T Nation

Everything Up Except Bench

Hi all,

Struggling to increase my presses from where they currently are. Ordinarily “gain weight” is one of the first go-to answers, but as I compete in a 205-class I am unable to do so. I’m stuck in the LOW 200s while my squat and deadlift are in the high 400s.

I have attained these numbers through repeated cycles of a 5/3/1 full body template indicated below. I’m partial to full body programs rather than splits because I just feel I get more done.

Day 1
Bench, 531
Squat, 5x5 @ 80%
Pull-ups or rows, curls or pushdowns, ab wheel/leg raises, neck

Day 2
Press, 531
Trap bar deadlift, 531
Pull-ups or rows, curls or pushdowns, ab wheel/leg raises, neck

Day 3
Squat, 531
Bench, 5x5 @ 80%
Pull-ups or rows, curls or pushdowns, ab wheel/leg raises, neck

What modifications can I make to the above to help my press numbers?

Thanks in advance

Whilst I’m no expert one idea might be to back off a little on the other big lifts if your trying to up your bench ie just work on maintaining your numbers for both squats and deadlifts or even lower your numbers a little whilst working on increasing your bench.

To sort of echo what was already said, you can’t realistically expect all of your lifts to go up all of the time at the same time. I had this same illusion/delusion and was frustrated as hell as my bench went nowhere while my squat and deadlift made good progress. Of course, there are those that will tell you that 531 “doesn’t work for your bench, bro” and spew how they made massive gainz on their lower body (most likely because they were squatting and deadlifting regularly for the first time in their life) while their bench went nowhere. They will then usually suggest some frankenroutine that they used to add 100lbs to their bench in 4 weeks.

Anyway, rant over…

I injured a hip flexor a few months ago and my squat progress went to shit. As a result, my presses (bench and overhead) became a primary focus. Finally, the clouds have parted and my presses are actually going somewhere. Here are a few things I did that worked for me when it came to programming:

Lowered my Training Max - Reality is, I was going too heavy too often and my shoulders always felt beat up. The TM is a tool.

5s Progression, FSL, and pausing my reps - Jim has said it a thousand times and you know what, this crap actually works.

Chins/Rows/Dips - I set rep goals (50-100 reps) for these lifts, not weight goals. I suck at chins so I will bang out 10+ sets of 3, 4 or 5 between my main lifts. Do this between deadlift sets and learn how strong/weak your grip is.

Moved my grip in a bit and dropped the thumbless grip - I go thumb’s distance (2-3") from the knurling, when I used to bench out on the power rings, and I squeeze the hell out of the bar. I feel stronger with this set up, but that’s just me.

Like I said, these are some of the things that helped me. Will they work for you? Who the hell knows. Just my two cents.

First thing I would do is pause (2 seconds) the 5x5 work. That should get things going again

These are all great replies - you may also have to change your template. However, you are not a PL and would question why you care about your bench press/press when the ONLY thing that matters is performance in your sport. Don’t waste your time worrying about your press poundages if you are not able to eat more/put on more muscle. Worry about being as good as you can in your sport.

But what do I know.

Thanks all.