Progressive Overload with Bench Press

One thing that we love to preach here at Booty Lab is progressive overload. We’ve covered the basics and also explored what progressive overload looks like for different exercises like lunges and push ups. Today, we want to give you another guide on how you can progress a movement, this time an upper body movement- the bench press! 

What is it Progressive Overload?

In order to know how to progress a specific movement, it’s important to understand the basics first. So, what is progressive overload? Progressive overload is essentially increasing the demand for your muscles, or increasing the intensity of your workout routine without modifying your current program. Realistically, progressive overload means increasing your weight, reps or frequency once you get to a point where the workout no longer challenges you. It is important that you keep this change within 10% to avoid injury. AKA- don’t add too much weight or too many reps when you go to take things up a notch.   

How to do a Bench Press

Similar to understanding the basics of progressive overload, you also must understand the basics of the movement you are trying to progress. 

Bench press steps:

  1. Load the bar with the appropriate amount of weight while on the rack. Or, get the right dumbbells ready.
  2. Lie down on the bench making sure that you are protrating your shoulder blades leaving a slight arch in your back, make sure your core is fully engage and your feet are firmly planted on the ground and your eyes are directly under the bar with the bar at arm’s length.
  3. Grip the barbell with your palms facing forward, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  4. Unrack the barbell
  5. Lower the barbell slowly to your chest and keep your elbows close to your side. Touch the barbell to your chest and pause.
  6. Push the barbell up with control back to your starting position, with arms fully extended.
  7. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

    Some things to focus on:

    • A warm up is essential! Take time before your workout to warm up the muscle groups that will be used to perform the movement. 
    • Set up the equipment properly. Refer to #2 above!
    • If you are adding weight or reps, make sure you are using a spotter. This part is essential in avoiding accidents that can cause serious injuries. #workoutbuddies

    Ways to progressively overload a bench press

    Once you have mastered the basic movements of a bench press, you can then work on progressing the exercise. Here are some ways you can do it:

    1. Increase the Resistance. Most think of this when increasing demands on the muscle, which increases the load or weight. 

    2. Increase the Reps. For example, you may have been doing 6-8 now; try for 8-12 reps. 

    3. Increase the Volume. Meaning how many sets you complete in your workout.

    4. Increase Training Frequency. Meaning adding an extra day to your workout. 

    5. Decrease Rest Time Between Sets. 

    When to know you’re ready to increase weight and by how much

    We briefly mentioned it earlier, but you can know that it’s time to progress when your workout is no longer challenging you. Once the weight you have been lifting is no longer as challenging as it was when you started, it’s time to add more! Or, once your usual rep range becomes easier to complete, increase the amount of reps you are doing. The decision to increase weight or reps is really up to you, although they usually work together. 


    Although we focus on the lower body a lot, we also make sure to give adequate attention to the upper body as well! A bench press is a great way to increase your upper body strength, but must be used with progressive overload to actually see a difference (as with any exercise)! 

    If you need help doing this or are looking for access to this type of equipment, join us in the gym! Also, make sure you keep up with our blog and social media to learn more workout tips!

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