T Nation

Long Time Lifter Stuck


#1

I have been lifting for 16 years. I've done pretty well for myself, i'm in elite in nearly all categories of the major lifts. However, i'm stuck at 265x5x5 on bench.

I do 6 weeks of strength (5 reps) then do 6 weeks of bodybuilding (8-10 reps).

My split:
Legs
Chest
Back
Day off
Arms
Shoulders
Day off
Repeat

Sample Strength workout: (12 sets)
5x5 flat barbell
5x5 incline barbell
5x2sets decline barbell

Sample Bodybuilding workout: (15 sets)
4x8 flat barbell bench
4x8 flat dumbbell bench
4x10 cable flies
3x10 decline barbell

I've been stuck at 265x5x5 for a few months, getting frustrated.

A few questions:
1. Am I doing too many sets of strength? I typically do 5x5 but will do it on multiple lifts (example incline and flat barbell) then throw in a set or two of another strength exercise after that, totaling 12 sets of 5 reps per bodypart per day during my strength training phase. I only train chest once a week, per my split above.

  1. Any other advice anyone could give me would be greatly appreciated.

Here are my current lifts if you're interested, note that I cannot do squats/deadlifts anymore due to spondylolisthesis. Did front squats for awhile, but ultimately had to listen to my body and stop.

Bodyweight: 165
Bench: 265x5x5 (I haven't maxed in a long time)
Weighted widegrip Pullup: BW + 70lbsx5x5 (all the way down, all the way up, scapular pullup)
Weighted Dip: BW + 180lbsx5x5
Standing No bounce barbell press:165x5x5
Front Squat: 245x5x5 (all the way down)

All I take is protein and occasionally creatine when I hit a wall.


#2

Hey Man,

During my strength phase a few months ago I tried out cluster sets. Defranco added them to some off his programming. It allows good form for your all your reps and cuts out grinding. Thibs always goes on how grinding reps can have a detrimental effect on your CNS and gains.

I found my strength for each lift I used them on increased. I used the progression of;

80%
85%
90%
Week of deloading - repetition
85%
90%
Etc

You might not be interested but I enjoyed the change from the standard 5x5 etc.

Side note: Canâ??t beat some Wendler ideas for some strength gains. 5/3/1 always seems to work for my strength phase.


#3

Also forgot to mention, my goal has always been to cram as much strength in as light/small a package as possible. Sometimes I flirt with bodybuilding, but always end up unable to put on weight because I'm not dedicated enough to it to eat as much as you have to eat to get bigger.


#4

Appreciate the advice, will look into "clustering". I'm weary of going 5/3/1 because I don't have a workout partner or a spot and when I workout there is usually no one in there. If there is someone, they typically fuck it up by touching the bar when I don't need help. Hence I prefer 5x5 because I know what I can do and never have to drop a bar. Will look into I though.


#5

What is the week of deloading? Are you doing 1 rep for each of those %'s?


#6
  1. Your stated goal is "strength" but the bodypart split you train on does not seem like one that prioritizes strength.

I've certainly posted my share of "strength and hypertrophy are not mutually exclusive events" on these forums, and generally believe that people can make strength gains on a bodypart split...to a point. Benching almost 1.75xBW for 5x5 might be past the point of continuing to make strength gains while training "chest" once a week.

  1. "Also forgot to mention, my goal has always been to cram as much strength in as light/small a package as possible. Sometimes I flirt with bodybuilding, but always end up unable to put on weight because I'm not dedicated enough to it to eat as much as you have to eat to get bigger."

There's nothing wrong with the goal of cramming a lot of strength into a light and small package. But "I'm not dedicated enough to eat as much as you have to eat to get bigger" makes me wonder what your nutrition is like, overall. If you want to squeeze more bench-pressing strength out of a smallish frame, it would seem that nutrition is pretty important, and if you're generally "blah" when it comes to that, I am not surprised that you're petering out. Do you get enough protein? Do you get enough sleep? Do you eat any junk?

  1. Outside my realm of expertise would be commentary on your form. Post a video and let someone else handle this.

  2. Also outside my realm of expertise, but a fair question to ask: do you ever do any lower-rep work? It might be worth hitting a couple of workouts where you get a few solid triples at a heavier weight, which might trickle down to better strength in the 5-rep range.

Basically, you might benefit from something like 5/3/1 instead of banging your head against the wall doing 5x5 for 6 weeks, then 5x10 for 6 weeks, etc. Training in a variety of rep ranges is generally a good thing.


#7

How so? Can you explain a split that would be better for me during my 6 week strength phase? I can't do any deadlifts, squats or leg presses. This is the reason I prefer to hit 12 or so sets per bodypart per day as opposed to just doing 5sets and calling it a day, I don't have a lot of other stuff to throw into the mix to make a split that would let me train a bodypart 2x a week.

So I should train chest twice a week?

I eat 3 meals a day with 2 snack meals in between. I drink a protein shake with 2 scoops after I workout. I get 8 hours a night. I don't each much junk, I buy all organic at the grocery. I know what it takes to get big, I was over 220lbs at one point about 8 years ago, solid muscle. Im not willing to eat every two hours.

Squatting and deadlifting are out of the question, doctors orders. I tried to do frontsquats but had to stop those too. Really like how strong they made my core and how low I could go on them, all the way down like the way we're supposed to poop.

Like I said, I have to workout on my lunch breaks and theres typically no one lese in the gym or one or two other guys. I've had too many bad experiences with morons spotting me to ask just anybody to spot me. Will try though, can always put on lowest rung if I have to.

