T Nation

Core Lift Substitutes


Anyone can feel free to chime in as I’m not having much luck with the search function. Starting back on up 5/3/1 after this month, but I have issues with flat bench. Years and years back I tore my pec twice in a year and never really got back into flat BB. Mostly Incline BB or lighter weight pause rep flat BB when I go the BB route. Anytime the weight starts climbing past light assistance work I always feel like I tweak it. Keep in mind aside from the tears I’ve had a separated shoulder and a broken and healed displaced SC joint on the other so flat BB bench has never been a pain free staple in my stable since the young days.

Question, any issues switching flat BB to incline BB bench for the main 5/3/1 movement, or is there a better alternative like weighted dips etc?

Bonus question, been doing a lot of loaded carry work these days, cool to still keep them in at the end of assistance work? Thanks in advance for anyone who comments with help.


I don’t see why you can’t go with the incline instead of the flat, so go for it.


Pretty much any big barbell lift can done with different 531 rep/set schemes. So go for it.

That being said, I believe that majority of the people benefit most from the basic variations (Conventionalb dl, back squat, Bp,Ohp).


I think incline would make more sense than dips. FWIW my shoulder is trashed and I just do floor press as the 5/3/1 movement with a low TM, works perfectly fine.


Yeah Incline press would be the option to go with. Use dips as an assistance exercise.


In my opinion you should try out the slingshot by mark bell.


Thanks everyone the replies.

The Slingshot looks interesting. Shoulder pain isnt really an issue for me with benching flat, its that I always seem to pull or strain the pec if i go above X weight without fail since the second tear. I may have to look into the slingshot more, thanks for pointing it out.


Floor press is probably a good movement for you. It will prevent your pecs from going into a vulnerable position at the bottom.

Where does the bar touch your body?


You could always bench as a supplemental movement, we’re you so inclined


Bonus points for that pun.

I decided to start doing light weight BBB style flat BB for an assistance exercise. Ordered the slingshot also, figuring it should help me relearn the movement correctly. After 6 months, I’ll switch from Incline BB as a core 5/3/1 to Flatt.

Back before the tears I was a decent bencher, 315 for a single or double after work sets at a body weight of 175. Havent put more than 185 on the flat bar since. One of the appeals of 5/3/1 for me is knowing once I correct the underlying issues, I can get back to it with a 1-2 year slow time lime to progress back to near the former numbers.


Quick update on this. Decided to just commit to relearning the flat bench from scratch after the first cycle. Ordered the slingshot which I’ll use for the BBB assistance reps. My incline BB TM is around 250 and I was able after a solid and long warm up to hit some flat bench and was able to get over 185 without problems and felt pretty light.

Going to reset at use a 185 TM and just think of my bench as a 1 year project with 5 lb increases. Use a 1-2 second pause at bottom for each rep and use a shoulder width plus 1-2 inch width. Figure just ignoring it and focusing on Incline is just delaying the problem. Thoughts?


Wendler said in 5/3/1 2nd Ed that incline is fine as a substitute but look, if you’re getting back into flat bench without a hitch then it’s all working out


If your goal is to re-learn the bench, what is your rationale for using the slingshot on BBB assistance reps?


One of the benefits I read on it was to help reinforce proper form. Figured it couldn’t hurt, on the 13 week bbb challenge and when it gets to the 5x3 and 5x1 I thought it would go well. Then just use it for jokers down the road


Deleted my post by accident instead of editing***
Have you tried moving you hands in closer? I switched from having my first finger on the ring to putting my ring finger on it and it has really helped with mild pec strain that was getting injured tree times in a couple months. Feels stronger and no pain. (note im not sure if the bar I use is regulation so may not be the same but try with closer grip, like touch over shoulder width).


No but that is what I plan on doing. I used to always bench wide grip which I’m guessing contributed to my issues over time


I’ve gotten to where I just go a thumb’s length from the smooth, and it’s made everything feel better than when I was out on the rings.