T Nation

Starting to Hate the Bench Press

Hi, I’ve been working out for maybe four years on and off. Prior to September I worked out like an idiot and refused to do anything other than arms and pecs. However, in September, I started working out properly focusing on all aspects of lifting and reading this site quite regularly. I am 6’2. My weight has gone up from 185 to 205…still gaining. My Deadlift has gone up from about 245 to 335 and my squat has gone up from roughly 205 to ~305.

However my bench has not budged, even a year ago, it was probably the same 235. I work my chest properly and have made gains in the past but for the past 1.5 years it seems stalled.

As of Jan 5th I have been on WS4SB3 and my DL has gone up 30 lbs. After cycling through floor press for my Max Effort day for 5 weeks I went to check my 1 rep max for bench…still the exact same. The sticking point is right at my chest. I’m starting to speculate that this means my arms are proportionately stronger that my chest. Is this correct??? should I start doing pin-press (pins at exactly chest height) regularly to correct this?

Thanks

Ive been there - 2 years solid. Just broke free of the sticking point this past year.

Take a look at the blast your bench routine by Lee Hayward

www.blastyourbench.com/index.htm

Tried this, and also put myself on HRT - hmmm maybe is was the test cyp shots that really did it - anyway - I broke through and am on my way to 315 1RM - Im close, I am at 275 now, I was at 225 this past summer.

May not be a lot by most standards but for 165lb 45 year old dude its OK.

I also do a lot of back work to help stabilize the shoulder - wide pull ups lots of them - with weight.

One word though - do not bench heavy for more than 4 to 6 months a year - it will eventually tear up your shoulder joints.

you should get a couple buddies and try doing negative sets to shock your cns…

Try benching from the bottom(off pins set right at your chest), using a squat rack. My bench is far from impressive but it’s moving up at least.

If your sticking point is at your chest then floor presses aren’t going to do a lot for you. (not to say they’re not useful, just not right now since you need to focus on one issue at a time).

Use a 1 board, incline and overhead work.

Being that tall you probably have a long wingspan which means you ought to try moving your grip out further on the bar too.

I was stuck at 275 on bench for the longest time. What helped me was better form. I use to bring the weight down fast and and would try to get it up just as fast. I slowed the negative and exploded on the way up and it helped alot. I know it sound weird but foot placement and hand grip helped alot. In a few months I blew past 275.

Also I use to bring the bar straight down, but when I started to rep the bar in an arch motion that helped alot also.

Also I use to bring the bar straight down, but when I started to rep the bar in an arch motion that helped alot also.

Incline dumbell press is what you need.

Flat bench just doesn’t use your chest that well if your tall, your range of motion is ungainly and awkward.

45 degree incline with dumbells and really try to get that stretch so you can figure out how to use the pecs to press.

Thanks to all for the input, its very hard to wake up in the morning thinking your bench has peaked at 235. I’ve been reading and it seems like its my chest and/or delts that are the problem. I’m on WS4SB3 so for direct chest and shoulder work it looks like this…(all days have 6 seperate exercises)

Monday

  1. Chest - work up to 3 rep max
  2. Chest - 2 sets 15 reps

Thurs

  1. Chest - 3-4 sets 12-15
  2. Delts - DB Power cleans
  3. Delts - DB Military press

I’m thinking for monday I do incline bench followed by pin press. Thursday I’ll change my chest exercise to pause press and pause for 3 seconds at the bottom… keep the delt exercises the same…thoughts?

Also I’ve worked a bit on form but I’ll try to arch the bar since I don’t currently do that.

[quote]Wilmernuts wrote:
I was stuck at 275 on bench for the longest time. What helped me was better form. I use to bring the weight down fast and and would try to get it up just as fast. I slowed the negative and exploded on the way up and it helped alot. I know it sound weird but foot placement and hand grip helped alot. In a few months I blew past 275.[/quote]

I’m doing the same right now. I’m stuck at about 235 on the bench press and have been for a while. It f*cking sucks, because I had to lower my weight to like 165 pounds (for reps and sets, not 1RM or anything), but I’m hoping that the slow eccentric phase will help me in getting 300 this year, or at least 220 for reps by summer.

You do need to add the back and stabilizer muscles.

For stabilizers, do cable rotations of the l and r arm with the arm tucked at your side, shoulder blade back and pulling the cable left to right, each arm. This will hit the shoulder stabilizers.

It worked for me - I had poor shoulder tightness - they would literally get pushed below where they should be and I would lose the leverage.

May want to search on shoulder stabilization routines

You should also add rear delt movements into your routine if you do not already do some.

Off the chest strength is shoulders and chest.

Locking out the bench is triceps.

5 weeks off floor press as max effort is too long, well too long. Need to be rotating every 2-3 weeks.

As well as doing 1-5 rep maxes, you could do 5x5 with bench.

Pin Presses, Floor Presses, MORE BACK WORK (Think of this: “You can’t shoot a rocket out of a rowboat”), and gain some weight man…that’ll put some more muscle on you.

I had a f ucking terrible bench last year at 265lbs (regular ‘gym bench’ without a pause)…but 1 year and 30+lbs later I just hit 310 in the gym and 303 at a meet last weekend.

I’m a tall kid too; so that ROM was a bitch to overcome. I did a lot of pause benching and speed work to get faster off the chest adn through the “transition” point.

Good luck!

To tell you the truth I don’t think back is a problem, I do a lot of pulling and chin ups. But yeah, I’ll focus on incline, pin press and pause press for chest and db military and face pulls for delts.

I remember yesterday after I failed to do 245 I was trying to do pin press with 185, and I could barely squeeze 4 reps. Without the pins/pause I could do that for 12-15 reps, so I know right off the chest is by far my weakest link. I’ll change up my routine for 6 weeks (I know I should cycle shorter but I really want to start benching with my chest, not arms) then retest my 1 rep max.

Thanks for the help.

Oh and glad to know some of you cracked your previous 1 rep maxes. If I even up it by 10 lbs in the next 6 weeks I’ll be estatic.

You don’t think it is your back holding you back? What numbers are you putting up in your back exercises?

Honestly, most of us are not so advanced we need any special techniques or anything. We just need to nut up and find ways to get plenty of volume in with as much weight as we can.

That and technique. Technique work can yield substantial and instant improvement.

In terms of back exercises i can DL like 335…do 12 chin ups palms out maybe 15 palms in…in terms of rows and stuff I’ve never calculated a 1 rep max. I am just assuming that it isn’t the cause just because it seems I am at least stable. I.e. when I am maxing out on bench I feel quite stable just that I physically don’t have enough strength of the chest to get any momentum.

conorh - I tend to agree with you. I agree with the philosophy of just shut up and lift 99% of the time. But after a year and a half and no gains in the bench I’ve lost faith. I think though it has more to do with my triceps doing most of the work. I worked out arms a rediculous amount when I was a teenager. And thinking back, the last time my bench went up, it was from doing DB press, not bench, where its harder to compensate for a crap chest with proportionately good triceps.