Increase your max load on the barbell periodically to continue building strength.
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Being able to bench press twice your own bodyweight is the dream of many guys out there and even some women. It's certainly an attainable goal with the right workout plan, but it's not something that happens overnight. Everyone increases strength at a different rate, but an average one-rep max, or 1RM, increase of 10 to 15 pounds per month is about average for beginner lifters. Beginners will increase their bench faster than more advanced lifters.
Start with a Bang
Your bench press gains should be speedy in the beginning. You may experience a 15 to 20-pound increase or more in 1RM during your first month of consistent benching. The first reason for quick gains during the first month is that your small stabilizer muscles used to balance the barbell during the lift are becoming stronger and more accustomed to the bench press movement. Your bench press technique is also probably improving with each workout, helping you to lift heavier weight. There's also a strong neural response in your body the first few months that leads to rapid gains during this time.
Expect a Plateau
If you've experienced steady gains of 10 or more pounds per month the first few months of benching on a regular basis, you're bound to hit a wall by the third or fourth month. It's quite common. The muscles involved when you bench press, including the pectorals and triceps, eventually adapt to the bench press movement. Likewise, the neural and physiological response of benching down to the cellular level eventually slows, causing a slowdown in bench press progress. Intermediate to advanced lifters and beginners hitting their fourth month of benching may experience a plateau that significantly slows 1RM gains on the bench or even halt gains completely. The good news is that there's a way around plateaus.
Maintain Steady Increases
Variety is the key to breaking through plateaus and keeping your average 1RM up near the 10-pound-per-month rate. Try varying your bench workouts and use different pec exercises to challenge your muscles in a different way. Other pec exercises include pec deck workouts, dumbbell flyes, incline bench presses and decline bench presses, among others. Also, change up your rep counts and number of sets every so often. It's all about keeping your body guessing so your muscles can't adapt to the same workout day after day. Lastly, try reverse-pyramid training instead of the traditional pyramid training to spice up your bench workouts. The reverse-pyramid workout is the opposite of traditional training where you start at lighter weights and work your way up. Reverse-pyramid training starts at the highest weight and lowest number of reps and works down to lower weights and higher reps. Warm up for about 10 minutes prior to trying a reverse-pyramid bench-press workout.
Remember Key Tips
Take advantage of the first three months of training and the steady gains you'll experience. Don't be discouraged if you can't maintain a 10 to 15-pound increase in 1RM during the subsequent months. At some point, average gains in bench press strength, power and 1RM will slow, but they don't have to stop. Add some variety to your bench workouts and focus on improving your form. Make sure to grip the bar slightly wider than shoulder width, keep your feet flat on the ground, puff up your chest on the negatives and lower the bar to your sternum. Also, don't bounce the bar and don't forget to breathe throughout each set. Finally, overtraining will greatly slow or stop your bench press gains. Exercise your chest once or twice per week but always have at least two days of rest between each workout. Rest is a critical part of building muscle, so don't ever forget that fact.