i cannot imagine this; benching 400lb?! people can actually move this type of weights around. I can barely move 250lb for reps and have been stuck there for ages. For those that bench over 350lb, please pray tell, how do u all do it?
SEARCH and ye shall find
My last experience with plateau I was stuck at 315 for a long time until I started emphasizing alot of tricep, upper back, rear delt, and rotator cuff work. I had the strength in my chest but not my shoulders,triceps, upper back to handle more weight. I also started focusing on lowering the weight with perfect form, shoulders down and back, move the weight in a straight line etc... then exploding up. In my case these changes bumped my max up to 370 raw; not a great feat but a big improvement over 315.
Much info is to be found on this forum. If you truly wish to bench 400lbs, start searching and reading up on those that have done it... and i won't list them for you
And please don't ever skip a training session or meals because you are online looking for the secret answers cause there aren't any.
My personal plan is simple:
1) Lift heavy with feet on the floor
Good luck in your quest.
Reading time ...
It's 600lb, not 400 but just divide everything by 3 and multiply by 2.
I agree with everything that's been said. I'd like to add that sometimes you have to "shock" your system into new growth. If you've been benching once a week, then trying benching twice... if you've been doing it twice, try three times.
Always switch up sets/reps every six weeks or so.
You'll get the best out of sets of 5-8 reps for muscular strength and single reps for CNS development.
What I'm doing now is based on Doug Hepburn's workouts:
warmup, followed by five heavy singles, followed by five back-off sets of five reps.
So if your max was 275...
20xbar, 10x95, 5x135, 5x165, 3x195, 3x225 = warmup
5x1x255 followed by 5x5x205
Every week you go up five pounds on the singles and back-off sets with the fourth week as a deload week. For example:
9) Max out (260-275-290)
I am a little interested in where you live that you have never seen someone move a weight close to this. I assume it is no where near any University football teams. Maybe larger cities are more likely to have a wider range of people with physical differences. I did 405lbs within four years of lifting seriously. I then moved to mostly using dumbbells. Then again, I also ate every meal with a purpose of getting bigger and stronger and tried to focus as much as possible when in the gym. I don't see many people doing that anymore. Most seem to half ass their way through a workout while putting little to no focus into their daily food intake as they bitch and complain about everyone else who might be making progress.
I think, that we all have different genetics. Some people get only fat, if they eat a lot. And some people don't get 400 with 2-3 years of training. And, if you don't have good benching genetics, take realistic goals. Like benching 330 or 350 at next winter, then set new goals. (keep your mind, that you'll get that 400 some day!)
Like me, it will take time to get 400 (raw ofcourse)
Good tips above. Form is important. Shoulder blades together. Tuck shoulders back and down. Arch. Hold chest high, so that the angle that you are pressing at is almost the same as decline presses or dips. Distance between your hands on the bar will vary, depending on whether you are a pec bencher or a tricep bencher. Experiment to find out which.
That being said, don't be afraid of leaving the bench press out of your workouts for a month or 2. I once was forced to do dumbbell only workouts for 3 months to train around a shoulder injury. After 2 weeks of returning to benches, I added 20 pounds to my PR.
If you look over the Westside workouts, they perform mostly variations of the 3 power-lifts, rarely performing the actual lifts. And who can argue with their success?
I'll qualify these tips by sharing that I've benched 525 lbs. raw at a powerlifting meet. No drugs, but with 15 years of training under my belt.
Firstly I will state that I can't do 400. However, I have achieved your call of 350, so I'm not weak at benching I guess. It's all about consistency, and time. It's also much easier to increase your bench if you are increasing your bodyweight. I know some guys like to stay the same weight and get stronger, but I'm not a powerlifter myself.
Strong triceps are crucial too, maybe more crucial than strong pecs.
You need to set intermediate goals. Your next bench goal is 5 lbs more than your bench now. Then, your next goal is 5 lbs more than that. Sometimes you may be stuck at a weight for a while. That's when you change your approach.
Anyway, other people are stronger and have more expertise than I, so read what they say.
Train with purpose.
Eat with purpose.
Sleep with purpose.
Keep a training log.
Put some emphasis on lats, traps and triceps.
Set a long term goal. Break it down into manageable chunks. Write it down. Tell everyone about it.
I first benched 300 on my 30th birthday. I then set the goal of 400 at 40 years old. That's 10lbs a year, less than one pound a month. Not attainable forever, but certainly for a while.
I had a major injury setback and 400 at 40 is not likely since I only benched 350 this year and I soon turn 39. I might see 360 or 365 by my birthday.
I am still shooting for 10lbs a year, but this past year I gained 15lbs on the bench with some time left.
Be patient, it comes with time, keep a detailed log so you learn what is working for you, don't stick to just one method of training, listen to your body when it says "rest please", you gotta squat.
