T Nation

So Fustrated with the Bench


#1

I have been training for quite sometime now. I have done bodybuilding and powerlifting. In the past I couldnt break a bench plateau but I then discovered different methods for chest growth and strength such as, bands, rest-pause, pin press, negatives, speed, partials, lockouts, floor presses, change of width, increasing range of motion, etc..... I will admit that implementing all this has helped me alot in terms of range of motion, chest growth, and strength but I have plateaued now again and I have stuck for quite a while and I have never been so frustrated with this.

I just finished doing singles for my bench but now went back to doing pin presses because I noticed as I bench my sticking point is from the mid half. I have the ability to get the bar off my chest slightly, but once I get it off my chest a bit I notice thats when it becomes most difficult to get through. Help me out here guys. I at this point, I am not having difficulties anymore in sculpting and increasing size on my chest, I have overcome that part now. However, its the strength training now that I am stuck on.

I know some of you will chime in on tricep strength, should strength, and all that jazz but I have dont that as well. I am willing to try something new but I noticed thrhought all the heavy poundage I am suffering the ability to stay tight on the bench and using leg drive as well and even now the bar slightly becomes imbalance due to a left lower back issue.

Help me out here guys.....I would really appreciate it.


#2

Are you only doing singles?

What sort of frequency and volume?

What’s your assistance work look like?


#3

My current routine is:
Pin Press 4x2
DB Bench Press 3x6-8
Wide Hammer Strength Press Banded 3x8-12
Guillotine Press 2x12-15

Keep in mind I changed everything completely to have a combination of strength and bodybuilding mixed.

Before my plan looked something like this:
Bench 6x1
Banded Bench Press Rest-Pause 2x8-12
Bands around wrist bench press 2x8-12
Weighted Chest Dips 2x8-12

My current program does not all consist of singles. The only exercises that consist of 4x2 is the Bench, Front Squat, Deadlift, and OHP.

My routine prior to my current one was very strength oriented now I just select compound movements with very low reps (2) and assistance exercises rougly 6-8 and 8-12 reps. Its kind of a powerbuilding routine.


#4

My current routine is:
Pin Press 4x2
DB Bench Press 3x6-8
Wide Hammer Strength Press Banded 3x8-12
Guillotine Press 2x12-15

Keep in mind I changed everything completely to have a combination of strength and bodybuilding mixed.

Before my plan looked something like this:
Bench 6x1
Banded Bench Press Rest-Pause 2x8-12
Bands around wrist bench press 2x8-12
Weighted Chest Dips 2x8-12

My current program does not all consist of singles. The only exercises that consist of 4x2 is the Bench, Front Squat, Deadlift, and OHP.

The program is kind of a mixture of strength and hypertrophy. My routine prior to this one was very strength oriented so I changed it up into a powerbuilding style routine, I guess you can say.


#5

Have you tried doing bench press facing the ground? I’ve had the same problem hitting a plateau this year. No matter how much volume I threw at it, my strength stayed the same. I got so many clues but kept overlooking them.

[quote]shiz wrote:
I know some of you will chime in on tricep strength, should strength, and all that jazz but I have dont that as well.
[/quote]

Back?

[quote]shiz wrote:
I am willing to try something new but I noticed thrhought all the heavy poundage I am suffering the ability to stay tight on the bench
[/quote]

Back…

[quote]shiz wrote:
now the bar slightly becomes imbalance due to a left lower back issue.
[/quote]

Back.

Looking back at training notes from the beginning of 2013 to the end of 2014 my strength progression went from 165 military press, 245 bench press to 185 military press, 259 bench press. I then switched to a program focused only on bench press and got it up to 275 in 9 months (a year ago). From then on I thought technique was the issue because I couldn’t consistently set up right/tight. I slowly added more direct back work and the setup started feeling stronger. I hit 259 for a second attempt last month and it flew up. It felt like I could hit it for 3-4 reps. I said fuck it I’m going for an all time PR with 281 and missed it. My left shoulder slipped a tiny bit and I lost tightness but the unrack felt strong and the weight didn’t feel that heavy. After that day, I realized my back is just weak. I was too focused on the bench and overlooked all the muscles necessary that builds a big bench. Since the end of 2014 I haven’t consistently done overhead pressing, wide grip pulls, narrow grip pulls, rotator cuff work, etc. Anything I had done was for very little volume.

This past month I’ve been hammering the shit out of my entire back and shoulders while keeping the other pressing muscles strong. Going to keep this up until a meet at the end of the year. My military press was down to 165 lol. If this doesn’t work, I don’t know what will and I’m going to need some help too.


#6

[quote]shiz wrote:
I have been training for quite sometime now. I have done bodybuilding and powerlifting. In the past I couldnt break a bench plateau but I then discovered different methods for chest growth and strength such as, bands, rest-pause, pin press, negatives, speed, partials, lockouts, floor presses, change of width, increasing range of motion, etc… I will admit that implementing all this has helped me alot in terms of range of motion, chest growth, and strength but I have plateaued now again and I have stuck for quite a while and I have never been so frustrated with this.

