A friend asked me how to achieve her goal of bench pressing her bodyweight.
First, how cool is it that a gal wants to bench bodyweight? I think its AWESOME!
Here's what I told her:
1) Lift heavy. Alternate bench and press (Some people call it shoulder press, overhead press, or military press - I just call it press because I think Rip is right about this.) every other workout. Do as much weight as you can lift for 3 sets of 5 reps. Add weight every workout, in small, but consistent amounts.
2) Eat big. The major limiter to upper body strength is muscle size. Upper body muscles are smaller than lower body muscles. To get bigger, muscles need protein. You need to eat at LEAST 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. This is a minimum for anyone lifting weights to get stronger. Yes, that's a lot of protein. A lot of food. Remember: you're not going to eat like this forever, but you need to give your body the raw materials to build itself into the kind of body that can do what you're asking it to do - which is lift something heavy. To do that, you need muscle, and muscle comes from protein.
3) Do your squats. And do your deadlifts. These two exercises are responsible for dumping the maximum amount of growth hormone into your system.
4) Get at LEAST 8 hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep per night. REM sleep is the time when your body does its construction work. It takes all the protein you ate, all the growth hormones you got from your lifting, adds in some more growth hormones, and goes to work building new muscle.
5) Every once in a while do ring dips, push presses, push jerks, hand-stand push-ups, prowler sled pushes, or something else that's difficult and involves pushing.
It'll be fun to see her progress this Summer.