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My Pressing Sucks! Help with Programming Please

Coach Jim

I am 20 years old and I have been using the 5/3/1 template the past 2 years with great results but with only one problem. My pressing strength sucks!

When I was 18, after my first year of training, I could hit 300 for 3 in the bench but after some shoulder injuries I was never able to get even close to that. It’s not that I am in pain or something, I have recovered completely, I just can’t get stronger on presses.

I bench press close grip now and I can only do 205 for 5 reps and military press 115 for 5.
Don’t think of me as a beginner I have been lifting for almost 4 years now and even though my pressing strength is like a girl’s, I can Front Squat 440, Deadlift:525 and do 3 dead-hang Pull Ups with 155 around my waist at a bodyweight of 200 and 6’2 height.

I am a Pro MMA fighter in the lower leagues (for now :P) and I plan to go on an offseason until November to get my strength up as much as I can so I can increase my knockout power.
I would be really happy if I could bench something like 265 by that time.
Could you please help me structure my training to achieve that goal by November? I have time to train as much as is needed and I will do anything you tell me.

I wouldn’t never advise an athlete to sacrifice a weight room number for skill development. And I would never train a fighter to get a stronger press as the main goal. If it happens, it happens. You have much more things to worry about.

If in doubt - do the Hardgainer program, 3 days a week. But understand that if you were here, I wouldn’t train you like that. I’d make sure your goal was the goal.

1 Like

At first, thanks a lot for your reply.
I agree that an athlete should not sacrifice skill development chasing a weight room number. I won’t do that. I will just cut down on the conditioning. I fought very often, about every 6 weeks, so I always kept my conditioning high. By off season, I mean I won’t fight and won’t train for endurance for those months.

I know that pressing strength might seem to not be that important for fighters, but I have seen a lot of times others hope on halo, increase their bench by more than 45lbs and start hitting like hammers, plus most great boxing coaches have their boxers bench to increase punching power.

Could you please give some insight on how would you train me if I were there? What do you mean that you would make sure my goal was my goal?
I’m sorry, English is not my first language and I might be understanding in the wrong way what you are trying to say.

I have read articles about boxing coaches who don’t let their boxers bench press because they worry it will build slow strength muscles instead of explosive punching muscles. Do you do the sort of push ups when you push yourself high and fast enough that you can clap your hands between each repetition? Push ups work a wider variety of muscles than bench presses anyway.

On the other hand, my bench pressing and dead lifting came in handy during ground work when I studied jiu jitsu.

You might look up Christian Thibaudeau’s article about “star complexes” on this website. It worked wonders for my squats, and has a version for benching as well. For example, you could do explosive push ups, heavy bench pressing, and light bench pressing, and then rest, to build all three kinds of muscle fibers.

Fuck bench press unless you are powerlifter I’ve never seen one exercise cause more people injuries . I am not striking coach, bit try doing one hand dumbbell jerk low reps weak side first, 5 sets 2. Then incline close grips , 5 sets 3 speed is goal, then knuckle pushup. Your probably overtrained the best pressers have a very specific range of motion, that you can’t afford in mma, watch some world record bench press on you tube, see if lifting in that range of motion comes up in a fight. Bench press easy to teach and can use more weight than most upper body exercise, great for size strength, their are offensive lineman in NFL who only get 225 x 10-15 in combine who clean up in the pro’s.

Oh do some zercher lifts out of the rack only move the bar 12 inches but heavy, you are lean so you might need towel a lot of steel on flesh, then throw some upper cuts, don’t use alot of low back just kind of squat under it. The overload will make your arms feel light and you will feel like Tyson throwing upper cuts, good luck, mma is one of my favorite sports.

Coach Jim, I though about this and came up with a plan I think is good, it would be awesome if you could critique and tell me what to change.

Workout A
1.Box Jumps 3x5
2a.Power Clean 5x3
2b.Weighted Muscle Ups 5x3
3.Pull Ups: 5x5/4/3/2/1 + 50 reps with only bodyweight for time.
4.Full Contact Twists 3x5 per side

Workout B
1a.Speed Front Squats: 5x2/70%
1b.Speed bench: 5x2/70%
2a.Front Squats: 5/3/1
2b.Bench Press: 5/3/1
3.Push Press: 5x3
4.Ab Rollouts: 3x10-15 (weighted)

Why not follow the recommendation and do the hard gainer template?

If you were my athlete:

  1. Talk to your coach. Look at your schedule and his own programming for your training. This is key and needs to be discussed with your coach. I assume that MMA isn’t that fucking stupid that coaches/training don’t “exist on their own”. You have to work together.
  2. Train with you and see your attitude, what you need, your form, etc.
  3. Devise plan of strength using: squat, deadlift, press, bench press, chin, row, ab work, back raise, KB work, sled, prowler, farmer walk and other assorted goodies: this is all based on #2. I strongly advise you to use a MINIMUM of exercises. Too many idiots giving advice, not enough people listen.
  4. Be wary of advice you get on internet since a lot of this is really, really bad.

I can’t do a damn thing without #2. The principles remain the same but nothing specific since I have no idea who you are, what you are like, etc.

Take out these exercises:

Weighted muscle up
Full contact twist
speed front squats
Speed bench

These are all a huge waste of time. HUGE.

how do you set up the hardgainer 3 days a week template?

You repeat every nine days - too many people trying to fit 4 days of training into 3. Very bad idea and reeks of impatience and ignorance. Do it right.