T Nation

Set/Rep Help


#1

Ok, so I've stalled on my bench and need some help, because it is rather sad and pathetic.

I've been doing 5 x 5 for a while now, and my lifts are progressing across the board (except for bench). Squat is 245 x 5 x 5, DL is 322 1/2 x 1 x 5, strict military is 147 1/2 x 5 x 5, etc.

But my bench is stalled at 170 x 5 x 5. Again. When I started lifting, I followed SS and stalled my bench at 170 x 3 x 5. I then reset a bit, and worked my way back up to 170 x 5 x 5. And stalled again.

So obviously the bench is my weakest lift. The rest of my lifts are continuing to progress (so at least I know I'm eating/sleeping/whatever enough) but my bench just stalls quickly.

I like the 5 x 5 format (for my other lifts), but am not sure what I can do to get my bench to progress again. I was thinking maybe ramping 5 x 5 sets, where I would do: 162 1/2, 167 1/2, 172 1/2, 170, 165 (or something like that) and then increase the weight as I could.

But is there another rep choice here?

As for training, I am doing full body training right now, and I seem to respond best to it. I work out 3 times a week.

Day 1:
Squat
Bench Press
Pullups
Klokov Press

Day 2:
Deadlift
Military Press
DB Rows
Incline DB Bench Press

Day 3:
Bench Press (been trying to Bench 2x a week to see if that helps. It doesn't)
Power Cleans
Lat Raises
Snatch Grip High Pull
Jump Squats

So Day 3 is less about strength (minus the bench press) and more about power.

Anyway, advice on how to get my bench up would be appreciated.


#2

It doesn’t look like you’re hitting your triceps very much. Perhaps that’s part of the issue?

Edit:

What are the sets & reps for your bench sessions? Do you do 5x5 for all your lifts in each workout?


#3

So what has your reps been when you go above 170? Are you hitting 5 on any sets? How many times do you try the heavier weight?


#4

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:
It doesn’t look like you’re hitting your triceps very much. Perhaps that’s part of the issue?

Edit:

What are the sets & reps for your bench sessions? Do you do 5x5 for all your lifts in each workout? [/quote]

So I did not include vanity exercises (maybe conveniently forgot?). In between Day 2 and Day 3 I work my arms. For triceps it is narrow grip BP and skull crushers. For biceps it is hammer grip DB curls and barbell curls (but not, sadly, inside a squat rack).

So the “big” lifts I do 5 x 5 on days 1 and 2 (except the deadlift where I only do 1 max set of 5, but ramp up there).

On Day 3, I do 5 x 5 for the bench press, 3 x 8 - 10 for the lat raises and jump squats, and 3 x 4 - 6 for the power cleans and sghp.

I do HIIT and tabata work between days 1 and 2, and on arm day.

–Me


#5

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:
So what has your reps been when you go above 170? Are you hitting 5 on any sets? How many times do you try the heavier weight?[/quote]

I just stall. I’ve finished 170 x 5 x 5 (it was a grind). But I fail out at 172.5 x 5 x 5 with 5, 5, 5, 3, 2 (or some variation thereof) for weeks. And I do not seem to improve. Ever I just spin my wheels and stick.

And again, it is only with the bench press that I have this issue.

–Me


#6

So, let me get this straight. On Day 2 you are doing military press and incline DB press, then the next day, you are doing CGBP and skull crushers, and then the next day, being Day 3 you are trying 5x5 on bench? Do you not see a problem with that?


#7

[quote]kravi wrote:

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:
It doesn’t look like you’re hitting your triceps very much. Perhaps that’s part of the issue?

Edit:

What are the sets & reps for your bench sessions? Do you do 5x5 for all your lifts in each workout? [/quote]

So I did not include vanity exercises (maybe conveniently forgot?). In between Day 2 and Day 3 I work my arms. For triceps it is narrow grip BP and skull crushers. For biceps it is hammer grip DB curls and barbell curls (but not, sadly, inside a squat rack).

So the “big” lifts I do 5 x 5 on days 1 and 2 (except the deadlift where I only do 1 max set of 5, but ramp up there).

On Day 3, I do 5 x 5 for the bench press, 3 x 8 - 10 for the lat raises and jump squats, and 3 x 4 - 6 for the power cleans and sghp.

I do HIIT and tabata work between days 1 and 2, and on arm day.

–Me[/quote]

This might not be a popular answer, but maybe you’re doing to much. At least if your primary goal is to get stronger.

Day 1: Bench & Klokov Press (mainly chest, triceps, & shoulders)
Day 2: Military & Incline DB Bench (mainly shoulders, chest, & triceps)
Day 3: Close Grip Bench (mainly triceps & chest)
Day 4: Bench & Skull Crushers (mainly chest & triceps)

Plus squats, deads, power cleans, SGHP (which CT often points out is very demanding neurologically) pull-ups, and HIIT & Tabata 3 days a week. That’s a lot of work especially if strength is the goal. You might not be able to or haven’t adjusted to the volume, yet. You say you’re eating enough, but are you really?

Another possibility is the variety of your rep schemes. As in, there isn’t really any. Also I don’t see technique work, which could help.


