T Nation

Benching Goal

I’m not sure what kind of response I’ll get from this, but I’m ready to give up. I set a goal for myself this lent: being able to bench 185 for three reps. To give you some background, I’m 18 years old 5’9" and 140 pounds on a good day, plus I’ve been trying to hit this benchmark for about three years now. The closest I’ve ever gotten was 185 for a set of two. Every time I step up to the bench, it never turns out the way I would like. I’ve read articles and forums, I’ve tried workouts, I’ve tried psyching myself out…and nothing. I’ve been stuck benching 175 lbs for a set of two for about the past three weeks. I know what I’m supposed to be doing with my form, but it never seems to pan out (I’m guessing that’s why I can’t improve). Bench is basically my achilles’ heel, everything else I’ve been doing has been improving. I was hoping that someone with a lot of experience and lived in the Columbus area would be willing to help me out? I’m not looking to change my workout, because, in my opinion, it’s been working. I’m just looking for some concrete advice to finally get over this stupid hump.

Try gaining some weight/muscle mass.

Edit: Not meant to be a smart ass comment!!

[quote]wildcat09 wrote:
I’m not looking to change my workout, because, in my opinion, it’s been working. [/quote]

Obviously, it’s not been working to increase your bench press strength.

Why don’t you list your training program here so we can see what you’ve been doing?

Do rows, train your back and especially your upper back -> Face pull, it helps a lot to make the rotator cuff stronger=bigger bench press. Try to work on your form, elbow tucked etc. but I guess you already know that and obvioulsy get strong tricep -> close grip bench press, power pushdown and the classic skullcrusher (for the power pushdown you might check maraudermeat’s thread -> not as a fat guy in a little coat) Also, doing a lot of overhead movement increase the benchpress, I’d say behind the neck press is pretty effective. I think this is the basic if you want to improve your benchpress.

partials in a power rack in the different positions might help. learn how to lock out heavy weights then start pressing dead weight (from the pins) in the bottom position of your press.

[quote]HK24719 wrote:

[quote]wildcat09 wrote:
I’m not looking to change my workout, because, in my opinion, it’s been working. [/quote]

Obviously, it’s not been working to increase your bench press strength.

Why don’t you list your training program here so we can see what you’ve been doing?[/quote]

Agreed! 3 years trying to get a 185x3 bench? It’s possible to get stronger FAR quicker; you do not have to settle for such terrible progress, OP!

[quote]actionboy wrote:
partials in a power rack in the different positions might help. learn how to lock out heavy weights then start pressing dead weight (from the pins) in the bottom position of your press.[/quote]

Partials? He bench’s 185x1, for god sakes. You really think the problem is he isn’t doing enough partials!?

OP, here’s what I recommend. Stop whatever training you’re doing for your bench. It’s NOT working. Madcow’s 5x5 intermediate followed by advanced (search the web for it!), strictly followed, should add 40-60 lbs or MORE to your bench, in 4 months. Maybe you don’t want to squat and deadlift (You really should!), or do a third upper body workout on Wednesday (highly recommended), but at least follow the Monday & Friday bench sessions.

This is assuming you’re going to gain some weight (MUSCLE!) too. You’re 18. You’re old enough to get a job, buy your own food, and eat it. Buy protein powder, chicken, steak, ground beef, tuna (one sandwhich, two cans!). Eat a ton of it. Seriously. Strive to DOUBLE what you eat in a day. You’re young, and a 185 bench at a bodyweight of 140 says to me that you’re probably very lean, and likely to easily stay that way.

