass and power output. With higher ATP levels, your muscle power will be more explosive than ever. Crazy Muscle Three-atine can be taken daily either before or after your workout.
When taking any creatine supplement, be sure to drink plenty of water. After taking Crazy Muscle Three-atine just one time, you'll feel energized and stronger with every workout. Enjoy the pump and power!
14. Redcon1 War Zone Muscle Builder
Pack on lean muscle and strength with Redcon1 War Zone Muscle Builder. When combined with a protein-rich diet and resistance training, this supplement can help you reach your bench press goals faster than you ever imagined.
Made with a plant-based, muscle-building formula, Redcon1 War Zone Muscle Builder contains a blend of L-leucine, beta ecdysterone, and vitamin D to optimize your body for muscle building. With this power-packed supplement, your strength gains will be off the charts!
Redcon1 War Zone Muscle Builder is gluten-free, sugar-free, and keto-friendly, making it perfect for any lifestyle and dietary needs.
15. 5% Nutrition D-Aspartic Acid
Healthy testosterone levels are key for any man who is looking to gain strength and lean muscle mass. With 5% Nutrition D-Aspartic Acid, you can boost your body's natural testosterone production. Healthy T levels means increased muscle growth, enhanced performance, and improvements and other aspects of your life.
D-aspartic acid is one of the most effective, all-natural testosterone boosters available today. One serving of 5% Nutrition D-Aspartic Acid offers more than 3,000mg, which will have a notable impact on your testosterone levels.
5% Nutrition D-Aspartic Acid also contains DIM, a compound that is scientifically proven to keep estrogen levels in check. When taken as part of your daily regimen, this supplement can have a profound impact on your bench press.
With these tips, tricks, and supplements, you’ll be well on your way to increasing your bench press by 50 lbs in 90 days. Be sure to pay careful attention to your form and trust the process! Before you know it you’ll be stronger and pushing more weight than ever before.