T Nation

Exercise Selection


I've been looking around the forum for about a month now and it seems as there is a lot of experienced lifters around here who might help me. I am following the westside template and have a question about what bench exercises to sellect for ME. My sticking points are about few inches off the chest (around 1 board). I lift raw, height is 190cm and my weight is 200 pounds. So far I've been rotating between pin presses, low boards, inclines and floor presses. For assistance I try to focus on shoulders and back.

Any help will be appreciated.


If you lift raw, you need to focus on full range movement more often. The best way to get strong at the bottom is to work through the bottom. Rotate full range with partial range each week or something similar. Chances are, your sticking point is just above your chest you need more speed out of the bottom and more strength in your chest most likely. Do a lot of speed work and exercises that work your chest through that bottom range of motion.


I had the same problem some time ago and frankly, focusing on heavy back work really helped me. I believe firmly that a strong big back not only helps with the control during hte descent of hte bench, but also with that initial pop. Think about holding your arms straight adn flaring your lats - see how your arms move forward several inches? Same concept. Now, my sticking point is about midway but hey that's powerlifting - you fix somehting, somehting new shows up, gotta adapt to the everchanging situation.

As Grunt sad, I also found a lot of FULL RANGE work to help with power off the chest. I've never had any dedicated speed work so I can't vouch about its validity. Having said that - if you have 3 press-like exercises on your ME day, make sure two of them are done through FULL RNAGE of motion. E.G. - I always warm up on full regular bench, 5/3/1 style, after that I perform my ME exercise which I cycle every 3-4 weeks and it can be anything from 3-boards to Reverse band bench. I usually use this to get used to supramaximal weight. After that I'd hit the triceps with heavy medium/close grip bench presses through full rnage of motion. In the end you have 2 exercises that take you all the way to the bottom and teach you how to drive through those first inches till you get midway through.


Picking exercises is the hardest part of using this system. People naturally only want to do the exercises they are good at/can handle the most weight with. You literally have to pick things you suck at and work the hell out of them until you don't suck anymore.

I can tell you from personal experience, if you are weak that close to your chest, you probably have some form issues that need to be addressed. Once that gets dialed in, more chest oriented exercises will help (DB pressing for rep max's, cambered bar bench, illegal wide pressing, close and wide grip incline benching, start adding in bands, chains and different grips and you have well over 200 different exercises already). Also, always work on explosive strength and tricep strength.


Thanks for the advice, I do try to work on my form and I agree it can be an issue. Often when I get past 90% of my max it is difficult for me to lower the bar all the way and often my form breaks down. As for band, chains and different types of bars, I don't have access to this. Any suggestion for substitutes?


Just mix up grips, angles, and rep ranges. Some incline pressing for 5s here, or some close grip benching for 3s there, maybe some illegal wide bench presses for 2s. If you have access to swiss bars or cambered bars you can bench with those as well.


i was HORRIBLE off my chest when i started training for power lifting and got under heavier loads. If i ever failed, it was off my chest. I'll give you my training program for bench which was from November 2010 - May 2011. I followed this with the exception of the two meets I peaked for. I also train completely raw, thing iv'e used is wrist wraps for bench.

Monday: 5/3/1 for bench- deload every 4th week, the whole deal. followed by heavy triceps, a lot of heavy two board work and every once in a while I would switch it up and do heavy DB's for max reps. either flat bench or floor press. followed by general upper body, a little more tricep work, and a lot of back and rear delts. (trx, band pull aparts, face pulls, band face pulls, db rows, and the list goes on). i pretty much used this as my dynamic effort day.

Tuesday: ME Upper- For three weeks I would pick a ME exercise (reverse band bench, two board press, floor press, flat bench).First week I would work up to a 2-3 RM and the second week I would work up to a 1RM. Third week is a deload. The rest of that day would be low volume and intensity and the muscle groups I would train would just be whatever I didn't get to on Monday.

overall this worked great for me. I wasn't a real beginner when I started this. I had Been lifting 5 months prior to starting this program. My bench went up from about 235 to 300 within 6 months. Hit 225 for 12 also pretty easily. All credit goes to my training parter for this program though. But with that being said really pay attention to your form. make sure your arch is good, elbows are under your wrists, wrists are straight etc.

IMO if theres a
fault in your form, it's gonna rear it's ungly head either during the descent of the lift or coming off your chest. Any way good luck.


You have gotten a lot of good suggestions. More lat work, DB Press for high reps (neutral grip can be useful if you flare your arms too much) are all good. I would add in pausing some or all of your reps, pausing reps on speed day at least some of the time, dead stop pin press about 1" over your chest, and try moving your grip.

First move it in (maybe 2-4") and see if that gives you more power off the chest, but when performing speed work try both narrow and wider grips and see how you respond (although how it feels light and heavy are not always the same).

Also go a bit by looks. If you have a smaller/flatter chest then just build that puppy up bodybuilding style with inclines, constant tension, and power flyes to name a few. If you have a big chest then you may not be using it well and it may be more a lat issue. Finally good set-up and a decent arch can help eliminate a low sticking point. Good luck with it. Tim


Thanks for the advice guys, I think in regards to form my weakness is leg drive. Currently I bench on my toes and can't seem to get decent leg drive this way. However if I bench with my heels down, theres is more leg drive but often my ass comes off the bench. Any advice for leg placement?

Also how often would you recommend to train my lats,so far I've been doing 1-2 exercises on my bench days.


However you do it, keep your knees below your hips. Also, if you set up in full extension from the start of the lift with your ass on the bench, it's extremely difficult to lift your ass off the bench when you apply leg drive. Remember, you will be extremely uncomfortable if you do it right.


I found that if I concentrate on trying to contract my abs at the same time I drive my legs my but won't come off the bench. think about it, if you feet don't move and your shoulders don't move then for you butt to raise you have to be bending in the middle. Very tightly flexed abs will stop the bending. If you bending, the power from the leg drive is being used up in the flexing instead of transferring to the bar.

As for Lats, I'm surprised no one has mentioned it yet (if they did, I'm sorry I must have missed it), but you gotta get some pull-ups/chin-ups worked into your mix. Also any kind of rows will help.