T Nation

Chest problems


Well, for the past 4 months, I have been plateaued, and can't bench 225. Now matter what I do, I just cant do it. Anyone know a great way to get stronger. Maybe its the way my training day goes?? Maybe I need to start a 5x5 program??

Here is what I do now

1st Monday:

135 - warm up (10 reps)
135 - warm up (10 reps)

165 - 1st set (8-10)
185 - second set (5 reps)
195 - third set (2 unassisted, 2 assisted)

Incline Dumbell 3 sets
Decline barbell 3 sets
Flys and usually one more exercise

The next monday, I flip to barbell incline and dumbell flat.

Any thoughts??


Check the FAQ on the main page. This question is answered there.


Yeah. Here's a thought: Get over the mental block.

Other than that, do less warm-up, and just get right into it. Why waste time lifting a weight that you KNOW you can lift. Warm up for a set with 135. Do a single or double with 185. Then hit 225. And I do mean LIFT it, not TRY to lift it. That should do it.

Sorry if that sounded too blunt. I'm in a mood.


I really don't see the rhyme of reason to what you're doing with chest.

First of all, ditch the high rep warm ups. They're going to drain you and result in some residual fatigue. The purpose of a warm up is simply neuromuscular rehearsal. You're simply 'getting into the groove' so to speak.

If you're working weight was 195 lbs, I'd warm up like this

then you have two options ...

  1. Go to your working weight of 195 lbs and get to work.

  2. The other option is to do a single with say 215-225 lbs, rest 2-3 minutes, and then begin your workout at 195 lbs. This will excite your nervous system and you'll have more type 2B fibers ready to roll when you start benching. Basically the 195 will be lighter.

This alone will make a difference for you. However, it still doesn't address your training program as a whole.

You should also ditch the assisted/forced reps. These aren't effective and are probably even counter productive to your goals. They make big inroads into your recovery. The cost far outweights the benefits.

I also think you're doing too many exercises. It again is unnecessary. Traditional bodybuilding training isn't really the best way for the genetically average.

What's your primary goal here? To get stronger or to get bigger?


135 - warm up (10 reps)
135 - warm up (10 reps)

165 - 1st set (8-10)
185 - second set (5 reps)
195 - third set (2 unassisted, 2 assisted)

Incline Dumbell 3 sets
Decline barbell 3 sets
Flys and usually one more exercise

The next monday, I flip to barbell incline and dumbell flat.

Any thoughts??

I totally agree with Steele. It's good to warm up a bit, but don't waste time doing a bunch of reps that you know you can do, especially if you want to lift 225 at some point. If lifting 225 one time is your short term goal, you will have much easier time if you do a few (3-5) warm-up reps at 135, do a single of 195, then just GO FOR IT. Doing 30-40 reps before attempting it is not a good idea.

If you really want to make some strength gains, you will probably benefit by cutting out the other stuff you do after the flat bench work. Also, don't switch between incline bench and flat bench EVERY week. It's always good to change your routine around, but not every week.

I am by no means a strong bencher, but I have made much more progress on my bench press over the last 2 months than I ever have before. This is what I have been doing.

Warm-up @ 135 lbs., 3-5 reps.
185 lbs., 3 reps.

5 singles @ 90%-95% max

5 sets of 5 reps @ 80%

3 sets of 6 reps, weighted dips

3 sets of 6 reps, close grip bench


My max bench went from 215 to 255 in about 8 weeks. Every week I put a little bit more on (about 5 lbs.). The hardest part was resisting doing all the other stuff like incline, decline, and flies. Before I tried this routine, I used to do waaay too many reps and not enough heavy weights to really make any strength gains.

There are plenty of articles on here that can help you design a program. Set some short-term goals and track your progress. I'm sure other people will give you better advice than mine as well, but I think you and I sound like we were in similiar situations and I have made a little progress. Hope it helps.

Good luck.



Check out any of the Westside logs on the PL forum to see what a strength routine should look like.


1-your warmup is horrible...everyone is pointing that out, but I want to make sure you understand it :slight_smile:

Try this for your warmup
50% of 1st work weight X 5
60% X5
70% X3
80% X3
90% X2
keep doing the 90%X2 until you feel you are ready...damn, it takes me 7-9 warmup sets b4 I feel adequate

2 Try a wave program, Charles Poliquin has an article on here, the 1-6 program I think, try that out for 3-4 weeks, try some Westside for a month, keep rotating programs for a month and see what feels right to you.

3 Do you have a ballpark of what muscle fiber type your chest is? You need to do a 1RM and 80% test so that you aren't wasting your time. You might be better off with 50-80 reps per workout like I am, or you might be better off with 100-120, you never know unless you test yourself. I was training a client of mine that used to be a long distance bicyclist and I couldn't understand why she wasn't progressing. I tested her and found that she needs HEAVY amounts of volume to grow, and now she is progressing very very quickly.

Just my .02


Thanks, my main goal, is to get bigger and add strength.


I think this is too much of a warm up as well, particularly for a relatively low bench. The heavier the weight is, the more warm up sets you need. But for a 200 or so bench, you don't need that many warm ups. Like I said, neuromuscular rehearsal.

Check out Waterbury's site for a good article on warming up.