T Nation

Bench Press Not Improving


Hi there,

I am new on T-Nation and I was looking for some advice in regards to my bench press that seems to be lagging behind according to me....I haven't been regularly training or following a specific training however I always tended to follow a 5*5 format and trying to squat at least 1 or twice a week and I used to bench 3 times a week to no avail...

I have decided to starting lifting more seriously since over last 8 months I wasn't really being consistent in my workouts with no specific programs to stick to with an emphasis on bench press (ego stuff probably)

My current stats are :

-I'm 6'1 and pretty much 235lbs but probably a good 20lbs of fat, belly fat ..lol..etc..

-bench press : 235Lbs 5X5 (once or twice a week)
-back squat: 335lbs 5X5 (a year ago)
-front squat: 265lbs 5*4 2 to 3 times A week ( I feel like I can squat slightly more and I think I am limited with my cross armed technique and trying to switch to the clean grip was told it might be easier for heavier weight)

-deadlift : 455lbs 5*5 (once a week)

I feel like I should be able to bench press more, however my routine for CHEST has been quite random basically bench press once or twice a week + some machine exercises....once every two weeks I may do triceps work too and same for shoulders..

Thanx a lot for the assistance....and sorry for the long posting too..lol


Hi, from your post my first thoughts would be you need to get a proper training program started.

You will find things don't progress if you haven't got a structured program, you need to identify what you wish to achieve and use exercises to achieve that.

Bill Starr 5x5 and Wendlers 5/3/1 are great places to start.

Westside is a great principle but takes experience and knowledge to build a useful program from it so not ideal for beginner/intermediate.

If you must look at your bench check out Dave Tate's So you think you can bench? and an article called 'bench by numbers' (Google it)



This from Tate is much more focused and better than the "So you think you can bench" series. After watching this a few times, the series will make a lot more sense.

Technique and programming will put a lot of pounds on your bench. You've got a lot of size without a lot of direction, so these two things will get you a long way. If you choose 5-3-1, bench and OHP will likely require some volume work for assistance.


i was going to jump in right away and say to gain more weight.

but if you admitt to holding that much weight around the middle, maybe you better not.

i second the Tate video. i've gotten tons of people to set up like he says to; and they all love it and feel more comfy with heavier weight.


First off, put up vids. They ALWAYS are the easiest way to quickly identify blatant form flaws.

Secondly, as far as front squats go, mixed grip does NOT hold you back as far as weight used, I've front squatted 475x1 with a mixed grip...so if you're still in the 200's, it just means your setup/execution needs work. Refer to point #1. If you get vids I'll be more than happy to help you out.


Start overhead pressing.


I bench raw and found a few exercises really helped improve my numbers.

1) Pin Presses: I set the pins so the bar is just barely touching your chest when you arch. When you press from this bottom position you eliminate the stretch reflex developing strength out of the bottom park of the lift.

2) Wide grip/close grip benches: Both helped, regardless of where my weak point was these helped. I find wides helped my power out of the bottom of the lift.

3) Dumbell presses: These helped and really strengthened the tris.

4) Negatives: These help but should be used sparingly. I really only use them a few weeks out of a max or competition. You can do these on your own in the power rack too, just be sure the pins are setup properly to stop the bar right at your chest.

Exercises that did not help:

1) lockouts from a point more than halfway up on the bench: These are probably better for an assisted lifter, but didn't help me at all. I actually got weaker on the bottom of the lift and yes I still did full rom benches when supplementing them w/ lockouts.

2) Tricep pushdowns: These didn't do a thing for my bench

3) Pec flys: No help

In terms of your program you may just be peaked at the time w/ 5x5. Why don't you try changing the reps to 3x3 and continue building up from there. When you stop progressing w/ 3x3 you could lower the weight to 240 and start your 5x5 program again. And/or you could also change up the exercises, maybe stick w/ 235x5x5 but now on the other day of the week you would do bench, do db presses, close grip presses or something instead. As long as the lift mimics a bench press in the same sort of movement.

Finally, allot of people recommend doing upper back stuff. I can't vouch as to whether or not this helps allot from my experience, but I will say one of the best bench cycles I have had chins and bent rows were a staple in my routine.