#8

[quote]kravi wrote:

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:
So what has your reps been when you go above 170? Are you hitting 5 on any sets? How many times do you try the heavier weight?[/quote]

I just stall. I’ve finished 170 x 5 x 5 (it was a grind). But I fail out at 172.5 x 5 x 5 with 5, 5, 5, 3, 2 (or some variation thereof) for weeks. And I do not seem to improve. Ever I just spin my wheels and stick.

And again, it is only with the bench press that I have this issue.

–Me[/quote]

It appears your body has adjusted to the 5x5 rep scheme.


#9

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:
So, let me get this straight. On Day 2 you are doing military press and incline DB press, then the next day, you are doing CGBP and skull crushers, and then the next day, being Day 3 you are trying 5x5 on bench? Do you not see a problem with that?[/quote]

I perhaps should have labeled them Day A, and Day B. Just to make sure I’m not confusing y’all. I always leave a day between full body workouts.

Monday == Day 1
Tuesday == HIIT
Wednesday == Day 2
Thursday == HIIT + arms
Friday == Day 3

–Me


#10

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:

[quote]kravi wrote:

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:
So what has your reps been when you go above 170? Are you hitting 5 on any sets? How many times do you try the heavier weight?[/quote]

I just stall. I’ve finished 170 x 5 x 5 (it was a grind). But I fail out at 172.5 x 5 x 5 with 5, 5, 5, 3, 2 (or some variation thereof) for weeks. And I do not seem to improve. Ever I just spin my wheels and stick.

And again, it is only with the bench press that I have this issue.

–Me[/quote]

It appears your body has adjusted to the 5x5 rep scheme. [/quote]

At least my bench has stalled with 5 x 5. So my question is “what next”? I’ll likely continue with 5 x 5 for my other lifts until they stall too, but what do you recommend doing to break my bench plateau.

–Me


#11

[quote]kravi wrote:

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:
So, let me get this straight. On Day 2 you are doing military press and incline DB press, then the next day, you are doing CGBP and skull crushers, and then the next day, being Day 3 you are trying 5x5 on bench? Do you not see a problem with that?[/quote]

I perhaps should have labeled them Day A, and Day B. Just to make sure I’m not confusing y’all. I always leave a day between full body workouts.

Monday == Day 1
Tuesday == HIIT
Wednesday == Day 2
Thursday == HIIT + arms
Friday == Day 3

–Me[/quote]
Yes, like myself and usmccds423 said, you are doing too much. When are your arms, chest and shoulders allowed to recover and get stronger?


#12

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:

[quote]kravi wrote:

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:
So, let me get this straight. On Day 2 you are doing military press and incline DB press, then the next day, you are doing CGBP and skull crushers, and then the next day, being Day 3 you are trying 5x5 on bench? Do you not see a problem with that?[/quote]

I perhaps should have labeled them Day A, and Day B. Just to make sure I’m not confusing y’all. I always leave a day between full body workouts.

Monday == Day 1
Tuesday == HIIT
Wednesday == Day 2
Thursday == HIIT + arms
Friday == Day 3

–Me[/quote]
Yes, like myself and usmccds423 said, you are doing too much. When are your arms, chest and shoulders allowed to recover and get stronger?[/quote]

Muscles rest on Tuesdays, Thursdays (well, not arms), Saturdays and Sundays.

The HIIT is without weights. I jumprope sprint 30 on, 15 rest for five rounds, then I do a tabata (20 on, 10 off x 8) of bodyweight squats, burpees, mountain climbers and some sort of silly looking skippy thing.

The problem with my bench is not “too much”, as I tried and got stuck at 170ish on a 5 day a week body split where I only worked chest once a week.

I think that I have a naturally weak chest. I know I am arm and shoulder dominant.

I think that for me, a 170 x 5 x 5 bench == becoming an intermediate lifter. IE I have run out of beginner gains and need a more advanced methodology for continuing growth.

And no, I’m not saying I’m an intermediate lifter :slight_smile: Just that my chest, I think, needs something more advanced in order to get past this hurdle.

–Me


#13

[quote]kravi wrote:

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:

[quote]kravi wrote:

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:
So what has your reps been when you go above 170? Are you hitting 5 on any sets? How many times do you try the heavier weight?[/quote]

I just stall. I’ve finished 170 x 5 x 5 (it was a grind). But I fail out at 172.5 x 5 x 5 with 5, 5, 5, 3, 2 (or some variation thereof) for weeks. And I do not seem to improve. Ever I just spin my wheels and stick.

And again, it is only with the bench press that I have this issue.

–Me[/quote]

It appears your body has adjusted to the 5x5 rep scheme. [/quote]

At least my bench has stalled with 5 x 5. So my question is “what next”? I’ll likely continue with 5 x 5 for my other lifts until they stall too, but what do you recommend doing to break my bench plateau.

–Me
[/quote]

Like Ecchastang is pointing out I think recovery is an issue. I think you have a number of options:

1: Pick a standard strength program that isn’t 5x5 and follow it (5/3/1, Cube, etc…). Follow their recommended template to break your plateau.

