I have a question, both to experienced women-powerlifters and to men. But mainly to women because I presume that more women have encountered this problem – weaker upper body – than men.
I have been doing barbell training for slightly longer than a year. Before that I was a typical cardio bunny: I was not doing any sports in particular, just walking a lot on a daily basis (10 km and more), and was a typical skinny fat: about 58–60 kg at 174 cm, at the age of 35.
After my boyfriend introduced me to lifting (I began with Starting Strength), my bodyweight went up from 60 to 68 kg. My lifts went up from an empty 20-kg barbell (yes, I started from an empty barbell, even on deadlifts; on military press, I started from even less – 12 kg) to the following figures: squat – 5x75, deadlift – 5x85, bench – 5x40(41), military press – 5(3)x30, Pendlay row – 5x42.5 kg.
My squats and deadlifts have been growing slowly but steadily: at first, fast, as for any novice, then – slower. I have been doing regular deloads, and after every deload I was adding a certain amount of weight to the barbell.
But my bench (and assistance exercise – military press) has been plateauing. In the last half a year, I have added about 15 kg to my squat. But to my bench I have barely added a couple of very unstable kilos (meaning that one day, depending on how I feel, I might do my max, and on the other day I may miss it – which almost never happens with squats and deadlift.)
(Although my shoulders and back definitely grew – I absolutely do not fit into my sports bra, which was perfectly ok for me 1.5 yr ago )
Lately, I have been feeling that bench is defeating me :)) Sure, I know it all: “suck it up, eat, sleep, and train”. And I try to, although not always I manage to sleep for 8 hrs – usually about 7, and am a very sensitive and light sleeper (which is partially the cause of me being quite sleepy and tired during days). But negative motivation does not seem to work well on me.
Now, for your attention :)), THE QUESTION: Maybe those girls and women who have defeated their bench plateaus have some advice: how they beat them?
My stats: age – 35, height 174 cm, weight 68 kg.
My last week’s routine:
Squat: 5x40, 5x50, 5x60, 5x55, 2x70, 5x75
Bench: 5x20, 5x25, 5x30, 5x35, 2x27.5, 3x42.5 (it had to be 5x42.5, but for two days in a row I missed the 4th and 5th lift)
Pendlay row: 5x20, 5x25, 5x30, 5x35, 2x27.5, 5x42.5
Squat: 5x40, 5x50, 5x60, 5x60
Military press: 5x20, 5x22.5, 5x25, 5x27.5, 3x30 (it had to be 5x30, but I keep on missing. There were a few days when I made it to 5x30, but this lift is very unstable: one day I manage 3, the other day – I don’t even manage one (mainly because I get afraid of the weight, it “defeats me” before I even try lifting, and I start pushing the bar to the front – not upright, so I lose the force)
Deadlift: 5x50, 5x60, 5x70, 3x75, 2x80, 5x85
Squat: 5x40, 5x50, 5x60, 5x55, 2x70, 3x76, 5x60
Bench: 5x20, 5x25, 5x30, 5x35, 2x27.5, 5x42.5 (will try to do it, but since I already missed it twice, I have this fear that “bench will again win over me” ), 8x30
Pendlay row: 5x20, 5x25, 5x30, 5x35, 2x27.5, 5x42.5, 5x30
P.S.: I have quite a limited amount of time in the gym, especially on weekdays, since I train during my lunchbreak, so cannot afford to spend in the gym more than, roughly, 1 hr. So, if I needed to add some assistance exercises to my daily routine, I would most probably need to cut some of the main exercises from the routine.