T Nation

Strength Imbalance... Any Ideas?

I am having a strength imbalance and could use some input.

It is concerning flat barbell bench press, which has never been my forte.

For some reason my flat bench seems unreasonably weak considering other similar lifts. Here are the raw numbers:

Flat Bench 300/1 __ 255/5
Incline Bench 275/1 __ 250/8
Close Grip Bench 250/1 __ 225/4

Now does that seem odd to anyone else? Maybe its just me but I feel like that flat number should easily be 320+ (I’ve gotten 340, but at 50lbs higher body weight).

Not that it matters but people at the gym will see me power out 250x8 on incline and say “man, pretty strong… you must flat bench 350 right?” Not even close bro…

Numbers are numbers and those are not what concern me. I am concerned that there is an obvious lagging muscle or some other reason that this is occurring. My tri’s are strong, my strongest pound for pound no doubt. I would say shoulders are weak, but the incline numbers don’t agree.

I can lock weight out if I use arms but get stuck somewhere in the middle. If I had to guess I would say front delts. Does anyone agree / disagree? Any input is greatly appreciated.

Stats for reference 26yrs old 6’4 215lbs 12-13%bf

shouldnt your close grip bench be the same as your flat bench?

I don’t think so… close grip with hands 5-6 inches apart is going to involve a LOT more tri’s and much less chest compared to wide or regular grip

oh right

well my close grip bench is the same as my flat bench and I read a article about it on bodybuilder.com

Than sticky this thread because you need these answers as much as me, lol.

lol I probably do and how do you sticky the thread?

Doesn’t seem far off to me. There’s about a 15-20 lb difference between the 2 for me. Less of a difference because I’m using less weight than you.

When you train chest do you do flat first all the time? If so, switch it up if it really concerns you.

EDIT- wow, my reading comprehension sucks, disregard my above statement, lol

How is your back strength in comparison?

Your numbers don’t really make sense unless you’re not always bringing the bar all the way to your chest (very common with incline).

On flat you claim 255 for 5 with a max of 300. That sounds fine. On the incline you’re saying 250 for 8. That would put your 1RM above your flat bench press. Doesn’t add up unless your form isn’t consistent.

5-6" is awfully narrow for close-grip. I think 10-12" is typical. And yes, some people won’t find much difference between this and a standard grip.

Hmm what are you doing for your back? Like wiffer said your numbers don’t add up. Incline is FAR more difficult than flat. IF your chest was lagging your incline would me MUCH lower than your flat.

I bet your butt comes off the seat when you do incline? If your numbers are correct, there has to be some kind of form error.

What about flat DB? You can use DB to gauge overall development in upper body, tris, delts, back, and chest. I would guess around 110-115 on flat?

[quote]Cron391 wrote:
IF your chest was lagging your incline would me MUCH lower than your flat.[/quote]

Not necesarily. This is also one of those questions that is very difficult to answer without actually seeing the form on both lifts.

While I don’t have enough info to give you an “answer”, this isn’t really a problem. I have seen a few other people in the past with the same issue, and it was actually not a bad thing, as their chests were generally well balanced and not exhibiting the usual upper chest deficiency that most people have.

Thanks for the input guys, I do appreciate it.

As for the incline and flat numbers not adding up… thats the reason for the thread.

I do flat bench first - Still only got 255 x 5. After 4 sets of flat, I can get 250 x 8 on incline. I can’t understand it.

I have a tight upper back/traps, feet pushing through the floor and a nice arch on my flat bench. I am also 6’4 with very long arms which sometimes leads to difficult lockouts.

I arch on my incline as well throughout the set and as one poster suggested I may be guilty of getting my ass up off the seat; however, this would really only apply to the last 1-2 reps or so since they are almost at failure.

The obvious thing is is that my 1RM for flat is higher than 1RM for incline, BUT I am able to get a lesser weight for more reps inclined. i.e. I get 255 for more reps on incline than flat; however, I could not get 300lbs once on incline but can get it on flat.

