T Nation

Benching sticking point

Hi to all. Good to be back posting again. I am hoping somebody might be able to offer some suggestions regarding a long standing problem I’ve had with benching. Basically, I cannot lift the bar off my chest. Once a spotter gets it up an inch or two over the chest, I can drive the bar up, but I have not been able to get it off the chest alone. Something is not right. Any suggestions on how to fix this? To any who reply, thank you!

Try going with DB bench for a while. The greater range of motion used with DBs may get that lower range strength up to the point where your BB bench will not stick on your chest.

You are too slow. check out the westside method if you want to bench more. some max effort exercises are floor press, one and two board presses, cambered bar presses, illegal wide grip presses. also bring up your shoulders and triceps.

You need to learn how to use or strengthen your lats - see Dave Tate’s article on benching here at t-mag. Here’s the link.

See Dave Tate article “Pressing Power” on T-mag

ahh yes… the west side method.

i’ve been doing it for almost 2 months now.

while losing a little more than 10 pounds, my bench has gone up about 20.

I’m going to re-test my 1rm in about 2-3 weeks.

Oh yeah, if you haven’t read in the dogpound, Jesse (aka Jaytruly) performed a clean natural glute-ham raise. I witnessed the amazing feat.

Not bad for a fat ass.

Get in the rack and work the pins.

All were good suggestions…In fact, at some point, I’ve done these since I used to have the same problem. First off, you should include dynamic work, definitely. Next, I got a tip from Pavel, which did work for me. Practice this with lighter loads to get the feel of it: “Practice benches with a one to three second pause on the bottom.
Stay tight and do not let the bar sink into your chest. Nothing
new so far; to really make the difference flex your biceps when
pausing. An isometric contraction as if you are trying to show off
your pipes. This simple maneuver will recruit your pecs and
improve your starting strength.”

Nicely put Asong.


As you mentioned, and Dave Tate and Pavel stress, tightness and momentum are the keys.


The big mistake a lot of people make is that by deliberately incorporating a pause in the movement, they relax the bar on the chest. No…

Think about tension in the biceps, lats, and squeezing the shoulder blades together as you initiate the motion, and keep that tension.

As Mr Tate puts it:


“…you have to keep your body as tight as Monica Brant’s behind. You’ll never lift big weights if you’re in a relaxed physical state while under the barbell…” SRS

This was taken off Charles Poliquin’s site:

Q. My bench press poundages has not improved in weeks. My training partner pointed out that I always encounter a sticking at about 2-4 inch’s off my chest? Any suggestions to solve my training problem. It is getting very frustrating.

A. Getting stuck in the bottom portion of the bench press is function of two issues: technique and strength ratios. Lets look first at technique.

Velocity of the descent: The best bench pressers in the World have been shown to have slower descent than less qualified lifters, controling the eccentric contraction will permit you to control more efficiently the bar pathway.

The Flaring the Lats Trick: Flaring the lats in the bottom position, as in the front lat spread, allows you to raise the bar 1/2 to 1 inch places at a better mechanical advantage. Practice this trick initially with loads lower than 70% of your one rep maximum, as it requires focused attention.

Second, lets look at strength ratios: If you have a weak start in the bench, you could either have weak pecs or weak serratus anterior muscles or a combination of both. When the given above muscles are weak, you have poor initial acceleration in the concentric range in the bench press. So to overcome your weakness, you want to give these exercises a try:

If you pecs are weak, the best exercises that will to improved bench press performance would be cambered bar bench presses and flat dumbbell presses palms facing each other.

If you serratus anterior is weak it is normally also reflected by a poor performance in the military press exercise. You should be able to military press 70% of your bench press performance. In other words, if you bench press 300 lbs, you should be able to do a seated military press with 210 lbs.

Spending a few weeks specializing on this exercise should remedy the situation. You may also include supine incline front raises as a remedial exercise in your bench press routine.

Incline Front Raises: This exercise will increase the strength of the serratus anterior, which is the main muscle that rotates the scapulae upward and helps you get out of the bottom position. Make sure that the elbows are bent 5-10 degrees to take away the stress on the elbow joints.