T Nation

Stalled Bench Press

Hello

My bench press progressed steadily from 110lb 5x5 to 220lb 5x5 (265lb 1rm) over the course of exactly 2 years since starting working out but for just over the last year it has stagnated and I haven’t added a single pound, despite increasing bodyweight by 15lbs and adding significant strength in rows, core, deadlift and squat.

Over this year of stagnation I have been working out pretty much as I always have, with usually 2x chest workouts a week. Most often my routines have used 5x5 bench press once a week and 3x10 incline DB press but I have experimented with 8x3 bench press, 4x8 bench press and 3x chest workouts per week and it just doesn’t seem to be improving.

I have recently read Chad Waterbury’s muscle revolution and I found the extra bench variation exercises he suggested in his bench routine very interesting (supramaximal hold, partial press, bottom isometric hold).

However, I always thought that those specialist exercises were more designed for lifters with very good lifts already and I think 265lb is pretty weak.

Should I experiment with these variations or am I better off sticking to basics? And if so what do I need to do? More volume? More variety? I guess I’m just a bit stumped as to where to go from here and I’d be grateful for any advice. Thanks.

I noticed you mentioned nothing about technique. Often, the technique that gets you to to say 250# for example won’t be good enough to get you to 275. I would suggest reviewing the Dave Tate ‘So you think you can bench’ series. Also, have your form reviewed by people who bench who know what they’re doing. You could do that by posting a vid here or if you know someone where you are that could work too. Good luck.

boards/bands/chains.

learn about them, how to use them, and how to love them.

I can’t help. But am interested to know what can help. In similar boat.

  1. You should post more information. Height weight are all large factors.
  2. Irregardless by what you posted you should eat more. Like >5,000 calories a day. Start incrementally. 3,500 one week, you’ll puke a bit or a lot. Then 4,000, so on, until you get to like 10. You’ll gain lots of pounds <2 months if your around age 17-25. That equals more leverage.
  3. Form check as the guy^^^^ said.
  4. Read all the articles on this site http://www.westside-barbell.com/articles
  5. This one especially http://www.westside-barbell.com/westside-articles/PDF.Files/04PDF/ADVANCED%20SYSTEM%20FOR%20BEGINNERS.pdf
  6. Sleep >8 hours a day
  7. Do all of these things and read as much as you can. Research and ask questions when you can.

do more reps…

do more reps…

x2 on checking form, via video. Even if you don’t want to post it here, take a video and look at it yourself. There’s a lot of things you can’t see, but most likely there is something you can see that needs fixing.

Far as your program, need more info. When you say 5x5, does that mean you do 220x5x5 and thats it? What kinda accessory work do you do, if any? Things like that. If you don’t do any accessory work, I’d bet some tricep stuff would help you out a ton.

For training frequency: I see my best bench gains when I bench twice a week. My recovery could possibly handle 3x but I haven’t bothered yet. My squat and DL need way more work than my bench.

technique ! + i think you could go on and try to do some singles / switch from sets across to ramped sets. Also you could try texas method setup and do 5x5 on one day and 3RM few days later.

also some work in at 90% of 1RM might help, as i read somewhere that at some point you NEED to work in higher % than before to progress

[quote]Thomasm122 wrote:

  1. You should post more information. Height weight are all large factors.
  2. Irregardless by what you posted you should eat more. Like >5,000 calories a day. Start incrementally. 3,500 one week, you’ll puke a bit or a lot. Then 4,000, so on, until you get to like 10. You’ll gain lots of pounds <2 months if your around age 17-25. That equals more leverage.
  3. Form check as the guy^^^^ said.
  4. Read all the articles on this site http://www.westside-barbell.com/articles
  5. This one especially http://www.westside-barbell.com/westside-articles/PDF.Files/04PDF/ADVANCED%20SYSTEM%20FOR%20BEGINNERS.pdf
  6. Sleep >8 hours a day
  7. Do all of these things and read as much as you can. Research and ask questions when you can. [/quote]

Thanks for the help and the links. I’m 6’2" 220lbs I’m not sure if you need any other information.

