T Nation

Shitty Bench to Good Bench?


If you've gone from having a shitty bench to a good bench please tell me your story in as much detail as you are willing. I want the road from my terrible bench to a decent bench to be as straight as possible and any help, advice would be most appreciated.


I don't really have a story but I can tell you what helped me. I was stuck at 305 for a LONG time. I incorporated heavy floor presses and power rack partials in between my normal chest day. After only 4 weeks of this i can do 315 for 4 clean reps now (i know, that's not heavy, but it is for me). Give the floor presses a try.


Can you give more details in regard to how precisely your routine is laid out? That is some damn fine progress!


I've put a good bit on my bench press by approaching my BP days as though they were as difficult and intense as my squat days.

Heavy board presses as max effort and/or supplemental work following a westside format with RE days replacing DE days.

I, too, love floor presses.


Getting into the rep range of 6 or less really helped me plus adequate volume parameters. Back in the day I got no where doing 3x5, 3x8, 4x6 ect. In fact I went in reverse if anything.

The rep set scheme that really blasted me through my plateau was based off of 8x3. The cool progression trick that was used was we began with 1x3 & 7x2. Since I benched twice per week I added a set of 3 and subtracted a set of 2 in each subsequent work out (or added one total rep whatever way you want to look at it). Eventually with the same weight I started with I could now complete 8x3 after 4 weeks.


Week 1
bench press session 1: 1x3, 7x2
bench press session 2: 2x3, 6x2

Week 2
bench press session 3: 3x3, 5x2
bench press session 4: 4x3, 4x2

Week 3
bench press session 5: 5x3, 3x2
bench press session 6: 6x3, 2x2

Week 4
bench press session 7: 7x3, 1x2
bench press session 8: 7x3, 1x as many as possible (you will be blown away)

and so on until 8x3 was reached at the end of week 4.

Its based loosely off of Doug Hepburns training principles if anyone is familiar with what he used to do.

Important things to note:

the load stayed constant the whole time for 4 weeks around a 4-5RM based off your current 1RM. I know its a tough pill to swallow but adding reps every workout plus adding weight to the bar you will inevitably fail on this very quickly. So keep the load the same, add a rep every workout and keep the rest period somewhere in the 90-150 second range otherwise it takes 15+ minutes just to bench. Then again if you have that kinda time feel free to open the rest periods right up.

I also got ALOT out of pausing the final rep of every set at my chest before pressing (starting from a dead stop to totally eliminate the bouncing aspect) but ONLY the final rep, not all reps.

Any questions let me know,


315 x 4 is not heavy? The authors admit that the average reader of this site can't even deadlift 405. So I'd say 315 x 4 is pretty good LOL


Sure. Here is what I've been doing. I set the rack pins about 3inches from my chest and do as many reps as I can with 305. It sounds easy but it's actually a challenge. I do he reps from a dead stop resting the bar for about a second each rep. I do 3 sets of about 3 reps.

After that I go to floor presses and do another 3 sets. Next chest workout (4 days later) I do regular flat bench and so far it has gone up each time. The only thing I've added is the rack and floor presses. Hope this helps.
My routine is something like this, It varies depending on how I feel ( I usually train on instinct)

Day 1 Chest Arms
Day 2 Rest-yoga
Day 3 Legs
Day 4 Shoulders, Back
Day 5 Rest-yoga
Day 6 Rest-yoga
Day 7 Repeat


Maybe you could just try benching more. Maybe do ME work 2x a week, working up to 2-3 reps. Try that for a few weeks.

I found I was always trying to look for something to fix, but I realized I just needed to bench.


what works for one won't work for everyone. How about some details..

What is your current routine?
How much do you bench now? Give us a couple other lifts as well.
What's your sticking point?


1x235 paused with press command = max.

I have been lifting for 15 months. Raw max on squat is 405+, deadlift is 500. I am currently going up to the 198's, I am up 13 pounds to 193. Most of my musculature stays in my lower body.

I began my training with Starting Strength. I then did some very basic ME and DE work followed by 5x5 and now I am doing Sheiko. Sheiko doesn't seem to be helping the bench much so I tried a basic Poliquin routine of 4x5, 4x4, 4x3 for 6 weeks. I am just about to try Mike Tuscherer's Reactive Training System. Hopefully I can get on the right track. I an also focusing more now on bulding my late and upper back. By the way I hit 225 for the first time in November 08 and finally got a 10 pound PR last week. I did start competing single ply though which has likely gotten in the way of improving my terrible bench a touch.


Sticking point = about 3-5 inches off chest.


The power rack partials will help this sticking point.


i started powerlifting about 5 years ago. before that i was a bodybuilder for many many moons. my best bench as a bodybuilder was 315. after 5 years of powerlifting my bench is now around 530 touch and go. 515-520 with a pause. learning proper set up and execution of the bench has increased my bench the most.


Doing tons of heavy full range tricep work has really helped me, mainly rope extensions and Tate presses



It sounds as if you are training to be a powerlifter, judging by your weight class reference. If this is true, then you should really focus on the form, arch, leg drive, staying tight, etc. The bench is actually a more technically demanding lift then most people think.
learning how to bench properly helped my bench more then anything else


I'm sure this is very obvious, but simply assessing your weak points and developing a systematic program to improve those weaknesses will probably go a long way to bring your press up. Pressing from your sticking point will probably help. Improving your benching mechanics will probably help too.

Setup is key - if you're not retracting your scapulae, keeping your elbows in, arching your back, and pressing through the legs, then all of those things will probably help you improve immediately.

From my personal experience, I'd recommend some speed work, especially with bands - not only will it help you develop force, but it will give you a good opportunity to get your setup and mechanics down.


I increased my bench by 185lbs in about 6 months.


Powerlifters often train their bench like they train their squat and deads which I don't think is always the best idea. Beginner and Intermediate powerlifters tend to have much more muscle in their legs than expressed in their strength. So they can squat and deadlift at near max levels for several years with constant gains in strength.

Bench is different you don't walk up stairs run as a child and do a million things with your upper body all day like legs so you don't develop the muscle as much. If you plataued go to more of a bodybuilding style for a few months to build muscle, and be sure to build all of your upper body muscles. When you switch back to powerlifting you will have gained strength, plus you'll have more of the tools necessary to keep gaining.



Good luck


What I found that helped my bench a lot was foucusing on getting my shoulder strength up.then I did westside barbell 8x3 with half of your 1 rep max I did that 2 x a week for about 5 weeks that helped out a bunch too I also had to keep adding weight to the half of the 1 rep max to keep the same feeling that's how I knew it was working.