I just finished doing singles for my bench but now went back to doing pin presses because I noticed as I bench my sticking point is from the mid half. I have the ability to get the bar off my chest slightly, but once I get it off my chest a bit I notice thats when it becomes most difficult to get through. Help me out here guys. I at this point, I am not having difficulties anymore in sculpting and increasing size on my chest, I have overcome that part now. However, its the strength training now that I am stuck on.

I know some of you will chime in on tricep strength, should strength, and all that jazz but I have dont that as well. I am willing to try something new but I noticed thrhought all the heavy poundage I am suffering the ability to stay tight on the bench and using leg drive as well and even now the bar slightly becomes imbalance due to a left lower back issue.

Help me out here guys…I would really appreciate it.[/quote]

Simplify. Get rid of all the bands/chains/boards and other unnecessary junk you read about on the internet.

Bench using a normal competition set up. No close grips/wide grips/pinky’s on the rings and other stuff.

Stop w/ all the extra assistance work. Stick w/ one assistance exercise and work it only for lighter weight and higher reps. For example: Do one triceps exercise over and over again for a month. Next month, switch to something for the upper back. Next month switch to something for the shoulders, etc. Don’t buy into the hype that you have to hit everything every workout.

Focus on the bench press. Focus on good execution of each rep. Be very strong out of the bottom to lockout. Push hard on each rep.

As far as programming, this depends on what your body will respond to - but just like anything, the closer you get to a testing date you want to up the weight and lower the reps.

Personally, I use a simple progression for building and another for getting closer to a meet.

You may respond to high frequency, high intensity, low reps, low volume.
You may respond to high freq, low intensity, high reps, high volume.
…And so on…

Mix it up, experiment and find out what works for you. Utilize a slingshot if you have one.

Nothing will help you more than doing the competition lift itself. Get rid of all the variety. It might work for the more advanced guys possibly, but normally, its just not needed.

Eat a lot of food. Rest a lot.


#7

My best benching came from increasing my bench workouts to 2 sessions a week. One focusing on light-moderate weight. The other a heavy day. it was inspired by the cube bench predator protocol.

my main focus was increasing bench, so my squat and deadlift intensity and volume was kept moderate to low to allow for better recovery (to not take anything from bench sessions).

After 8 weeks my bench went from a grinding 365, to a clean 380. 15lbs may not be alot on paper, but it was a huge accomplishment (stuck at 355-365 for a long time). one of the best things though was how much confidence I gained with the heavier weights in my hands. As a side note, my squat and deadlift did not suffer from the reduced focus.


#8

[quote]osu122975 wrote:

[quote]shiz wrote:
I have been training for quite sometime now. I have done bodybuilding and powerlifting. In the past I couldnt break a bench plateau but I then discovered different methods for chest growth and strength such as, bands, rest-pause, pin press, negatives, speed, partials, lockouts, floor presses, change of width, increasing range of motion, etc… I will admit that implementing all this has helped me alot in terms of range of motion, chest growth, and strength but I have plateaued now again and I have stuck for quite a while and I have never been so frustrated with this.

I just finished doing singles for my bench but now went back to doing pin presses because I noticed as I bench my sticking point is from the mid half. I have the ability to get the bar off my chest slightly, but once I get it off my chest a bit I notice thats when it becomes most difficult to get through. Help me out here guys. I at this point, I am not having difficulties anymore in sculpting and increasing size on my chest, I have overcome that part now. However, its the strength training now that I am stuck on.

I know some of you will chime in on tricep strength, should strength, and all that jazz but I have dont that as well. I am willing to try something new but I noticed thrhought all the heavy poundage I am suffering the ability to stay tight on the bench and using leg drive as well and even now the bar slightly becomes imbalance due to a left lower back issue.

Help me out here guys…I would really appreciate it.[/quote]

Simplify. Get rid of all the bands/chains/boards and other unnecessary junk you read about on the internet.

Bench using a normal competition set up. No close grips/wide grips/pinky’s on the rings and other stuff.

Stop w/ all the extra assistance work. Stick w/ one assistance exercise and work it only for lighter weight and higher reps. For example: Do one triceps exercise over and over again for a month. Next month, switch to something for the upper back. Next month switch to something for the shoulders, etc. Don’t buy into the hype that you have to hit everything every workout.

Focus on the bench press. Focus on good execution of each rep. Be very strong out of the bottom to lockout. Push hard on each rep.

As far as programming, this depends on what your body will respond to - but just like anything, the closer you get to a testing date you want to up the weight and lower the reps.

Personally, I use a simple progression for building and another for getting closer to a meet.

You may respond to high frequency, high intensity, low reps, low volume.
You may respond to high freq, low intensity, high reps, high volume.
…And so on…

Mix it up, experiment and find out what works for you. Utilize a slingshot if you have one.

Nothing will help you more than doing the competition lift itself. Get rid of all the variety. It might work for the more advanced guys possibly, but normally, its just not needed.

