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Add 50 lbs to Your Bench Press

Here's 3 main keys in adding at least 50 lbs to your Bench Press:

1. Train heavy. "I hear all the time how someone wants to get stronger, yet they end up training like my grandmother," says Jim Wendler, a London, Ohio, trainer and former champion powerlifter with a 675-pound bench press. "You have to lift heavy weights to increase strength." That means using loads that are between 85% and 100% of your one-repetition maximum (1RM)-the most weight you can handle for one rep. Each time you bench, build up to your 1RM with this progression (after your warm-up):

1 50% five reps
2 60% five reps
3 70% three reps
4 80% one rep
5-7 90% two to three reps

Estimate an increase in your 1RM by two-and-a-half to five pounds each week, and adjust the weights you use on all the sets accordingly.

2. Develop your grip strength. "This will allow you to grip the bar harder," says Wendler, "which translates into a tighter body position that's critical for lifting more weight." Try pinch grips: Hold several five- or 10-pound plates (three or four, depending on the size of your hands) between your thumb and fingers on both hands and let your arms hang at your sides. Hold for 20 seconds. Perform two sets at first-gradually working up to four-resting two minutes between sets. Train your grip twice a week at the end of your lower-body workouts. You can also use Heavy Grips.

3. Train your lats. "Strong lats will not only improve your posture," says Wendler, "they'll also improve your bench-press form, giving you more control over the bar as you lower and press it." Furthermore, making sure your pulling muscles stay in balance with your pushing muscles lessens your risk of injury. Do plenty of rows and pullups in your workouts-as many total sets as you do for the bench press. "Begin each rep by pulling your shoulder blades together," says Wendler. "Aim for between six and 15 total reps."

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