Basically, you might benefit from something like 5/3/1 instead of banging your head against the wall doing 5x5 for 6 weeks, then 5x10 for 6 weeks, etc. Training in a variety of rep ranges is generally a good thing.[/quote]


#8

Understand without a partner or useful spotter your hesitation with 5/3/1.

I think clustering would be a good shout in terms of mixing it up. As said I have had good strength gains using it. But again use it for a few weeks to get the benefits. Like Wendler always implies, its no race.

Yeah so its 80% of your 1RM for one rep â?? wait 10-30 secs and repeat.

You can break this down to doing 5 reps (1 set), rest 3-5 minutes and repeat for as much sets as desired. Defranco likes doing anywhere from 15-25 reps continuous. Now this is tough but good. But look it up and see what will work best for you if you decide to try it.

For delaoding which some people dont agree with, I done lighter weights for high reps, bit of repetition work. I just enjoy adding it in during my strength phase and enjoyed good gains.

Listen keep asking â?? this is my opinion, others more educated and might have better ideas. But Defranco doesnâ??t put people wrong and it worked for me.


#9

You pretty much just "talked past" everything I said. Let's try a few of these again.

"So I should train chest twice a week?" - I don't know how many times per week you should do it. What I certainly do know is that most people who state a primary goal of strength on a certain lift are training that specific lift more than once a week. You might check Ecchastang's log for an example of someone else who is limited to mostly bench and upper-body work only, and see how he structures his training.

In general, if you post asking for advice, it's probably good form to consider that advice instead of shooting down every idea with some form of "But I have to do things this way because .." - if you're not willing to consider some changes, why bother posting and soliciting advice?

I don't know your optimal split, nor am I going to tell you exactly what to do. I am tossing out observations that you might consider as alternatives to what you're currently doing. Are you strictly wedded to lifting 5 days per week on a once a week bodypart split? What about a three-day rotation like push/pull/legs? What about something that would have you benching twice a week? What about a Westside setup with a dynamic-effort and max-effort day? What about one flat-bench day and one incline-bench day?

I repeat: if your stated goal is "strength on the bench press" I think that most people would suggest a way to bench more than once a week.

"Squatting and deadlifting are out of the question, doctors orders. I tried to do frontsquats but had to stop those too. Really like how strong they made my core and how low I could go on them, all the way down like the way we're supposed to poop. "

I didn't say anything about squatting or deadlifting. Zero words. I asked about your form - I thought it would be rather obvious that I was referring to your BENCH PRESS form since you specifically inquired about how to improve your bench press. So let's try again. Take a video of your BENCH PRESS and post it so powerlifting experts can give you comments on your technique.


#10

How can you consider yourself 'elite' in all other lifts, but you don't even squat or deadlift? What, exactly, do you do that you consider to be elite?


#11

I squatted and deadlifted for many years, but as I said, had to stop due to a genetic defect that was discovered. I consider myself elite based on the strength charts that I've seen in all the lifts my body can do.


#12

My bench form is the same as Alan Thrall teaches on his youtube channel(pretty much a power lifters bench):

shoulderblades together and tight
elbows corkscrew at about 45 degrees
hands spaced with pinky on line, makes for 90 degree at elbow at bottom (not as wide as a powerlifter goes but I prefer more ROM)
lower back is arched
chest is up high
butt and shoulder blades on bench at all times
squeeze the bar tight
begin and return bar to the same place everytime


#13

Thanks, will try to get a video next time I bench.


#14

I can dip my bodyweight + 185lbs for 5x5, full reps.
I can bench 200%+bw.
My strict press is good(165x5 @ 165 bodyweight).
My squat and deadlift were elite before I had to stop.
i'm referring to the exrx chart to determine strength level.


#15

So you are benching 330 now, not 265 for 5x5? Just curious


#16

So you train by yourself, and never approach failure because of that, and you do 25 working reps per week of bench, and you want to get better at benching? Might I suggest benching twice per week, and once every 3rd or 4th workout, take that last set to AMRAP. I also advocate working in a variety of intensities and rep ranges.

Here is my suggestion
Day 1 4 x 8 at 70%
Day 2 5 x 6 at 75%
Day 3 6 x 4 at 80% (AMRAP 6th set)
Day 4 add 5 lbs to day 1
Day 5 add 5 lbs to day 2
Day 6 add 5 lbs to day 3
Day 7 add 5 lbs to day 4
Day 8 add 5 lbs to day 5
Day 9 add 5 lbs to day 6
Day 10 add 5 lbs to day 7
Day 11 add 5 lbs to day 8
Day 12 add 5 lbs to day 9

Day 13 deload do 3 x 5 at 50%
Day 14 4 x 4 at 80%
Day 15 4 x 3 at 85%
Day 16 4 x 2 at 90% AMRAP last set
Day 17 add 10 lbs to day 14
Day 18 add 10 lbs to day 15
Day 19 add 10 lbs to day 16

Day 20 Deload 3 x 5 at 50%
Day 21 perform 1 RM

Edit: each day is a lifting day, not 21 straight days. lift about every third day.


#17

I'm so glad you're here.


#18

Last time I maxed I did 330. lift, touch, pause, press.


#19

Right now I do 12 sets of 5 for chest for 6 weeks, then I switch to body building and do 15 sets of 10 for 6 weeks.


#20

Are you trying to build your chest or are you trying to improve your bench? Those are different goals.

Also, you say you are stuck at 265 for 5x5. What happens at 270?