My Weak Bench Dangit!

oh the horrors of a weak bench! Ok, for those of you who don’t know me my story is here!

now I am writing this because i feel i have a very weak bench and I would like some advice for this as well as the rest of my workout. I have been lifting for 2 years and this summer I made the move from machine bench (and a lot of machine excercises) to bar excercises. I am 6’3.5 and 218 pounds. Yet i can only bench 135 pounds for 4 sets of 8-10. I feel i should do a lot more than this. Anyway here is my schedule right now. Is it anywhere close to being a good one? suggestions would be awesome!

Mon. - Back and Chest. All sets are 8-10 reps
Chest: bench- 4 sets
incline- 4 sets
flat fly’s - 3 sets
dips- 3-4 sets

heavy rows (standing leaning over ones) 4 sets
pull ups- 3-4 sets
pulldowns- 3 sets
rows-3 sets

after this as secondary muscle groups for the day we do one excercise of biceps and one of triceps each with 4 sets.

Tues: heavy cardio and abs

Wed: Shoulders- all sets are 6-10

arnold presses- 4 sets
machine presses- 4 sets
standing lat raise- 4 sets
front dumbell raises- 4 sets
seated bent over dumbell laterals- 4

to finish off one excercise of legs for a sec. muscle group (usually presses)

Thurs: heavy cardio (for me this is a 3-4 mile jog in 25 mins plus running 20 flights of stairs) and abs

Fri: bi’s and tri’s all are 6-10 reps per set
standing bar curls- 4 sets
standing dumbell curls - 4 sets (starting as hammer and twisting at the top)
concentration curls - 3-4 sets
reverse bar curls- 3 sets

cable pushdowns- 4 sets
reverse pushdowns- 3 sets
closegrip bench- 4 sets
one arm tricep extensions- 4 sets

at the end we do 3 sets of bench, and 3 sets of heavy rows as a secondary excercise.

Sat: Legs- all are 6-10 reps per set
Leg extensions- 4 sets
Leg presses - 4 sets
Lunges- 3 sets
leg curls- 4 sets

alternate- one excercise of shoulders- usually presses for 4- sets

sun. off and mo. repeat

as for food I eat very healthy and large meals. My main sources of protein are milk, eggs, and meat (usually tuna, chicken, turkey, or beef) and 2 protein shakes a day one in the morn. and one post workout. I total around 200 grams of protein a day.

I dunno any help would be wonderful guys. I’ll admit I don’t know much about lifting either than what ive picked up from the bigger guys in the gym and friends in physio and the like. Any help (especially improving my bench) would be awesome. Thanks guys!

I read your story man. Very nice.

But about the bench thing. ok, I dont know where to start.

You can try this for about a month and see how it works. Maybe a little longer. But this is how i did it when I was in Iraq. Your gonna need a partner.

I wanted to get some stength when I was in Iraq because I was haveing to wrestle detainees everyday.

so what me and my buddy did after talking to some of the bigger more experienced guys in the gym was this.

We did a 1/3/5/3/1, pyramid.

thats 1 set at your max. what ever you can get once.

then lower the weight and do something you can get 3 reps.

then lower weight and do 5 reps.

then go back up till you get to your max again.

At first you probably wont make it back to your max. But after 3 or 4 weeks you will be able to. Then once you can reach your max you know you are stronger because you couldnt make it there before.

The only reason I know this works is because I did it. I went from a 275lb bench to 325lb bench in 9 weeks.

It will take some time to feel comfortable with the heavy weight. But, it really does work.

and it is a never ending cycle because you will take about 3 days to rest. then come back and max and see where you are at. and you should be benching alote more than 135,4x10 after this. Then start at your new max and work down and then back up.

I havent had a chance to do it since i got back home I dont have a partner to work out with. So I have been concentrating more on medium weight with about 8 to ten reps. Not really focusing on the strenth part.

all i can say is give it a shot. And good luck.

I have a few more routines if that one isnt what you had in mind. So feel free to PM me.


Your other thread is cool, keep up the good work.

I’d recommend Ian King’s Super Strength for bench. Do it exactly as specified!

Good luck.

Thats a lot of fairly low intensity work, it may promote growth if you’re eating well but it isn’t going to dramatically increase your bench. As suggested look at some lower rep range work 4-6 reps.

Chadiccus, it looks like you’re doing way too many exercises for your chest (and other body parts too). You only really need to benchpress or dips, forget all the other stuff.

How about you try 10x3 or WS4SB ?

I would dump that program. Its not going to do much for. Give Westside for Skinny Bastards a try and your bench, along with everything else, will go up.

one thing that worked dramatically for me is when I reached a plateau, I did one very heavy chest day: 2 warm-up sets, and then 6 sets of 3 reps with your 4 rep max. Then do heavy rows the same day. Thats it. Take a week off from chest and then come back and your strength will have gone up.

