T Nation

Bench Disproportionate to Sqt/DL. Tips?


I've recently been getting into competitive powerlifting (I've bench/squat/DL'd for 6-7 years) and I'm looking for some advice on my bench

Im 21 years old, 5 foot 5, 132 pounds (looking to continue to compete at 132)
At my last meet (Raw) I got:
253 squat (275 in the gym)
143 bench
368 deadlift
764 Total

I feel like my bench is disproportionate to my squat and deadlift. I'm thinking of doing two bench days per week to try and make up for the deficit but would appreciate any other tips I can get


What's your diet like? What program have you been running? How is your form/technique (form must be pursued relentlessly)? Accessory work? Need more information in order to offer you some recommendations.

With that said, I wouldn't worry so much about the disparities between each of your lifts. There's no ratio that applies to all lifters. Just concern yourself with getting stronger in all three of your lifts.



Step 1 - get bigger.


I eat really healthy. I also row competitively in college but thats second to lifting for me because I'm too small to ever be a good rower. Leading up to my last meet i did a few months of 5/3/1 lifts. Now Im doing 5/3/1 on my bench and squat and the coan/phillipi method on my deadlift to try and break 400. For assistance work on my bench days I usually do deficit pushups, decline dumbbell press, and dumbbell flys with other assorted shoulder work (split jerks, 4 way back, etc) and pushdowns and another tricep exercise at the end. Sometimes to change things up I do isometric holds against the pins and 3 second eccentrics.

I've watched all the Dave Tate bench fix videos and like to think I have a pretty good handle on my form but I've never had anyone really look at it


I don't see that big of a problem. Just looks like you probably have long arms. If you are still concerned about your bench then back of on your other lifts.

I'm gonna sound dumb trying to explain this but here goes anyways. Your body has a limited ability to recover. By splitting your training equally you are going to make sporadic gains more or less randomly with each lift. But by cutting back on the volume and intensity of squatting and deadlifting you have a greater ability to recover for bench. You could keep the split the same and drop the volume and intensity of squat and deadlift days or do 2:1 or 3:1 upper to lower body days.


You're benching is always going to be disproportionate to your squat/deadlift, in part due to your rowing experience. At least this is my opinion. If you've been rowing long, you spent the majority of your puberty years building efficiency in two similar movements (squat and deadlift) that is simply going to allow you to recruit more muscle than your bench, which as a rower you didn't ever have a need to develop.

Also bench is going to be affected more so by actual bodyweight due to increased leverages compared to your squat and deadlift. Add some weight and you should see this disproportionate ratio decrease slightly. I have the same issue, in the 181's after rowing for more than a decade. My deadlift/squat are much higher than most people in my weight class (at least where I am) whereas my bench is slightly weaker than most.


You need to change around your assistance work. Just working your pecs and shoulders isn't going to get it done. You need to REALLY work your triceps and lats. Hit those the hardest. If you're serious about getting your bench up then you need to focus on building your bench, not your pecs. Do a lot of horizontal rowing, heavy close grip bench, JM presses. As far as shoulders go, you need to perform a good amount of rear delt work since the front delts take most of the stress while benching. Scarecrows, facepulls, and rear delt flyes are great. Hope this helps.



I'm not really seeing a problem. One uses his or her whole body to squat and dead so naturally it makes more sense to lift more.

Who gives a crap about squat / bench relationships. There's no standard answer dude..you can lift what you can lift. Just keep getting better.


HAMMER your triceps. Currently, you arent. Fix that.


Where is your sticking point? Does the weight stop half way up, get pinned at the bottom or stop towards the top?
Like Liquid said, you row, your legs are stronger than the rest of your body. So make sure you consider that.

I would post a video. Your form may look good to you, but the angle you see isn't all that great. I used to have issues with forearm angle, and couldn't see that. Post a video and let us critique it.

Also, how much can you: low cable row? Weighted pullup? No offense, but I've seen rowers w/ bad form and not-so-strong backs (how? idk...) I figure I'd ask while I'm at it. I've noticed, and read here, that the row/pullup is about as much as you -should- be benching, which holds for me.


VTT - a lot of that is because rowing is maybe 10-15% back. We also do not have an arch in our backs while rowing, with most rowers tending to have at best a neutral back. Also keep in mind that most coaches in the rowing world (myself being the exception) don't really bother much with lifting and don't have their rowers on any well thought out program or with very little technical aspects.


My sticking point is about an inch or two off my chest, if I can't get it past there it isn't going up. My rows are pretty comparable to my bench. I don't really ever do weighted pullups


Switch to two days a week, and if you can go to 3. Work all speeds. If you did one day a week for each lift for 6 or 7 years, you're still hitting legs twice a week and chest once. Of course your legs will be stronger.


I would just move to a closer grip bench for a while and do a lot more sets of it. You don't really need all of the assistance work, just work the bench a lot more.


with that sticking point, and having said your rows are up to par, do more heavy rows, and overhead press. the overhead press seems to really help that sticking point.


with that sticking point, and having said your rows are up to par, do more heavy rows, and overhead press. the overhead press seems to really help that sticking point.


In the 3's week of 5/3/1
Hit 150 for 4 today
split jerks
clap pushups up onto bumper plates
board presses
4 way back

good day overall


In the 3's week of 5/3/1
Hit 150 for 4 today
split jerks
clap pushups up onto bumper plates
board presses
4 way back

good day overall


Just my 02 cents, remember that lighter guys can handle much more volume (relatively) than heavy guys. I think 5/3/1 is probably a little low volume for you, especially on upper body. I would bench a minimum of twice a week, heavy, and you might have success with 3 days a week. Most of your training should be in the 80-95% range. If you really want to blast your bench on a specific program try CT's 8 Weeks to a Record Bench, I am on it right now and it is working well.

Your bench is a little low in comparison to your other numbers but there is not much you can do about that other than work that bench and be happy your worst lift is the least important of the powerlifts.


just do more benches, more often... with that strength you wont overeach... u need to activate muscles first... no assistance no anything else, just do more benches, 30 sets of bench between 60%-90% in a week should be about right with 8-10 of those sets spent in 80-90% range... and use a bit of a closer grip... it will make it easier on the bottom, since at that BW your leverages are not quite for competition grip... didnt catch what grip u use, so sorry if that aint right...