T Nation

Bench Press Strength

Hey guys,

Since I’ve been around T-Nation my physique has improved leaps and bounds. But one thing has not moved much over these years.
My bench press. Don’t get me wrong Its not about ego for me, but while everything else moves forward my bench has stayed at 225(not great I know). Its up from 205 three years ago but has been stuck for awhile now.

My question is this, do you guys have a program or any ideas for me to break out of this. Usually on chest day I do flat b, incline b, weighted dips and incline flys. I usually finish with some pushups.

Anything you have helps…


Well… how much have your other lifts improved? Try using dumbbells, and make sure you’re eating enough to sustain growth and repair for your body.

I wouldn’t worry too much about anything exotic like chains, bands, board-presses, or anything like that. Maybe try Bill Starr’s 5X5 with dumbbell bench.

If all else fails, squats and milk.

You don’t need to blow up your whole program, just tweek it a bit. Flip flop some of your exercises, such as:

A. Incline bench
B. Flat bench
C. Flies
D. Dips

What rep ranges do you do? 3-5? 6-8? Singles?

Whatever it is, switch it up.

Do you go to failure on every set? If so, you may be burnt out a bit. Leave a rep or two in the tank for a few weeks while doing the other things listed, and then retest.

People normally get stuck at that weight…and at 315…it seems every set of plates ppl get stuck

try a PL program. DB presses to build up stabilizer muscles. Low rep work. There are TONS of bench pressing programs. I used Sheiko and it helped me. 5x5 is good. Just look around there tons…

The info and advice already posted is excellent. I’m curious though if maybe tricep strength isn’t maybe the weak link? What does your military press look like? My bench sucks and it probably always will(tall guy here)but overhead pressing did wonders for my bench.

I would look into:
overhead pressing variations
close grip decline barbell bench
weighted dips

And if you are like me and have arms that resemble Jack Skellington’s, that Football bar from todays Question of Strength is probably a bright spot in your future. I know I’m seriously thinking about whipping out the plastic for one.

When I used to play football, the max bench press was just as important as the max squat and power clean for indicating ones strength. When I needed to give my bench press a large jump I focused on low reps with a weight that I definitely could not lift by myself.

For example, my senior year of high school I could do a few reps at 300 lbs., so I loaded the bar with around 335 lbs. and focused solely on the negative. I would lower it slow and controlled for about 6 seconds, then a spotter that I could trust (my dad) would help me just enough to get the weight back up.

It’s pretty hardcore and tore my chest to shreds, but it got my 315 lbs. max to 365 lbs. in about 3 months. I also built some impressive and overdeveloped front delts from this method.

Obviously, I would advise not doing this if you don’t have someone that you can trust with your life to spot you. Asking some random Joe doing bicep curls to help spot you is a recipe for disaster.

As most mentionned, vary your parameters.

If you use always have grip inside the rings, try hands outside the rings, this helped me a lot earlier this year. It completely destroyed the sticky point I had at sternum level.

Try decline bench to take deltoids out of the motion and focus on pectoral recruitment, which transfers to flat bench.

Vary rep range, but if your goal is to increase your 1RM, stick to singles, doubles and triples.

No need to do astronomic volume either, you could do only 5X3 during one session, but do that 3 times a week.

All the tips hear are good but I’m going to go against the grain.
You seem to have alot of exercises for chest.
Stop doing so much
If you want to improve your bench, do bench. If you want to improve your 1RM do low reps.
I’ve just added 10 kg in a month after being stuck for a ages.

Once a week on chest day I would start with 70% of my 1RM and do six reps then keep increasing the weight and do as many reps as felt easy (less than 6 tho, stop when you slow down)
On the 3rd or forth set I put on my heaviest weight and do as many reps as I could without going to failure, then do the same for another set or two.If I got 3 reps I’d put up the weight 5kg for the next set.

Rest around 3 to 4 mins between sets.
I would only do ONE other chest exercise on your bench day, and keep it heavy for low reps.
I also did 5 sets at 6 reps of light weight (70% 1rm) bench on another day in the week. Moderate speed lowering but as fast as you can pushing the bar up. This is to increase your power and also adds more frequency without overtraining. I think the light day was the key for me.

Its simple basic stuff but if your not already doing something similar, it will work wonders.

Why didn’t you post this in the Strength Sports forum?

  1. Train the hell out of your triceps with low reps and lots of sets; and

  2. check your structural balance (see Poliquin’s article on this site called “Structural Balance”). In particular, a weakness in the lower traps will prevent good increases in bench press strength by neurally inhibiting the pressing muscles to prevent injury

Focus on strentghening the external rotators of humerus since they have great impact on horizontal pressing movements.

Generally rotate set-rep-schemes so your neural drive don’t get trashed by empowering the same HTMU motor units.