T Nation

Progressing Well, Except Bench

I have been lifting for about 8 months. In that time I have gone from being weaker than my grandma, to perhaps weaker than your grandpa. I am not very strong by T-Nation standards, but I think my progress thus far is reasonable. I started barely able to deadlift 100, now I’m repping 315 pretty easily. My squat started at about 100, now I’m just under 300. I could barely do 1 rep with 75 pounds on a dumbbell row, now I can do 10 reps with 100 pounds. I can do 15 chin-ups pretty easily, and 20 dips(up from 8 and 10 respectfully)

I’ve gained about 35 pounds of mass, mostly muscle, and I while my progress isn’t the most amazing, it is enough to keep me going and, I feel pretty good about it.

But, despite this progress, my bench confounds me. I started benching barely able to do 95 for 10. Now I can do 145 for 10, I can barely hit 170 for 1.

Now, granted, my bench has progressed. It feels like it has progressed a lot slower than everything else has, and it’s always felt like a lot more of a struggle to improve it.

I didn’t really care too much until I noticed a friend of mine who started benching around the same time as me with roughly the same weight, he hit 200x3 today. So he’s had a solid 100 pound increase in 8 months, I’ve had a shaky 75 pound increase. But, in every other lift, I have progressed faster than him. I can deadlift more than he can, squat more, do more chin-ups, more dips, heavier rows…etc.

So, it leads me to believe that I might be doing something poorly on the bench, maybe my technique is off, or my sets and reps.

The one thought I have is that, with a 6’6" wingspan, the leverages are working more against me(my arm length is almost a foot longer than my friend’s), that perhaps, I need to adjust my technique to compensate for that.

I have read various long-limbed lifter articles, but I was wondering outside of that idea, if other people have had their bench stuck in the mud while everything else improves, or what some other reasons for a stagnant bench might be?

The other point I wanted to make is that, with my deadlift, I put on weight every week, and I have been able to keep up with it. Same with the squat and all my row variations. With the bench, it’s more like every 2 weeks maybe, and I can’t figure out why that is.

The simple reason for your struggle with the bench is, as you seem to have guessed, your wingspan and the resulting poor leverages.

You may be able to squeeze more out by improving your technique (check articles by Dave Tate for some clues) but you are never going to match your buddy.

However, be grateful for your strengths. Your build is much better suited to other lifts, which is why you are progressing better in the deadlift.

Enjoy the lifting!

[quote]sharetrader wrote:
The simple reason for your struggle with the bench is, as you seem to have guessed, your wingspan and the resulting poor leverages.

You may be able to squeeze more out by improving your technique (check articles by Dave Tate for some clues) but you are never going to match your buddy.

However, be grateful for your strengths. Your build is much better suited to other lifts, which is why you are progressing better in the deadlift.

Enjoy the lifting![/quote]

Great post etc I will also say the bench increase really seems on par with say you DL etc. Look at the muscles used the ones in bench are a lot smaller and less then all the ones in a DL, squat etc. I wont say the progress is friggin crazy fantastic but 50 lbs is a nice increase in a 10RM

Keep working hard
Phill

Thanks for the input. One thing I left out was that my friend used to weight train about 4 years ago, I think his bench back then was in the 165-185 range. Would his 100-200 bench progress then be largely a result of muscle memory?

does muscle memory often translate over such a large span of time(where for at least 3 years he never even picked up a weight, let alone ate right or slept well)

So, since(as phil pointed out) the shoulders, triceps and pectorals are much smaller than the back and legs, I could perhaps benefit from benching more frequently?

Lastly, does the incline bench affect flat bench performance very much? I don’t do very much incline benching at all, maybe I should…

I may have missed this, but what are your training goals? Are you trying to be stronger than your friend, or is there another reason? :slight_smile:

I wonder because you may want to ask yourself why you need your bench to improve so badly.

If you’re planning on doing some powerlifting, then it makes sense. Read through MR & EC’s “Overcoming Lousy Leverages” articles- there are some great ideas there. While I’m over a foot short than you, I have ridiculously long arms and legs for my height, so the deadlift has always been my stength, too. Look at the places where you can improve your bench and work those assistance lifts.

If your goals is to improve your body composition and achieve a balanced, muscular physique, then maybe don’t stress so much about your bench numbers. If your chest is lagging in size compared to your shoulders and triceps you could try a specialization workout; however, if you’re newer to lifting and don’t truly have weak points yet, then simply work on adding muscle everywhere.

