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Ok, I Need Bench Help

My bench is stuck, and it’s been stuck for almost 5 months now. It’s barely moved since December while I’ve gained well over 200 lbs in both my squat and deadlift since then. Here are my current stats:

Lifting Experience: 8 months
Bench: 215 lbs
Squat: 450 lbs
Deadlift: 550 lbs
Weight: 250 lbs
Body Fat: 18 %

That’s an overly ridiculous ratio compared to the average lifter ratio. I just don’t know what I should try. My sticking point for bench is the middle portion of the lift. For what it’s worth, my overhead press sucks horribly too. I can do 95 lbs for like 12 - 14 reps, which I was also able to do in December. Not sure what that equals out to for a max, but it probably means that my shoulders aren’t too strong.

Also, I’m not very good at dips. I used to be able to do 6 good ones when I first started working out at 180 lbs, but I’ve gained 70 lbs this school year (about 50 of it muscle), but since then my weight has put me down to 3, and not very good ones at that. So I’ve been kinda negligent of doing dips since I’m not very good at them anymore, not that I ever was too great to begin with. I’m guessing that means that I don’t have very strong triceps either.

I don’t focus on any part of my training than any other part, so I don’t know what’s up. I’ve tried pushing myself as hard as I can to strengthen my triceps, shoulders, and chest, but nothing seems to be working. Any advice as to what I should do?

I sure as hell hope your training isn’t limited to the lifts you just mentioned. If your bench is stuck, that implies that every muscle group assisting in that movement is too weak to allow further progress…which implies that you need direct ISOLATION work of those other muscle groups. That includes DIRECT triceps, shoulder and even isolated pectoral training (your lats are even involved with this movement and hopefully you haven’t fallen for the “don’t do lat pull downs and only do chins” bullshit). They BOTH work.

If you are that weak in your triceps that you can’t even do dips…gee, that looks like the problem.

X is dead right. Anyone worth thier weight in salt would tell you if you really want your bench to go up Build you Tris. Now there is more to it than that but that would be a good place to start. Do the Dips.

My problem was mind over matter… or matter over mind more accurately. But this thread has become a fantastic benching resource.

http://www.T-Nation.com/tmagnum/readTopic.do?id=2077070

Joe

I’m gunna emphasize dips too. Especially weighted. What style do you have when it comes to benching? Bodybuilding style or powerlifting?

Even when trying to break through my plateau i kept my shoulders rammed back, it has got so i cant bench any other way now. So BB definately.

You really need to get the triceps strength up, 3 BW dips is POOR! I am surprised you can bench what you can! Honestly.

There is your answer… dont get complicated, just get the ticeps sorted, and your presss will fire up.

Joe

I also believe in Tri strength because your overhead sucks too as you said.

As for benching, since you are getting stuck in the middle do more dynamic benching while adding bands or chains. I have noticed that my none dynamic bench days when I increase the intensity the lift just seems to easy…

[quote]Professor X wrote:
I sure as hell hope your training isn’t limited to the lifts you just mentioned. If your bench is stuck, that implies that every muscle group assisting in that movement is too weak to allow further progress…which implies that you need direct ISOLATION work of those other muscle groups. That includes DIRECT triceps, shoulder and even isolated pectoral training (your lats are even involved with this movement and hopefully you haven’t fallen for the “don’t do lat pull downs and only do chins” bullshit). They BOTH work.

If you are that weak in your triceps that you can’t even do dips…gee, that looks like the problem.[/quote]

I agree that including direct tricep and shoulder work is a good idea, but judging by the numbers he listed there is clearly a much more fundamental problem with his upper body training.

The guy weighs 250 lb, but can only bench 215. The fact that he has not improved his bench since December despite the fact that his current bench is significantly less than his own bodyweight tells me that his specific bench press training must suck.

Even if he is not including any assistance exercises for triceps and shoulders, there is no reason that his bench should plateau for months at 215lb. Someone who weighs 250 lb should be able to get to that strength level just by doing pushups a couple of days per week.

OP post you current routine.

BTW good work on your squat and deadlift. A 450 squat and 550 dead after only 8 months of training is impressive.

