T Nation

Improving Bench Off the Chest


So I have been lifting on and off most of my life but just started powerlifting in January. Sense then I have added about 75Lb to my squat and 100Lb to my deadlift but my bench sucks great big balls. More specifically it sucks off my chest, my lockout is sold my floor press out of the pins about 6" off the chest it is in the 450-475 range. I know my lats and shoulders are a big part of the problem but I just wanted to get some other peoples advice on ways to improve coming off the chest.

Right now Im looking at doing 2, maybe 3 meets this year one July 10th and another on the 24th. The one on the 10th is an unsanctioned meet my gym is hosting the other is an APF meet in SC. So that leaves zero time for improvement between now and then but I have been working on getting the bar from my chest to over my face as fast as I can b/c thats where Im strongest. Im sure it sounds a little crazy but it has help a little.

And I know its going to take time, Thanks for any advice.



scroll down. Have not tried yet tried it, so take that for what you will.


How's your leg drive? Leg drive alone can add a lot to bench if done correctly. For me it was a lot harder to get leg drive if my heels weren't planted, so I guess that might be an issue.


You listed your 6in range, what's your 2 board weight and your regular bench weight?


I'm assuming you bench raw?


The three biggest things will be lats, leg drive, and staying tight.


without having seen you bench, just your training age and stats on hub....beef up your back. make it a priority, and not just an afterthought. all the REALLY strong guys have huge strong backs.


Its not where it needs to be but its is something I have been working on.

Not sure what my 2 board weight is b/c I have never done it but my regular bench is sad its only 275lb. I have neglected bench my whole life, I suck at it b/c I dont like it and I don't like it b/c I suck at it. Its a vicious cycle.


My coach and I were talking about this today. I just need to add more mass to my upper body period. I carry all my weight in my lower back, glutes and legs. Its super hard for me to eat like I need to b/c I work from 10pm-7am, I get off work and go to the gym when I get off work, get home about 9am, eat and crash till like 7 or 8 pm. But I'll start classes again in August so that will make it easier for me eat the way I need to.

Right now I drink about a half gallon to 3/4 of milk a day and taking in about 120-150g of protein a day, so its one more thing Im working on. Time...Time...Time


If you're regular bench is 275 but your ~6in off the chest bench is 475-480 you have some strong ass triceps at least. I have a better regular bench but no where near that lockout strength.

And I hate the bench too. As others have said, lots of back work, get fat, and grease the groove baby!


That's not much at all if you weigh 200 lbs. Eat more.

It could be any number of things but my guess is that you aren't getting/staying tight and you're not using your leg drive correctly.

Chances are, these are problems that can be easily corrected by benching instead of searching for the holy grail of special exercises. Do all of your benching to the chest and using a shoulder width grip and you will be amazed at how easy weights feel with a comp grip after a month or two of pressing with a close grip. I've added 70 lbs to my bench in the past 12 months and 90% of my pressing has been competition grip benching and close grip benching, mostly in the 75-85% range. Nothing fancy, just work.

EDIT: If you can't do pull ups, then you have a very obvious weakness. Push the chins/pull ups as well as the rowing (not shrowing) too.


Ya its sad, like I said my lockout is great its just comming off the chest. My upper back& shoulders are just trash. Im terible at pull-ups and if my rom on my deadlift weren't only about a 1-1 1/4 ft my lock out would be crap to.


Not really looking for "the holy grail" as you put it just some insight. But I have been using a some what wider grip than I use to. Your saying I should bring it in some? Most of my pressing is done at 75-85% range. I'll give it a go, Wen. is my bench day but I dont know how much Ill be doing tomorrow sense I about a week out from a meet. I also really need to work on taking commands =P

That 120-150g of protein is just from protein shakes, including the milk and meals Im closer to 300g a day total.

Oh, believe me I know. Right now Im just doing a 3 day split of Squat/Bench/Pull. After the meet at the end of July I'm going to go back to a 4 day split and really focus on bringing my upper back up to where it should be.


Gotcha, 300g sounds better.

Yes, bring your grip in to shoulder width for the majority of your pressing. Your working weights will take a hit at first, but you will adjust quickly and it will make you stronger and your shoulders will thank you. I press with a close grip 1-2x per week and with a competition grip once every 3-4 weeks. It seems like my raw bench does best when I train it in some manner twice a week. For about 8 months, this was 5/3/1 for bench on Monday and 5/3/1 for military press on Thursday. This worked extremely well and had me repping my previous TRUE (not training max) for 5-6 by the time I decided to change things. I changed things up mainly because I was getting bored with 5/3/1 and also because I am working on getting into a bench shirt again. Now I cycle 5 and 3 rep maxes on floor press and competition grip bench along with shirt work (which is something entirely different) on Monday and then I do my close grip benching for 3-4 sets of 3-5 reps in the 75% range on Thursday, trying to add a little bit of weight to what I'm using for my work sets each training cycle. This is obviously very complicated, haha. Try to do two pulls for every push, an easy way to do this is to just do make sure you do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps on two different back exercises after you do your pressing. Doing this twice a week will build your back up very quickly. You should also press overhead if you can. Do it standing for 3-5 sets of 10 or so reps. Once again, very scientific.


lots of pullups/chins and a shit load of rowing.

stay tight! Imagine you are loading a giant spring as you bring the bar down and then explode back up.

get a set of mini bands and double them up...now do speed work

after you bench do a drop set with 185...bring the bar down to about an inch off your chest and hold it there for 2-3 seconds and then explode to lockout. You wont get as many as you think you will.

Keep working on your form!

Stop doing so much lockout work! It doesn't matter if you can lockout 450+ if you cant get 300 off your chest! Unless you decide to get a bench shirt...


dudey, sometimes you have to take extraordinary measures to get your calories, i'm in the same boat. shots of olive oil, and making my shakes with %100 egg whites(in the carton) have helped me immensely.


I hardly do any lockout work b/c I dont need it. But I did bench today and instead of having my feet under me with my heals up I spread them out wide and kept them flat and found that that helped my leg drive a lot. Its like you guys have said, I need to work on my form and find out what works for me and what doesn't. But thanks for the advice I will deff give those a try.

And I don't plan on moving into gear any time soon. I want to get to around 550/350/600+ before I move into gear or at least something resembling those numbers. Thats my gaol anyway and I don't have any real desire to move into gear anyway.


Are you doing speed work? I have no clue how you managed a lockout of 480 lbs while only benching 275. It's actually quite impressive. I would think a person with the amount of tricep strength you have could bench a lot more than that. Can you post a video of you benching?


great idea


Just with pulling haven't done any with bench. But I was looking at my logs today and I fucked up my reverse band max is 475, my lockout the last time I did it was 400. So sry for that, Its been so long sense I did either of them that they ran together. As for the Video, I will try to put one up. I wont be doing alot of anything till next weekend when my gym has its unsanctioned meet, I'll try to get one then and I have another meet 2 weeks after that. So I'll try to get one up.


I've heard from a strength coach a way of improving the bench off the chest which apparently has helped people add 50 lbs to their bench in 3 weeks....

He said to take half your BW on the bar and hold it at chest level, resisting it for 5 minutes....then to take 100% of your BW and hold it at chest level for 3 minutes. This seems like it would be pointless for inproving the actually strength off the chest if you ask me....it sounds like merely a static endurance exercise.

Anyone heard of this? And do you think it's BS or is there actually something to it?