T Nation

Shoulders Holding Bench Back?

Hey CT,I’m currently 10 weeks out from my powerlifting meet and all my lifts are going up except my bench. I have a weak overhead press and I was wondering if it could be holding my bench back? I have developed a pretty strong chest and tris and have bench 300 multiple times easily but my military press has never exceeded 165 for a single.

What do you think I should focus more on? Trice strength and try to muscle through the plateau or fix my shoulder strength?

Right now I train upper body 2 times a week and separate it like this:

Upper 1
adding 5-10 lbs to the bar and going for as many reps as possible
Pause bench - 2 sets
Board Press - 2 sets
Touch and go rep bench press - 2 sets
Incline db press - 2 sets
Seated db press - 2 sets
Triceps - 5 sets

Upper 2
Close-grip pause bench - 2 sets
Close-grip board press - 2 sets
Close grip rep work - 2 Sets
Incline Bench - 2 sets
Military press - 2 sets
Triceps 5 sets

But I was thinking about breaking apart the close - grip and overhead press work into two separate days so u can focus more on shoulder strength.

What are your thoughts? Any help is greatly appreciated.

It’s never a good idea to allow a weakness to remain a weakness. I personally like the "Wendler"ish setup of one overhead and one flat pushing day. It might also be an idea to go through a 6 week shoulder spec where you really bomb away at overhead presses then take a short deload and go back to normal shoulder training. Don’t settle for any weakness, be it shoulders, upper back, triceps etc.

Mad Dog is right about the Bench/ Overhead split each training week. I would either do one of Wendler’s 531 templates or CTs Layer System as described in this forum with a day dedicated to benching and another for OHP. You see a lot of benchers who can’t overhead press but few overhead presser who can’t bench. Overhead carries well over to bench strength.

And as a follow up, are you doing any lat/ upper back work? You didn’t mention it in your program so I thought maybe you only outlined the benching portion.
Upper body pulling is important: pull-ups, rows & rear delt work to build upper back mass and a base of support.

Your military to bench press ration isn’t “that” bad (55%)… about 10% lower than it should optimally be. If you want to bench 315 (as a first goal) you should look to increasing your military press up to at least 200lbs. This means putting it in priority… which can’t be done simply be adding some overhead work in and there. As it was mentioned, you need to devote at least one day to it. It must become your obsession to make your overhead press move up, even if your bench press stops progressing for a certain period because you aren’t training it as much. And even on the bench press day I would do some overhead work.

I also don’t like your setup too much… too many different techniques/exercises, not enough work on each (plus you haven’t mentioned loading).

I would recommend something like:

DAY 1 - OVERHEAD FOCUS

  1. Strict military press
    Week 1: 5 x 3 (starting at 80%)
    Week 2: 5 x 4
    Week 3: 5 x 5
    Week 4: 5 x 6
    (using the same weight for all 4 weeks)
    Week 5: 3 x 3 (90% of your original max)
    Week 6: 3 x 2 (95%)
    Week 7: 3 x 2 (previous 100%)
    Week 8: 3 x 3 (previous 100%)
    Week 9: 2 x 1 (previous 100%)
    Week 10: Test max*

*I now believe in cycling to establish a new 3RM (a good target is 3 reps with your old 1RM) , deloading, THEN testing your 1RM

  1. Push press
    3 sets of the same number of reps used for the military, using 10-20lbs more

DAY 2 - “BENCH PRESS”

  1. Bench press
    Week 1: 5 x 3 (starting at 80%)
    Week 2: 5 x 4
    Week 3: 5 x 5
    Week 4: 5 x 6
    (using the same weight for all 4 weeks)
    Week 5: 3 x 3 (90% of your original max)
    Week 6: 3 x 2 (95%)
    Week 7: 3 x 2 (previous 100%)
    Week 8: 3 x 3 (previous 100%)
    Week 9: 2 x 1 (previous 100%)
    Week 10: Test max*
  1. High incline bench press (one setting more incline than a regular fixed angle incline bench)
    3 x maximum reps with the same weight used FOR YOUR MILITARY PRESS SETS ON THE OTHER PRESSING DAY

  2. Close-grip regular incline bench press
    3 x maximum reps with same weight as no.2

NOTE: This doesn’t include lats and upper back work which should be added to both days: the lats play a big role in the initial phase of the bench press

CT.

