T Nation

My Bench Press Questions


OK so, I have never been a big bench press guy my coaches in high school really stressed Squats, Power Cleans,and Deads and those have always been my bread and butter. I've just recently started benching regularly previous to this (10 years ago) I mainly did DB Presses.

The big issue I have is that from my 0-3 inches or so off my chest I got nothing, If I stop before I break that plain I can push 225 for a couple, but if I get too close to my chest it's going no where.

I know people use board presses to correct weak points but from what I've seen most people use them to work the top end of the bench. or did I miss some thing? Anyways I've been trolling training articles and haven't seen anything that looks like my issue. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!


Its kinda weird that you have little power output from 0-3 inches off your chest since you should have been training that position better with the db presses due to the increased range of motion. By db press do you mean db bench press or db shoulder press? When i db bench press i like to get a full ROM. (The top of the dumbell is in line with the top of my chest)

If you only did db shoulder presses then I could see how power output might be lower in the low position of the bench press. BTW- many people throw the barbell bench press out of their routines because it doesn't increase chest mass for everyone. You are right about board presses strengthening the top portion of the lift (more specifically it strengthens everything above the board for the most part).

Either way- lower the weight you are doing for your bench presses and do mini presses from about 0-4 inches off your chest to workout your weak area.


All good points Hank. Ryan, you would not want to do board presses. Do you have a mind-muscle connection with your chest? Can you flex it?


I can flex my chest but not to the extent I can flex other muscles.

Cuz you asked I tried a couple of times and it seems that the split between my Pecs has like a full inch of separation.

I did a set of Mini presses like Hard Hank said with 135 after my squats tonight, I used a ultra wide grip and I can already tell my chest will be a little sore in the AM.

I'm thinking in the last 10 years most of my physical jobs have had more to do with pulling weight rather than pushing it so I must have just lost strength in my chest.

I had already planned on finding a program that consists mainly upper body this next go around, I was thinking about doing some thing like this:
Back and Bi day,
Chest Day,
Off Day,
Off Day,
Chest and Tri Day,
Leg Day,
Off Day.
Any lifts or comments would help greatly!


It could possibly be a form problem. Try to remain really tense and tight at the bottom. Look up proper bench press form, like how to retract your scapula and how to position elbows. That may help.

At my first (and only, so far) powerlifting competition, I put on a weight for bench that I had never tried, got intimidated, and lost the "tightness" at the bottom of the rep when the bar is touching your chest and you have to pause. That pause through out my tightness and confidence, and I blew the lift... although the weight wasn't anything crazily heavy for me.


I have a gap/crevasse as well :wink:

You still want to train everything else - back, bi's, shoulders because they (back and shoulders) are still part of your bench press. Or you could do incline bench which does work your shoulders to a degree.

[edit - just saw it as the first day.]
I would switch those first two days around.

heavy chest
back and bi
light chest and tri
legs and shoulders


What I find to work for improving the bottom portion of my bench is to include a few sets of bottom-pauses. For instance, if you normally do 6 reps at 200lbs, then try to get 6 reps at 175lbs with a 2 second pause at the bottom. Lower the weight to your chest, hold it there for a 2 second pause, and push up. It seems to have helped me and might be worth a try for you.