Personally I think that you are at a point where it would be a good idea to give a program like 5/3/1 or the Juggernaut Method a go. I suggest the Juggernaut Method simply because I found it more entertaining.

[quote]mkral55 wrote:
x2 on checking form, via video. Even if you don’t want to post it here, take a video and look at it yourself. There’s a lot of things you can’t see, but most likely there is something you can see that needs fixing.

Far as your program, need more info. When you say 5x5, does that mean you do 220x5x5 and thats it? What kinda accessory work do you do, if any? Things like that. If you don’t do any accessory work, I’d bet some tricep stuff would help you out a ton.

For training frequency: I see my best bench gains when I bench twice a week. My recovery could possibly handle 3x but I haven’t bothered yet. My squat and DL need way more work than my bench. [/quote]

I have mostly been doing an almost full body routine 3x per week, doing my weak points 3x and my stronger points (including bench - its good relative to my other lifts) 2x.

It pretty much looks like this:

Squat 5x3
Deadlift 3x3
Pendlay row 5x5
Bench press 5x5
Pull-ups 4x8
Ab rollouts 3x10
Tri extension 4x8
Bi curls 4X8

Squat 5x5
Deadlift 3x3
Pull-ups (weighted) 5x5
Meadow row 5x5
Side bends 3x10
Dip 4x8
Lateral raise 3x10

Squat 5x5
Deadlift 3x3
Incline DB chest press 3x10
Gorilla row 3x10
Pullups 4x8
Tri extension 3x10
Bi curls 3x10

My lower body, core and back are my weaker areas because when I started working out I had no idea what I was doing and spent a long time just doing chest and arms. I have been seeing great progress on everything else, even my arms have grown, just not my bench.

Before this routine and before my bench stopped growing I had done these routines:

Noob chest and arms
5x5
WS4SB
BB routine from Arnolds Encyclopedia
Similar 3x whole body days

You have been doing the same thing for over 3 years??? My god… change things around. If you do something new, anything new, you will get stronger. Obviously technique is also important. Damn… who does the same thing for over a year that isn’t working?

[quote]arramzy wrote:
You have been doing the same thing for over 3 years??? My god… change things around. If you do something new, anything new, you will get stronger. Obviously technique is also important. Damn… who does the same thing for over a year that isn’t working?[/quote]

No man over the 3 years I have done a retard chest and arms workout when I started, 5x5, WS4SB, 5-day BB split and experimenting with 3x per week whole body days as I said at the bottom of my post. As well as that I have experimented with a Layne Norton 5-day split and with a max strength type thing (lots of 3 reps stuff) that an MMA fighter friend showed me, but I didn’t stick with either of those 2 for long.

The longest I ever stuck to one routine for was 5 months. I usually change up every 8-12 weeks or at least make lots of modifications to my routine.

I made good progress on all my other lifts on these routines so I didn’t want to change them up. But now I’m balancing out I’d like to get progressing on bench.

If your progressing on other lifts, then it’s very likely your technique and/or bench programming sucks.

To press a lot you have to press, a lot.

[quote]furo wrote:

[quote]arramzy wrote:
You have been doing the same thing for over 3 years??? My god… change things around. If you do something new, anything new, you will get stronger. Obviously technique is also important. Damn… who does the same thing for over a year that isn’t working?[/quote]

No man over the 3 years I have done a retard chest and arms workout when I started, 5x5, WS4SB, 5-day BB split and experimenting with 3x per week whole body days as I said at the bottom of my post. As well as that I have experimented with a Layne Norton 5-day split and with a max strength type thing (lots of 3 reps stuff) that an MMA fighter friend showed me, but I didn’t stick with either of those 2 for long.

The longest I ever stuck to one routine for was 5 months. I usually change up every 8-12 weeks or at least make lots of modifications to my routine.

I made good progress on all my other lifts on these routines so I didn’t want to change them up. But now I’m balancing out I’d like to get progressing on bench. [/quote]

“change it up syndrome” is just as bad if not worse than stagnating on one routine for years. Should pick a smart program (5/3/1 for example) and dedicate a good 6 months to a year to doing nothing but that routine. Should get much better results. The Full Body Template from Edition 2 has been great for my pressing so far, but I am only a couple of months in.
Good luck!

