Since the very dawn of time—or at least since the first Bally’s was created—guys have been trying to out bench press each other. Which is probably why people are always asking me how they can bench more. So today I’m going to give you three simple and effective ways to put up record numbers instantly. And you don’t have to magically morph into a young Arnold Schwarzenegger to do it. Just remember, the bench is only one tool in chest development, so try to use them for good, not evil.
1. Wear Red
Colors can have an incredibly powerful effect in the gym. If you want to have a huge day on the bench press and maybe even go for a max bench, wear red. It’s a natural stimulator, meaning it excites the body. That’s why women in red clothing appear hotter to us. And that’s why so many teams wear it. Studies have even shown that athletic squads perform better in red, and six of the past 10 World Series champs incorporated the color into their uniforms. So forget your love of periwinkle and stock up on red performance tees.
2. Focus On Your Right Hand
When you’re doing a dumbbell bench press, look at your dominant hand while you’re lifting. Your dominant arm is probably going to be slightly stronger than your non-dominant arm, so when you look at it and see that you’re making progress, you’ll get positive reinforcement. That will in turn help your non-dominant hand lift its dumbbell. It’s just another example of the benefits of accentuating the positive in life. You know, like that time you scored a date with a nurse after getting shot.
3. Ice Your Mitts
It sounds crazy, but try soaking your hands in a bucket of ice water or clutching ice cubes right before you slide under the bench. A recent study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise showed that men can lift significantly more weight if they first chill their hands. Why? Researchers suspect it has something to do with the sensation of cold overriding the feeling of fatigue. Bottom line: it works. So relax. Those funny looks you get from fellow gym-goers will quickly turn into awestruck gazes when they realize how many plates are stacked on that bar you’re hefting.
Jay Cardiello is Made Man’s fitness and nutrition expert. As a top certified strength and conditioning coach, personal trainer and sports nutritionist, Cardiello has helped Hollywood A-Listers, Fortune 500 CEOs and NFL players sculpt the best bodies of their lives. Learn more at jcorebody.com. Got a question for him? Email us here, with ASK JAY in the subject line, and he’ll do his best to address it in a future column.