Other suggestions I can make are to incorporate bands and chains, or change up your program, and do not overtrain.

just way way tooo much tricep volume

how strong is your row? can you row more than 135?

there are more workouts than i could possibly type here, but here’s a quick one from me

I like the idea proposed by the T-Nation guys that your antagonistic muscles should be as strong as your benching muscles. Strong lats seem to make it all more stable when benching

read the westside benching articles, they obviously work as those guys bench some huge numbers. However it may appear a little complicated.

just swapping your reps around & dumping a lot of that extra triceps work
will help

so 3 reps for 10 sets, working up to or near you max bench as possible would help

this heavier work will make it tougher to recover, so switch the exercise around a lot, so dumbells, one session, incline another, decline etc.

at the end of a 3x10 session you should be pretty exhausted if not add more weight, so doing more sets of incline etc will just be too much, i’d just add dips to finish off your tris.

One thing to consider is that you are doing a lot of cardio, which can eat into any muscle gain you would otherwise achieve. If you want to build muscle, I would only do HIIT (high intensity interval training) for 10-15 minutes and focus the rest of your workouts on heavy lifting.

A little less volume a lot more intensity. As lame as it sounds, sometimes less is more.

see i used to do cardio 6 times a week and for the past month I have dropped it to 3 times, but I dunno, I was trying WS4SB for awhile and I felt I just wasn’t getting enough little muscle training, like biceps and triceps, even though I know I was hitting them as secondaries during the power excercises. Will you arms and that still grow during WS4SB even though your not directly working it that much?

I’ve only been working out for three years, but I was trained on the principle of full body movements. I rarely do isolated exercises, and it was worked well for me. My body is pretty well balanced and toned as a result.

That said, I’ve been thinking about an isolated workout routine for my next round, just as a way to shake my body up and keep it guessing.

Flat bench, 10 sets of 3, on bench days.

You should be able to maintain your aerobic capacity and AT if you drop down to just one high intensity aerobic session per week.

Then you have 6 free days to work on lifting heavy, eating, and all around maintaining an anabolic state.

You are doing WAY too much isolation work if you want your bench to go up. I would advise you to try Dan John’s One Lift a Day routine. Do it just as he prescribes:

Military Press

I guarantee your bench will go up in three weeks time without compromising your muscle development. If you want a big bench - drop the flyes. Also, try switching in heavy DB presses for BB presses for a few weeks. This has also worked for me in the past.


go directly to training articles… do not pass go… do not collet $200… start following a program provided free of charge by a highly skilled individual

How about 8 weeks to a record bench by CT.

Ah my friend, I am 6’3 and 205 and have suffered from a weak bench for many years.

Here is what worked for me

1RM 165 to 185
A routine from Pavel. Every monday I would do 5 sets of bench and 5 sets of rows. The sets in order were: 5 reps, 4 reps, 3 reps, 2 reps, 1 rep. I would try to add 5lbs to each set, but sometimes this would not work. I would do bench and row back to back, then rest 3 minutes or more, then do the next set, in about 6 weeks my bench went up to 185. My starting weight for the first set of 5 was probably 125, maybe 60% of my 1RM. No other bench work the rest of the week.

1RM 185 to 205
Bill Starr’s only the strong survive, 5x5 bench, squat and clean 3 days a week. One day hard, one day light, one day medium. Took about 4-5 weeks.

1RM 205 to 225
A routine of singles. I would do a rep, rest 10-15 seconds, then do another for a total of 2-5 reps. Then rest for 2-3 minutes. I would do 2-3 sets of this 1-2 days a week. I picked heavy weights but started with 185 for singles of 3-5 reps. Took about 3-4 weeks.

None of these routines I ever did to failure.

None of the high volume chest training ever increased my bench, for 3 years my bench was stuck between 145-165 no matter how many sets of 6-12 reps I did.

Heavy, low-reps, lots of rest, not to failure.

This same approach has helped my squats and chins as well.

As far as strength goes you need to make a decision as to what type of trianing you want to do. I see alot of bodybuilding (isolation) work but very little multi-joint exercises. Squats, Deads, bench, and all the variations of such. The curls and stuff are doing you no good for strength. the biceps is one muscle group. You need to train your body as a machine, not a single action lever. I recommend you go to and start posting Q’s w/ them. There are only a few folks on this site (T-Nation) I would allow to critique Me or anyone for that matter. Stick w/ the westside training and look up the training logs on to get your self more familiar w/ the training theory. Remember the westside method is also the conjugate method which is designed to help you attack your weaknesses. None of these people are helping you so far. You are also doing entirely too much cardio for a non-athlete. You should contact Joe Defranco or Jim Wendler at for solid simple advice. You habve made your program entirely to complicated. I only do about 4 exercises on my bench day and am a drug free 425 raw bencher, 515 w/ a shirt. You are obviously not lacking in motivation, just information. Keep it up.