T Nation

Getting Stuck at the Bottom of my Bench Press


#1

Hey guys,

I’m halfway done with my first cycle of 5/3/1, and everything is going well. I’m already making PRs on my 5+ and 3+ sets.

My squat and deadlift are already improving, which makes me very happy. However, my bench is disappointing. I’m still setting PRs for my 5+ and 3+ sets, but they aren’t as impressive as I was hoping they would be.

My 3+ was set at 245lbs for bench. I got 4 reps, but I got stuck about 2 inches off my chest on the fifth rep. I assumed that my pecs/triceps were tired. However, I then went and benched 80lb DBs for 3x10, floor pressed 85lb DBs for 3x5, and did a few tricep supersets afterwards with no problem.

This leads me to believe that my lats (the primary mover off the chest from what I’ve read) are the weak link in my bench. I’ve been lifting for a little over 5 years now, and last night I was trying to recall the last time I failed a bench rep because I couldn’t lock it out at the top. I couldn’t. That doesn’t happen to me.

My question is this: what exercises are the best for improving lat strength as it pertains to bench press strength? I’m considering throwing in a barbell row 5/3/1 cycle into my training to improve my lat strength. What do you guys think about this? Is it a viable supplement for bench?


#2

Your bench max is too high. -you shouldn’t be anywhere near close to minimum reps on your first cycle. Most peope get 10+ reps maybe even 15 if set up right.

Also shouldnt be attempting a rep if good chance going to miss it

Dips with deep stretch will help press off the chest


#3

What I’ve found that seems to translate well to lats in bench press
Barbell rows
Dumbbell rows

One big thing is to make sure you’re engaging lats optimally in the bench. I’ve found the best cues for me are gripping the bar as tight as possible, pulling the bar out of the initial lift off position (like doing a pullover), trying to stretch the bar apart once it’s over me, and bringing my chest to the bar instead of the bar to my chest. When you press, cue pushing yourself away from the bar. Some people have even practiced this cue by putting a bar on the lowest pin in the power rack and doing push ups on the bar.

I took the time to write that because I’ve experienced some of my biggest gains on the bench from technique and cueing rather than making changes in my routine. You might know all of that already though.

That being said, I’d listen to RampantBadger about your training max.


#4

You are hard to please. You want better than continuously setting PRs? This is not going to be a satisfying endeavor for you in the long term…


#5

Thanks for the advice man! I know a good amount of cues for squat and dead, but those are the first ones I’ve heard in a looong time for bench. I’ll use those


#6

alright i’ll lower my bench max and start a new cycle. thank you


#7

I’m just hard on myself. I think my bench max is too high (like RampantBadger said) which leads to expectations in the 3+ and 1+ that aren’t realistic.

I’m just comparing my bench PRs to PRs that I’m making on squat and deadlift which I think is why I’m disappointed. Deadlift is by far my best of the big 3, and my squat is god awful, which means I have a lot of room to improve and thus experience big PRs. I am satisfied, but again like RampantBadger said, the first cycle is supposed to be easy. For my 3+ I was expecting 6-8 reps. That’s just my fault for not calculating my TM correctly


#8

The one that made a big difference for me was trying to squeeze my chest up to the bar. You’ll hear some people say pull the bar down to you, but that didn’t work for me.


#9

Yeah man find the top weight that you can do for five strong reps with good bar speed and zero grinding, and make that your training max. Once I did that and began to concentrate on bar speed my bench skyrocketed.


#10

Do push ups or DB bench on your non BP training days. Don’t kill them but add some volume if you are a natural trainer. 2-4x15-25 push-ups several days a week is easy to recover from and will make you stronger.


#11

Agree with pookie79 on technique and form being as important as routine. I made big gains from changing my set up. Dave Tate has 2-3 excellent videos on YT and Nathaniel Hancock had a great article online a few months ago about setup and form. Before you even unrack the bar, arch your back and put all your upper body weight on the top of your shoulders/bottom of your neck, pull your shoulder blades together like you are trying to crush something between them, shove them down into your buttcrack, grip the bar as hard as you can like you are trying to snap it in half (this forces your elbows in), take a huge breath, take 2 more, now your body is about to explode. Once you feel an aneurysm coming on, then you can unrack the bar. Keep tight and uncomfortable all the way from unrack to rerack. Just like pookie79 says, bring your chest to the bar.


#12

You were wearing a tight bench shirt, right?