I am trying to increase my bench press for reps on 225 and was wondering if you had any tips. I have to test in about three weeks. Below is a video of a time that I tested. I have access to bands and fat bars and have been using them. I just wanted to see if there is anything new I could try. Thanks.

- Colt


Some sections are taken from Eat My Meet - The Sequel by Dave Tate (

  • I get asked several times a year how to increase the 225-pound bench press rep test. This has got to be the dumbest test of all time, but I've found a few things to be very effective in performing and training for this test. The first and most simple one is to get stronger. You would think this would be well-known, but just about every time I look at the programming leading into this test, there's never any max effort work (ME). So make sure you're doing ME work. Some of the most effective ME movements are 1-board presses, floor presses, and close grip inclines. If this "rep test" is your goal, change this movement every week. The reason is simple. If you're asking this question in the first place, then you probably don't have much time before you're tested. This forces you to hit these movements more frequently because you don't have the time to figure out which one works best.
  • Pull out on the bar, or pull in? Check and see where you fail and how you fail. If it seems to be the pecs (fails at the bottom) or triceps (the top), then change the focus. If you're a pec guy, just press until you feel "burning." At this point, begin pulling the bar apart. This will give you a few extra reps. If it's your triceps, then pull in.
  • Many times this is a time game. You may find you always fail around the same time (say 45 seconds). You can change this with training, but as you know, this one will take time. Usually when I'm asked this question, time is very limited. The trick then becomes how to get more reps in the same time frame. You can either shorten the stroke (classic Westside — tuck belly up and so on), or work with over speed work. Use the reverse band press to help move the bar faster. By doing this, you'll learn to press faster.
  • Speed work with bands — the same concept as above, but work more on a faster eccentric phase.
  • If you can gain weight and maintain speed, gain weight.
  • Make sure your wrists stay straight and locked. If the bar falls too much behind your wrists, your triceps will fail way too fast. This is a huge mistake that I see with ALL guys who do this. When this happens, the triceps will fail faster because of where the center of gravity of the weight falls.
  • Keep your hands SHUT. Don't do any of this "opening your fingers" crap that we all see on TV hundreds of times. Keep your hands tight and locked onto the bar.
  • Don't bounce the weights! I shouldn't have to write this, but I've seen far too many people do this test and I've seen the same mistake over and over again. Aside from the injury potential from bouncing weights, the bar gets tossed all over the place. The best path is the same path for each rep. More fluid motion equals greater output.
  • To expand on the last point, you can test how well you're doing with consistency of movement. Wear a black shirt and chalk the bar all over the center knurling. Do a few reps and check to see if you have one or three chalk lines. If you're interested in doing more bench reps or increasing you max bench, then there better be only one line. If there's more than one line, your technique is off and you're expending too much energy.
  • I've seen very few who can train and perform the test in a high arched position. The tension is too long and the reps are too high to maintain this position without cramping in the lower back and/or hamstrings.
  • Count the reps down, not up. Instead of counting 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, start at what you would like to do and count back: 43, 42, 41, and so on. Better yet — count in groups of ten: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and then 10, 9, 8, 7, and so on. It's even better if you can get someone to count for you. This is a mind game just as much as it is a physical game.

MORE: Benchipedia: Dave Tate's Free Bench Press Manual

  • Stick-UM on the bottom of your shoes will help big time. Or make sure that there's no way your feet will slip when you use leg drive.
  • Use your leg drive like gears. Start with enough drive to stay stable. Then, increase the tension and drive with about five reps before you would normally die out. This should happen a few reps before you begin pulling in or out on the bar.
  • If your technique is great, do all your endurance bench work with a fat bar (or Fat Gripz). This will make the regular bar feel like a twig when you go back to it. There are also physical reasons for this, but the mental ones far out weigh them.
  • Never hold the bar at the top for more than 1-2 seconds, except after a series of 10 or more reps.
  • Learn to only press with the required amount of force per rep. You wouldn't sprint for a mile, would you? The same holds true with the rep test. Don't expend more energy then needed. You'll need it later.
  • Try to keep yourself down, not crunched up with your chin in your chest. This test requires oxygen to get the maximal number of reps. This practice has helped and may help with a one-rep max, but we're talking about 20-plus reps here, not one.
  • Unlike with a one-rep max or all other bench strength work, don't use a super tight grip on the bar. Grasp the bar with enough force to control it and keep it there until the last few reps. Then, squeeze the crap out of the bar.
  • When you discover where you fail, add in some extra work for that specific area at a 20 percent higher time range than your bench fail time. For example, if your bench fail time is 42 seconds and your triceps are what fail on you, add in one set per session of 3-board presses at 50 seconds. If you can't do all the reps for this time, do what you can and statically hold the weight at midpoint for the rest of the time.
  • Focus your eyes on one main point on the ceiling and don't deviate from it. Why? Next time you're in the gym with beginner or intermediate lifters, watch what they do when the reps get hard. They always look to one arm or the other. Then one arm begins to give out. This may be before they looked at it or after. It doesn't matter. What matters is that they acknowledged it and let it defeat them. Remember this is a MENTAL game and every rep counts.
  • As the last line of number 21 stated, make every rep count. It's your own fault and a waste of your effort to do a rep that isn't legal and doesn't count. Do them ALL correctly.
  • If you are weak-chested in the bench press, check your wrist to elbow position — they should be in line. If the wrist is toward the feet more than the elbow, then this is taxing the shoulders too much in the bottom position. If the wrist is closer to the head than the elbow, then the weight is focused more on the triceps. If you use a bench shirt this all changes depending on the shirt and length of the upper arm.
  • Most importantly, learn how to bench press. The worst technical benches I ever saw were performed by high school and college athletes in the combine or training for the combine. The internet is littered with videos of these sets. If all you did was learn how to bench properly, this alone would increase your rep test. After all these years, I'm still shocked and amazed that there are strength coaches and combine prep coaches that have no idea how to teach a proper bench press, but yet know every detail there is to know about how to nail the best 40 time. This is not to take anything away from the good ones—they do exist—but unfortunately, they are not in the majority.