T Nation

Horrible bench


I'm having the hardest time increasing my bench. It just won't go up. I'm 205ish 6'4, DL 285, squat 225, and bench 155 maybe. I realize even my DL and squat are pretty bad considering my size, but my bench is rediculous. I've experimented with doing dumbell press, throwing in some incline and decline. I've read alot of articles on increasing your bench but alot of seemed pretty standard fare.

Anyone else around here who had a hard time gaining chest/bench strength find something that worked?


whats your current program look like?

at 155 you shouldn't be looking for specific aspects of your bench to improve, you should just be benching and the pounds will go up. try benching more often as you may still be getting your 'newbie' gains.


Hope this isn't to generic of an answer, but I found when I eased off of chest, and went heavy on the back (chins and rows) and light on training rotator cuffs & chest, 3 weeks later my bench increased 20 lbs.


Hope this isn't to generic of an answer, but I found when I eased off of chest, and went heavy on the back (chins and rows) and light on training rotator cuffs & chest, 3 weeks later my bench increased 20 lbs.


I'm sure some of the Westside stuff would prove intriguing, particularly their emphasis on tricep strength and speed work. At this point, however, I think you should do a couple of things. Incorporate lots of heavy weight/high set/low rep bench work, and hit your bench at least twice per week. Stay away from reps to failure, as you want to emphasize recovery and repeated efforts. And add in plenty of heavy row movements and rear delt movements to maintain a good structural balance in your torso.

Sounds like you're more the long-limbed type, which means bench may always be a challenge (I'm just the opposite, which means the dead is more my personal demon). But after a good 6-8 weeks of the above, start incorporating some of the Westside tricep work--lying dumbbell extensions, close-grip bench lockouts in a power rack, etc.

Oh yeah...and have someone with experience watch your form. The proper arch, set-up, and "line" can earn you at least 20% of your lift, so it's important to make sure you're getting it all right.

Keep pushing...


Could be many things. You might be training your chest too often , not enuff, have shoulder instability problems, not having enuff rest between sets, doing the wrong reps, never changing the rep range, incorrect tempo, having fatigued delts or tris from an earlier workout yada yada yada.


Forgot to add diet, stress, cns fatigue etc. If my other lifts are going up but I have stagnated in one then I either drastically change the reps or tempo. Or I go to another exercise and drop that one for 4-8 weeks before coming back to it. Also the intensity and focus can play a role.


an important aspect of how to improve something is to understand your weakness. this can be done by analyzing your sticking point. ex: if your sticking point is at the bottom, then you have a weak back and maybe bad technique. this would mean you need to work on your back more. read dave tate's articles on benching and also research a lot on this website. you should find answers that way. i had the a similar problem, with frequent plateaus, and i found out that dumbbell press with palms facing eachother helps a lot.

hope that helped.


4 sure check out Westside stuff. I have recently implemented some of their ideas and it has helped majorly.

Also working on your back is some of the best advice you have received so far. It may sound odd but getting back strength up will directly increase your bench.

To give a short answer on what I feel has helped me the most is doing pin presses about 4" off chest. Allowing me to lift a much greater volume than during full ROM but has raised my full bench 15lbs in a month and a half.

Also limiting full ROM bench to once every three weeks or so and switching between incline, decline, flat, flys. Find wher you are lacking the most and concentrate on that. For me it is incline.

Also a shit pot of back work.

Hope that helps.



yeah westside has definitely been helping me! I was stuck at 195 forever when I was in to bodybuilding. Then I decided if I wanted a big bench, squat, dead I should try looking at the people who have these and those are powerlifters! Check out Dave Tates Big Bad Bench article...but I think you will like a westside type program. Your strength will improve, and your weak links will come up along with your work capacity. Plus you can combine a lot of different methods: maximal strength, speed, hypertrophy, endurance...the speed work has really made a difference!


