Observations About Bench Press Accessory Work

I’ve observed that I can increase my squat by squatting and my deadlift by deadlifting, but I don’t seem to be able to increase my bench simply by benching. If I focus on the flat barbell bench, it tends to stagnate; to get it to budge, I seem to need to stop doing it for a while and focus on things like the incline press, dumbbell pressing, etc. Once those go up, I can return to my BP after 6-8 weeks and find that it has increased. Has anyone else noticed anything like this in their lifts? Again, it’s only the BP that is like this; I can increase my squat and DL by working hard on a linear program involving those exact lifts. This seems to fly in the face of the conventional wisdom that if you want to get good at something then you should do that thing over and over, but I’ve repeatedly observed this phenomenon in my BP training. Anyone else experienced anything like this? As always, thanks to all who post here.

Complete opposite to my experience. How good is your technique?

Decent, I think. I’ve got the basics: Tight bracing, solid arch (moderate, not exaggerated), elbows under the bar, etc.

Try 5/3/1. Mines was stalled until I got on a good program.

If you perform just the comp bench in a low ROM highly efficient manner (which you should for the comp lift) then it’s not the greatest hypertrophy stimulus which is like super important for getting stronger. So yeh in that way Comp bench alone might not be the best approach or you’ll need to do quite a bit of volume/frequency for or.

I wouldn’t recommend getting completely away from the comp lift because IMO u still need to be handling relatively heavy weights in a close variation. Variations can present a new stimulus and target your weaknesses and increase time under tension in parts of the movement: Spoto bench for off the chest, close grip bench for overall ROM etc.

A little bit of heavy flat pressing variation at minimum then u can supplement with a load of accessory work if u find it works well for u.

Personally comp bench and some close variations like touch n go, Spoto press and long pause work well enough. I have a relatively close grip on my bench though so longer ROM. I do enjoy a lot of rep work on the dumbbells, incline press and overhead press though. If I leave the comp and close variations for a while there’s a reacclimatisation period which is a waste of time so I keep something in.

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No. Training for hypertrophy is not training for strength. They are separate goals and require differentt things. Stronger can mean bigger, but bigger does not necessarily mean stronger.
If training the lift directly leads to a plateau, but doing other things and coming back to it results in a gain, there are a few factors in play. You need to figure out your weakness and use assistance work to fix it (I know, I’m stealing from Conjugate a little here). For example, I saw progress when I trained behind the neck militaries. Progress in pressing (I was not benching at all at the time). The reason was not because of magical properties of training a stretch reflex or flexibility, it was because that permitted significant overload of ny triceps while liminting more strength as a support. I roll the elbows under and arch to involve my pecs and deltoids in my standing press, and I couldn’t do that with BTN. Figure out where you’re weak, pick someting that hammers the weakness.
Also, consider rearranging your rep/set scheme. My DL responds to a very different scheme than my squat. Work with your muscle composition.

So for a given individual if they build more muscle they are or ain’t gonna be stronger long term?

Not necessarily. Working for hypertrophy is a different goal and involves maximizing specific fibre types, it’s not a direct carryover at all.

I see. It’s just almost all sources says hypertrophy is good for powerlifting, indirectly at least and the mechanisms and focus/utility definitely varies: from Louie to Sheiko to contemporary coaches/influences like Mike Tuscherer and everyone and their mum in between. Bunch of scientific research evidence on top of that I’m not sure if it informed these guys’ ideas or the research was done and then confirmed what they were already getting at.

Is it not worth a consideration?

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Hypertrophy comes with training, it is a normal result. If you are training for strength, hypertrophy is a side effect not a goal. There is a difference. It is also illustrated in the drugs commonly used. If hypertrophy = strengtrh, there would be one training program and we could simply scan everyone’s LBM at a contest and give out the awards without lifting anything. Ceratin types of lifting maximize hypertrophy, but that isn;t the sameas training for strength.

We don’t scan people but we do put in em in weight classes even if the final decider is total or using some formula.

A gain of 10 lbs of weight will increase your lifts, it doesn’t matter if that weight is water or fat or muscle. A gain of 10 lbs of muscle will likely increase lifts more than tthe other two. But, different fibre types respond differently as far as hypertrophy versus strength. There’s a reason BBers use very different rep schemes than PLers.

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The fact that you would adjust your programming according to whether your main goal is an increased 1rm or hypertrophy does not mean they’re entirely different things. Adding 10lb of muscle to your upper body is a great way of building your bench. Of course it might take a bit of a transitional period to see the effect in your 1rm, but still.

I dunno if OP minds gaining weight or not. From the way u put it sounds like a decent approach or maybe as part of a larger strategy.

Do other mechanisms of strength more efficient provide long term consistent gains?

Like technique improvement can add on quite a bit like even 5-10% a sesh if their techniques bad enough lol. It’s not like we get 10% every sesh or week or month or year from technique improvements.

If hypertrophy is gonna be a component of the approach to increasing OP’s bench shouldn’t we consider how to make as much of that weight gain muscle as possible then with the caveat that as you say there’s some interference effect there so a full on hypertrophy focus is inappropriate.

You might enjoy “Strength is Specific” by Chris Beardsley. It’s like $5 on Kindle if I remember right.

It’s a simply worded but fairly dense read, and I’ve found it to be a helpful reference text since purchasing.

I’ll save the five bucks and stare into Chad Wesley Smith’s beautiful blue eyes as he talks to me about specificity

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His eyes are truly mesmerising

But actually any guiding principles that are worth knowing that ain’t common knowledge?

I’m going to leave this here. It a Dave Tate article on getting stronger.
Notice the “Hypertrophy Phase” section.

If Dave Tate says bigger is stronger. Then bigger IS stronger.

If you’ve stalled on a lift making to associate muscles bigger is a grade A way of breaking through. It’s not a direct “increase size by 5% increase lifts by 5 %”. But it’s about building (as CT puts it) strength potential.
I cant see why there would hypertrophy phases in so many proven strength schemes otherwise.

I’m hoping I’m the same as you. I stopped benching a few months back. But I’m working hard on press and incline. I hope when I return to the bench I’m a wee bit stronger.
I will add I used to make easy progress on squat and dead lift by just squatting and dead lifting. But when I swapped to 531 and added extra lower back work my deadlift and squat exploded even further.
Try adding some lower body assistance see how it goes?

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He doesn’t actually say that. He describes the Hypertrophy Phase as a prep for the Strength Phase, because bigger isn’t stronger, stronger is stronger. It’s a decent article (But he should have used a proof reader or spell check) describing the basics of Periodization, which most people don’t really get. I’m guessing you have missed a few points. I’m not talking out of my ass here, I have a competitive background.