T Nation

Bench Press Problems

Guys, I hope you can help (well, I know that there are lots of people who can help me!) with a problem I’ve had before and am having again. It’s in the flat bench press.
I never was very good at it when I was lifting before, I got up to about 250# in college at about 200# body weight. Just for comparison, I could close grip about ten reps with 185#.
Now, after a few months of being back at the weights (after about a ten year layoff), I’ve done 315 for a single–once, and not since, but my work sets are around 275 or so for 5 reps (I mostly do 5x5). Yesterday, during the chest work out I made a concious effort to isolate the pecs, and wound up doing sets of 6 with 215 or so. So what can I do to bring the bench up? How do I manage to take advantage of the strength of my shoulders and triceps without taking the pecs out of it? Goals are of course size and strength .
I might add that today my pecs are sore for the first time in months, so I guess they liked the concentration.
Thanks,
–Tony

I should add that I’ve read and re-read Dave Tate’s stuff…
Things have gotten so bad that I’m thinking of adding flyes to chest day!

[quote]acostine wrote:
Guys, I hope you can help (well, I know that there are lots of people who can help me!) with a problem I’ve had before and am having again. It’s in the flat bench press.
I never was very good at it when I was lifting before, I got up to about 250# in college at about 200# body weight. Just for comparison, I could close grip about ten reps with 185#.
Now, after a few months of being back at the weights (after about a ten year layoff), I’ve done 315 for a single–once, and not since, but my work sets are around 275 or so for 5 reps (I mostly do 5x5). Yesterday, during the chest work out I made a concious effort to isolate the pecs, and wound up doing sets of 6 with 215 or so. So what can I do to bring the bench up? How do I manage to take advantage of the strength of my shoulders and triceps without taking the pecs out of it? Goals are of course size and strength .
I might add that today my pecs are sore for the first time in months, so I guess they liked the concentration.
Thanks,
–Tony[/quote]

Today’s training tip comes from Chad Waterbury:

Go Wide for a Big Chest

Want a big chest? Try high-load bench presses with a wide hand position. Heavy bench presses with a wider than shoulder-width grip effectively target the pectoral region for hypertrophy. This movement works especially well for pec development if you don’t lock-out your arms throughout the set. Dips with a wide hand position are outstanding for pec development as well.

My suggestion is that you need to clarify your goals. Working for maximal strength and working for size are two different things. If you want max strength, give compensatory acceleration training (chains / bands) a try. If your working for size, train like a bodybuilder - mucho volume.

Bear in mind, I am in no way an expert in bench. There’s 50 guys here that can answer your question better.

I use a reasonably wide grip, middle finger on the ring of my oly bar, I’ve always been a bit nervous about going much wider, due to a childhood of horror stories from M&F and Flex.
I never could dip. Of course, I never could do pull/chin ups either, but I’ve been working at that and have achieved some degree of success (limiting factor is the inverse ratio of bodyfat to strength!
Are there any good ways to do dips without actual dip bars? I’ll search.
Yeah, I know about the strength v. size thing. But I also know that Dave Tate is one big mofo, and so is Waterbury.
Thanks, Diesel. I appreciate it.

I think your on the right track with reading Dave Tates stuff. like you said he is a big MoFo! I’m also a believer if your training to get stronger and eating enough you can’t help but get bigger.

a bunch of great articles to search for are:

The Periodization Bible (2 part article)

And

The Eight Keys (4 part article)

I think these will give you lots of ideas for getting bigger and stronger.

If you want to increase strength in the bench press and decrease your risk of injury, take the advice you’ve gotten from Dave Tate’s articles. A strong bench is a result of strong triceps, upper back, technique, speed, and proper training. Having a big chest and/or trying to isolate your pecs during the bench press isn’t as effective for strength. I say bench w/ the technique outlined by Dave Tate. If you want a big chest, throw in dumbbell presses and dips as a supplemental exercise. You can also do higher rep dumbbell presses to facilitate blood flow and restoration.

So…basically what I’m getting from the articles–Tate and Waterbury–and from you guys is that chest/pec size/strength and benching really don’t have all that much in common, so I should be happy with things the way they are, and as long as I’m following Tate’s directives, everything will work out okay?
Cool.

One thing that hit me in a re-read of a Tate article (after reading the first couple of responses here) was speed.
I do bench slow, and I always have, kind of grinding reps out.
I’ll drop the weights and work on speed.
Thanks!

I typically grind my reps out as well on the bench… especially lately with the 5 rep sets I’ve been doing on TBT. I found this very interesting.

mike

would you guys agree with me about this? would doing deadlifts in the same workout(before) benching, lower your ability in the bench?

Thats what I did on tuesday, and my bench was horrible. I was weaker than I had ever been in the bench in months.
I think that is the case, because I can still feel it in my upper back.

The first thing to consider is treating your bench press as your primary exercise for that particular day. By working this movement first, you have all of your body’s available resources.

On your question as to how to bring your shoulders and triceps into play and still activate your pecs; ain’t gonna happen. One will either bench with thier triceps and shoulders with little pec activation or vice versa.

If your looking to build chest size, someone suggested dumbbell presses I believe. This is the best advice I could think of.

KIlo,
It’s hard to say conclusively that the deads killed your bench because there are several variables that could lead to that (pre WO diet, pre WO fatigue level, loads, volumes, your prior chest WO etc). I have never mixed DLs and Bench on the same day. I am nearly at the end of ABBH and today was my DL for 5x10 day. I can tell you that I was pretty well spent after the 4th and 5th sets of Deads. It’s likely that you overtaxed your CNS if you went heavy on both movements. My advice is to not go heavy on two movements that aren’t completely antagonistic - I have no trouble with heavy bench and bent rows in the same WO.

DB