[quote]drummerofgod89 wrote:
My bench is stuck, and it’s been stuck for almost 5 months now. It’s barely moved since December while I’ve gained well over 200 lbs in both my squat and deadlift since then. Here are my current stats:

Lifting Experience: 8 months
Bench: 215 lbs
Squat: 450 lbs
Deadlift: 550 lbs
Weight: 250 lbs
Body Fat: 18 %[/quote]

After 8 months of lifting you can squat 450 and deadlift 550…and you put on 70lbs? Impressive.

[quote]drummerofgod89 wrote:
For what it’s worth, my overhead press sucks horribly too. I can do 95 lbs for like 12 - 14 reps, which I was also able to do in December.

Also, I’m not very good at dips. I used to be able to do 6 good ones when I first started working out at 180 lbs, but I’ve gained 70 lbs this school year (about 50 of it muscle), but since then my weight has put me down to 3, and not very good ones at that. [/quote]

Relative to your squat/deadlift, yes you are weaker in these areas.

[quote]
I’ve tried pushing myself as hard as I can to strengthen my triceps, shoulders, and chest, but nothing seems to be working. [/quote]

What have you tried?

Without knowing what you already tried, you need to do some extra work on your weak areas.

I’m going to disagree with the emphasis others have placed on dips, sort of. Keep doing them, but since you have little success with them and you have added a lot of weight lately I’d suggest also using other movements.

I’d say to work on various pressing ranges and angles. By ranges, I mean everything from using dumbbells for pressing (since you can go below chest level to using a barbell and 1 through 4 board presses.

Developing starting strength off your chest will help you use momentum from the bar to get through sticking points and the board presses will help develop tricep strength without you hitting your sticking point.

As for angles try everything from decline to incline to overhead. Also add in some extra shoulder movements (ie. side raises).

Obviously don’t do everything everyday, but try to cycle some movements every 3-4 weeks.

That is an astonishing disparity. A 350 bench would be more in line with your other lifts.

For me the bench benefits more from assistance work than the squat or pull. Nudging up your dumbbell work, overhead work, dips (if your a/c joints are healthy,) rowing and chinning strength, grip strength, etc. are probably all necessary.

I disagree with Professor X that direct isolation work for the pecs is necessary. Very few big benchers do flyes, crossovers, or the like. I realize Sheiko has his lifters do flyes sometimes but it is more to stretch out the pecs and shoulder girdle as prehab. As for isolation shoulder work, (laterals, bent laterals, front raises, etc.,) they might have a place but take it easy with these and keep the reps high.

I would say keep it simple. Bench twice a week, once heavy, once light.

On your heavy day, work up to a couple heavy 3s or 5s. Follow with heavy triceps work (floor presses, boards, lockouts, etc.,) then dumbbell work, then biceps/triceps isolation and shoulder prehab.

On your lighter day, do some higher rep work and overhead work. You can do more biceps/triceps work and dips here.

Train your back on a separate day, after you pull.

That’s what we’ve seen work well for most raw benchers. This kind of setup helps my bench, but doesn’t really fit in with squatting and pulling three times per week, like I prefer to do. You have to set priorities and make choices, and for you that’s easy…you have to bring up your bench.

Good luck.

[quote]BigE05 wrote:
I also believe in Tri strength because your overhead sucks too as you said.

As for benching, since you are getting stuck in the middle do more dynamic benching while adding bands or chains. I have noticed that my none dynamic bench days when I increase the intensity the lift just seems to easy…[/quote]

This is bad advice.

  1. Struggling with overhead lifts doesn’t implicate weak triceps. But regardless, his overall pressing strength is just really weak. It’s not a matter of identifying specific relative muscle weaknesses.

  2. Advanced methods like dynamic efforts and accommodating resistance are ridiculously inappropriate for someone who cannot bench their own bodyweight. Why use an advanced tool (that you might actually need to progress some day,) when very basic, straight-line solutions exist? Preserve advanced training methods for when you become advanced.

Pushups.

Do them.

A good round number to shoot for at one time is 50. But don’t worry if you can’t get close to that. Just find what number you can do with good form and do that repeatedly throughout the day. Keep an informal total on a daily basis. As you keep doing this you’ll slowly be able to do more at one time. When I was a teenager I sucked at pushups (and everything else too). A friend’s dad always told him that if he could do 50 pushups at one time he’d give him $50. So the challenge for us was to be able to accomplish that.

Once that hurdle was passed I’d routinely do pushups all the time. I’d knock out my 50 and get my heart rate up and have a nice little pump going on in my arms, chest, and upper back. Do this 3,4,5,6 or more times a day. Works for me.

