Focus on the following:
- Practice: The best way to get stronger at an exercise is to practice that exercise—you improve your squat strength by squatting, your overhead press by overhead pressing, and so forth. Thus, if you currently bench just once weekly and want to improve, try benching more frequently.
- Build muscle: As a new weightlifter, you’ll find most strength gains come from honing your technique. However, as you become more experienced (after 1-to-2 years of consistent weightlifting), building more muscle is one of the most effective ways to increase your one-rep max strength. If you want a program designed to help experienced weightlifters build muscle and get strong, check out my fitness book Beyond Bigger Leaner Stronger.
- Train with heavy weights: You must regularly train with weights near your maximum to improve your one-rep max strength. A good guideline is to spend approximately 80% of your gym time training in the 4-to-6 rep range (85-to-90% of your one-rep max) and the remainder training in the 6-to-8 or 8-to-10 rep range (75-to-85% of your one-rep max).