T Nation

Bench Numbers Frozen, Need Help


Hey everyone,

I used to have an account way back, but stopped posting for a while and they must have deleted it. Anyways, this isn't directly a powerlifting question - but you guys are the best at getting strong so that is why I am asking.

My athletic background: I am currently a washed up meathead, I used to play baseball/row during highschool and I rowed for a bit in University as I attempted to start a team for my school, however my "teammates" dropped like flies.

*Im not sure if this information is relevant but I just wanted to be reasonably thorough.

I am currently following Joe DeFranco's WS4SB v. 3.0


Height: 5'11
Height: 180
BP: 235 (2 Months ago.)
Squat: 365 (2 Months ago.)
Deadlift: 365 (2 Months ago)

(These maxes were checked pre-B.C. Hiatus) I am currently in my fourth week of following that program after a month layoff as I was in northern B.C. working for an outdoor centre and the only training I could use were my TRX Suspension Trainers. I am currently training simply for GPP - I'd like to start rowing again but my life is too packed during the summer with the LSAT coming up (10+ Hrs a week studying), working 40 Hrs/week, training in the gym 5 Hrs a week.

My delimma lies in my Bench Press. For the last 3 weeks on my Max Effort Upper Body day my bench press has been regressing while my other lifts continue to rise. All my other main lifts (Squat, DL) are rising while my Bench Press remains stagnant.

Note: I only do Overhead Press with Dumbbells, I'm not sure what I am doing wrong but ever since I stopped Oly lifting any overhead pressing with a barbell leaves my shoulder in significant pain and out of the gym for weeks at a time. I've seen physiotherapists, doctors, sports therapists, chiropractors, ART practitioners - no one has been able to help.

What sort of information would you guys need to help? I keep a workout journal with all my numbers for the past couple months so I can provide that information. I consider myself an intermediate lifter, and would really like to solve this issue.





as wendler says, one easy solution to increase your benvh press, is to increase your BW. Also, as he said, as a raw lifter your shoulders are most surely your weak point, so train them a lot.


In regards to the shoulder pain, you need to do more rear and side delt work but mostly rear. They also may have gotten tighter so stretch them out. You used to do Oly lifting so I'm sure you kow how. For the bench, the fastest way possible is to gain weight. You also need to strengthen your shoulders. Another thing that helps is to not train so close to your max. Lift submaximally, build up your shoulders, gain some weight, and fix your shoulder issue.


Hey Bro, sorry about the shoulder pain. It sucks. Look, I'm a bench-only lifter and I've hit a few dry patches as well. First, I recommend you stop the overhead lifts. Alot of very good benchers use it but I don't think it's wise with shoulder pain. Second, try resting. Rest also sucks because we are men of action and want to work hard and fix it. Try resting anyway. Be aware that getting in a proper squat postion really stretched your shoulders too. After you try resting get back into it with partial movements. Floor Press, Board Press, etc. Consider getting a "Slingshot" to protect your shoulder while letting you overload. Really hit the rear delts.

Lastly, make sure your form isn't the problem. Shoulders blades pulled back tight, elbows not flared out in the extreme. Once your pain free you can get back to PRs.


I dun know if this will work for you but for what its worth, I usually do a couple sets of push up (nothing to intense here, just sets of 10 or 15)on non workout days, focusing on protracting the shoulders and spreading the shoulder blade apart at the top of the movement. I find this tend to "lubricate" my shoulder joints for a lack of better word and actually make it feel better, esp after a pressing day.


Sorry bit of a side not, but the only time I've seen you post here. Do you have any tips for inner elbow pain, basically where the bicep ties in, during heavy benching? As soon as I get around 70% and up, the bicep tie in is killing me as the weight descends. All reps after the first are okay, its jut the first rep of each set is painful as I lower the weight which makes powerlifting an issue as most of my work is singles above 90%.


Thanks for your help guys, I'll try hitting the shoulders in a variety of ways that don't cause any pain. I don't think my rear delts are the problem, as I mentioned I was a rower, and an olympic lifter. We didn't train bench when I did oly lifting, and I just used it to keep balanced when rowing so that could account for the lagging. If all else fails, it's time to start the feeding.


Have u tried doing bodybuilding style bicep curl(continuous tension, 8-12 rep reange, going for the pump way) to supplement ur pressing, I find this helps for the elbow pain during my benching.

I have also tried doing high rep bicep curls ( to get the blood flowing) before heavy benching and I have found that my elbow dun hurt as much.

Hope this help.


Hmmm, no I have not, maybe I'll give that a go next time. All I do are hammer curls in the 6-10 range once per week.

Thanks for the thought.


As a fellow rower, I've decided that your bench is always going to be weak compared to your squat/deadlift. I've noticed that it's significantly easier to add weight to my other two lifts versus my bench, I've decided that years of rowing have trained our motor pathways towards pulling/squatting movements and since we very rarely bench they were somewhat left behind (makes me wish I had been like every other high schooler in the gym and just benched a lot). Just keep hammering it, and realize that it's likely to be an issue. I've found that the best thing for me was to really focus on hammering my triceps and getting that strength up.


Thanks LM, thats understandable. Just curious, do you still row? Do you do any weight training in addition to your training? Most high-level rowers I know (I have some friends who row Div 1 NCAA/Nationally for Canada) and they do pretty much no weight training at all. They had background in weight training but fell off as they got into higher levels of rowing which is interesting.



Ah I missed the rowing tidbit. Erging actually aggravated my shoulders but I would always lift before practice though.


That's kinda understandable since rowing at that high a level is super demanding. I know that once I got home after lifting and rowing all I wanted to do was sleep. Also at certain point, you will see diminishing returns in regards to lifting and rowing. I was the strongest person on the team but also the newest (and tightest) which put me close to the bottom.


2 things come to mind for me.

  1. Try resting your Pressing for a week.
  2. If that doesn't work then add more volume.