[quote]Ramo wrote:
BigE05 wrote:
I also believe in Tri strength because your overhead sucks too as you said.

As for benching, since you are getting stuck in the middle do more dynamic benching while adding bands or chains. I have noticed that my none dynamic bench days when I increase the intensity the lift just seems to easy…

This is bad advice.

  1. Struggling with overhead lifts doesn’t implicate weak triceps. But regardless, his overall pressing strength is just really weak. It’s not a matter of identifying specific relative muscle weaknesses.

  2. Advanced methods like dynamic efforts and accommodating resistance are ridiculously inappropriate for someone who cannot bench their own bodyweight. Why use an advanced tool (that you might actually need to progress some day,) when very basic, straight-line solutions exist? Preserve advanced training methods for when you become advanced.[/quote]

  3. Thanks for catching that…the first sentence was writen before I finished my first cup of coffee and still not thinking clear…that was meant to be two senteces.

“Impove your Tricep strength. This will also help with other presses”.

  1. He complained he was getting stuck in middle. Gave hime some advice that has worked for me…

[quote]Ramo wrote:

I disagree with Professor X that direct isolation work for the pecs is necessary. Very few big benchers do flyes, crossovers, or the like. I realize Sheiko has his lifters do flyes sometimes but it is more to stretch out the pecs and shoulder girdle as prehab. As for isolation shoulder work, (laterals, bent laterals, front raises, etc.,) they might have a place but take it easy with these and keep the reps high.[/quote]

The recommendation of isolation exercises was with the belief that the goal would be prioritization of the triceps and shoulders with more “maintenance work” for his pectorals. No one told him to avoid the benchpress and I think flyes are a waste of time and energy. However, there isn’t a damn thing wrong with the pec deck or cable crossovers, especially at the end of a workout that included basic “mass builders” as the foundation.

Here’s my routine:

Day 1: Legs and Shoulders

A1: 3 x 12 Squats ATG
A2: 3x12 Lateral Dumbbell Raises

B1: 3x12 Leg Press
B2: 3x12 Rear Delt Dumbbell Rows

C1: 3x12 Leg Curls
C2: 3x12 Dumbbell Overhead Press

D1: 3x12 Leg Extensions
D2: 3x12 Barbell Overhead Press

Day 2: Chest and Traps

Usually pick out 5 of the following exercises, always including barbell bench (for 3 sets of each exercise):

Flat Barbell Bench
Flat Dumbbell Bench
Incline Barbell Bench
Incline Dumbbell Bench
Decline Barbell Bench
Decline Dumbbell Bench
Dumbbell Flyes (can be on incline or decline)
Cable Flyes (can have the cables coming from above or below)

And between each bench set, I will do shrugs and whatnot for traps.

Day 3: Back and Calves

A1: 3x12 Deadlift
A2: 3x12 Seated Calf Raise

B1: 3x6 Chin-ups (that’s my current amount I can do)
B2: 3x12 Leg Press Calf Raise

C1: 3x12 Bent-over Barbell Rows (palms facing towards me)
C2: Standing Barbell Calf Raise

3x12 Wide-grip Pull-ups on Cables

3x12 Dumbbell Rows

Day 4: Arms

A1: 2x12 Wide-grip Barbell Curls
A2: 2x12 Decline Skull-crushers

B1: 2x12 Close-grip Barbell Curls
B2: 2x12 Close-grip Decline Skull-crushers

C1: 2x12 Wide-grip EZ Bar Reverse Preacher Curls
C2: Decline Close-Grip Bench (palms away)

D1: 2x12 Close-grip EZ Bar Reverse Preacher Curls
D2: Decline Close-Grip Bench (palms facing towards me)

E1: 4x12 Incline Hammer Dumbell Curls
E2: 4x12 Rope Cable Tricep Exensions

(Essentially 3 exercises for biceps and triceps, just with grip variations)

Day 5: Rest

Day 6: Repeat

And there you have it. It’s a 6 day cycle, and every other cycle switches from 12 reps to 6 and so on. I’ll change the exercises every month or so. I was on Chad Waterbury’s HFT program to start and made just as good of strength and size gains as I did on a split.

