So I have been lifting for about 2 years now, made excellent progress on my squat and deadlift (340 and 380 1RMs respectively) but I am completely stalling out on my bench (215 1RM, on a good day). I've taken multiple approaches to this over a period of time, most recently taking a full month off flat bench and focusing just on incline / decline bench as well as upper back building.
After this month my bench may even have gone down. What are some other options for me to bring my bench in line with my other lifts? For reference I am ~185 lbs, 6ft. If more information on my training regiment is needed, please let me know so I can fill in the details. Thanks for any and all help!
Right now, I am between routines. Playing with rack benches and doing some isolation work just to change it up. The past month I was benching 2x a week, Monday would be decline and Thursday would be incline. The set / rep went up in intensity every week, so the first week was sets of 8 up to what would be approximately 8rm, then second week was sets of 6, then 5, then 3.
After that, I took a rest week doing either very light or very low volume, then just came back and tried flat benching again only to find it a total no-go. Before that I was doing 5-3-1, only benching once a week but flat bench. And going back several months, most likely around January, I did a 6 week smolov JR program for bench.
x2 I've had two bench press epiphanies in my 1 year of lifting. The first was that I stopped stalling once I started warming up properly. The second was that "I didn't know how to fucking bench." Lol, that one still kills me.
Pound heavy upper back work. For example- pick any two or three of the following to improve your upper back strength. Work up on bent-over rows going so heavy, that they start looking more like stiff leg deads with a shrug at the top (that's how you knwow you are going heavy enough). Shrugs, working up to a max set 5 (use straps). If you not good at pull ups, do pull ups and if are good at pull ups, add enough weight so that you can't do more 5 pull ups. Dumbbell rows- go as heavy as you can for 5s unless your gym's bells don't go that heavy- in which case, grab the heaviest ones and go to failure. After you do the hard work, do cable rows ro bent-over raises, or dumbbell cleans or pulldowns for higher reps.
Close grip work. Use different grips inside from what you normally use. Lately, a favorite supplemental exercise of mine is floor presses with a close grip. I'll do these after I bench heavy. My preferred grip for shirted or raw is pointer finger on the ring. But for this I start out with pointer finger on the smooth for sets of 5-8. As the sets get heavier, I'll move my grip out a little with each set. By the last and heaviest set, my pinky is on the ring.
It would help a lot if you could post a video of a near-max bench press attempt.
Fixing your form would be the easiest way to put on the pounds. If you're not currently arching your back, pinching your shoulderblades back and "locking" them, keeping your elbows relatively in as opposed to flared out 180 degrees, and getting good drive through your legs, then fixing any of those things would probably help a lot. I think Dave Tate has written a lot about proper bench form, and another good article to read would be Eric Cressey's "Habits of Highly Defective Benchers" (something along those lines).
Even if you have adequate shoulder, chest, and triceps strength to be pressing more weight, you'll never progress if your scapular stability sucks. A lot of guys do a lot of shrugs and pressing, and are good at scapular elevation and protraction. However, if you don't balance that out with pulling in a horizontal and vertical plane (scapular retraction and depression), then you might be robbing yourself of pounds on the bench press.
It's not really fair to judge the efficacy of a training cycle on your first workout, especially since you haven't done flat bench in over a month. You'll need several flat benching sessions before you can completely realize any transfer gains that may have occurred.
You realize that if you need your broken car to be fixed, you don't just bring your right front car door to the repair man, and tells him: My car is not working.
Two years in training no lifts should ever stall. I suspect faulty training methods. What you describe is not uncommon, and for natural trainees this is most often a result of training the bench press too hard, or eating too little, or both.
If you start studying powerlifting methods, and read up about the bench press, you will start to realize that you are doing things wrongly.
I've been training for almost 10 years. My bench was stalling for long periods of time when I started training. Why? Because I trained too hard too often, and ate too little food!
Your key words are: Food and more food, and proper intensity management (ie. powerlifting methods)..
If you want a no brainer easy methods, you could just skip all upper body work for 14 days, to get fully recovered, and then do the smolov jr. bench press program (cut the numbers of sets in half, or do it as is), and add some rows as well, and your bench press will once again increase.
The point is: After 2 years at your level, there is no reason at all any lift should stall. It is a matter of finding proper training methods.
And oh... food, food and more food. If your bw increase, so will your bench.
I still remember when I benched 225x3 and I got into a rut similar to you. I went for real high reps, started with like 15 and worked my way down bit by bit. I ended up doing 225x8 5 or 6 weeks later, which was big to me.
You have a huge margin for error technique-wise and program-wise because your lifts are pretty low, so I'd do something similar to what I did.
Python, Perfectly normal ratios for where your at right now. Squatting a deadlifting takes it's toll on your upper back. This will affect your bench. Everyone is different tho as to how much it affects them. Most would agree it's a constant battle to get all 3 lifts equally progressing at the same rate. You said you've "stalled". How long did your bench regimen work and how much progress did you make? First thing I would do is make sure your bench form is spot on- every rep- then worry about weight. Find your weaknesses build them. A compound movement will be dampened by it's weakest link. This is your job of evaluating where you are at every session and adjusting your training accordingly.
the answr for a shitty bench.....train in.. ditch the squat and for a while and train the bench more often
what i did was
day1: heavy benc+accesory+overhead press+some kind d of tricep extension day2: upper back work:..heavy deadlift..rack pulls.heavy partials ..a lot of rows... day3: bech accesory..witch has been close grip bench+ dumbell work(mostly with neutral grip to hit the tricpes hard)+dips+a lot of tricpes extensions
it took me from barely being able to bench 80kg around march to be able to do 115kg x7 x2 sets last monday...
also my upperbody as gained a good amount of muscle...
and in my opinion bench work better with a higher volume tan the others powerlifts..and food..you wanna bench big..gain weight is a must...but we dont wanna be fats..