Someone said Powerlifting is not a sprint, is a marathon. I'll be 37 in August, been lifting seriously and consistenly for 2 years (messing with weights since I was 16)and just got a 310 raw bench. Not a whole lot, but not bad considering being busy with wife and kids and little sleep. Persevere my friend, persevere.
I tried doing professor X type workouts (actually tried to get that method right for 7 years). I would work up to a hard set on 2-3 chest exercises, say bench, incline dumbells and crossovers, then resting a week and my bench stayed in the 200-225 range whenever I tested it during that 7 year period.
I went to 3 times/week, light, medium, heavy and within 6 months benched 285.
Didn't do much for 3 years. Came back, was back at 285 in a couple months-that was 4 years ago.
Then I started using Westside, hit 310 in a year
Went to 3 x/week, hit 325 in a year.
At that point I went to doing 5 x 3 at 255 and adding 5 pounds every 2-3 days until I got to 5 x 3 at 300 and maxed 345.
Held there for a little about a year as I had surgery (unrelated) and was just trying to not lose too much.
Then I used doubled bands for a 6 week cycle and hit 365.
Now I am in a short cycle of doubled bands for 10 heavy sets and SHOULD be at 385 about now.
The thing I want to reveal is that the move from 225 to probably 385 this week took me 7 years, and going from 285-385 took me 4 years which was the time when I truly started training consistently and never stopped (except for surgery). That sounds like very slow progress, but the last 65 pounds, although accumulated over about a 30 month period, all came in 5 short cycles which TOTALED only 22 weeks of training-less that half a year. The rest of the time I was just spinning my wheels when I could have been resetting for the next cycle.
Now I firmly believe in benching VERY hard and frequently for a short cycle-3-6 weeks. Benching 2-3 times a week for MANY heavy sets of 2-5 reps. Cycling doubled band tension, hitting a new max, and then doing BARE MAINTENANCE for the next 3-6 weeks while I focus on other goals.
ALSO, with doubled bands I do not do specific lockout work any more. I am unracking more in weight and bands than I would probably be locking out.
ALSO, my idea of assistance exercises has changed.
The #1 assistance exercise for me is a heavy external rotation exercise: Face pulls with ext. rotation, seated dumbell cleans with elbows at the side (not in front) or cuban raises.
2 is reverse band rows.
That's about it. Those two, combined with doubled bands for multiple heavy sets of 2-5 reps 2-3 times/week, and work on improving your set-up on every heavy set.
Get around people who have done 400 lbs. It is amazing what happens when you train with people who move more weight than you. You begin to believe that you should be moving more weight than you do. Over time believing becomes acheiving. It happens all the time with younger athletes in our crew. We have a 18 yr old, who now pulls 600lbs because he trained with us and 600lb pulls are commonplace. I bench over 500 because I train with people who press 600+ lbs. You get used to seeing the numbers and you mind accepts the fact that you should be doing more. If you train around people who only bench 225, there is no incentive to do more.
Also, I've never seen anyone bench 400, and I went to CU for 2 years. I didn't go to the football facility, but there were a lot of bodybuilder types in the BIG weight room. They had plenty of squat racks, and I think an olympic lifting platform, but I never saw anyone bench more than 345, or squat or dead with 4 plates either.
If a highschool linebacker goes in to college with a mid 400s squat and a 300+ bench most programs could care less if they got any stronger.
Buy a bench shirt.
Your 5 x3 workout sounds good. When you say that you added 5lbs every 2-3 days, do you mean that you didn't have set benching days like Monday Wednesday and Friday, but instead that you benched every 2-3 days regardless of what day it was?
Also what percentage of your max did you use for your starting weight?
I started with 80% of my max for 5 x 3. If I felt like it I'd come back in two days, if I wanted extra rest, I'd come back in 3 days (2 days off).
Also, I set a 10 minute time limit on the 5 sets.
I have to agree here...I benched 425 my senior year of HS when I was 17. Our team had 7 or 8 300+ benchers. Man, even the smaller, younger guys were hittin 250.
In college we had several 400+ benchers. In my soph year of college, I inclined 415...you need to go to a gym where some strong people train.
How do you feel about guys who do 700 raw?
Most people bench too much. Build your back. The shorter the stroke, the more ye shall lift. Check out Westside's methods.
I swear, I used to see guys do nothing but bench and curls and they'd still never break 300.
I think there is a HUGE mental component to this. If I had not trained with people who were stronger than me, I am sure I would have thought that it was impossible for me. I trained for about 2 years with two other guys who were into powerlifting/bodybuilding...ie, the goal was to be as strong as possible, while still getting as much ass as possible. Training with them and having them spot me is what allowed me to reach 405lbs. I kept that mentality in everything else. I remember telling people how much I curled once and they flipped. I had never taken the time to consider that as "impossible" or even impressive. I think some people set their own obstacles mentally. You could never reach a higher level if you even entertain the idea that you may not be able to.
This is why I never measured my wrists (as some people believe this indicates how big your biceps can get). Some people get off on limits.
Well, there's only two of them... James Henderson and Scot Mendelson...