Stuck at 205

My bench press is stuck at 205 lbs. My best is four reps x 3 sets. After the third set my reps drop down to 3, then 2, then 1.

I’ve been at 205 for 8 weeks now. I’ve tried taking a week off and I’ve also tried changing from low number of reps to lighter weight and high number of reps.

My goal is a 225 bench. I’m consistent and determined but I’m very frustraited. Can anyone offer any tips on how to burst through 205?


Have you been flat benching every single week?

Try a westside powerlifting program. I am a little biased tho cause that is what I am doing now. But one of the reasons I started was because other methods weren’t increasing my bench, or squat, or deads…if you dont want to do a full blown program you could just do a WS bench program if that is all you are really concerned about. If that is the case you NEED to chech out these two articles by Dave Tate here at T-mag:

Bench Press 600lbs-this will help you with proper bench form which in itself can add some to your press…

and Big Bad Bench- this is a bench only program using WS methods…

On another note I was stuck at 195 until this past january when for four weeks I tried CT’s Black Book bench program (kinda similar to WS w/ speed day, strength day) it took my bench to 210 then I started WS and went to 230 in 9 weeks.

Post your current program, and check out these others, I am by no means an expert but I will try to help or direct you to others who can. Later.

  1. Figure out where your weak spot is. If you’re sticking point is the first third of the press, you need to bring up your chest (ultra-wides, pressing of the pins in the power rack etc.), if its in the last half you need to increase your tricep strength.

  2. Switch up your routine. This means changing order of exercises, exercises used number of sets, everything, not just how many reps you do to a set and how much weight you use.

  1. Make sure your elbows are tucked, that you’re pushing in a straight line, and that you bring the bar down to your upper abs…if you push 205 now, improving your technique alone should get you at least to 225 overnight…

  2. Train your lats hard! Heavy rowing in the same plane as your bench, not benching, should become your priority for awhile…add weighted chins, rope pulls to the neck, rotator cuff work as well, if you aren’t doing it already.

  3. Your triceps are far more important than your pecs; do dips, various extensions, close-grip presses, pin-presses, board-presses etc… it’ll help your bench more than actually benching.

  4. 225, 315, 405 etc…are all often plateaus because they represent throwing another 2 45’s on the bar. It’s a psychological thing, so I recommend that whenever you find yourself approaching one of these numbers, bring somebody with you, have them load the bar for you, using combinations of smaller plates, and don’t count what’s on the bar, just lift it…you may well find that without the psychological barrier, you can lift 235. Give it a shot…

Doing these things has taken my bench from about 220-230 a year ago to about 320-330 today. Not great, but goin up all time…

Best of luck!

Stacked asked an important question. The reason it’s important: “Almost every exercise works, but nothing works forever.” You need variety. Check your PM.

Where is the weak link in the exercise. If off the chest, try doing bottom position bench presses for a while. Fow frequently are you bench pressing and what else are you doing for chest, triceps etc?

Mike Mahler

hey buddy, listen switch ur program to this for your flat bench and u’ll hit 225, do a pyramid exercise which is… start light for 6 reps then 5 then 4,3,2, then drop the weight down and go 3,4,5 do this for a few weeks and i guarentee you your bench is up

Thank everyone for the great advice. I currently train my chest & back twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays. I do light jogging or stairmaster for ten mins. then I hit the weights. I do 7 sets of each exercise. I start with two warm up sets of 10 reps each. Then I do 5 sets of 5 reps. When I can do a full 5 sets at one weight I increase the weight. This has been working for the last six to eight months but like my original post said, I’ve reached a sticking point. My goal is strength, and I do like to train with heavy weights.

My work out for Monday is flat bench press, then bent over rows, followed by inclined dumbell press, and I finish with lat pull down.

Tues I do shoulder work. Clean and press, upright rows, seated military press, and finish with lat. raises.

Wens is leg day. I start with squats, follow with standing calf raises, then leg curls (to work the back of the leg), and finally finish with 3 sets of dead lifts.

Thursday I do 30 mins of cardo. Mostly jogging, but sometimes I ride the bike.

On Friday I do flat bench, pull ups, skull crushers, standing barbell curls and ab work.

Saturday is light cardio: yard work, walk/jog the dog for a mile, that type of stuff. I have started to swim some mornings but I’m a terrible swimmer and can only do a few laps before I am out of breath.

Sunday is an off day.

You guys have convinced me to change my routine. I’ll look into the Westside program, but it is going to be strange. I like my program and I feel good doing it. Because I work out during lunch time, it’s what I look forward to while sitting at my cubicle! But I realize that I must change it if I want to continue to get stronger!

Thank you again,

Try eating more.

I hit 225! I hit 225! Today?s workout felt normal, the same as every other workout except when I got to my third set of bench press. I just knew I was going to do 225lb. I don?t know what happened but I told myself that I?ve been doing 205 for a long time now and to stop being a baby and to just do it. I KNEW I could do it. After one more set at 205 lb I stood up looked at the bar. I had a 45 and a 35 on each side. I told myself that I couldn?t do it. I couldn?t possibly do FOUR 45 lb weights!

I was about to give up when I thought, wait, I KNOW I can do it if I just add a small 10lb weight to each side. I was fired up again! I asked for a spot and told the guy that this was my max and that I was going for 1 rep. He said if I can do 1 rep, to go for 2. I agreed. I asked him to not touch the bar unless he saw that I was really struggling.

I got under the bar and just hit it. It was amazing! The first rep felt like nothing. The second rep I had trouble locking at the top but I did it, the third rep I got stuck at midpoint and could not lock out but my spotter helped me push it out.

Then my spotter told me that he remembered when I started going to the gym two years ago. He said he remembers me struggling with just 95lbs. He said good work and then went back to his workout. I?ve only felt that proud on a few occasions during my life. It?s been a great day.

I want to thank everyone for the advice. I believe the tips on proper benching techniques helped the most.

Keep working, it will happen!


There is so much info about that very topic in T-mag. Search the archives for lots of info! Start with CT’S bench press battlefield article.

Great work Cesar!

Mike Mahler

Congrats man! Now on to 315!

If hes benching 205 then everything is weak and he needs to work on everything.

I agree, I am weak. I am working on basic moves and not worrying about “bodybuilding.” I WANT to get stronger. This week I’ve concentrated on lifting more than the previous week. I’m not going to give up. I’m not going to stop. It’s tough. It’s a bitch. Every seasoned lifter has been through it.

So yeah at a 225 max press I am weak. I hit the weights heavy 4 days a week. I’m coming to T-Mag and reading. I’m changing my routine. I’m not going to be weak for long.


If strength is your goal, then you need to read the articles by Dave Tate- Eight Keys, The Periodization Bible Part I and II… there are several articles. Do a search for “Dave Tate”. It will outline the basics of the conjugated “westside” system. And…you WILL get stronger.