Richard James Ahern's Blog

Fitness, Nutrition and Unchained Muscle!

Tag: Bench Press

The Key to a MASSIVE Chest!!


Part of my key series, today you will learn how to get a massive chest! A well-built chest is what most guys dream of and is the reason why they step into the gym, after all who doesn’t love chest day?! Here are the keys to building your chest:

Forget the barbell and say hello to the dumbbells! I recently posted about this on my Facebook page, dumbbells train the chest far more effectively than a barbell. So, make sure you are doing your dumbbell bench press! With dumbbells, you get a full contraction of each pectoral muscle and each side works independently and will help balance out your chest if one side is bigger. Dumbbells also are far more challenging as they recruit more stabilising muscles giving you much harder workout!

Try dips! Dips are an old-school chest exercise that can do wonders for your chest if done properly. The key is to lean forward so your chest is doing the work rather than the triceps, you will know when it’s working because you will feel it deep in the pecs!

Don’t go too heavy! Guys love to go heavy on the bench press whether it’s with the barbell or some dumbbells they love to show off on chest day. Heavy chest training certainly has its place but you won’t get much growth if you’re doing 1 or 2 reps with a heavy weight with poor form. Remember the optimal rep range for growth is 8-12 reps, keep this in mind!

There are 3 keys that can make all the difference to whether your chest grows or not, so next time it’s chest day, leave your ego at the door and train smartly to get that chest you deserve!

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The ONLY 3 Training Methods for Muscle Growth!!


When it comes to training for muscle growth, there are 3 methods you can use in the gym, they all involve using some kind of resistance, may this be weights or cable machines. In this post I will cover them and how you can use them to get more gains than ever before!

Micro Tearing the Muscle – This is the most effective way to grow your muscles, this is the principle of hypertrophy training. By lifting relatively heavy weight in a controlled manner using a full range of motion for around 8-12 reps is the best way to cause micro tears in your muscle fibres. So essentially you are purposely damaging the muscle, hence the soreness, so when you leave the gym your body will repair these micro tears and grow back your muscle fibres BIGGER and STRONGER for next time! Focus on stretching and squeezing the muscle with each rep to get the best results!

Lifting Heavy Weight – Strength gains can often be the result of improved nervous system control but very often a stronger muscle is also a bigger muscle. So lifting heavy weight will challenge your muscles and will likely cause them to grow, lifting heavy also elicits an anabolic response inside the body, so you produce more testosterone and growth hormone which will result in overall growth!

Pumping the Muscle – When you train a muscle for long enough your body pumps more blood into that muscle to feed it with oxygen and nutrients, this is known as the pump. Often training in a higher rep range with lighter weight will get the best pump (15-20 reps), you will know when you get a good pump as the muscle will feel tight, look bigger and burn! The reason this makes the muscle grow is quite simple, you are FEEDING it! The blood carrying all the protein you’ve eaten throughout the day is directly taken to that muscle for growth, on top of this, pumping a muscle will release more growth hormones inside the muscle and also stretch the facia of the muscle which will allow for easier future growth!

So there you have it, every time you step into the gym and pick up a weight, think of these 3 principles, if you’re not tearing the muscle fibres, challenging them with heavy weight or pumping the muscle then you’re NOT going to grow!

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How to Add Up to 100 Pounds to Your Bench and Deadlift Instantly!!


In this blog I’m going to tell you how to add 100 pounds to your bench press and deadlift, this also can apply to other exercises too but I’m focussing on these because they are what most people want to get stronger at. For some it won’t be 100 pounds, it depends on what your current technique and knowledge is like but for most beginners the tips and tricks in this post will add HUGE amounts of weight to your lifts!

General Training Advice – To increase your strength you need to go heavy! The best set to rep range is 5×5, so 5 sets of 5 reps on the relevant exercise, on the last rep you should be really struggling and it should take everything you’ve got to complete that last rep, if it doesn’t then you’re going too light! Warm up first before going to the 5×5 with a lighter weight to make sure you don’t injure yourself. This is the best training method to increase strength.

General Diet Advice – Lifting heavy takes energy, you need to fuel your body. To increase your lifts, you need be eating a caloric surplus, so you are eating more calories than you are burning. I suggest you eat around a 1,000 calories surplus if you’re really serious about gaining strength. Most of these calories should be coming from carbohydrate as carbs are what the body uses for energy but also ensure you’re eating at least 1g of protein per lb of lean body mass for optimal recovery.

Ok, so now the nitty gritting tactics on how to increase your bench press and deadlift:

Deadlift –

  • First of all, always deadlift on a hard solid surface. Don’t deadlift in trainers, either wear proper lifting shoes or go barefoot!
  • Wear a belt, a lifting belt will stabilise your lower back and core and can easily add an extra 20 pounds to your deadlift.
  • Keep your feet aligned about shoulder width apart and ensure your knees and ankles are aligned. Bad technique can really affect your chances of a good lift.
  • Back needs to be flat when lifting with no arch, use an underhand-overhand grip if you struggle with grip strength. Correcting your technique can easily add 50 pounds to your deadlift.
  • Drive with your hips, your hips and legs should start the lift, think of it like a leg press and you’re pushing down on the floor as hard as you can with your legs. The power to start the lift comes from the legs, not the back, this makes a huge difference to how much you can lift.
  • Keep stretching your hamstrings, I have tight hamstrings and it has really affected my deadlift and has led to me getting lower back injuries. However, since I’ve started stretching my hamstrings regularly my deadlift weight has shot up!
  • Try deficit deadlifts, if your weak point is getting the weight of the floor try some deficits for a few weeks then come back to regular deadlifts. Deficits are where you stand on a platform when deadlifting thus making the weight lower on the ground and increasing the range of motion.
  • To increase your deadlift, you need strong legs and back so any other exercise which targets these muscles will help. Squats, Romanian deadlifts, hamstring curls, lunges, bent over rows and pull ups will all help you increase your deadlift.

Bench Press –

  • Make sure your grip is optimal, this makes a massive difference, too narrow will put too much strain on the triceps and too wide will only engage the chest. You want a grip that will engage as many muscles as possible to get the biggest weight up, this is usually slightly wider than shoulder width, but experiment and do what you feel gives you the most power.
  • Put a slight arch in your back when benching, there is nothing wrong with this and all power lifters do this, it will add pounds to your bench press instantly!
  • It’s not just about chest! You need strong shoulders, triceps and even lats for a big bench. Shoulder press, narrow grip bench press, and pull ups will all help your benching power!
  • Train with dumbbells! Dumbbell bench press is more challenging that barbell bench press, so go heavy with the dumbbells and when you come back to the barbell you’ll see a big difference.
  • Keep the bar above your nipples. This is the optimal position that you will get the most power from, it can vary from person to person but keep this in mind as a general rule.

So there you go, here’s a load of tips and tricks to increase your bench press and deadlift instantly as well as general training and diet advice to gain overall strength!

Video on this to come soon so be sure to subscribe to my YouTube!

Check out the rest of my blog posts and articles as well as share, comment and subscribe!

See you on the next blog!