The Bench press has been a ego inducing contest for pedestrian weight lifters for decades. No one ever asks how much do you preacher curl, shrug or fly, but how much you bench. As an avid power lifter for years, I had my bench up to 675 at body weight of 225, so I might have a helpful hint or two in regard to this popular lift.
First off nothing beats showing up and doing the work, there are no supplements, belts or shirts that take the place of discipline. This requires balance as taken to over enthusiastic extremes can lead to over training that hinders your growth as well. Its often what you do out side of the gym that benefits you most in the gym. Proper rest and nutrition are important as well as not polluting your body with other toxins.
For the biggest gains I found training your bench on a pyramid system to be the most effect so decreasing reps as the weight increases with each set, this must be done on a dedicated chest day for it calls for 6 sets. The first being a warm up and the last being a few reps to failure which could look like this.
warm up set 15 reps with 185 lbs, 2nd set 10 reps 205 lbs, 3rd set 8 reps with 225 lbs, 4th set 6 reps with 255 lbs, 5th set 5 with 275 lbs, 6th set 4 reps with 305 lbs
Now this doesn’t seem like big enough gains or monster poundage, then week two shift the numbers so you are warming up with 205 lbs, since you are comfortable handling the weights from the first week start your 2nd set with 225, then hit 315 lb on our 5th set and 335 lbs on your 6th. Still want more ? Of course you do week 3 warm up with 225 lbs start your 2nd set on 255 lbs and end up on your 6th at 355 lbs. Now you are getting somewhere.
Decline bench press is very helpful in opening up the lower chest muscle and allows you to heft some more significant poundage than the flat bench. This is important because half the game here is mental if you are afraid of the plates your body will respond in kind. This is not to say , to not lift wisely are let your eyes be bigger than your chest, a spotter can help with forced reps in this area as well.
Triceps and shoulders can not be over looked and will keep you from no over training chest if you give your self dedicated days to both of these muscle groups. For tris the close grip bench is a big one for building those stabilizer muscles though if it’s new to you make sure to use a close spot until you get a feel for the balancing act here. Front Shoulder raises with dumb bells are big bench builders as well as military presses.
The key is while using exercise plans like the pyramid program out lined above to change up the rest of your chest routine to work around the more focused staples so you are shocking your muscles as much as possible throwing in weight dips once week and then switching it up on incline flys the next are things that can tweak your workouts and break through stagnation to the gains you want. Good Luck , train safe.