Which would you say is more beneficial to a stronger bench, strict press or a push press? I ask because I know you consider the push press to be the best shoulder builder, but in terms of carry over to other lifts? The push press has enabled your shoulders and triceps to lift more, so overall you would be stronger? but then I would think the strict press would be great for strength from the bottom of a bench?

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
Your military to bench press ration isn’t “that” bad (55%)… about 10% lower than it should optimally be. If you want to bench 315 (as a first goal) you should look to increasing your military press up to at least 200lbs. This means putting it in priority… which can’t be done simply be adding some overhead work in and there. As it was mentioned, you need to devote at least one day to it. It must become your obsession to make your overhead press move up, even if your bench press stops progressing for a certain period because you aren’t training it as much. And even on the bench press day I would do some overhead work.

I also don’t like your setup too much… too many different techniques/exercises, not enough work on each (plus you haven’t mentioned loading).

I would recommend something like:

DAY 1 - OVERHEAD FOCUS

  1. Strict military press
    Week 1: 5 x 3 (starting at 80%)
    Week 2: 5 x 4
    Week 3: 5 x 5
    Week 4: 5 x 6
    (using the same weight for all 4 weeks)
    Week 5: 3 x 3 (90% of your original max)
    Week 6: 3 x 2 (95%)
    Week 7: 3 x 2 (previous 100%)
    Week 8: 3 x 3 (previous 100%)
    Week 9: 2 x 1 (previous 100%)
    Week 10: Test max*

*I now believe in cycling to establish a new 3RM (a good target is 3 reps with your old 1RM) , deloading, THEN testing your 1RM

  1. Push press
    3 sets of the same number of reps used for the military, using 10-20lbs more

DAY 2 - “BENCH PRESS”

  1. Bench press
    Week 1: 5 x 3 (starting at 80%)
    Week 2: 5 x 4
    Week 3: 5 x 5
    Week 4: 5 x 6
    (using the same weight for all 4 weeks)
    Week 5: 3 x 3 (90% of your original max)
    Week 6: 3 x 2 (95%)
    Week 7: 3 x 2 (previous 100%)
    Week 8: 3 x 3 (previous 100%)
    Week 9: 2 x 1 (previous 100%)
    Week 10: Test max*
  1. High incline bench press (one setting more incline than a regular fixed angle incline bench)
    3 x maximum reps with the same weight used FOR YOUR MILITARY PRESS SETS ON THE OTHER PRESSING DAY

  2. Close-grip regular incline bench press
    3 x maximum reps with same weight as no.2

NOTE: This doesn’t include lats and upper back work which should be added to both days: the lats play a big role in the initial phase of the bench press

[/quote]

Thanks CT I really appreciate such an in depth response. I have been struggling for years to get my overhead press up. I’ll switch my programming immediately.

I do perform lats an upper back work twice a week after my squats and deads.

Usually:
Lower 1

  1. Deads off deficit or floor depending on where I’m at in the cycle
  2. Box Squats
  3. RDLs
  4. Cheat rows - started at a 15rm and add 5-10 lbs to the bar each week. 1 top set to failure
  5. Db rows - 3 x 8-15
  6. Db pullovers or other lat stretching exercise - 3 sets of 8-12 (4 sec neg) just started doing this 3rd lat exercise
  7. Old Time rows or shrugs - sets of 8-12 (2-3 sec squeeze)

Lower 2
Squats
Pause squats
Cheat rows - same
Db rows - same
Pullovers - same
Shrugs - same

So far my squat has gone from 285 x 1 to 290 x 6, pause squat -185 x 5 to 175 x 17, and my deficit dead went from 365 x 1 to 370 x 6 in 8 weeks so it’s working but any input is always greatly appreciated.

One more question would you do the bench touch and go or keep it paused?