T Nation

Gettin' it off my chest

T-Animals, I seem to have plateaued in my bench, and the sticking point, is coming off my chest. Once its 1/4 to 1/3 of the way up,I can drive it right on through, but it is oh so slow at the start. Currently I have dropped the weight, do a 1 sec pause at the bottom and explode up, weighted dips, inclines, dumbells… what has worked for any of you with this problem? As a last resort, I might just go out and buy myself a pair of double D’s so I won’t have to lower the weight so far!!

Hey Girl, set yourself up in a power rack on a bench with the supports just above you. Use slightly heavier weight than you’re used to and perform some explosive partials from the low postition right on your chest to halfway up. I’ve used the technique once a week, as an additional chest workout, to break through plateaus, and I have the same sticking point as you do.

A girl–I know a good surgeon if you’re looking to “add some mass” to your chest!! Seriously, have you tried any of the WestSide Barbell Club techniques?

It could be either your pectoralis major, front delts or the serratus that is your weak point. For the pecs, try partial benches, inclines or dumbbell presses. Front delts-any seated press would help. Serratus-incline front raises or front cable raises.

… agrees with John. “Board Presses” will also help and David Tates Tmag article of the last few weeks assumes the lower portion of the lift is a weak point so its an excellent way of upping the pounds and addressing this weak spot.

Hey A,I’ve used a slight variation of what john
suggests.You would have a second set of pins so the bar travels from 1 to about 4 inches off your chest.You take a weight you can do about 4 to 6 reps with, and on the last rep you press the bar into the pins with all your might for 6 to 8 seconds.3 to 4 sets with 3 minutes rest between sets.(this is only part of the workout for the rest see Poliquin Principles.)

Do as the Westside guys due. Use 2 bench workouts a week. One for dynamic effort and one for max effort. Use about 50% of max on dynamic days. This will improve your speed off the chest and allow you to blast through the sticking point.
On your max effort day alternate between illegal-wide presses for 5-6 RM, db presses for 20 RM, and bottom position presses for 3 RM.
The main thing is your speed. If you get faster off the chest you will no longer have a sticking point there. Think about it, why are you able to press a certain weight, but fail when 5# is added? Because the weight slows down. That’s what a sticking point is. The place where the weight slows down to the point that it stops. If you have enough speed the weight won’t slow down enough to make it a sticking point.

try adding westside technique of speed work with 60% max for triples. also your lats could be weak. speed and lat strength are usually responsible for sticking point right off of chest

actually getting stuck at the bottom can be caused by a lack of strenght in the lats, since the lats are engaged most at the bottem of the rep to drive the bar up. 2 things you can do to help this is one priorites your back workout in the week so it’s earlier and before your chest day. 2 perform a few sets when benching using half reps, aim for 6-8 slow reps with only the bottom half of the motion…make sure you have a spotter. you can change around you back workout to include more vertical pulling moves than horizontal pull moves…I prefer weighted wide-grip pull-ups. also try stretching your lats and doing a few pullups between your bench sets, nothing taxing, just get a good stretch.


Agree with Dozer that it is partly the lats, but think that you need to work them in the horizontal plane, i.e. rows not pullups. It is also tricep strength. Maybe more assistance work, closegrip bench. Also work on the speed that the other guys mentioned. You want to get it going fast enough so that it will fly through the sticking point.

i’ve read that weakness in the bottom of the bench can be indicative of weak pectorials and/or serratus anterior. might want to check into that. Bringing your overhead press strength up to ~75% of your bench weight should help to strengthen serratus anterior. i fugre you have pecs covered.

Yeah, Lats! Lats! Lats! I also think C.A.T. training would be very helpful.

Partial lower range bench (as previously mentioned), very wide grip bench and dumbell bench press with a good stretch at the bottom. Cambered bar presses if you can.

A Girl, you’d probably be better off working your triceps more. I believe this type of question has been answered by the Westside gang, as well as Poliquin and King. I believe they all recommend more triceps work and sometimes even a break from benching! So hit those close-grip benches, dips and extensions hard! You can also try the Power Rack technique as John K. suggested. Or Board and Floor presses as the Westside gang recommend.

Nate-The Westside guys do lots of tris because they are the prime movers at the top of the lift. Keep in mind they wear bench shirts which help with with the first part of the lift (off the chest), hence the concentration on floor and board presses (the top of the lift). But the tris are still important obviously, but flaring the lats gives the “spring” on the bottom

Go to the westside website they have some great tips on this issue and some of the articles will actually give you information on what muscle structures are weak that you need to work. Another thing you can try that always seems to work for me prioritze your tris. Good luck.

I don’t think its my lats, I do weighted pullups (currently 10lbs was up to 25lbs lats got too wide)and 1 arm dumbell rows with good form at 85lbs, but I can certainly work on those and will. Must be mostly my pecs. Thanks For your responses so far.

Go for the DD’s!! Just kidding. Check your shoulder position. I found that when my shoulder position is off a bit (shoulder blades not pinned flat to the bench), I tend to fail at the bottom position.

Normally a weak start is indicative of an imbalance where your anterior delts are not up to par with your pecs, and your serratus likely need work too. Unless you are into powerlifting, I do not think the speed work is that way to go…you want muscular development, an increase of muscular tension, not necessarily taking advantage of the stretch shortening cycle/SSC. Possibly work on your seated military, bring it upto 70% of your bench, and seated incline front dumbell raises will do the trick too. You will want to cut back on your chest training volume in the meantime though, and also focus more on horizontal pulling movements. A quick way to strangthen the chest for most who are chest dominant is to lengthen the pecs by doing more horizontal rows/pulls. Seated cable rows, bent over barbell rows and strict sternum chin ups will help in that regard. Rotator cuff work too, prioritised at the start of each upper body workout. You have to find the right cause before you can solve the problem though.

What rep range are you using? I do two cycles at a rep range and if improvement doesnt happen, I change it up completely. double D’s, is there a collection being taken up? in all seriousness, I am not a believer in the “maybe if you did giant sets with alternating body parts with the assistance muscles with high reps while changing your diet and…” crowd. cycle your weights with a set rep scheme on the movement you most want to affect, deliberately extending the cycle to smaller intra-cycle increases, (platemates) was the best piece of advice I was ever given.
double D’s?, ooooooooftah.