My back is strong relative to other parts, no problems there. Reference numbers:
185x10 225x5 upright rows
205x6 wide bar pull downs
315x8 deads
20+ body weight pullups

This exact scenario occurred just this Monday. I know the setup seems odd but I was trying to get a feel for what I could get on each in comparison. As you can see there is some shit wrong with those numbers… wtf?

flat:
185 x 10
225 x 8
255 x 5
275 x 2
300 x 1

Incline
225 x 10
255 x 7.5 :slight_smile:
255 x 5

The more I look at it the less it concerns me now… I supposed maybe I am just seeing to many “bench only” douche lifters at my gym. I see guys getting 315 on flat and barely getting 225x5 on incline. I just always feel stronger on my inclines even after a full 4-5 sets of flat.

Hmmm… dats pretty weird bro. How’s your overhead press?

[quote]TommyMcG wrote:
My back is strong relative to other parts, no problems there. Reference numbers:
185x10 225x5 upright rows
205x6 wide bar pull downs
315x8 deads
20+ body weight pullups
[/quote]

Yeah…your back numbers are weirder than your bench numbers. 225x5 on upright rows? Thats solid weight. Enough to make your other lifts, especially deadlift, seem strange.

Your’e pretty tall and decent size, you get over 20 bodyweight pullups but can only manage 205x6 on wide bar pulldowns? So are you not going up and down all the way plus kicking like a drowning man on the pullups or what? I’m starting to think it’s probably a form thing on your lifts, man.

The 225 rows are on a smith… for what it’s worth. Much less difficult than barbell.

On a smith I can military press 225 x 5 x 3
80lb DBs x 8-10

I routinely do 10 sets of 3 with 315lb deads, 30 seconds rest.
If I went for 1 set, I can pull it for 8.

Those are real numbers… hence the “imbalance”

Your back does not appear to be weak, however I would suggest to concentrate on BB bent-over rows, bent-over rear lateral raises, and face pulls to help this imbalance. Before my back was adequately strong, my incline and flat bench were pretty close. Now they are far off (375 flat, haven’t maxed incline but probably in the area of 305).

[quote]TommyMcG wrote:
I am having a strength imbalance and could use some input.

It is concerning flat barbell bench press, which has never been my forte.

For some reason my flat bench seems unreasonably weak considering other similar lifts. Here are the raw numbers:

Flat Bench 300/1 __ 255/5
Incline Bench 275/1 __ 250/8
Close Grip Bench 250/1 __ 225/4

Now does that seem odd to anyone else? Maybe its just me but I feel like that flat number should easily be 320+ (I’ve gotten 340, but at 50lbs higher body weight).

Not that it matters but people at the gym will see me power out 250x8 on incline and say “man, pretty strong… you must flat bench 350 right?” Not even close bro…

Numbers are numbers and those are not what concern me. I am concerned that there is an obvious lagging muscle or some other reason that this is occurring. My tri’s are strong, my strongest pound for pound no doubt. I would say shoulders are weak, but the incline numbers don’t agree.

I can lock weight out if I use arms but get stuck somewhere in the middle. If I had to guess I would say front delts. Does anyone agree / disagree? Any input is greatly appreciated.

Stats for reference 26yrs old 6’4 215lbs 12-13%bf

[/quote]

Well??? I would look at a few factors in your routine:
1)Quit hitting singles and doubles (reps) in every chest workout.
2) have a light day where you back off from heavy chest work. (Bang out sets of 8-10 reps with blow off weight and concentrate on good technique.)
3)NO FORCED REPS
4) Do you do push ups? if not start nailing a few sets after your routine.
Don’t go overboard on your tricep training. Hammer the basics (espescially skull crushers) and do include close grips (for a guy your size don’t go too narrow on your grip.) Too many sets of tricep work can actually hinder your bench press progress. Believe me with increased bench press power will come bigger triceps and a stronger “everything” on your upper body.
Oh and did I mention…NO FORCED REPS!