T Nation

Why Cant I Bench More


Okay first workout did 3 sets of 5 with 215. Worked with that till I could do 3 sets of eight. Stepped up to 225 for 3X5 and here's how the sets have went from then 6,6,7 - 7,7,6 - 8,7,6 - 7,6,6 - 6,7,5 - 8,6, 275 X 3/4, 225x3. What the fuck is going on? Why am I stuck. All my other lifts keep increasing. And flat bench is the lift ive done the least of in my lifting career. So I shouldnt be at a plateau yet. I just dont understand how my body is not adapting to the weight.

How the fuck am I going to adhear to the principal of progressive overload if im not getting stronger in the lift. How the fuck can I get stronger if I cant get stronger. It doesnt even make logical sense. How the fuck can I not even do the same as I did the last workout. Its going down instead of up. Im not a fucking idiot. I study alot of shit and I bust my ass in the gym, im eatin over 4000 cals a day with a good protein to carb ratio. I dont eat any man made bullshit, no sugar, drink lots of water I make my own meal replacement bars I dont drink smoke or party. Im not gettin as much sleep as I should. But like I said all my other lifts are going up. I know it takes time. But why is my strength in the bench not slowy progressing. Its always just as hard as it was the time before or harder.

Id really appreciate some good constructive critisicm.




This should probably go in the begingers section but whatever.

First question, what is your goal.


There are many variables that can come into play. Your technique may be off a little don't know what your bench looks like but im sure a few small changes could lead to big difference over time. Also as your body weight increases there is usually an increase in the bench this could help. Add some extra carbs on your bench day to give you some extra energy. If you post a video of your technique i'm sure a few people will chime in. Also change up your rep scheme a little try some lower reps and a few higher rep sets. Just my 2 cents.


Here are some ideas off of the information you have given.
*Try something different with training. What works for your other lifts and muscles might not work for your bench.
*Take a look at your benching technique. Fixing a few errors here and there could easily add 10 pounds and give you a new start.
*Rethink supplementary exercises. They shouldn't make or break your program, but if they aren't right they definitely could be hindering your gains.

I hope this helps.


Stop doing 3 sets of 225 and switch it up. Drop back down to 195 and do a max set. Bust your ass to failure. Each week up the weight by 5 lbs and try tro match last weeks number of reps. When you get back to 225 you should smash it. But make sure you are eating enough calories and your weight is going up


Ahem. Your problem seems to be that you've overtaxed your central nervous system. You've been operating at too high of a percentage for too long. It doesn't like that. The periodization bible explains this.



Looks like it's time for some "deloading"....

For the most part, lifting heavy is the way to go. Most people don't challenge themselves enough in the weight room and consequently, don't see the results they are looking for.

The body responds best to change and variations in lifting routines. Regular changes in weight, volume, exercise order and muscle groups worked is the most effective way to achieve your desired physique.

However, it is also extremely important to have hard weeks and easier weeks. The easier weeks are called Deloading. Deloading is when you decrease weight and increase reps approximately every 4 weeks in your lifting program, for one week. Or when your body tells you it's time to take it easy.

Deloading is important because:

-The muscles need to break without having to take too much time off. You already have your rest days in between workouts. Deloading is a way to re-charge without having to take whole weeks off entirely.

-Heavy lifting for an extended period of time can overload the nervous system.

-Change and variety ensures success. Don't think of deloading as retrogressive. Think of it as a change in routine

-Prevents over training and mental burnout

-Increases progress

-Prevents over training injuries

-Increases motivation. Doing the same type of routine gets kinda stale!


Assess your rest periods.


Besides 5/3/1, who else recommends a full week of deloading every 4 weeks? Not trying to be a dick, but 5/3/1 is the only place I've seen that.


What portion of the lift gives you trouble, where is the "sticking" point?

If you have issues at the begining of the lift "coming out of the hole", you can do 1.5's (take say 175, unrack, lower the weight then start the concentric phase (up), instead of locking out... only go up 12 inches or so, then lower it again THEN lock out. This is one way to work the bottom half of your bench).

If it's the top half, you can do lock-outs and a whole bunch of other fun stuff.

You can also do tricep work, etc..

Stop treating the flat bench like it's ONE movement. It isn't. Its a compound movement, with a LOT of little pieces in it.

Good luck.


If you're diet/nutrition/Kcal are in check, you get plenty of sleep/recovery and it's not an issue with form/mobility, then a deload might be just what you need.


@Meal Ticket

I've never done 5/3/1. You caught me being lazy. I pasted that from an article. I thought it might help OP. I noticed the 4 week thing and didn't agree with it either. Thought about omitting it, but slacked. I only deload when I find it's necessary. When I do, it seems to work for me.


Got it, I agree.


If all the other lifts are going up, except the bench, why do people think "the OP's CNS is burned out" and needs a deload?

Serious question...




Cause saying that makes them sound so educated! I "deload" when life kicks me in the head and I miss a workout or two. Using baby weights for a whole week every month seems a tad excessive.

OP: Pick a different weight! Sounds like you're taking on 225 every single time. I don't know about you, but I make better progress with some variety. Using the same weight all the time makes me stall pretty quickly. Two steps forward, one step back (essentially 531 but skipping deloads) can work pretty well.


Sounds more like a psychological blockage to me, as opposed to a primarily physical one.

Switching to a slightly different rep/set scheme OR focussing more on close grip bench for 2-3 weeks etc may well be all you need to get your progress moving again.


A deload could be good, and you might benefit from decreasing your frequency of high intensity work (90%+ of 1RM), while adding some dynamic effort (speed work) instead with weights as low as 50-60% of 1RM. Beginners almost always fail to understand the value of light explosive lifts. Also get someone to assess your weak points.
I would also like to ask if you are paying attention to strengthening the back? A collegue of mine recently increased a client's bench by thirty kilos in a couple of months, just by dropping the bench for a while and putting him to work on his highly dysfunctional upper back. This guy had been stuck for a year or so.

There can be so many reasons why you are not succeeding. It would be helpful for us if you posted a video of you benching, and also some photos that give us an insight into possible postural problems. On the other hand it could also be your diet. Maybe 4000 calories just isn't enough. It is for most people, but we're all different.

Good luck!