T Nation

Bench Press Progress

Hey guys. I have an issue that hopefully some of you will be able to help with. My bench press seems to be stuck now for a while right at 285. Now, to be honest, its not like its been there for a VERY long time, but longer than any other plateau ive had since starting January of 2000 at 170 1RM.

I think ive deduced that the triceps are what are currently holding me back. I have come to that conclusion in the following manner: When in the past when lowering a weight for BP slowly down to the chest, if I am unable to move it more than an inch or two off my chest, I assign this failure to a lack of strength in the chest muscles. However, if I am able to raise the weight to the point where my forearms make a 90 degree angle with my upper arm (but no further), I conclude that this failure is due to a lack of strength in some part of the tricep. This is the case for me now.
In the past, I just simply concentrate more on dips to push myself past this tricep weekness, but this time that doesnt seem to be helping.
Does anyone know for sure which heads of the tricep are more responsible for the bench press motion and what exersices target this area ?

GG,
I had a similiar problem to yours where I couldn’t push past a certain point in the bench press. I switched my program to the 1/6 principle and that actually helped a lot. As far as triceps are concerned I found that for me I gain a lot of strenght from the following:

1 set close grip bench presses 8-12 reps
followed immediately by a set of lying tricep extensions(using a straight bar)8-12reps followed by overhead dumbell exstensions(2 handed)for 8-10 reps with a heavy dumbell. This constitutes one set, and I repeat this 2 more times. After this your tri’s will be very sore
but you’ll gain a lot of strength and some decent size. good luck

GG…Most people mistakenly think that the chest muscles are responsible for benching strength. Not so. Triceps, lats, upper back/shoulders then chest are responsible. Sticking at the bottom is lack of tricep strength. Do pushdowns…HEHE…just joking. After benching work up to heavy doubles/triples of JM presses, close grip benches, California presses. Not all three, but cycle them every 5 or six workouts. On back day work the lats with heavy rows/bent over rows/pullups. Heavy is the optimum word in all these excercises. You should also cycle in lighter workouts ala Westside, to develop explosive power at the bottom. Rack presses worked well for me recently. My bench went from 335-355 at a BW of 196 in 3 weeks using rack presses. There are million excercises to incorporate. Do a search on Dave Tate or go to his website. I think Elitefitnesssystems.com

I think your best bet might be to try rack lockouts. Situate yourself in a power rack in a standard bench press position. Adjust the pin setting to various heights above the mid point in the bench press. In other words, you are going to be concentrating on the top half of the lift. Treat each rep as a single. No touch and go. Make sure you are explosive coming off of the pins, and this should help bring your triceps up to par. It’s all about identifying the weak link in the chain and correcting it. Once you bring your triceps up and get them stronger, it is no longer the weak link. Then you must find another area where you are weak. That is how you progress. You must identify the weak link and train it so it is no longer weak. Good luck!!

there are a whole slew of things you could do. The first thing i would try would be partial bench presses in a power rack. So you said that you get stuck about half of the way up ? So set the lowest pin in a power rack about an inch or two below where you usually stick in the bench press. And then start your partial bench presses from there, going to lockout. Let the bar come down onto the pins on the eccentric portion and then begin the lift again from a ‘dead hang’, that way you will create greater overload on your weak muscles.

You need to work on some explosiveness if numbers is your goal. This is why powerlifters do train with chains and do train fast. Work on locking out also. put three2x4’s about 12inches long taped together on your chest. Have somebody hold it and have someone else spot you. Load the bar at about 25-30% above your last heavy set. Bring it down, touch the wood, and explode up. Of course,none of this is necessary if you have a power rack to bring the bar down to.

Have you tried partials in the power rack? They’re a great way to overcome sticking points in the bench.

Thanks for the help. Ill be sure to start using the power rack to concentrate on the sticking point.