T Nation



I am 24 years old, and have been weight training for about 8 years (never taking more than 1-2 weeks off, usually done about every 3-4 months).

I am 5’10", 170 lbs., w/ 10% BF, and have rather long limbs. I am strong in some aspects (330 lb. stiff-legged deadlift max, wide-grip pronated chin ups for 8-10 reps with a 25 lb. plate, 45 lb. weighted full range dips), but can barely squeeze out 3-5 reps w/ 185 lbs. on the flat bench. I know individuals of my size who can easily handle upwards of 225 lbs. for bench press.

Many people say to vary the exercise type (e.g. use cables, do flies, etc...), but I believe that one can successfully use deadlifts, squats, bench press with a few other accessory exercises if the weight/rep/set/tempo/recovery schemes are occasionally varied.

I basically do a full body workout with the above exercises (maybe 25 sets total) for 3 days per week. I currently consume about 4000 kcal/d (in about 4-5 meals), while trying to ensure protein intake.

I am not currently any supplements except for a daily multivitamin and having post-workout protein shakes (Simply Gain, by EAS…23 g PRO, 46 g CHO, 5 g Cr).

I would be grateful for any suggestions. I recognize the fact that there are articles posted on this and similar topics, but from my experience, most guys seem to have no problem developing their chests/bench strength.

Thanks for your time,

  • Dave Lounsbury

You mostly likely have bad mechanics. Example: If you forearms and upper arms are the same length, you will have the worst body mechanics for any kind of pressing movement. Why are you benching? Is it to build a big bench press? Is it to build large pec? Is it for sports? Check out the article for tall people on this site. They will provide some help. Best of Luck.

I don’t have a definitive answer for you. But if I were you, I’d check out Ian King’s 12 weeks to super strength program, because he tends to come at the muscle in lots of different ways. You probably haven’t wired yourself neurologically for the bench press yet and I really believe that Ian’s programs take such things into consideration.

I would check out some of the bench programs on this site by Dave Tate (Big Bad Bench was a good one). You can find more info on chest/bench strength in the FAQ. Also, your stats in the chinning aspect of back training are pretty good, but you don’t mention anything about your strength with rows. Because they’re in the same plane of motion as the flat bench, there is more of a relationship between rowing strength and max bench. Also, do you train rotator cuff at all? Many trainers can add 15-20 lbs. on their bench just by training the external rotators. Check out Poliquin’s “Achieving Structural Balance” article to get more info.

I have the same problem. While my deads and squats are solid and I’m strong in those exercises (regularly squat 225 - 245lbs and was able to perform a 275lb dead this week) - my bench has been stuck at 155lbs. And I have absolutely no problem at 135lb. For the record I weigh 120lbs (at 5’4").

What I find is that it may not necessarily be "chest" strength but a lack of strength in the assistant movers: triceps, front delts. So we've remedied the situation by performing dips and other exercises that would improve tricep and delt strength. Oh, and what's really weird is that I can DB Incline Press 60lbs. - I've always been pretty strong in that exercise but weak in the bench - but not for long!

First, read “Bench Press 600 Pounds” by Dave Tate, which can be found on this site. Then read “100 Reps to Bigger Muscles” by Chad Waterbury, also found on this site. I used the 100 rep program with push-ups and got great results. The only other thing I’d tell you is to add bent over rows or T-bar rows to your workout. This would help any strength imbalances and also aid recovery between sets.