T Nation

Bench stamina

Here’s a question. I always read people doing benches say 4x10 or whatever. But I die after the first set and my numbers always go down.

Last night for example, 235x10 first set, just barely got the last rep too. If I tried 235 next set I’d be luckly to get 8. So I did 245x6, then 255x5, then 265x4. Each of these sets I probably could have done one more rep. But the point is that it seems like after the first set no matter how light the weight is, I’ll die after about 8 reps. That’s why I always pyramid. So what’s up with this? Why does my stamina suck?

Also, that Russian guy on here, said “don’t pyramid”. Why? What’s wrong with it? That’s all I ever do.

As ian king wrote in his heavy metal article in t paper mag #4, you could have a variety of issues, including not enough recovery time between sets, primarily a fast twitch muscle fiber type, or a myraid of other issues. as far as what pavel was saying(and several other have agreed) you don’t necessarily get stronger by doing the same motion over and over again, as refrenced by the study on chinups and ketterball tossing from the article, and previous practice may actually hurt your cooridation of performing that exercise.

People that do 4x10 are not using a weight that would allow them to barely get the tenth rep on the first set. They probably have another two or three reps in them. Increase your rest times and lighten the weight a bit.

bri…in regards to pyramid or not to pyramid, I think what the Evil Russian and also what Zatsiorsky (see Science and Practice of Strength Training) are saying that this practice is frowned upon for those who are strength athletes. Basically the top of the pyramid is the goal for strength athletes (to lift as much as possible) and the climb (sets leading up to the peak set) only serve to fatigue the athlete, thus being counter-productive. The descent, following the peak set, are all done in a state of fatigue as well and are thus inefficient. So if you’re a strength athlete performing pyramids may not be the way to go.

Try doing a reverse pyramid. Use the same basic set and rep scheme. Warm-up to a heavy single (bar x10 slow, 95x5 slow, 135x5, 185x3, 205x3, 225x2, 245x1, 265x1, 275x1 - do this w/ very little rest - just enough to change weight, but don’t get fatigued…this is a warm-up…rehearse the movement and get your body used to the weight without accumulating fatigue), first set do 265 x 4 or 5 (it should be easier than the way you do it now because you haven’t accumulated fatigue), rest for around 3 min. then try 240 or 245 (around a 10% drop) for 6. This weight should feel easier than when you do your set of 6 after doing 235 x 10. You have basically primed your nervous system by doing the heavier set…after resting you could then drop to 225 and do a set of 10 and so on. Basically, the way you’re doing things now is creating an accumulation of fatigue such that you are trying to lift heavier and heavier weights as you get more and more tired. Take advantage of your nervous system. Don’t believe me…try this…after a good warm up (as described above)do a heavy set of 3 (265-270 for you), rest about 3-5 minutes then do that set of 10 reps with 235, rest 3-5 minutes, do another set of 3 with 265-270, then another set of 10 with 235…you’ll get the full 10 this time instead of 8 because you will have primed your nervous system…continue with a third set of 3 with 265-270 after another 3-5 minutes rest, then another set of 10 with 235. You just did 3 x 10 with 235 plus 3 x 3 with about 270, you could even finish off with a final set of max reps with 205 or so (I bet you get more reps than you would get if you had started off with 205). I would actually do this on the third week of bench press/chest specialization, I would actually do 245, 205 waves in week 1, and 255, 225 waves in week 2, then the program described above. This is a pretty high volume bench program so I wouldn’t do much of anything else for chest. IMO pyramids suck…reverse pyramids are great. BTW how long of a rest between sets are you currently taking? If your rest periods aren’t very long that could explain why you’re reps drop off so much. Hope you or someone else tries this…I do reverse pyramids and waves on everything. If you think I’m a dumbass who doesn’t know what he’s talking about, say that too…at least try this first.

Yes, bjaffe is right about the reverse pyramid. It’s a great way to get the benefits of both strength and hypertrophy training. If you’d like to see some examples, many of Ian King’s routines utilize reverse pyramids.

Yes, bjaffe is right about the reverse pyramid. It’s a great way to get the benefits of both strength and hypertrophy training. If you’d like to see some examples, many of Ian King’s routines utilize reverse pyramids.

bjaffe…quite frankly I think you’re a dumbass! Naw, I’m just messin’, bro. Actually, I think you share some awesome info for this T-Dude and others–including myself. The type of loading that you describe sounds like a great way to take advantage of the nervous system and get some metabolic training in also. Thanks for sharing those ideas, I hope that others find the value of it, and stay tuned, because I’ll probably have some questions for you regarding the loading parameters. I was really just playin’ about the dumbass thing…:slight_smile:

I agree with everyone else. I think fiber type has a lot to do with it. You probably way more fast twitch so take adavantage and try the reverse pyramid and wave loading. You also may not be fueling your body correctly. Check your nutrition. Last you never said what your goals were, Size or strength, be sure to train specifically for the goal you are seeking.

hey i was reading about westside training and on their bench ME day, it says they do sets of 3 reps until they can do only one. They go up in weight every time, right? i assume they do but they didn’t say. so if they produce crazy strong powerlifters reverse pyramid sounds like the way to go.

Thanks for the replies. I’m going to try to do a reverse pyramid. I do get plenty of rest between sets, probably 4 minutes or so. When I said I pyrammided I meant only going up. I don’t pyramid back down. Basically I always say to myself…“well I could do 235 or whatever and have the first 5 reps be cake, then die on rep 8…or I could just throw another 20 or 30 pounds on there and work hard for 5 reps total”. So I always go up in weight and down in reps.

My goal is really to get stronger, not bigger. I weigh about 240, 20%bf, but can only bench 325. I’m 6’1". I’m working on my triceps movements more as per that Westside article.

You answered your own question in your last sentence: “That’s all I ever do.” If you want to increase your stamina, you have to change the stimulus to reflect the goal you’re trying to achieve. You can build more muscle endurance, but you have to throw your body a curve so that it knows it must be prepared for endurance. Genetics also plays a role, some people just have more muscle endurance. But if you want more endurance, change your training to reflect that. Or…maybe endurance doesn’t matter? What’s your goal…probably hypertrophy, so in that case you should really be changing things up more often.