[quote]Malevolence wrote:
Thanks for the input. One thing I left out was that my friend used to weight train about 4 years ago, I think his bench back then was in the 165-185 range. Would his 100-200 bench progress then be largely a result of muscle memory?

does muscle memory often translate over such a large span of time(where for at least 3 years he never even picked up a weight, let alone ate right or slept well)

So, since(as phil pointed out) the shoulders, triceps and pectorals are much smaller than the back and legs, I could perhaps benefit from benching more frequently?

Lastly, does the incline bench affect flat bench performance very much? I don’t do very much incline benching at all, maybe I should…
[/quote]

Yes muscle memory can last that long, and yes you should do incline I think its a must for chest development. I’ve focused on incline for periods of a month or two only to come back to a stronger flat bench.

I also get the best results doing chest every 4-5 days. Its also good to change your routine (you probable know all this shit). Every so often try dumbbells instead. Be consistent, keep eating and training and you’ll get get there.

[quote]lifting girl wrote:
I may have missed this, but what are your training goals? Are you trying to be stronger than your friend, or is there another reason? :slight_smile:

I wonder because you may want to ask yourself why you need your bench to improve so badly.
[/quote]
Why climb Everest? Why go to the moon? Why compete in the Olympics? Why boldly go where no man has gone before? You need to improve your bench, I need to improve my bench, lifting girl needs to improve her bench (judging by her name), Gene Rychlak needs to improve his bench!

I get questions like this all the time, nothing wrong with asking them. “Why do you want to get so big?” or “whats the point?”. I always answer “so I can impose my will on those that are weaker than me thus enslaving them and making them clean my Tupperware” on a serious note this is really why I train. I don’t like cleaning Tupperware. But really seriously now, lots of people think its odd but it brings me joy.

Ah, not quite what I meant Hagar. I was really just thinking about the different approaches one could take if they were interested primarily in competitive powerlifting or maximizing their body composition. Simply from the perspective of someone who’s done both at one time or another.

I totally agree with you that everyone should work to improve their lifts! :slight_smile:

[quote]Hagar wrote:
lifting girl wrote:
I may have missed this, but what are your training goals? Are you trying to be stronger than your friend, or is there another reason? :slight_smile:

I wonder because you may want to ask yourself why you need your bench to improve so badly.

Why climb Everest? Why go to the moon? Why compete in the Olympics? Why boldly go where no man has gone before? You need to improve your bench, I need to improve my bench, lifting girl needs to improve her bench (judging by her name), Gene Rychlak needs to improve his bench!

I get questions like this all the time, nothing wrong with asking them. “Why do you want to get so big?” or “whats the point?”. I always answer “so I can impose my will on those that are weaker than me thus enslaving them and making them clean my Tupperware” on a serious note this is really why I train. I don’t like cleaning Tupperware. But really seriously now, lots of people think its odd but it brings me joy. [/quote]

My goals are to continue putting on strength and mass at a rate comparable to what I have achieved thus far. I’m not specifically trying to build a huge bench or anything, I had these questions because it seemed as though my bench was progressing slowly versus everything else.

Although, maybe that isn’t really the case.

[quote]Hagar wrote:

I also get the best results doing chest every 4-5 days. Its also good to change your routine (you probable know all this shit). Every so often try dumbbells instead. Be consistent, keep eating and training and you’ll get get there. [/quote]

Typically on a bench day, I’ll start with bench press, usually doing 3x10 or 3x8 rep/sets, afterwards I switch to dumbbell presses(neutral grip, and standard)

Another interesting thing in my strength development is that I can hit 10 reps with 65 pound dumbbells with neutral grip presses. My friend with the 200 bench, can barely even do 5 reps with 60 pounds.

I’ve found that my triceps fail far before my chest does, and I figure that my chest development is actually more or less on par with my friends, but his triceps have got to be a lot sturdier than mine are… or something.

So, maybe I should start including more tricep work? I do dips and occasionally do extensions with a barbell. But I’ve never really focused on my triceps from a program or anything.

[quote]Malevolence wrote:
I’ve found that my triceps fail far before my chest does, and I figure that my chest development is actually more or less on par with my friends, but his triceps have got to be a lot sturdier than mine are… or something.[/quote]“something”=leverages. We’ve been through that. [quote]

So, maybe I should start including more tricep work? I do dips and occasionally do extensions with a barbell. But I’ve never really focused on my triceps from a program or anything.

[/quote]
Depends on whether your aim is to bench a lot, or you are lifting for more general reasons. If you want to increase your bench, yes, do extra triceps work (although it sounds like you already are). However, it is possible that you will end up with your triceps looking excessively large compared to the rest of you, if aesthetics is an important consideration.