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Bench Has Been Stuck for Past Month


Hi all!

Figured its about time I stopped lurking and start participating. I've been weight lifting for a good two to three years. Right now I'm just doing it for fun/blowing off steam because I'm currently in school for my Master's in Physics/Material Science and...well time is a little scarce right now lol.

The question I have is regarding my upper body routine. Right now I'm doing 5X5 bench press (with 3 sec pause at the bottom), 3X10 lateral raises and 4X6 Chinups/3X10 slight incline bench press (super set.) I workout three days a week and alternate between upper and lower body (ex: Tue-upper, thu-lower, sat-upper then next week, tue-lower, thu-upper, sat-lower and repeat.) The problem I have is, for over a month, I've been stuck at the same weight for my bench press! Every time I try to increase the weight, I end up failing my 4th rep in my last set. Anybody have a solution to my predicament? Feel free to ask me for more info if I wasn't clear.

Thanks in advance and good to be here! :slightly_smiling:


Well, there's more than a few factors that could be at play here:

  • diet, what is it?
  • how frequently are you training?
  • sleep, how much do you get?

Assuming these are in order, it may just be that it takes a while for the body to progress. There's also, while you're working out:

  • what's your rest period like between sets?
  • how many sets do you do before you get to the heavy set? (I realize you said 5x5, but it merits repeating)
  • what increments have you tried? So, say you're stuck at 225, and you can't do 250, what about 235?


Ok here goes:

Diet: Well at this point I pretty much eat out every day since I spend 8 even 12 hours in school, which means that even if I pack a lunch, I end up eating at least once more. I do try to keep it healthy though, I frequent this sandwich place called "Au Bon Pain" and they have pretty good options health-wise plus they list the calories of every item so I can keep track of intake.

Frequency: I train 3 days a week and alternate between upper and lower body.

Sleep: avg of 9 hours (10 on weekends, 6-8 on weekdays.)

I rest about 2-2.5 minutes per set, I do two warm up sets before starting the heavy weights. Now, I do the sets such that if my target wait was say 150LB, my first set would be 140, then 145, then 150 and then I go down to 130 and 135 for my last two sets. I increase my target weight in 5LB increments.


You sleep 9 hours getting a masters? What's your secret?!?!

Anyways. IMO you should think about not counting your reps. You say that you pause for three seconds at the bottom. At your strength level, just focus on moving a heavier weight and driving the bar explosively rather than trying to get a stretch at the bottom.

Think about it this way: Not everyone that can hold a 3 second count for a 150lb bench can bench 250, but I guarantee everyone that can bench 250 can hold 150 for a 3 second count.

Just my 0.02


Well the 9 hours was a serious ball park lol, most of the hours is gained during the weekend. Hmm, I guess I should just stop pausing in the bottom. I was originally doing it to help my form a bit but I guess it wasn't working...


1) Stop pausing at the bottom

2) Eat more food

3) Change up your rep scheme

4) Change exercise selection

5) Stop doing so many working sets for a while

6) Work on your technique

I could go on much longer, but those are the most basics things.


Cool, thanks hungry4more. I've already decided to switch to a regular bench press. I guess I can just do the 5X5 bench and not do the other exercises for a few weeks, at least until I see some gains.

Thanks again for all the help everybody!




Gain 20 lbs


fwiw: you could also alternate between 5x5 with the westside 3x3. Do three sets of three @90% of 1rm then proceed to heavier singles. Rest would be 3-5 minutes. this helped pop me off of a stupid little plateau.


Cool, I'll look into that if nothing else works...


Bench more frequent // 5x5.

day1: flat
day3: Incline
Day5: Decline
Rest 3 days (on the press)
Day9: Flat
Day12: Incline
Rest 3 Days ( for bences presses)
day16: Flat
day18: Flat
Rest 3 days( again presses)

Max out and tell me your bench didn't improve.....


hungry4more made a valid point as well.


If you want your bench to go up then do more bench exercises. Do your 5x5 bench and then 3x3 and then 2x2 and then 3 singles, then do Incline, then military, then dips, then Tate Press for your 1st bench day, then second bench day do High volume bench to the tune of 6-8 sets of 10. Then close grip (changing grip can have a big affect), Rack press. You dont have to follow this, the point is that you're only doing bench. Supplement it. And more importantly than anything I've said,
Read this http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/bench_press_600_pounds_a_12_step_program

and watch this