Monday:
Bb Bench Press: 4 sets of 8-10 (For the last two I can get 155 up 8-9 times)/ I follow that up with sets of three to see where I stand. (I can put up 175 twice here)
Alternate Db Incline Press: (60 lb dumbbells) [3 sets]
Bb shrugs (275 X 8) super-set weighted pull-ups/chin-ups (45 X 7-8) [4 sets]
Ez-Bar Skull Crushers (85 X 8) [3 sets]
Tuesday:
Leg Press or Squat Press: Work Up to a Max set of 10 reps (450-500 lbs is the most I’ve hit)
Walking Lunges: (60 lb dumbbells) [3 X 5]
3-way Seated Calf-Raises: (155 lbs) [3 X 20]
Wednesday:
Alternate Db Bench Press: 5 sets of 5-8 (last week I could use 75 lbs for a set of 5, 70 lbs for sets of 8)
Bb Military Press (95 X 7) super set Db military press with palms in (35 X 10-12) [3 super-sets]
Body weight Towel pull-ups: [3 X Max reps]
Seated 3-way shoulder raises: 25 X 8 [2 sets]
Thursday:
Sumo Style Dead-lift: Work up to max 5-8 reps [I pulled 315 lbs 4 times last week]
Deep-Squat: 195 X 6 [3 sets]
Standing Bb Calf Raises: 225 X 15 [3 sets]
Hyper-Extensions: 90 X 12 [3 sets]
Saturday:
Bb Bench Press: Work Up to a max of 3-5 reps (Again, I get stuck around the same places)
Bb Incline Bench Press: 135 X 8 [3 sets]
Weighted Pull-ups/ Chin-ups: 60 X 5 [4 sets]
Flat Db Flies 40 X 8 super-set Preacher Curl 75 X 8 [2-3 sets]

I don’t know if the numbers help, but there they are. Sorry about the disorganization. I’ll gladly give you guys any more info you want. Feel free to criticize my workout, I wrote it, and enjoy doing it. Another thing that I want to mention is that the kid I work out with never seriously started to workout until he met me. As of today, his bench press is 210 X 2 and he’s 158 lbs. When he started working out with me around October, he struggled with putting 135 up 5 times. This is the third workout partner who has gained like this from my workouts. It’s killing me to be left behind yet again…

It could be mental at this point. Try mixing it up (floor press, press from pins, more incline, more flies) and don’t do barbell bench for a month or so. You’ll build strength and won’t always have that 185 hanging over your head. Come back to barbell after about a month and see how it feels.

well, it’s obvious what the problem is now. Your workout has no structure or balance. Exercises are all over the place, and you’re neglecting your back a great deal.

Whenever I have a lagging bodypart, I hit it twice a week, usually Mondays and Thursdays. For example:
Mon: Chest
Tues: Shoulders
Wed: Back
Thurs: Chest
Fri: Arms
Sat: Legs

For chest, try starting off on incline rather than flat. A typical chest workout could be Incline, Flat dumbbell press, Flat dumbbell flies, Dips, then maybe finish off with a burnout. Obviously the workout you are doing right now isn’t producing any significant results, so common sense would be to change it.

If you can do 155 for 10 you should be pretty close to 185 for 3. Here’s your first problem:

"Bb Bench Press: 4 sets of 8-10 (For the last two I can get 155 up 8-9 times)/ I follow that up with sets of three to see where I stand. (I can put up 175 twice here) "

You’re already fatigued by the time you attempt the heavier set. How much rest are you getting between sets? Ask yourself this question? Why 3 sets? Why 4 sets? Why 10 reps? Why 8 reps? Why supersets? I think you are doing stuff just for the sake of fatigue and then trying to lift a near max load (185) in a fatigued state. You’re also doing A LOT of bench work in relation to your rowing/pulling work.

For one week, don’t bench. Then do this:

bar x 10 reps
95 x 5 reps
135 x 5 reps
*Take whatever rest you need. It’s still pretty light so you may not need much in the way of rest.

Then…
155 x 3 reps
*3-5 minutes rest
185 x whatever you can do

Also LEARN how to bench properly:

  1. Feet under the bench, bend the knees so that your feet are flat on the floor and the feet should be tucked behind your knees, ie: closer to your head. Legs out say about 45 degrees. Watch powerlifters bench.
  2. Arch the back a bit. Pull your traps together and keep this tight throughout the downward movement.
  3. Don’t flare out the elbows, keep them pointed down about 45 degrees…toward your feet.
  4. At the bottom position your forearms should be perpendicular to the bar. I think a lot of people bench way too wide.