I think I might switch my routine to something like:

Day 1: Legs (that way I can get more sets in)
Day 2: Shoulders and Triceps
Day 3: Back and Biceps
Day 4: Chest and Triceps
Day 5: Traps and Calves
Day 6: Biceps and Triceps
Day 7: Chest and Shoulder pressing movements (no tricep isolation)

I should be fine to repeat Day 1 right after Day 7. This workout program should be hitting the triceps, chest and shoulders pretty hard. Biceps too, because I’m not too strong with those yet either. 6 chins isn’t too impressive, but I do weigh 250.

My Back, Legs, Traps, and Calves are still growing in strength rapidly in strength and size, and I’m not reducing the workouts for these body parts at all (though I am reducing the frequency a tad) in the above example of a split, so they would all most likely continue to get bigger and stronger. I’ll just make sure to be on the ball these days.

Any advice regarding the above information would be lovely.

I hate to be a skeptic, but this doesn’t set off anyone else’s “spidey sense”? How old are you? Do you have heiniously long arms (like 10 inches more than your height, lol) and tiny femurs? I just don’t understand how someone who gains so much muscle in such a short time is so weak in a basic lift and 215 is very literally VERY weak. I would need to see videos to believe this fish story. Again, I am sorry for being a skeptic.

Rarely do I throw out the phrase “overtraining”, but weights 7 days a week? Might be too much.

Also, I am a fan of volume work to build strength, but of you want to bench heavier, get some sets in in the low rep range. It’ll make you stronger and help you with mastering the groove for a heavy lift.

My bread and butter has always been:

Bench 8x3 with roughly 80% of your max
Incline DB 4x6
Chest exercise 3x8-10

If you can get through 8 sets of the same weight, add 5-10 pounds to the next session. Rest 1 to 2 mins as needed between sets.

Dips 4 x 6
Decline Close Grip Press (elbows flare way out) 4x6-8
JM Press 3x8-10

Treat dips like the bench press - when you hit 6 reps, start adding weight (weight belt, DB between your feet, whatever). Dips are squats for the upper body.

Hit shoulder presses with good volume - when you press up, press out some too, so your shoulders get tension the whole time. Do plenty of lateral/front/rear delt raises to strengthen your rotator cuff.

Hit biceps with good volume - and do some grip work. Soft, weak hands hurt the bench press.

I’d say there is no need for advanced ballistic/dynamic movements - sounds to me like you need to build a solid base of muscle in the upper body.

Just some thoughts, but don’t train every day - give the muscles a chance to grow.

[quote]Gianacakos wrote:
I hate to be a skeptic, but this doesn’t set off anyone else’s “spidey sense”? How old are you? Do you have heiniously long arms (like 10 inches more than your height, lol) and tiny femurs? I just don’t understand how someone who gains so much muscle in such a short time is so weak in a basic lift and 215 is very literally VERY weak. I would need to see videos to believe this fish story. Again, I am sorry for being a skeptic.[/quote]

Hey it happens to some people. Most people who have imbalances have a bench that is more than their deadlift or squat. I’m the minority of the imbalanced lifters whose squat and deadlift are 2 - 2.5x their bench.

As for the guy above, that seems like excellent advice. Thanks for your time. I don’t really need grip work though. When I max out at 550 on deadlift, I use no straps, just my own grip strength. No gloves either.

How old are you? Is this your first period of training? I am trying not to be too cynical, but it is hard with this situation. You claim to have put on 50 pounds of muscle in 8 months and 200 pounds on dead and squat and nothing on bench, and you are 250 pounds. That seems impossible. I don’t think you are in the minority with your squat and dead being higher than your bench disproportionately.

Most raw powerlifting style people have heavier deads and squats. I am one of those people. That is why this is so hard for me to understand. I have an abysmal bench for my squat and dead. I squat over 600 raw and deadlift 650ish while my bench has only been a best of 385, which is terrible for my other numbers. I am a softish 242 also. One poster said you need to build a fundamental muscular foundation, bullshit.

Most people don’t put on 70 pounds (50 of which are muscle) in their lifetime let alone 8 months. I do agree with that same poster that seven days a week is too much though. I would say you need to back off of everything except BENCH if this is really your situation. Bench heavy as fuck, often as fuck with as much intensity as you can muster and hit your tris and back hard as well. The only way I can increase my bench is increasing intensity and frequency (your other lifts will suffer aside from some deadlift carryover.