T Nation

The Classic Bench Press Problem


Allright, this is my first post so I'll just say whatsup..

I've been lifting for about 10 months I'd say I've been taking it seriously since the summer. Regardless, not that numbers mean everything to me, but I was comfortably repping 195 when I did 3 sets of 5 reps before Christmas. I left for vacation for about a month and became overwhelmed with exams and whatnot which cut on my workout time significantly. By February I was good to go, but my bench had dropped to 8-12 sets of 165. Didn't matter, I was repping 180 comfortably by the end of the month, but come March my shoulder began to somewhat bug me and it seems like I lost my bench rhythm.

Since then I'm stuck at 180 which baffles me because it's not like I plateaud considering I've benched more before.
Now, I've begun to increase my diet significantly because I know this is an issue. But I'm sure a few people have had this problem. How did you cope with it?


"The classic bench press problem"? The first problem I see is you're confusing taking it seriously with a month vacation for Christmas and coming back in February.

Regardless, the first thing people here will want is your diet, calories/day and protein/day.




Just eat and bench press. When you start stalling trying to hit 315-350, then you can start asking questions. There is no such thing as a "plateau" for somebody who can't even bench 2 plates.


Beginner's forum. It's here for asking questions. This 'advice' is not going to help...anyone.

OP: You said your shoulder hurts, can you describe that in more detail?

Post your entire upper body routine, your diet and a video of you benching and people can probably help you out with this. There are a lot of reasons why someone can stall out on an exercise, but without some more detail it will be difficult to figure out why you are.


OP, if you could have someone vid your pressing it would help. Flaring your elbows excessively can cause shoulder pain, but without seeing it, it's hard to tell. X2 the posting of the entire upper body routine, other things like dips can aggravate shoulders if not done right.

On a side note, ATG you look almost exactly like a guy I graduated HS with.


Probably not me.

My right shoulder has given me grief ever since surgery years ago, so I have to be very careful when setting up my pressing routines. I stopped doing flat bench entirely for a long time, but have reccently added it back in. Fixing my form and getting rid of less productive (for me) exercises that interfere with it + making sure I warm up with something like neutral grip DB bench have helped get me back on track.


What are you doing for your back? How about shoulders? We need the bigger picture here. If bench and curls are all you're doing, then that's probably the problem.

You also look pretty lean in your avatar pic. If you're going to get bigger and stronger, you're going to have to eat more and likely put on a few pounds of fat to get there.


See I specified I know I haven't hit a "plateau" because I haven't benched that much and pretty much took a 2 month vacation. But thanks for making it obvious anyways.

I'll give a normal routine for me, keep in mind I am 5'10 and 155 pounds and I have noted that my diet will 200% have to increase by a lot.

MONDAY- CHEST: Barbell Flat Bench (3x5), Dumbbell Incline Bench (3x6-8), Dumbbell Flat Bench (3x7), Dubbell Flat Flies (3x10-12).. since its not the longest workout I also do cardio and abs right after this.

TUESDAY- ARMS: A1: Sitting straight barbell skull-crushers (3x8) A2: Standing barbell curls (3x6) B1: Flat bench 2 spot dumbbell tricep extension (3x14-16) B2: Dumbbell curls (3x6) C1: Rope tricep pulls (3x8-10) C2: Bicep isolating hammer curls D1: Standing DB Skull-crushers (3x6) D2: Hammercurls.


THURSDAY- BACK AND SHOULDERS: Barbell Rows (3x5), Overhead Lat pulls (3x8), Seated Rows (3x8), Pull-ups (3x12). A1: Rear deltoid cable lateral raise (3x12) A2: Incline DB reverse flies (3x10), B1: Standing low-pulley deltoid raises (3x6) B2: DB external rotation (3x12) C1: 3/4 DB shoulder press (3x8) C2: DB Shrugs (3x8).

