Increase your bench press with these two tips from a pro powerlifter

These two small tweaks could be all you need to boost your bench numbers

Woman performing bench press
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The bench press is the gold standard of strength and it doesn’t matter whether you’re a weekend warrior or a serious gym bro, (almost) everyone wants to get a bigger bench. At the start this can be easy as newbie gains take over helping you hit PB after PB but, eventually, all good things come to an end, then what do you do?

While you’ll need to include other exercises in your training program, eat a good diet and ensure you're getting plenty of rest, one of the easiest ways you can improve your bench is perfecting your technique. Bobbie Butters, a pro powerlifter for Team GB, says this is one of the first things she looks at when working with athletes. In a video with MiraFit, she shares two of her top tips that will help nail your technique and get you a stronger bench. If you’re not doing these two things, it’s time to…

1. Building an effective arch

Some people bench with their backs completely flat, however, those who bench competitively  will often have a slight arch and there’s a reason for this. “It increases the stability of the joint, it can increase your ability to create leg drive and creates a general stable base for your bench technique,” Bobbie explains in the video. An arch also shortens the range of motion the bar has to travel from the start position to your chest, which can make it easier to move more weight.

To create this arch Bobbie says you want to squeeze your shoulder blades together, the way she puts it is “like you’re trying to tuck your shoulder blades into your back pockets”. A lot of people will simply just bend their lower back, but Bobbie says this is wrong, as the arch is coming from your upper body. By retracting your shoulder blades your muscles are locked in and your body is far more stable. Plus, it’ll help significantly with your leg drive.

Man performing bench press

(Image credit: Getty Images)

2. Pushing your feet outwards

You may have heard a few people shouting at their fellow bench buddy “PUSH THROUGH YOUR FEET’ and this is to help with leg drive and powering the bar back up, as the bench press is a compound movement. But, Bobbie says that pushing your feet into the floor isn’t the correct way to use leg drive, at least not effectively. 

In the video she explains that you should actually be pushing your feet away from you. Not only will this directly impact your barbell path, but she says it will also help stabilise your lower body on the bench. Often, when people push through their feet their bum will lift off of the bench and the moment it does you’re breaking your stable base. Try pushing your feet outwards instead and your bum will remain firmly on the weight bench.

Give these two things a try the next time you're doing bench press and watch the video above for Bobbie's full breakdown. Also, make sure you're not making these other 6 common bench press mistakes and here's five other bench variations for you to try, once you've nailed your technique, of course...

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.