T Nation

Bench Press Blues

My Flat Bench press Max Sucks and will not move. You’ve heard this before but let me explain my situation. Yes, I know I’m not strong.

BW: 180
Bench Max: 235
Close-Grip Max: 225
Military Press: 145X3
Dumbbell Bench: 100sX10
Weighted Chin: 90X2
Weighted Dip: 90X11
Skull-crusher: 110X8
DB Row: 150X15
Zercher Squat: 405
Deadlift: 455

I understand these numbers aren’t very impressive but for a 180lb 19 year old whose main focus has been endurance sports for most of his life, I think they’re alright.

So resist the urge to flame. Please just help me understand what my weakpoint must be. I feel like my bench press is pretty far behind everything else. Is it weak shoudlers? Can it only be explained as a technique issue? What’s the deal? I doubt it’s my upper back strength that’s lacking and I think my triceps strength is pretty good for where I am right now.

Take a video of yourself benching. I think that it is a little weird that you can do DBs for 10 with 100s and can only bench 235.

To be honest, some of those assistance numbers look inflated.

My best dumbbell press is 100x11 and I’m good for around 325-330 on the bench at the moment

Best close grip bench is 300lb

Dumbbell row = 110x20 (full stretch and pulled as high as possible)

Best military press is around 165-175x3

My best skull crusher is 110x12 (which i tore my tricep doing incdently!!)

Something is certainly amiss. Are you honestly taking the dumbbell benches, military presses and rows thru a full ROM?

I agree with Hanley. 100sx10 DB bench equates to much more than 235 on the bench. I mean, it’s the same movement - I can’t see how there is that large of a disparity. Think about this: you can press 200 for 10 reps, but only max 235 for 1? Something is amiss…

I can concede that the Dumbbell Press numbers might be inflated since I don’t touch the Dumbbells to my chest. But I do bring my elbows below my torso. The Rows are legit. I’ve also done 120s without straps for 33 reps. I don’t think I could squat 240 for 33 reps.

I’m also pretty confident I could do 215 on the flat bench for reps.

The Military Press is defiantly legit. I’ve got absolutely no knee bend and I start the bar from the racked position while it’s still on my body. I wore a belt if it matters.

I suppose it’s possible that the 100X10 drained me. I did that on Monday then maxed on bench today (Thursday). That recovery might have been compromised further because
I’ve been throwing the shot put every day (I’ve only been doing this for about a month)

On Rack Lockouts about 4 or 5 inches away from my chest I have done 275 from a dead stop.

It’s also not unusual for me on any lift to do a set of 10 with 90% of my max. I think this is attributed to my history of endurance sports. I don’t think it’s from a lack of intensity because I’m pretty familiar with doing sets and max attempts that cause my eyes and face to go red.

So, would my numbers make more sense and seem more balanced if you ignored my max bench?

Sorry I left out the bit about the shot put. That’s probably an important factor, but I feel like I could have done the 100s again today if I wanted.

I also bench in a power rack without a spotter. It’s not as unsafe as it sounds. I just set the pins at a level so that if I get stuck, I can just relax my back and limbo my way out. Taking the bar out by myself probably does tax me some, but I don’t think it’s enough to explain the discrepancy between my Bench and everything else.

Currently I…

Sun: Dead/Oly (alternate)
Mon: Dumbbells/Military (alternate)
Wednesday: Jumps and Squats
Thursday: Bench/Close-Grip/Incline/Rack Bench

I actually posted almost the exact same thing a few weeks ago. The thread title was off by 1 word and my lifts were off by 5-10lbs, but otherwise we’re identical.
I got some good responses, check it out:
http://www.T-Nation.com/tmagnum/readTopic.do?id=2014182

Hey Hanley,
Is it a good idea to just increase the weight by 5-10 pounds every4 sessions?
Like
workout 1:
bench: 200 pounds
workout 2:
bench: 200 pounds
workout 3:
bench: 200 pounds
workout 4:
bench: 200 pounds
workout 5-8:
bench: 205 pounds

etc
Basically increasing every 2 weeks (i have max upper body twice a week)the weight by 5-10 pounds (3 sets of 5 rep).

Yay or nay?

[quote]evansmi wrote:
I actually posted almost the exact same thing a few weeks ago. The thread title was off by 1 word and my lifts were off by 5-10lbs, but otherwise we’re identical.
I got some good responses, check it out:
http://www.T-Nation.com/tmagnum/readTopic.do?id=2014182[/quote]

Ha. I posted a response to this and told you to strengthen your shoulders. Once I started Military Pressin, my bottom-end exercises like Dumbbell Bench and Inclines started to move up faster as well so I assumed my Bench was going to go up the next time I tested it.