2: Bench 3 days a week, but reduce overall pressing volume and other work. Aka run a bench specialization program for 6-8 weeks. I would pick one that is known to work. Then return to what has given you progress or pick a new program to run.

3: Pick a goal and revamp your program accordingly. It appears like (correct me if I’m wrong) you’re chasing too many things.

4: Gain weight. Aka eat more.


#14

[quote]kravi wrote:
The problem with my bench is not “too much”, as I tried and got stuck at 170ish on a 5 day a week body split where I only worked chest once a week.
–Me
[/quote]

When you were doing the 5 day split what did your sessions look like? Bench =/= chest. Chest is obviously a big piece of it, but it isn’t the only piece. Overall volume impacts gains. Neurologically taxing movements (like Deadlift & SGHP) impact gains. Rest & recovery of course impacts gains.


#15

You could try progress movement training (Board pressing). I’ve been reading about it lately (Beyond Bodybuilding) and I know at least T3hPwnisher is an advocate of it on here.


#16

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:

[quote]kravi wrote:
The problem with my bench is not “too much”, as I tried and got stuck at 170ish on a 5 day a week body split where I only worked chest once a week.
–Me
[/quote]

When you were doing the 5 day split what did your sessions look like? Bench =/= chest. Chest is obviously a big piece of it, but it isn’t the only piece. Overall volume impacts gains. Neurologically taxing movements (like Deadlift & SGHP) impact gains. Rest & recovery of course impacts gains. [/quote]

When I was doing a 5 way split it was this:

Legs:
Squat
RDL

Chest:
Bench Press
Incline DB Bench Press
Dumbbell Flyes
Lat Raise

Back:
Pullups
Power Cleans
Bent Over DB Row
Snatch Grip High Pull

Shoulders:
Push Press
Klokov Press
Lat Raises
Reverse Flyes

Arms:
Hammer Curls
Narrow Grip BP
Barbell Curls
Skull Crushers

I would rotate sets from 8 x 3, to 5 x 5, to 3 x 8 every few months. Only went through one cycle of that and decided I like full body training better.


#17

kravi, look at the exercise selection closely. How many movements involve the triceps, chest, and/or shoulders? The vast majority of your training in both instances revolves around the high frequency use of these three muscle groups over a number of different exercises and days. There’s little to no balance in your training. You work your legs 1 day (really 1 movement) a week and you work your chest, back, arms, and shoulders 4 days a week… (I included deadlift as back work since it definitely works the back even though it’s fair & possibly more accurate to call it legs too).


#18

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:
kravi, look at the exercise selection closely. How many movements involve the triceps, chest, and/or shoulders? The vast majority of your training in both instances revolves around the high frequency use of these three muscle groups over a number of different exercises and days. There’s little to no balance in your training. You work your legs 1 day (really 1 movement) a week and you work your chest, back, arms, and shoulders 4 days a week… (I included deadlift as back work since it definitely works the back even though it’s fair & possibly more accurate to call it legs too). [/quote]

Dude, that was my old plan when I was on a split. Now I do a total body routine (see first post) which works legs, chest, back, and shoulders with one exercise per day.

–Me


#19

[quote]kravi wrote:

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:
kravi, look at the exercise selection closely. How many movements involve the triceps, chest, and/or shoulders? The vast majority of your training in both instances revolves around the high frequency use of these three muscle groups over a number of different exercises and days. There’s little to no balance in your training. You work your legs 1 day (really 1 movement) a week and you work your chest, back, arms, and shoulders 4 days a week… (I included deadlift as back work since it definitely works the back even though it’s fair & possibly more accurate to call it legs too). [/quote]

Dude, that was my old plan when I was on a split. Now I do a total body routine (see first post) which works legs, chest, back, and shoulders with one exercise per day.

–Me[/quote]

Dude, I know it was your old split. The point is you had the same problem in it as you do now. To much upper body work. No balance what so ever. Not enough recovery.

One exercise per day? I see at least 4 per day. Plus HIIT. Plus tabata.

If I were you I’d post your OP in either CT or Amit’s Micro-Pa logs and ask what they think. They’re both really good about giving out and explaining what they like and don’t like about a persons program. I bet CT will say something along the lines of, “this is too much upper body work.”


#20

You are doing way too much conditioning. Double progression like 5 x 5, where you add weight until you miss reps and then try to get your reps back to 5 x 5 in my opinion works IF you have complete days off in your training.

Your deadlift is intermediate level. Your press is probably intermediate too. Your squat and bench are both in the middle of the beginner strength level. That means to ME that you should use the most basic adjustment possible to try to bring those lifts up continually.

One method is to take 5 x 5 and simply use you current (completed 5 x 5) weight and go to 5 x 3. This should ride you up to about 190 x 5 x 3. When you can’t get 5 x 3 then take the best weight you completed and switch to 5 x 2. That should bring you up to at least 210 x 5 x 2. At whatever weight you last get at 5 x 2, drop 20% and start back at 5 x 5. Repeat 5 x 5, 5 x 3, 5 x 2.

Twice a week bench pressing should help if you are not overworked.

But the second workout either back off 15 pounds or do 5 x 3, 3 x 5 or 4 x 4 instead