FRIDAY- LEGS AND TRAPS: Squatting (5x6-10), Lunges (5x12), Calf Raises (3x12), DB shrugs (3x12) Barbell shrugs (3x8)

Things to note: Leg days vary, sometimes saturday, other times sunday as I tend to be busy during the weekend. I also haven't been doing legs for more than 6 months which was just a beginner's mistake on my part when I began to lift.

I dont have a video of me benchpressing at the moment, but I do try to keep the elbows locked, grip about 3 inches away from my shoulders and do proper breathing during every rep. About my shoulder hurting, you will notice most of my shoulder workouts are pulling movements rather than pushing, for the same reason that I really don't want an injury. When I bench on random occasions either one of my shoulders will simply not "feel" like they should and I would be forced to use extra effort on my back or arms, etc. Another thing to note that I forgot is that my elbows have previously been bothering me to the point where I needed an elbow brace for a few weeks, but I have stopped using it because they no longer hurt. They could however be causing my shoulders to put in extra effort, now that I think about it..

I strech a ridiculous amount throughout my chest workout, I have been told this helps.


By an idiot, maybe...

Your chest workout isnt good, I didnt read the rest but I assume the same. Please read the "best of" theads in the BB forum.


I know this is off topic, but youve got more sets for your biceps then your legs. This is a problem, you dont even have a single hamstring exercise. You already got yourself past the whole never working legs beginner mistake, and thats good, but you need to make sure you give every bodypart the same attention and intensity. So take a long hard look at your leg workout and change it.


Okay, I'll take my leg workouts more seriously for sure..


Well I feel dumb for posting my previous BB... yeah. Anyways, I see it's body building lol, and it says 2-4 exersizes per muscle group? Is that not what I'm doing? I'm not challenging or anything I'd just like to know the more effective alternative.
Appreciate it.


How much weight are you barbell rowing with? Strict or loose?

Describe your benching technique. Mental checklist and cues, and anything else that would be a clue. Also, how are you warming up specifically for benching? If you're jumping straight into a ramped 3x5 thinking the first two sets are enough of a warmup, that may be the whole problem.


you spend 1 to 2 hours in the gym, that leaves 22 to 23 hours to screw it all up, so work on what your screwing up first. Seems like you got to much into your routine and too much of what you think your suppose to be doing IN the gym.


As for this, I have never met anyone who hasn't been able to reach at least 315 raw bench with out just hitting bench. So if that's all you truly want is a high bench and a decent built upper body, then just focus on your upper body and hit your legs like your doing. Its suppose to be fun, and make you happy man. Though i would be willing to bet down the road a bit you will fall in love with boosting your squat and deads just like your bench now.


Your elbow and shoulder pains would likely be fixed by switching to a well balanced routine. I might be missing the logic, but I'm having a hard time figuring out your program in terms of exercise selection, reps, exercise order, body part pairing...anything really.

What are your goals? Bigger? Stronger? You know you need to eat more, so that's good, just make sure you actually do something about it.

Check out this thread for a number of good programs:

It sounds like you are feeling the bench press everywhere but your chest. You may want to play with your hand and elbow position and really focus on feeling your chest do its share of the work.

And as others have said, make sure you're warming up for the bench press and not just hitting your first set cold. A lot of people like to do an incline pressing movement, like an incline dumb bell press before moving on to the flat bench.


I cant say for the others but one thing which had work for me so far is fles ur upper back after u unrack the bar, hold this position (along with the contraction) for 1 or 2 sec before proceeding with the excerise, also keep this contraction on throughout the whole set. Of course, other stuff like retracting ur scapula, squeezing ur glutes and finding a suitable hand width also play a part.


Yeah, I was just reading that link you posted.. working out started out as something just to do until it eventually turned into my full time hobby haha, so I'm still relatively new to what I'm doing. I'm pursuing strength, basically buut I'm not 100% sure if what I'm doing is enough.. anyway. I'll check it more in depth later today when I have more time. Thanks.


I have been told legs will give me a boost in testosterone which will overall make me stronger?
Would that "boost" be sufficient to help me acquire the upper body goals faster?