Try CT's Pendulum Powerlifting article here on T-mag. I'm not breaking any world records, but it helped me alot. I realize it isn't only for bench, but it offers alot of good advice and a program without having to read alot of various articles. I like that the workouts change every week too.

Also read Dave Tate's articles on bench press form, "Bench Press 600 pounds" is a good one. And listen to all the other adivce too as it's all good.


how about:
205lbs @ 6'4...
that is pretty skinny bro.


There are far too many people on this forum who are obsessed with the intricacies of weight training and forget the basics. Westside is good for peple looking to get good totals in powerlifting, however if you cant even bench you body weight, you shouldn't be worried about "sticking points", "accomdative ressitance", "breaking the eccentric concentric chain" etc, you need to worry about form and eating right (read: eating enough). This is supposed to be a somewhat "hardcore" lifting site yet it is filled with newbies talking about a lot of shit they dont understand or implement in their own training.
IF you are going to talk the talk, at least walk the walk.

Disclaimer: This is not directed at any one in particular but there has be excessive amount of crap posted on this forum lately...


Short answer:

  1. Bench at LEAST 2x a week.
  2. Keep total volume for each session relatively low (i.e. less than 25 reps).
  3. Keep your reps below 5.
  4. Keep weight at or above 80% of your 1RM. (Keep the big wheels on, at the least.) Progressively add weight to the bar--when you hit a new peak, cycle back to 80% of your new max.
  5. Stay TIGHT under the bar. Good, tight arch, grip the shit out of the bar, "break" the bar (like you're trying to bend it over your knee) actively "row" the bar down to your ribcage (pull your shoulderblades together/"lengthen your collarbone") and press from the shoulderblades together position. Your entire body should feel primed to explode. Tighten your abs, hold your breath or pressurize a breath out (Tss). (Check with a doc about high blood pressure problems if you're worried about that... the Valsava--breath holding--technique can spike your BP. Yes, I mean both bench press and blood pressure, so watch out.)

Oh, and take a wider grip, G. I bet you're taking a pretty narrow grip. Index--that's your "pointer," champ--on the rings.

If it flies, swims, or runs, eat it. If it's green and leafy, eat it. If it says "all you can eat"... eat it everyday.

Remember to row and read the great benching articles here at t-mag.

Oh, and get your Squat and Dead up too.

Dan "Make us Proud" McVicker


Bottom line,

You're not strong enough for anything special in terms of Westside. "Education of a Powerlifter" has the protagonist working on basic strength levels for quite some time. That's where you are. Specificity, and repeated efforts to create a strong neuromuscular association with heavy benching will give you the best improvements right now. Bench often, heavy, but not to failure or even a lot of fatigue, and your bench will go up.


Dan "Will hit 330# at 220# this year. Maybe." McVicker


I'm eating alot as of late. My diet sucked but in the past month and a half I've gone from 188 to 205. I'm jacking up my cals this week as I've been 205 for almost 2 weeks now, need to keep upping them.


I agree with others, pack on some weight. 205 at 6'4 is damn light. Make sure that you are doing some bent over rowing and pull-ups to build the lats. What is your sticking point on the bench press? The bottom, middle?

Mike Mahler


What is your set rep scheme? What loads are you moving? Do you get near to your 1RM in training? How is your form? Do you bench bar to upper abs or elbows flared, bar mid chest?

Give us some more to go on.

It could be not enough volume or too many reps at too low an intensity. As a newbie if you stick to the basics you should see good results.


Very informative posts. As far as form, weights etc. I read a while back I should try to keep a 90 degree angle between my forearm and bicep while benching. The bar comes down to at or right below my nipples. I grip the bar with my middle finger right on the ring, so a bit narrower than suggested. I usually start at 135, do 5 reps. Then go up to 145, do 4-5, 155, usually get 3, maybe 4. I missed 165 last week. So basically 12-15 reps depending on how good it feels. I usually will add in some dumbell presses, 60lbs is my max.


Relative to the squat and deadlift, your bench seems pretty normal. The ratio is consistent. Why do you say it is horrible?