Change your workout Do more rowing movements. DB Rows, Barbell rows, etc. See the above progression on the bench? Do something similar with all of your exercises. You don’t need to go to balls to the wall failure on every set.

Alan

[quote]wildcat09 wrote:
I’m not sure what kind of response I’ll get from this, but I’m ready to give up. I set a goal for myself this lent: being able to bench 185 for three reps. To give you some background, I’m 18 years old 5’9" and 140 pounds on a good day, plus I’ve been trying to hit this benchmark for about three years now. The closest I’ve ever gotten was 185 for a set of two. Every time I step up to the bench, it never turns out the way I would like. I’ve read articles and forums, I’ve tried workouts, I’ve tried psyching myself out…and nothing. I’ve been stuck benching 175 lbs for a set of two for about the past three weeks. I know what I’m supposed to be doing with my form, but it never seems to pan out (I’m guessing that’s why I can’t improve). Bench is basically my achilles’ heel, everything else I’ve been doing has been improving. I was hoping that someone with a lot of experience and lived in the Columbus area would be willing to help me out? I’m not looking to change my workout, because, in my opinion, it’s been working. I’m just looking for some concrete advice to finally get over this stupid hump.[/quote]

i lol’d

Kid, I was like you when I found TMUSCLE, and then I read some articles

[quote]BantamRunner wrote:

[/quote]

I was curious, so I checked your training log. Your last entry, in november, lists that you benched 165x4. Maybe you should be quiet, and listen to some of the advice, instead of dishing it out?

I don’t get people who give advice when they are at a such a beginning stage in lifting. It just blows my mind. It’s the blind leading the blind.

Yeah, I don’t know who to reply to at this point, but advice from an advanced lifter who can put up weights that makes my stats look like a they’re from a pre-pubescent girl is preferable (which I know isn’t hard to do)… As for my lift being disorganized, I guess it might be, but I don’t devote one day to one body part. I used to use the skinny bastards template, and it’s evolved from there i guess. And as for the benching articles, I have read them. I’ll look over them again. I know how I should bench, but maybe my actual form isn’t what I think it is…

its gonna sound like i’m being a smartass, but honestly…eat more!
about 6 months ago or so i weighed 145 lbs and was benching plates for 8 reps. thats what my friends did, so thats what i did.
then i read the “pound a week diet” article on here and got inspired.
i gained ten pounds, and my bench went up like crazy. i became the first of my noodly teenage friends to bench over 200 lbs, and im still going strong…gonna shoot for 225 today.
give it a try! (plus, bulking is so much fun…for awhile.)

[quote]goochadamg wrote:
OP, here’s what I recommend. Stop whatever training you’re doing for your bench. It’s NOT working. Madcow’s 5x5 intermediate followed by advanced (search the web for it!), strictly followed, should add 40-60 lbs or MORE to your bench, in 4 months. Maybe you don’t want to squat and deadlift (You really should!), or do a third upper body workout on Wednesday (highly recommended), but at least follow the Monday & Friday bench sessions.

This is assuming you’re going to gain some weight (MUSCLE!) too. You’re 18. You’re old enough to get a job, buy your own food, and eat it. Buy protein powder, chicken, steak, ground beef, tuna (one sandwhich, two cans!). Eat a ton of it. Seriously. Strive to DOUBLE what you eat in a day. You’re young, and a 185 bench at a bodyweight of 140 says to me that you’re probably very lean, and likely to easily stay that way.[/quote]

+1

I’ve just gone through my first week of Madcow’s 5x5 intermediate. I always hear good things about it so I had to start doing it as well.

@ goochadamg: are you suggesting to do the advanced routine as soon as you start to plateau from the intermediate routine?