T Nation

Lagging Bench Press

Hello all, I’ve been lifting on and off for two years without a particular goal (except loving to deadlift) in mind until January of this year. From there I wanted to put on weight and then compete in powerlifting once I felt my lifts were on point.

From January to November I went from 145lbs to 170lbs (picture included). From about May onward I began using Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 and began working on all my lifts. My deadlift max is 330lbs (I scale down to 315 since my form wasnt what I wanted)

https://youtu.be/677uavee1x0 )

My back squat is 225x3

(My max that I dont have recorded is like 250lbs). However my bench press is 135lbs for 3 reps and I dont even go all the way down (I learned this after a recent video I took to double check here:

On another note my press is 115lbs for 1 rep, no video alot of grinding though.

I attached videos of all three lifts and I’m hoping someone can spot something I’m doing wrong and recommend a way forward to where I can improve my bench press and push it to where it should be, compared to my other lifts.

Thanks all, I hope to be able to compete with you all down the road sometime :slight_smile:


There’s a bunch you need to work on with your bench press.

First is touching your chest. Do you know why you can’t? Is is a mobility issue or did you simply not know you weren’t touching? I’m hoping it is the latter, because that’s easier to fix. If it’s mobility, I have zero knowledge so can’t really help.

I’d suggest benching the empty bar and seeing if you can touch with that. If you can, add 10 lbs and repeat as many times as possible. Take 90% of the highest load you can touch and use that as your training max.

I’d also suggest working on your setup. From one crappy bencher to another, learning how to get a decent arch makes a massive difference.

Further, bench much, much more often. I think 531 is great, but I’ve found bench does well when hit with massive amounts of volume. I’ve found that doing 3x5 at a load I can happily hit with a few reps in the tank every time I train works wonders. Start out with a load that leaves one to two reps in the tank. When it leaves three or more left, add 10 lbs and repeat.

You’ll also benefit from getting more mass everywhere (btw you’ve done well in that respect already) but especially in the upper body and upper back. Rows, rows and rows. Chin ups and pull ups too.

Other than that, keep chipping away and be patient.

Build some muscle. Good lord. You’re quite skinny, and it looks like you’d bench 135x3.

And your deadlift video literally made me go, “Holy shit!”. Not because I was impressed by the lift itself, but rather by how bad your back rounded. That needs a lot of work. A lot.

Your squat looks good, but I’m not a fan of backing into the rack. If you’re fatigued as shit from a hard set of 10 on squats, don’t you think it’d be easier to walk forwards? Sure, you still have to walk backwards to get the weight out, but that’s before you’re fatigued.

The deadlift did make me cringe. As for bench I would agree start light and work on touching your chest and add weight. Also work some dumbbell press, and close grip in. And a lit of volume. For me to bring a lift up I like to do it more often

Thank you everyone for your input. I agree I need to gain some mass, I know Jim Wednler recommends eating a pound of ground beef a day for 6 weeks so I do plan on doing that. As for the deadlift, no excuses here, I know I rounded BAD.

After taking that video I set my training max to 295 and I’ve been setting there for a while.I’ll definitely start hitting bench for volume. I’m thinking maybe Smolov Jr isnt the best idea, even though I’m not pushing any substantial weight, right? It’s got volume though. Lots and lots.

Thanks again everyone, I’ll keep you all updated on my progress!!

From one not so advanced guy to another, I’d say you should actually learn the movements. I myself use 531 but I would say you can probably use a simpler linear progression full body program so that you’ll actually spend more time doing the movements. All of your lifts have much to improve on, not just in terms of weight on the bar but in terms of actual technique. Oh and this has to be on of the first time I’ve heard of “depth” when it comes to the bench. If you’ve done your homework, you would know that it only counts if you touch your chest(and you’ll have to pause it in a meet).

TLDR: You don’t have a lagging bench press. You have lagging everything.

Personally I would use a basic 5x5 type program where you start light and add weight to the bar every workout. This will help you to build good form as the weight starts light at the beginning which will help with your deadlift form and this will also give you a chance to work on lowering the bar all the way to the chest , personally I would also pause the bench in the bottom position for a couple of seconds on each rep whilst the weights are low to help build some strength off the bottom as you haven’t been lowering the bar fully.

Once you think you’ve milked your linear gains for as much as possible only then would I use 5/3/1 and even then for me personally I would do more than one top set for as many reps as possible preferring to just do the prescribed reps but for multiple sets.

Well done on your progress so far and good luck with your training :slight_smile:

alot of good advice already given out so not a whole lot to add, I think your bench is in line with your other lifts. And at this point, it doesnt really matter since you are so inexperienced. Just learn the lifts, learn the mechanics, learn how to recruit muscles in your body to push pull and drive and create tension. Lay a strong foundation you can build on.

Also muscles move weight so putting on mass is just as important as learning fundamentals of technique, and rest and recovery methods. If you stay at this long enough youll realize where you are now is the easiest part, once you get stronger things dont work the same way as it did in the past. Good luck.

Here’s some YouTube to search out that had some great vids on form for powerlifting:

Mark Bell and Supertraing
Powerlifting to Win
Chris Duffin (lots of technical stuff)
Chris Duffin and the breathing techniques
Chad Wesley Smith also teaches a good breathing technique with Mark Bell

Just getting back to you guys with an update! I finally got my bench to bodyweight! (170lb in competition). Also I PR’d my deadlift in competiton with 350lbs!

Bench video here: https://youtu.be/ceA7aiSdzjg

Deadlift video here: https://youtu.be/A_ndo-rwDas

Had to do some serious technique work the last couple months. My bench is still weak, due to trouble using leg drive and weak pecs/shoulders. I can close grip my max better than I can wide grip it.

You need to practice tightness in all your lifts.

Nice PR, congratulations!