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Starting Strength Flaw: Bench Press


I've been doing Starting Strength for the past forever now and I've gotten a bit stronger so it's been good and I like how simple it is, but there's one lift of mine which hasn't gone up in AGES! And that's the Bench, and I think to myself... who the hell puts Squats, Deadlifts AND Benchpress in a single workout?

No wonder I'm unable to increase my bench, I'm physically worn out by the time I get to them. I'm a beginner so I can't really tolerate that much yet if you know what I mean. I think I'm definitely going to change routine because this is bullshit, any recommendations? Or advice on anything else - am I missing something?


Follow one of the many westside templates out there.


Just keep working at it, my deadlift and squat have gone up 3x as much as my bench in the first month of SS, but you should still be able to see progress. How long are you resting in between sets and how long does it take you to complete a workout?


I disagree.

I went from benching 3x5x175 to 3x5x255 - for real. Total of about 8 weeks. What did help me was doing squats last because they were so draining.

What also may have helped was doing weighted dips and chins. I also progressed the barbell rows along with my bench.




Buy the 5/3/1 ebook, follow the thread and you'll get to were you wanna be


But perhaps your squat didn't go up as much as it could? I suppose everyone is different though. My Bench aint gone up at all in like 4 weeks. I rest maybe two minutes between each set. A workout takes me between 40 minutes and an hour but I do feel absolutely physically drained and exhausted afterwards. I mean don't get me wrong I'm pretty much a total beginner and I'm only 16, but I know there's something wrong when my benchpress isn't going up. And like I said out of the entire program Benchpress, Squats and Deadlifts are probably the most taxing of them all and they're in the same workout. It just doesn't make sense!


Step 1: Shoot yourself in the face with gun.
Step 2: Research a new fucking training template?

Critical thinking is hard, isn't it?


Yeah I struggle with it really hard, I failed that class. I take it you failed exaggeration class too hmm?


well, I feel like an ass now as I read that you are 16. My apologies. I took that statement to mean that you had been doing starting strength for 5 years.

So, like others have said, Wendler's 5/3/1 program is good shit! And make sure to eat.


Oh okay then haha, no hard feelings. Yeah after 5 years I would probably be wanting to shoot myself in the face anyway!


Starting strength isn't meant to work forever... it is for beginners and you will stall eventually. Also, had you been training benchpress before? It is often the case that many people are experienced with the benchpress but not with the other exercises so they don't see the same amount of gains. It could also be that you started out closer to your max on the bench.

You can always reset it (i.e. drop down a bit and work back up over the next month) and see if that works. If it doesn't, then it is likely time to switch to a new program for your bench.


Don't tell Pavel not to put the 3 powerlifts in one routine.

Really, I have critiques of starting strength, but that isn't one of them. If you're so exhausted from these movements, maybe you need to improve your conditioning.


Not when I'm trying to blow my brains out increasing the weight as much as I can all the time. I just don't see the logic to placing them together, care to explain?


go westside and you will never look back :slightly_smiling:


I don't think your performing the exercises in the proper order: Squat, Bench, DL. Your squat wipes you out before you get to bench? Do you eat before working out? 3 sets of squats shouldn't affect your bench that much as a beginner (it hasn't for me anyway).

Have you followed the reprogramming guidelines in the Starting Strength book (or the wiki, which is much easier to read)? I think it recommends dropping back like 10% of something and progressing again until you stall a couple of times. You'll have to read for yourself for exact details, but have you tried that?

I plan on moving on from SS when 3/5 of my lifts stall. So far I haven't stalled on a single one and I am on Week 8.


The logic is that it's a beginner program, and with the 1x5 of deadlifts at the end of the day, there shouldn't be an issue there, unless your conditioning is poor, in which case I would seek to improve it. Especially since you say you leave the gym "absolutely physically drained and exhausted afterwards". It sounds like you're going to failure, which could be killing your gains, or your condiitoning might just suck.


Its kind of funny people are recommending the 5/3/1 when jim himself says that if you are just starting out go buy starting strength and practical programming. If you are 16 I really would just keep working on it, stick with the program and trust that it works. Many people have made great gains with Sheiko also and is setup to have squatting and benching on the same day, so the concept itself works.


I think the main problem here is lack of rest between sets. 2 minutes is fine and good if you are on a bodybuilding hypertrophy program, but rest as long as you need to get the reps for your strength training.

Not to speak for Rippetoe, but I guarantee if you called him and said you were resting for 2 minutes between sets, he would probably reply w/ some witty remark, then tell you to rest longer, eat more, and get more sleep.

Try 5 minutes between sets and see what happens.

How's the press been progressing?


If hard exercises tire you out before bench pressing, why don't you press first then do the fun stuff after?