Increasing your bench press

Hey my name is Matt. I've just started the 10 8 6 15 workout on your site. It's been many years since I've lifted, so I haven't been able to do much weight (I'm 160lbs age 23). 

My bench press is very weak, and I'm usually not able to complete all of my reps. Also I've been leaving out the close grip bench press from my routine. Is the bench press still doing me any good even if I can't finish the reps? Any tips on an exercise that might help me get stronger on the bench press? Also what is a good substitute for the close grip? 

And finally, I am able to curl more weight with my right arm than my left. Is it OK to use less weight in my left and more in my right, or should I use equal amounts even though its a little easier with my right arm? 

Sorry to bombard you with questions. I just don't really have anyone to ask! 


My Answer: If you're not able to complete the target reps, then that's fine.  The point is to pyramid your reps and weight.  The weight should be heavier from set to set until the final set, which would be a flushing set.  So if you did 9-7-5-12 instead of 10-8-6-15, then that's OK.

Also it's perfectly fine to leave out the close bench press.  If you want a different triceps exercise, then do pressdowns or barbell military presses.

Now is there an exercise to increase your bench press?  Yeah, it's called... the bench press. If you want to be strong in a particular exercise, then you have to practice that exercise.  You just have to practice good form.  If you want to increase your bench press, then you should practice the powerlifting bench press.  The powerlifting bench press is different in form from the bodybuilding bench press.  If you want to lift more weight in the bench press, then the powerlifting style is the way to go.  I devote a whole chapter to the bench press (powerlifting and bodybuilding style) in my book Strength and Physique: The Articles.

Now as far as differences in strength between your right and left biceps, just work one limb and at a time.  Doing dumbbell curls one arm at a time, starting with you left arm first.  Stick with the same weight for both arms.
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