Eat a lot of food. Rest a lot.
[/quote]

Couldn’t agree more, after looking at your current routine its like you are doing everything but benching. The not so glamorous answer to getting stronger is sometimes you just have to work harder, do more reps-sets and overall frequency and volume.


#9

Hey osu122975 and cparker, what does your training for back work look like and do you guys switch between higher volume and higher intensity often? You guys said to keep it simple and I did make the best progress when focusing only on bench with higher frequency/volume work. Then I hit a wall for a long time. The current plan is to build weaknesses and then go back to focusing on bench for higher volume. A difference will be to have a drastic drop in volume during my intensity phase. I’m hoping this will work since I was always focused on volume for the comp bench in the past. Sorry to steal the thread but it seems this will be helpful for the OP as well.

I like the idea of sticking to one assistance each month to focus on. I’ll keep that in mind moving forward.


#10

[quote]lift206 wrote:
Hey osu122975 and cparker, what does your training for back work look like and do you guys switch between higher volume and higher intensity often? You guys said to keep it simple and I did make the best progress when focusing only on bench with higher frequency/volume work. Then I hit a wall for a long time. The current plan is to build weaknesses and then go back to focusing on bench for higher volume. A difference will be to have a drastic drop in volume during my intensity phase. I’m hoping this will work since I was always focused on volume for the comp bench in the past. Sorry to steal the thread but it seems this will be helpful for the OP as well.

I like the idea of sticking to one assistance each month to focus on. I’ll keep that in mind moving forward.[/quote]

More than likely your body got to a point w/ high vol and freq that it wasn’t gonna recover fast enough. You should try and implement blocks of training. Basically, ride her til she bucks ya, then change up the intensity, volume and frequency. You might want to try to bench twice a week w/ one high rep assistance exercise and have a third day w/ no benching for hitting the chest, triceps, delts, upper back w/ heavier dumbbells and machines. I don’t know if you’re bench only or not, but if not, let the other lifts marinate and work hard on getting the bench up.

I don’t really do a lot of back work other than bench press. You actually work the back pretty good just by doing the bench, especially if your hitting heavier weights. I lower the bar under control so my back gets a pretty good negative in comparison to someone who doesn’t like to handle the weight too long. When I do upper back/rear delt work, its usually pulling from shoulder height on up to my forehead. Only thing I do for lats is DB rows. I have basic equipment but if you have access to a Hammer Strength chest supported row machine, they are very good for the upper back and lats.

Parker is a better bencher than me so he might have some better insight for you.


#11

Bench press facing the ground? Explain that please…


#12

Stop doing routines and do intelligently structured programs that utilize percentages like these:


#13

My back training I squeeze into either bench day or my ohp press day. My go to has always been chest supported rows, meadows rows and occasionally barbell rows cause I feel it also helps my deadlift. I keep reps in the 10-15 range for back and each week try to add more sets before switching to a different movement. Benching I usually just do one light day, and one heavier day, and do a similar approach with what variations I use. I think the things that have helped my bench the most was lots of close grip and seated barbell ohp, assistance I will do weighted dips and skull crushers. Now, due to pec problems I switch out either slingshot benching or 2-3 board pressing to keep the injury risk low. Just evaluate what you have in your program and ask why it’s there and if it’s actually improving your lift or just keeping you from doing something else.

Benching high reps never worked well for me, and I think it can lead to a higher injury rate, on my lighter days I might also use accommodating resistance like 50-60lbs in chains or against a medium band.


#14

Thanks guy. Good info. After this routine. I will add a structured program as listed in this thread.


#15

From Chad Aichs in regards to programming:

"I think about it as a progression of self-education and realization. It’s the journey of a strength athlete and is similar to the journey of a Buddhist looking for true enlightenment. It’s the strength athlete coming full circle, looking through all the learning and education to see that it isn’t that complicated. Stick to the basic principles of training, nutrition and recovery and then make it fit you while listening to your body. Pretty simple.

I think lifters need to stop seeing training programs as rigid things that need to be followed to the T. They need to start seeing them as outlines, things that can be molded to fit one’s own needs. Lifters need to open up their minds and start using programs instead of just following another’s blindly. It’s easy for someone to just regurgitate what he’s learned, but lifters need to understand that knowledge and how it can benefit them as individuals. Training isn’t about mathematics. It’s actually a blend of science and art, not unlike photography. Just because you know how to operate a camera doesn’t make you an amazing photographer. Maybe there is actually a holy grail training program, but it has to be made by you to fit your own hand perfectly.

Lift fucking heavy shit, get your fucking recovery, get fucking huge and get fucking strong as hell!"


#16

[quote]shiz wrote:
Bench press facing the ground? Explain that please…[/quote]

I was joking. All I meant was to do more pulling work. I had a similar problem in keeping tight when the weight got very heavy or after multiple sessions of large workloads. My left shoulder blade had a tendency to get loose and become the first point of failure. I thought it was improper setup but later realized my back is just weak. I need to get my back much stronger so that stability is no longer a problem. I’ve neglected working my back hard with direct work for too long.

Coming up with a better program for progression and training your back harder (if you don’t already) can help you get back on track.