T Nation

Need Help With Bench

I am new to this forum, not to lifting, per se. I am trying to increase my bench.

About me: 56 years old, 5’11" 195 lbs.

I went into the army (at 17) weighing 120lbs, got out 3 years later, weighing 150lbs. Right now is the heaviest I’ve ever been. I am not pot bellied, by any stretch.

Currently my max bench is a pathetic 200 lbs. I do 5 sets of 4 with 195 and 3 sets of machine flys with 187.5.

My triceps routine is 3 sets of dips with body weight and 4 sets of machine push downs with 72 lbs.

I read, on this forum, of guys saying they are my weight and lift well over 500 lbs! Yikes! don’t kick sand in my face, please.

I work weights on Monday and Thursday (full body workout) and run on Tuesday and Friday (5 to 6 miles).

I was thinking of replacing the triceps push downs with close grip bench presses.

Any help for a ‘not skinny anymore’ guy with a weak bench press?


CT made a bench program “8 weeks to a bigger bench.” Search for it.

Also, what are your rows looking like? A very imbalanced bench/row ratio will hinder your performance in one of the movements.

I do 4 sets of 5 pulldowns using 255 and 3 sets of seated rows using 132

First (my) advice, read as much as the info on this site as you can. Plenty of good stuff.

Second, benching your body weight for sets and reps is a good start and defo not pathetic…(define or redefine your goal: why do you really want a big bench?)

If your goal is solely to increase your bench (and size) then read some of the articles by CT on OVT, and poliquin on GVT (for a start). Even though I have used them to pack on some muscle, when i go back to ‘normal training’, my lifts have always gone up.

Prob wanna give up on the running for a while.

Just a few of my ideas.hope helps…the main one being to objectively read the main authors on this site.


Agreed. I don’t think repping w/ your bodyweight is considered pathetic. Don’t get down on yourself.

Also, if strength goals are your main focus, you may want to cut down on your running and up your lifting. Right now you’re at 2/2, day wise. And the length of your runs is pretty long. 6 mile runs are quite a bit. Not for a marathon runner, but do you WANT to look like someone that runs 26 miles? I’d up the lifting days to 3 at least, and cut your running down. The body becomes its function.

Try running hill sprints 1 or 2 days a week instead. Will give you just as much of a cardio workout, and will interfer less w/ strength gains.

Also, setting up correctly for your bench (Look for Dave Tate’s Bench 600 lbs article on here). Basically, shoulders retracted, lats flared, elbows tucked.

Also, strengthening your rotator cuffs is always a good idea for upping your bench. Check out some good prehab exercises on here.

And keep trying. Again, your bench isn’t pathetic, it’s just not HUGE. Just gives you room to improve, and improvement is fun. :slight_smile:


OK. I will give it a shot. I will cut back on the aerobics and start lifting 3 days a week. I have a little concern about recovery time, but what the hey.

I suppose I get enough “fat burning” with a 1 1/2 hour workout.

Do you suppose I can expect to put on much muscle at 56?

[quote]pasvorto wrote:
Do you suppose I can expect to put on much muscle at 56?[/quote]

I don’t mean to sound coy, but it depends on how important it is to you and what you are willing to do to add muscle. For a start (and not just for muscle building reasons) I would have my hormone levels checked so I would know where I was at in that regard. I’d absolutely make sure my nutrition and training were first class. Most people think they know how to eat right, but if you haven’t seriously educated yourself on sports nutrition, you’re kidding yourself if you think you know how to eat right.

Are you eating six times a day? Do you know how many grams of carbs/protein/fat you’re eating a day? Do you know how many grams of carbs/protein/fat you should be eating a day? Do you know about TBT, HST, HIT, GVT and all the other forms of training?

Most 56 year old guys aren’t muscular. Hell, most guys in general aren’t muscular. As a wise man once said… Extraordinary results require extraordinary efforts.

The point I’m making is that anything standing in the way of you adding as much muscle as you want can be overcome at nearly any age if you’re willing to do whatever it takes to get the results you want. Age isn’t the problem. Take a look at Serge Nubret at age 65 for an idea of what is possible:


Good luck!

I hear ya bro. Nutrition is my downfall. I’m a cookie junkie. I have started substituting my mid morning cookie snack with Steak Chunks (I think that’s what they’re called). Mighty tasty!

On the up side, I achieved a goal yesterday. I blasted through 5 sets of 5 reps of 195. Been stuck there for quite a while. Everything just clicked. So, next goal: 5 sets of 5 with 205.

Recntly I went from a 5 x 10 bench routine (much lighter weights) to the 5 x 5. I also started doing heavy shoulder work.

Now, on Wed I plan to start a triceps routine; close grip bench presses, dumb bell bench presses and added another set of dips (4 x 10 now).

“All progess is incremental.”

Sounds good,

Let me know if cutting out the cardio has helped 9may take a few weeks for that to kick in).

Also, (from experience) be carefull what heavy shoulder work you do, I found it impossible to recover when i combine heavy delt and Bench work—My shoulder girdle just ached. I now just plan my program through the year so that I mix heavy and light concurrently.

get a good book/paper/article on periodisation-

Keep it up

Thanks for the advice. I’m just hoping thinghs kick in before I get pot bellied :slight_smile:

Today I am back to heavy again.

Did the 5 sets (of 3) with 205. It felt good. I think that i will blast through this weight in short order. I am really looking forward to 225. Having 2 of the 45lbs weights on each side has been a goal for a long time.

Today i will try for 5x4x205

yesterday I did the 5x4x205 without a lot of difficulty. Friday I think I can get 5x5x205 and head one step closer to my short term goal of 5x5x225.

I did it! I got the 5x5x205 ! Monday I start 5x?x215. I hope to be doing the 5x?x225 by early April.

[quote]pasvorto wrote:
I do 4 sets of 5 pulldowns using 255 and 3 sets of seated rows using 132[/quote]

That’s not really balanced is it?

Your seated rows should be about the same weight as your bench press.

I used to go a bit heavier, but I strained my lower back (bad form, I’m afraid). So I backed off in the interest of proper form.

First of all, repping 200lbs is not pathetic at all. When I’m your age, I hope I can bench that well.

Also, concenrate on building some tricep strength. This will help you no end with your bench

Cheers `

Yesterday I did 1x3x215 and 4x2x215. So, my bench is coming. I am benching on M&F and doing close grip benches (for tris) on W. My goal is doing reps with 225 by the end of April. I am still on track to achieve that.

Keep it up, sounds as if you are making progress.
make sure your program is balanced—I find that if i do heavy DB presses for a week every 4 weeks it keeps my numbers up and also saves my shoulders.

Yesterday I left 5sets x 3reps x215 without a spotter… That is huge for me. When I get to 5x5x215 I can achieve my goal of 225. I am still aiming for that to happen next month.

I find this site gives me motivation and inspiration, not to mention a a tip or two. Keep up the good work.

You may also want to check masters powerlifting sites. There are some older guys on this site, but the majority are under 30, and require different methods for increasing their wieght, and their advice will be what works for them.

What works for a 25 year old, doesn’t always transfer to 35 45 or 55.