T Nation

5/3/1 with No Bench

Anyone here do 5/3/1 without bench? Benching hurts my shoulder so am thinking of doing btn push presses in its place.

Yes! Another person who shares my view. I train strongman, and although chest strength is important, my bench pressing is irrelevant (unless of course the rarity it comes up as an event). I don’t lift bench competitively. I don’t feel bench is a good chest builder for me. I get shoulder pain almost every time I bench. For me, why do it then? The only answer I have is because I want to be able to have a big bench, which is an ego driven reason, not a valid one.

I train with four other guys, and I have decided to try something. We our only three weeks into our programming, so the verdict hasn’t been made. We bench on ‘3’ day only. The other three sessions, we train chest, more like a bodybuilder; machines, volume, isolation, post failure methods. And lots of pushups.

Read Wendler’s logs and writing. He is currently, or at least recently suffering from a shoulder injury reaggrivated by a bench meet. So even if Wendler says to bench, he doesn’t. It seems years of benching has caught up with him. I am not trying to bash the guy, I am an avid follower, but I just use it as another example as why I shy from this lift.

I don’t think push presses are a good switch. That is two overhead presses weekly, maybe to much volume for the shoulders. Also, it leaves the chest, a huge group of muscles (therefore source of strength) untapped. He has said weighted dips are an acceptable 5/3/1 replacement for the overhead press, maybe it would work as well to replace the bench.

Good luck, and keep posting how it works for you, as I might use your feedback to tweak our programming.
TJW

I too used to bench press and regularly suffered with shoulder pain. Then I had the bright idea of dropping it and haven’t had any pain since. I overhead press and find that weighted dips give me all the chest work I need without the pain! Behind the neck presses may not do your shoulders any favours either.

I think I’ll try bringing my grip in close next cycle, I’ve read close grip is supposed to be easier on shoulders, if that doesn’t make any difference I’ll try floor press. I don’t have any problems with btn push press, push press from the front hurts though.

[quote]oldebull wrote:
Yes! Another person who shares my view. I train strongman, and although chest strength is important, my bench pressing is irrelevant (unless of course the rarity it comes up as an event). I don’t lift bench competitively. I don’t feel bench is a good chest builder for me. I get shoulder pain almost every time I bench. For me, why do it then? The only answer I have is because I want to be able to have a big bench, which is an ego driven reason, not a valid one.

I train with four other guys, and I have decided to try something. We our only three weeks into our programming, so the verdict hasn’t been made. We bench on ‘3’ day only. The other three sessions, we train chest, more like a bodybuilder; machines, volume, isolation, post failure methods. And lots of pushups.

Read Wendler’s logs and writing. He is currently, or at least recently suffering from a shoulder injury reaggrivated by a bench meet. So even if Wendler says to bench, he doesn’t. It seems years of benching has caught up with him. I am not trying to bash the guy, I am an avid follower, but I just use it as another example as why I shy from this lift.

I don’t think push presses are a good switch. That is two overhead presses weekly, maybe to much volume for the shoulders. Also, it leaves the chest, a huge group of muscles (therefore source of strength) untapped. He has said weighted dips are an acceptable 5/3/1 replacement for the overhead press, maybe it would work as well to replace the bench.

Good luck, and keep posting how it works for you, as I might use your feedback to tweak our programming.
TJW
[/quote]

What I’m going to try for this cycle is 2 press days, I’ve done ws4sb with press instead of bench so I’m pretty sure I can handle it, I’ll use dips as an assistance exercise. I usually do 3 days a week but I have 2 weeks holiday from both jobs from friday so I’ll let you know how I’m feeling after 2 weeks of 4 days a week.
EDIT: Press will have two 5,3 and 5/3/1 days per cycle.

Try decline, seems to work my chest more without the shoulder pain of a flat bench.

[quote]dday wrote:
Try decline, seems to work my chest more without the shoulder pain of a flat bench. [/quote]

Is it possible to do declines on a regular adjustable bench or is a leg harness needed?

I’ve just done my 4th press session of the 2 weeks, my upper body sessions were:
Press 5/3/1
Press 5x5 one session, btn push press 8x3 the next
Weighted chins 10x5-8
Curls 4x10

All with one minute rest between sets and all press exercises were supersetted with chins. On the second press session of each week I got 1 more rep than the first. I also did kb complexes on my days off with 2 16kg kb’s which also included presses.

I don’t think it was too much volume for my shoulders as I never go to failure. I think the cycle after next I’ll change one assistance for weighted dips but at the moment I’m gonna stay with overhead assistance as I love it.

I’ll be frank here. If benching hurts your shoulders, then your shoulders are weak. Drop the weight down and fix your grip, watch Tate’s “So you think you can bench” series, and do some bench presses. There’s no substitute, there’s no alternative. Yeah, it used to hurt my shoulders too, but I swallowed my pride and dropped the weight until it didn’t hurt, then worked my way back up. Saying that is like those posers who say they can’t squat because it hurts their knees. Go read “Starting Strength” by Mark Rippetoe and man the hell up.

