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Lack of Bench/MP Progress with 5/3/1


Why are so many peoples not doing much progress on bench and shoulder press with 5/3/1.
Myself haven't done much progress with those two lifts. Would it be the lack of volume, something else?


Not really sure why.
My bench and press aren't really seeing very good progress either. But they are going up.


I think a lot of people just set their 1 RM way too high from the start. After a cycle or two, BAM stall out, get discouraged and move on to some different program. Like Jim says, set that 1 RM at 90% (or lower) to ensure progress for a good amount of time. Leave that ego at the door.


You probably suck balls at technique. That or it's mental.


This. That's the one mistake that I made while on 5/3/1. I still made progress, but I stalled after about 6 cycles. That's how it was for my bench at least, my OHP constantly went up. Hope you get out of your plateau.



I have experienced the same thing. Assuming that the 1rm was not set too high what could be the explanation?


Here's my theory: presses need more frequency.

You don't have this problem with lower body movements because of the carryover between squat and deadlift (you're basically training the same muscle groups), but with upper body movements only benching (or OH pressing) once a week isn't enough.

The solution that worked best for me is to simply switch assistance: 5x10 of OH press on bench day, and 5x10 of bench press on OH press day.

Of course, if technique is ok and loads are set correctly, as others already pointed out.


faiop brought up a great point. Switch to BBB. It'd be a great way to really focus on your form. Make sure you use 50% of your 1RM and you should be set.



one of the problems with me is that i have crazy long arms so it takes for effort to make the same progress. but i'm sure the bigger problem for me is that i don't put the same focus into the pressing movements that i need to to keep up progress.


I've made my greatest (and fastest) gains ever on bench from doing Smolov Jr. largely because I became so familiar with the movement. Obviously this program is insane and not meant to be run often...

IMHO, increasing frequency and just becoming efficient at the movement will help your bench so much. In addition to doing 5/3/1 on bench day, I do another 'speed' bench day with straight weight and ultra wides (wide for me at least) with lots of rowing on this day. Tricep and pec accessory work on the main bench 5/3/1 day. In terms of accessory work, I've taken some pointers from this interview with Ed Coan:

Now let me clarify that I'm a small motherfucker (I compete in 148lb weight class, best competition bench 265...hit more in the gym but as Ed says in the interview that doesn't count for shit)..but right now I'm working toward setting some Jr. records in that weight class, so following the advice 'gain weight to get stronger' doesn't always apply to people's goals and especially not mine at the moment. So you can press more by weighing more...or become really good at doing the movement.

SPARK NOTES: increase frequency=profit


There may be too much volume from everything. I must be in the minority since my bench has improved the most, followed by the standing press and then the squat. I'm not doing the deadlift right now.
There was a stretch of time when I stopped doing 531 for the squat, but did not stop squatting. I also dont have as much interest in improving my squat right now since my bench has always been so far behind everything. I still think this is why I made such good progress on the two presses.