[quote]panzerfaust wrote:

[quote]furo wrote:

[quote]arramzy wrote:
You have been doing the same thing for over 3 years??? My god… change things around. If you do something new, anything new, you will get stronger. Obviously technique is also important. Damn… who does the same thing for over a year that isn’t working?[/quote]

No man over the 3 years I have done a retard chest and arms workout when I started, 5x5, WS4SB, 5-day BB split and experimenting with 3x per week whole body days as I said at the bottom of my post. As well as that I have experimented with a Layne Norton 5-day split and with a max strength type thing (lots of 3 reps stuff) that an MMA fighter friend showed me, but I didn’t stick with either of those 2 for long.

The longest I ever stuck to one routine for was 5 months. I usually change up every 8-12 weeks or at least make lots of modifications to my routine.

I made good progress on all my other lifts on these routines so I didn’t want to change them up. But now I’m balancing out I’d like to get progressing on bench. [/quote]

“change it up syndrome” is just as bad if not worse than stagnating on one routine for years. Should pick a smart program (5/3/1 for example) and dedicate a good 6 months to a year to doing nothing but that routine. Should get much better results. The Full Body Template from Edition 2 has been great for my pressing so far, but I am only a couple of months in.
Good luck![/quote]

Oh absolutely change it up syndrome is worse. I personally have been training the same way for over a year but thats just because it works… If I stalled then I would change.

Oh and btw, if you want progress I would start with technique investigation then pick something moderately foolproof. For eg, do 5/3/1 with a very simple supplemental like BBB or whatever. I personally lift ‘russian’ system or sheiko ish. This can work fantastically but might be a bit more confusing.

also get strong in the overhead lifts…that always works when hitting a bench press plateu

I’m not gonna dazzle you with bullshit or drop names of so and so’s program and spit rep scemes at you. That’s all for you to decide what works for you and what doesn’t. I’d say tho that you’ve come to the realization that what you are doing isn’t working. Your “working out” isn’t getting you the results you want. Here’s what I did to get to my goals.

  1. set a definative weight or rep goal in the lift. For me originally it was bench XXX. So I asked myself literally, why am I currently NOT pressing XXX. My chest strenght was ok, My triceps strength was ok but I always felt “loose”. I neded to fix my back weakness. So I did while keeping everything else up to par. Guess what, I presed XXX weight. Then I set a goal of repping that weight 3 times, then 5 etc. Point is you have to decide where YOU are lacking and fix that shit.

Part of my problem was mental. for me I could press 295 easy, then when that 3rd plate got on the bar I was like OMFG this is a lot of weight. Nevermind it was just 20# more than the weight I just did ( that’s another trick that worked for me… Don’t think in terms of I’m pressing XXX #, think this is only 10# per arm that I just did, 10 # is chicken shit - JEDI Mind tricks… they work) … I had set myself up for failure right off the bat. Here’s what I did to fix that shit…

BOARD PRESSES - you said you can press 265? well try this. Put 295 on the bar and do 3 or 4 board presses. When you can unrack it and do 3-5 reps, drop to a 2-3 board. Keep doing that till you are doing 295 off the chest. You’ll be surprised how fast you will progress. This does several things. It gets you used to handling heavier weight and primes your CNS. It also will really show you wher your weaknesses are. For example, you lower say 335 to your chest, at 3-4" above your sternum the bar free falls… guess what - you got eweak ass Lats. Try it, you’ll see what I’m talking about.

for those who say, Dawg, I ain’t got no one to hold a board on my chest… no worries do Like I do. Screw an eye bolt into the end of the bottom board ( the one that is touching you) and attack a caribiner to the eye bolt and hook a weight belt. It will sit right on your chest. If you knock the board out of position, it means that you got loose while benching - you’ll need to fix that, which will help your benching in general.

Another option, go to Walmart or Target. They sell these YOGA blocks that are the same height as a 2 board. You can stick them right under your tee- shirt and bench off the foam blocks. 2 Board presses are great.

As far as your workout frequency… I’d do a heavy day a week then consider adding a speed day as in a conjugate system. See Storm the Beach’s West side thread.

Hope this helps.