Man the hell up? I don’t like benching so I’m choosing not to from now on, I only started benching because it was part of 5/3/1.

Are you training for strongman?

5/3/1 is a powerlifting program, although some of the principals/structure can be applied to SM training programs.

Yes I’m competing in a first timers comp next year. The reason I’m doing 5/3/1 is because from what I’ve read it works, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work without benching.

There’s tons of information and videos on the net about rehabilitating shoulders, ESPECIALLY if they hurt when you bench. I think if you really want to bench, then you’re going to have to work on mobility and technique. If not, then pick a different exercise and move on.

[quote]jackdaniels0331 wrote:
I’ll be frank here. If benching hurts your shoulders, then your shoulders are weak. Drop the weight down and fix your grip, watch Tate’s “So you think you can bench” series, and do some bench presses. There’s no substitute, there’s no alternative. Yeah, it used to hurt my shoulders too, but I swallowed my pride and dropped the weight until it didn’t hurt, then worked my way back up. Saying that is like those posers who say they can’t squat because it hurts their knees. Go read “Starting Strength” by Mark Rippetoe and man the hell up.[/quote]

Congratulations!! Thats the most stupid post Ive ever read on here. There is such a thing as wear and tear. There are people on here who have been benching for 20+ years and built up lots of scar tissue, worn down cartilage etc. So they should just “man the hell up” should they? Just out of interest how long have you been training and what are your medical qualifications to give such advice? So its all down to weak shoulders is it! LOL

[quote]FarmerBrett wrote:

[quote]jackdaniels0331 wrote:
I’ll be frank here. If benching hurts your shoulders, then your shoulders are weak. Drop the weight down and fix your grip, watch Tate’s “So you think you can bench” series, and do some bench presses. There’s no substitute, there’s no alternative. Yeah, it used to hurt my shoulders too, but I swallowed my pride and dropped the weight until it didn’t hurt, then worked my way back up. Saying that is like those posers who say they can’t squat because it hurts their knees. Go read “Starting Strength” by Mark Rippetoe and man the hell up.[/quote]

Congratulations!! Thats the most stupid post Ive ever read on here. There is such a thing as wear and tear. There are people on here who have been benching for 20+ years and built up lots of scar tissue, worn down cartilage etc. So they should just “man the hell up” should they? Just out of interest how long have you been training and what are your medical qualifications to give such advice? So its all down to weak shoulders is it! LOL[/quote]

I agree, that post pissed me off. Whenever I’ve tried to bench its always hurt so I choose not to bench and I don’t really like the lift anyway. From what I’ve read, the old school guys like hackenschmidt, goener and sandow didn’t bench and they were badass, I think the closest they came to benching was either floor press or when they pressed from a neck bridge.

[quote]crushyourenemies wrote:
Yes I’m competing in a first timers comp next year. The reason I’m doing 5/3/1 is because from what I’ve read it works, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work without benching. [/quote]

I personally did not like 5/3/1 for squat or deadlift, but it did work well for pressing.

If you are going to compete in strongman there is really no reason to bench press - it has no carryover to any strongman event. I would however still do some dumbbell bench pressing to avoid having any significant strength imbalances.

Just a couple of ideas…
incline press. If no incline bench you can use a long board at steep angle and lean back to it to assist.
log pres in lieu of regular press.
Like someone alrady said dips work well.
I know JW has said dbs dont work with 5/3/1 I would really be interested in seeing how one arm db c/push press would work, or side press, or standard press. Circus DB has really started to become popular lately. Lots of old timers did one arm work. Currently I do one arm work after I do my military presses for assistance work.
Personally I have found that bent over rows have worked a lot better for practical application of strength, if too much for lower back can do chest supported rows. My press is much better than upper back strength so I needed to add some strength to a weak part.
Good luck!

IMO you could keep benching in, but stick to close grip benching. It’s one of the best tricep exercises out there, and you wouldn’t harm your shoulders. The downside is that your pecs wouldn’t be very much stimulated (to a certain extent from the pressing and even the CG bench though), but you could just do some weighted dips or chest presses with a Hammer Strength machine. Neither of these have ever fucked with my shoulders.

to the OP, I too do 5/3/1 but my training looks like this
Sunday OHP 5/3/1
Incline Bench 5/3/1
Hang Cleans 5/3/1
weighted pullups 5/3/1
weighted chins

Monday Deadlift 5/3/1
ab work
Goodmornings

Wednsday DE OHP 50-60% depending on week
5/3/1 seated DB press
BB rows
5/3/1 Floor Press
DB Bench
Thursday 5/3/1 Squat
5/3/1 Full Squats
… I Know what you guys are thinking why the hell do i do 5/3/1 on SOOOOOOO many lifts??? well because progression is progression + seated DB press,Pullups,floor press and incline bench and HC all help my standing OHP you guys think too much volume/work?? well isnt that part of strongman??? and taking the flat BB bench out helps and i still get some work from the DB bench…no i m not crazy you guys, i just know my body and limits, this works for me but might not work for you guys… so please no negativity because like I said IT WORKS FOR ME…

:slight_smile: