T Nation

Shitty Bench to Good Bench?

Everything that everyone has said is helpful. Like you, my lower body has always been strong. A 410 squat, a 545 deadlift, but a weak 285 pound bench always irked me. I used a traditional westside barbell method for years. But then, I realized that DE days really only help guys in gear. The strength curves wearing gear versus a raw lift are different. I went from doing DE days for bench of the typical 8x3 with bands and all that shit to a 5x10 with chains. I feel the chains allow me to overload the lift and get my tendons accustomed to lifting heavier weights for longer periods. When I first started this, I couldn’t do 10 reps with 135 and 40 pounds of chain on each side.

After 5 weeks, I’m doing 150 with 40 pounds of chain on each side for 5x10. My 1RM max went from 285 to 305. I run four-week long strength cycles increasing the weight used by 10 pounds each week for three weeks and take the fourth week off to recuperate and supercompensate. This, along with perfecting setup on the bench has helped tremendously.

To sum it up, BENCH MORE!!!

Also do not forget to do a ton of bent over rows to build your back up… I have found this hugely important in getting my bench to go up.

[quote]mrodock wrote:
challer1 wrote:
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. [/quote]

Nice deadlift! I’m assuming you have some pretty long arms given the discrepancy between the two. Based on what you’ve said:

If you are doing traditional ME… I’d use board presses, pin presses as mentioned earlier in the thread as your ME lifts. If you’re a long armed fellow you are going to need some good direct tricep work - benching alone will not do it all for ya.

If you are doing like a 5/3/1 or something like that, I’d use normal benching for the 5/3/1 set, then do a lot of assistance work , like a 5x10, just getting a lot of volume in at your sticking point, like with a board press or close grip press. Then again, hit the triceps on the assistance work.

And as mentioned earlier, which I’m sure you already know, a good set-up and form is important. It’s even more important if you have long arms - it’s much easier to lose a good tuck as a longer armed guy then as a short armed one.

[quote]mrodock wrote:
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.

[/quote]

It sounds like you have levels of strength like mine were when I first started lifting. I think my first max ever was around 205-215. Playing around and not knowing what I was doing got me to about 245. This was when I was a junior in high school.

Over the summer before my senior year I read an article in Powerlifting U.S.A. that advocated a bench only workout where you max out every time. This was all you did and it probably took about 10 sets or so.

I followed this routine for several months and benched ~320 before I graduated.
Now I know that this is taxing on the body, and I probably recovered better thanks to being young, but I can still do some variation of this routine today for virtually any lift I want to improve. I have been training now for ~ 9 constant years, I’ve read all the negative effects of a workout like this and have yet to really feel them.

I hope this helps.

First off bro, i advise you to check this out before anything…After watching this video not only did i increase my bench, and get stronger, i also learned the true proper technique/art of benching…

Well everyone I certainly appreciate all the good advice.

Dave Tate is right, I don’t know how to fucking bench. But in some ways it isn’t completely my fault. My upper back is not yet strong enough for me to stay really tight.

Oh and since someone asked, yes I am indeed a powerlifter.

A lot of people have mentioned training sticking points. This makes sense to me in general, but I kind of think of the kid that can’t deadlift 315 that wants to work his top end because that is where he misses his lifts. I may be weaker at the bottom right now but I am certain my triceps aren’t MUCH stronger. So I have to keep working at everything I figure.

To those who have mentioned bench more often: over the last 15 months I have averaged benching at least 2 times a week. Quite a bit of the time I benched 3 times a week. I did more reps on Sheiko than I could have imagined and still my technique feels like shit. I really think I need some good instruction. I have asked several extremely good benchers at the gym I train at but no one really offers much.

The truth is my arms are not all that long. They certainly aren’t short, but not disproportionately long either. When I bench my arms end up looking longer than they are because my arch is still shit and I don’t keep my shoulder blades pulled back very far. I am certainly working on this. If there is anyone around Madison, WI that is really good at teaching the bench press to people that need a lot of help I would be willing to pay for assistance.

I will post a video of my max testing from last week today or tomorrow. It is kind of a disaster. I just couldn’t keep my back tight on top weights. I am working hard on overcoming this problem though. I realize I am still very new to lifting and it will take awhile.

[quote]deadlift655 wrote:
mrodock wrote:
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.

It sounds like you have levels of strength like mine were when I first started lifting. I think my first max ever was around 205-215. Playing around and not knowing what I was doing got me to about 245. This was when I was a junior in high school.

Over the summer before my senior year I read an article in Powerlifting U.S.A. that advocated a bench only workout where you max out every time. This was all you did and it probably took about 10 sets or so.

I followed this routine for several months and benched ~320 before I graduated.
Now I know that this is taxing on the body, and I probably recovered better thanks to being young, but I can still do some variation of this routine today for virtually any lift I want to improve. I have been training now for ~ 9 constant years, I’ve read all the negative effects of a workout like this and have yet to really feel them.

I hope this helps.[/quote]

Any chance you know which article it is? I’d be interested in reading it. Any more details as to how the program looks?

[quote]jackreape wrote:

Good luck[/quote]

Thank you sir, I particularly enjoy that article. In a lot of ways I wonder if I am anywhere near advanced enough for some of those approaches though.

[quote]Airtruth wrote:
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.[/quote]

There is a lot of intelligence here . . . I’ll be honest though, I know very little about bodybuilding. I know the ramping sets approach, time under tension, working really high reps or sometimes lower reps. When you talk about bodybuilding for the upper body what are you referring to? I tried time under tension for 6 weeks and managed a grand total of 0.00" gained on my massive 39 inch test, haha. Any thoughts are welcome.

[quote]ucallthatbass wrote:
I increased my bench by 185lbs in about 6 months.[/quote]

That is certainly quite awesome. Feel free to explain in great detail what you did in those 6 months. I’ll read anything that is shorter than War and Peace if it can help me add 75 pounds in 2 years (I’m lying, I’d read longer).

[quote]maraudermeat wrote:
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. [/quote]

Putting 200 pounds on a bench certainly works for purposes of this thread, holy shit. I shall post a video of my recent benching in your help thread and enlist you to assist me in shoring up my technique.

I havent really tried a max effort bench in many weeks so I really dont know where its at, but I know I have went from around 235 in feb. w/ pause to noy probably 265-275 w/ pause. I incorporated alot of work with bands, chains, ALOT of speed work, and alot of floor preses. last week I hit 255 3 times flat back and I know with my arch (its pretty good) Id say around 275, thats where the computer lists me.

Its all technique: puttin weight in traps, tucking more, arching better (to apf rules, so my feet arent flat) squezing the bar, trying to separate the bar, pushing away from weight. I would really love to max out one day, but with my football workouts, its really useless. I did hit a new floor press pr ( 185+ 100# chains x7)

[quote]mrodock wrote:
deadlift655 wrote:
mrodock wrote:
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.

It sounds like you have levels of strength like mine were when I first started lifting. I think my first max ever was around 205-215. Playing around and not knowing what I was doing got me to about 245. This was when I was a junior in high school.

Over the summer before my senior year I read an article in Powerlifting U.S.A. that advocated a bench only workout where you max out every time. This was all you did and it probably took about 10 sets or so.

I followed this routine for several months and benched ~320 before I graduated.
Now I know that this is taxing on the body, and I probably recovered better thanks to being young, but I can still do some variation of this routine today for virtually any lift I want to improve. I have been training now for ~ 9 constant years, I’ve read all the negative effects of a workout like this and have yet to really feel them.

I hope this helps.

Any chance you know which article it is? I’d be interested in reading it. Any more details as to how the program looks?[/quote]

I don’t recall the name of the lifter who wrote it. The program was very, very simple. All he did was a bench day and a squat day. The only other exercise was cheat curls. I think that may have been done on the same day as benching, but that was it. I remember that he did not advocate a warm up, but to just basically start with about half your max. I’m basing this on what I remember. This is pretty much a max effort day to some people, except he did not change the pressing exercise every 4 or so workouts.

[quote]mrodock wrote:
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.

[/quote]

Hey brah, I started training just 4 years ago and my max bench was no kidding 165. I’ve more than doubled that these days. I’m not as experienced as some of these guys, but I’d really recommend you buy the elite fts video on proper bench form. Dave Tate also has excellent articles here on T-Nation but I feel the video really clicked it in for me. Everyone here seems to be dead on about getting back , tri’s , delts stronger and proper form.

There are plenty of programs out there to help you get the bench to where you want it to be. And trust me, I’ve found that it’s better to travel the winding road, then the straight one.

[quote]mrodock wrote:
Sticking point = about 3-5 inches off chest. [/quote]
Close grip got me through that sticking point