I got stuck at the same place too. I don’t want to abandon Max-Effort work altogether and I haven’t done any Dynamic Benching. So I’m…

  1. Adding DE Benching
  2. Adding Isometric Bench Presses into my ME cycle
  3. Adding Reverse-Grip Bench Presses into my ME cycle

So I’ll be doing Reverse Grip, Isometric, Rack Lockouts (lower Pin this time) and a deload week with Dumbbell Bench Press for Max Reps.

I’ll also continue to push my Assistance and Accessory exercises as hard as possible.

I’m assuming isometrics helped your bench since you sent me this link.

[quote]blazindave wrote:
Hey Hanley,
Is it a good idea to just increase the weight by 5-10 pounds every4 sessions?
Like
workout 1:
bench: 200 pounds
workout 2:
bench: 200 pounds
workout 3:
bench: 200 pounds
workout 4:
bench: 200 pounds
workout 5-8:
bench: 205 pounds

etc
Basically increasing every 2 weeks (i have max upper body twice a week)the weight by 5-10 pounds (3 sets of 5 rep).

Yay or nay?

[/quote]

That method of basic progressive resistance has worked great for everything but my bench press.

Based on the face that your close grip and regular grip bench is so close and that you don’t go down all the way on DB presses, I think that you have a week chest and that you are a shoulder dominate bencher. If this was my problem, I would start doing decline and start going down ALL the way on DB presses. I might also consider doing 1-Board cambered bar bench press to get an extra 1-2in range of motion at the bottom.

Try taking a break from benching.

Hammer your back and work on bringing your Military Press up as it is pretty weak. Get your MP around 205 or so and then retest your bench.

Or get a bench shirt, that helped my raw bench better than anything I ever did before.

[quote]FightingScott wrote:
blazindave wrote:
Hey Hanley,
Is it a good idea to just increase the weight by 5-10 pounds every4 sessions?
Like
workout 1:
bench: 200 pounds
workout 2:
bench: 200 pounds
workout 3:
bench: 200 pounds
workout 4:
bench: 200 pounds
workout 5-8:
bench: 205 pounds

etc
Basically increasing every 2 weeks (i have max upper body twice a week)the weight by 5-10 pounds (3 sets of 5 rep).

Yay or nay?

That method of basic progressive resistance has worked great for everything but my bench press. [/quote]

How did you progress your bench?

damn you zercher 405? shit i DEFF would NOT put that much weight into my arms fuck that. Maybe you should train your bench as if you were going into a competition (as matt said with a shirt, but dont need to get one) just train as a PL’er with the different ranges of motion…have a dynamic lift day etc etc…

Taking a break from benching would be a good suggestion but I have negated the basic barbell bench press through much of my training. Since I usually didn’t have a spotter available I always did Dumbbells, Weighted Dips, and other stuff.

But I am going to go full blast on Military Press. I plant to start following a normal Westside Template instead of WS4SB or a bodybuilding template. I figure if I can keep slowly bring up the weight in the Military Press, I should get at least a pound for pound carryover to the bench press.

To answer blazindave’s question more fully, I don’t want to do progressive overload because I want to max out weekly in some form of the bench press, and the westside template will allow me to do that. My problem is I’m really good at rep work and progressive overload but in comparison to that, I’m bad at maxing out. If I do a program where I’m using high reps, then I’ll just get better at rep work and not better at max lifts.

And also, because I can, for whatever reason, do rep work at 90% of my max, I pretty much need to regularly rotate core exercises so I don’t stall (cause it’s not good to lift at or above 90% of your max in the exact same lift for more than a week or two).

I like maxing out with Zerchers off Pins (I started at parallel) because you can’t really lose your tightness or screw up in the walk-out. My normal squat last time I maxed it was 425, but I think I could do more than that now since my front squat, deadlift, rack pull, and zercher have increased after taking that max.

[quote]FightingScott wrote:
evansmi wrote:
I actually posted almost the exact same thing a few weeks ago. The thread title was off by 1 word and my lifts were off by 5-10lbs, but otherwise we’re identical.
I got some good responses, check it out:
http://www.T-Nation.com/tmagnum/readTopic.do?id=2014182

Ha. I posted a response to this and told you to strengthen your shoulders. Once I started Military Pressin, my bottom-end exercises like Dumbbell Bench and Inclines started to move up faster as well so I assumed my Bench was going to go up the next time I tested it.

