T Nation

Not Gaining Chest Strength


Hey guys, hoping you can help with a problem I have had over the past few months. I am 5’9 167 pounds and if I had to guess would say around 12% body fat. I have lifted seriously for the past 2 years and a year of casual lifting beforehand. I am natural and haven’t considered gear yet. My problem is my chest. I have not been able to gain strength and much size in the past few months and it has always been my weakest area.

When I started my bench was only 75 pounds for 10-12 reps. I have managed to get it up to 135 for 10 throughout my training after about a 1.5 years of serious training. My dumbbell press has also rose from 20 pounds for 10 reps to 10 reps now at 65 pound dumbbells. I have seemed to hit a plateau where I cannot seem to gain strength and much size in my chest over the past few months and have stayed at the very same weight.

I have managed to gain strength and size of my other muscle groups at the same rate as I had in the past with chest being my only halt. I have tried multiple different types of training including 5x5 on bench to try to increase strength but it has not done much.

My nutrition is as follows:
3000 cal/day
225g protein
75g fat
Rest filled with carbs

If anyone has any thoughts on increasing my chest strength it would be greatly appreciated!


Thank goodness you have not tried gear yet. With a 135 x 10 bench, you have a lot more natural potential in you to be used. Are you going to damage in the bodybuilding scene or are you a pro athlete? If not, why do you want to use roids? Just for the sake of being bigger and stronger or leaner? If that’s the case, I would wait quite some time and weigh the risks, because if anything goes roid-related goes wrong with your body and health, then it’s on you. And I say this because with a 135 bench you are likely very young (I might be wrong).

Your diet is fine, so long as you are not getting fat from it.

There is little advice to be offered if we don’t see your whole program and how long you gave 5 x 5 or any other program a shot.

How old are you? Aside from your height, are you small, medium, or big framed? Actually, come to think of it, if you are very young, a 135 x 10 bench might give you a low 200’s bench, which is not terrible for a very young guy your size (IF you are young, like high school age). Many here would disagree with me on this, but my standards are relative to what average guys can do, being an average myself. If we are to look at phenoms, then yes, most men are weak. :slightly_smiling:


I haven’t even considered taken Roids and won’t for a long time if I ever do. I am 18 so yes I am young. The reason I came to this forum is because I like the advice you guys give without shoving bullshit supplements down my throat. You guys genuinely want to help which is why I am asking here. I have hit 170 for 1 rep but that was my max. Thank you for your advice! I am not planning on competing or any of the sort in the near future. I have a strong passion for lifting and who knows what I will try in the future. The more advice the better thanks again!


A bodyweight bench press is not terrible for an eighteen year old. I am not usually one that says “train for performance and the looks will follow” if we are talking strictly looking like a bodybuilder but when you hit 1.5 x bodyweight bench and 2 x bodyweight squat and 15 or so clean pull-ups (altogether) and 1 x bodyweight overheard press, you will likely look very good.

What is your whole program?


Good to know. I am doing a 4 day routine
Day 1 chest and shoulders
Day2 biceps triceps
Day 3 back and shoulders
Day 4 legs

I am doing shoulders twice a routing because I have notice they are lagging in comparison to other muscles. I usually take a day off after 2 workout days and then repeat my routine. I am thinking about adding another chest day and make it 5 days but I have not done so yet.


Without even knowing you, I am gonna go out on a limb here, though I might be wrong. Your shoulders are NOT lagging considering your 167# body, your 170# bench press max, and your age. :slightly_smiling: You have no need for body part specialization at this point.

This sort of split is likely one of the causes of your issue. You are hitting your chest once per week, as well as everything else aside from shoulders. Do yourself a favor and go to an upper-lower split or a split that allows you to train everything once every four to five days.

You will likely not have success training five days a week on this sort of split. Actually you would likely have more success if you trained five days per week with a two-way rotating split or a push-pull-legs split that rotates.

More volume, more days, more sets, more specialization is not needed now. Like, seriously not needed.


What he said. ^

Seriously. P/P/L X2, Sunday off.



Yes, PPL or upper-lower. I am seriously biased to upper-lower though. :slight_smile: And four days per week of training for most.


I have never tried a push pull legs split before so I will give it a try! Could you suggest program or your thoughts on how many sets /reps I should be doing for each exercise and how many excersizes etc. thanks!


Did you try reading some of the hundreds of articles on this site regarding how to set up a program?


I have been reading many of these programs. What I was meaning to ask was is there one of these programs you would recommend?


Lyle McDonald’s Generic Bulking Routine, which is not featured on this site, but there are programs featured here that resemble it almost to a T. There’s nothing special about it–hence its name–but Lyle McD just wrote it out for people and it’s sensible.

When you get a bit stronger and bigger, maybe try Paul Carter’s Guaranteed Mass article.


This always helps me break through plateaus…

Pick a moderate weight, and keep doing set of singles…adding small increments with each set until you can barely get the weight up. I also do slow negatives on the way down to the pins.


I don’t think getting to 135x10 is a plateau, it’s just not being very strong.

No need to think about advanced plateau-busting techniques yet.

What do the rest of your lifts look like?


Gaining strength comes with time… You gotta stick to a program for some time and get most of your volume from compound lifts. I will say that there is no “quick fix” to gaining strength, its hard persistent work


I guess we all have different definitions of a plateau…but for me it means wanting to be stronger but you’re not. But there’s no need to look at pin presses as an advanced plateau buster. Just a means to get stronger.


no I get you, man, and I didn’t mean to dismiss your question. What I mean is that you are at the stage where really you just need to make sure you’re getting under the bar enough and eating right (think calories and protein).

Eventually to keep progressing in strength on big lifts like bench you’ll need to think about things like periodisation and other such more “advanced” techniques, but you’re not there yet.

That’s what I was getting at when I asked you what your other lifts were like. If you have a 135lb bench and a 400lb squat, then yeah, that’d be weird, but I’m willing to bet the rest of your numbers are fairly typical for someone just starting out, and your bench isn’t significantly worse.