I got stuck at the same place too. I don’t want to abandon Max-Effort work altogether and I haven’t done any Dynamic Benching. So I’m…

  1. Adding DE Benching
  2. Adding Isometric Bench Presses into my ME cycle
  3. Adding Reverse-Grip Bench Presses into my ME cycle

So I’ll be doing Reverse Grip, Isometric, Rack Lockouts (lower Pin this time) and a deload week with Dumbbell Bench Press for Max Reps.

I’ll also continue to push my Assistance and Accessory exercises as hard as possible.

I’m assuming isometrics helped your bench since you sent me this link.

[/quote]

haha, i didn’t think to check if you were one of the posters. Yeah, my bench training has been taking off. I had lost a lot of shoulder strength by not training them for a while. but they are getting much stronger. The isometrics and dumbbell benches seem to be helping too. I’ve made 10lb jumps on my training weight for each movement each week and yet it seems to be getting easier instead of harder. Very exciting time, my training is really clicking across the board.

I should also add that I have been doing bottom half partial push ups for very high reps, 50-100, 3-4 mornings a week.

oh and one more edit from the other thread. where i start RE day with 6x4 in bench, i threw some mini bands on the bar.

[quote]FightingScott wrote:
To answer blazindave’s question more fully, I don’t want to do progressive overload because I want to max out weekly in some form of the bench press, and the westside template will allow me to do that. My problem is I’m really good at rep work and progressive overload but in comparison to that, I’m bad at maxing out. If I do a program where I’m using high reps, then I’ll just get better at rep work and not better at max lifts.[/quote]

High reps? Wouldn’t 3 sets of 5 be considered “low” reps?

[quote]Pemdas wrote:
Based on the face that your close grip and regular grip bench is so close and that you don’t go down all the way on DB presses, I think that you have a week chest and that you are a shoulder dominate bencher. If this was my problem, I would start doing decline and start going down ALL the way on DB presses. I might also consider doing 1-Board cambered bar bench press to get an extra 1-2in range of motion at the bottom. [/quote]

I agree. I think it may be your chest. Why? Because your close grip bench is only 10 pounds off your max regular grip bench. But it may also be because you naturally have a closer grip. But maybe at the bottom when the chest is worked the most, you stall out in strength. Still, vid might be good. I have a wider grip, but once I get to the point where triceps begin to kick in more, that is when I lose the weight most often.

[quote]ukrainian wrote:
Pemdas wrote:

I agree. I think it may be your chest. Why? Because your close grip bench is only 10 pounds off your max regular grip bench. But it may also be because you naturally have a closer grip. But maybe at the bottom when the chest is worked the most, you stall out in strength. Still, vid might be good. I have a wider grip, but once I get to the point where triceps begin to kick in more, that is when I lose the weight most often. [/quote]

I don’t think my weak point is my chest. I think it’s my shoulders mainly because of the discrepancy between my Military Press and my Bench Press. And even if I don’t bring the Dumbbells to my chest, they still go through a decent range of motion (how often do you see anyone touching the Dumbbells to their chest?) So I think working my shoulders more, working on speed, and working on isometrics will help me out since these are things that I have neglected but chest work (Hammer Strength Chest Press, Dumbbell Pressing, etc) is something I haven’t neglected.

[quote]blazindave wrote:
FightingScott wrote:
To answer blazindave’s question more fully, I don’t want to do progressive overload because I want to max out weekly in some form of the bench press, and the westside template will allow me to do that. My problem is I’m really good at rep work and progressive overload but in comparison to that, I’m bad at maxing out. If I do a program where I’m using high reps, then I’ll just get better at rep work and not better at max lifts.

High reps? Wouldn’t 3 sets of 5 be considered “low” reps?[/quote]

I don’t want to get better at “low” reps either. I want to get better at maxing out. I don’t want to leave the range of singles, doubles, and triples for my Max Effort work because that’s what Max Effort work calls for and because doing work in the 1-3 rep range with Maximal weights is a weakness for me.

I’ll also be using reps between 6-20 on exercises like Weighted Dips, Weighted Chins, Rows, Triceps Extensions, Military Presses, Rear-Delt Flys, and other exercises that will help raise my bench press but aren’t actually bench pressing.

I don’t want to sound like a snob because from my numbers it’s clear that I’m a novice bencher, but are you familiar with the Westside Method of training or the Max Effort method of strength training? The Max Effort method has done wonders for my squat and deadlift, and I believe it’s not only the best way to build pure strength, but also the best way to build strength without gaining size (granted I know everyone wants to be huge, but the Max Effort method chosen over the Bodybuilding method will make you stronger pound for pound).