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Why Do I Suck at Benching?

Okay, let me preface this by saying I am not strong. I’m trying to change that.

That said…my problem:
apparently I suck at bench pressing. I train westside style, but with an RE instead of DE day (ala Joe Defranco).

My ME upper rotation has been…
3 weeks floor press
3 weeks incline press
just started doing flat bench for a few weeks today.

Last week I pressed 165 for 1 on the incline press. Today I barely got that on flat bench. I did 165 for 1 as well.

It seems my sticking point is half way up. I’ve been trying to hit the arms (tris) hard, but I’m not sure what the problem could be.

I do tuck my elbows. I stay tight throughout the lift (probably not as tight as I should stay, but I’m working on it).

Ideas? Solutions? Thoughts? How wide should the hands be? I usually take a wider grip because it feels like I can actually lock my back in tight at a grip just inside the rings.

Thanks in advance.

PS:
My other lifts have come along great in the past few months. Up some 30lbs on squat and deadlift.
Other things that may be important:
height 6’2"
weight: 200lbs

Why are you already using Westside when you can’t even bench your own bodyweight?

If your goal is to increase your flat bench press then a good start would be to actually include flat bench presses as a regular part of your routine.

I am far from an expert but I get the impression that most of the Westside guys have already spent a significant amount of time working on the basics before they start worrying about things like rotating exercises, using floor presses etc.

Getting your bench up to at least your own bodyweight for reps should not require anything particularly complicated.

Personally I think that a more basic routine would be more suitable for you at the moment.

I would recommend the intermediate routine at this site.
http://www.geocities.com/elitemadcow1/table_of_contents_thread.htm

It’s nothing special but it works. I think you would benefit from the fact that it has you flat benching twice per week.

I agree.

boyscout forget the assistance work and alternative ME exercises and Bench and Bench and Bench somemore. The best way to improve your bench is to bench.

The Westside template sort of assumes by the time you need to use supplementary exercises like that you are already benching a lot more than you are now. Assistance work and supplemental exercises have their place. Right now you need to bench

Agree with both of the above. Do some actual benching. Drop the westside stuff for now.

At that point I made the most gains following Rippetoe’s programs with monday: bench (squat), wednesday: military press (dl&front sq), friday: bench (squat).

Another good one is Bill Starr’s 5x5. It will have you flat benching twice, incline once, squating everyday…

[quote]Regular Gonzalez wrote:

I would recommend the intermediate routine at this site.
http://www.geocities.com/elitemadcow1/table_of_contents_thread.htm

It’s nothing special but it works. I think you would benefit from the fact that it has you flat benching twice per week.

[/quote]

Would the Rippetoe’s program work well too?

I’ll listen to everyone’s advice and start a more basic routine for the rest of this week. Probably begin Wednesday night.

I am kind of in the same boat. I am on week 10 of the WS4SB 3 day program (but I throw in my own 4th).

Before starting, I had maybe BB benched less than 10 times.

Fresh, I could rep the 90lb DB’s 4 times. I could do 125x3 weighted dips.

But my bench sucked. I mean I can BB bench body weight for 1RM. I pretty much always could, without much practice. But if you look at my log, I don’t progress much in bench. I do ME bench on Mon, and RE bench on Fri. All of my other lifts do increase though.

I really like the way WS4SB is set up… but now I see this thread. Should I try something different? I do want to finish up 12 wks of the program though…

Good things said and I will add another point. It takes time and consistency. From your numbers it’s obvious you aren’t starting at a very strong place in regard to your bench. This is in comparison to a guy who the first time he’s benching throws up 225 for reps.

I bring this up to point out you have to really work at building your base strength and strengthening up all other supporting muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Not to mention your CNS and motor recruitment so the muscles fire properly as you get to heavier numbers.

As the other guys have alluded to you do this by flat out benching working on proper form and slowly adding weight. If you give it the time and work your bench will definitely go up.

Good luck,

D

[quote]boyscout wrote:
Okay, let me preface this by saying I am not strong. I’m trying to change that.

That said…my problem:
apparently I suck at bench pressing. I train westside style, but with an RE instead of DE day (ala Joe Defranco).

My ME upper rotation has been…
3 weeks floor press
3 weeks incline press
just started doing flat bench for a few weeks today.

Last week I pressed 165 for 1 on the incline press. Today I barely got that on flat bench. I did 165 for 1 as well.

It seems my sticking point is half way up. I’ve been trying to hit the arms (tris) hard, but I’m not sure what the problem could be.

I do tuck my elbows. I stay tight throughout the lift (probably not as tight as I should stay, but I’m working on it).

Ideas? Solutions? Thoughts? How wide should the hands be? I usually take a wider grip because it feels like I can actually lock my back in tight at a grip just inside the rings.

Thanks in advance.

PS:
My other lifts have come along great in the past few months. Up some 30lbs on squat and deadlift.
Other things that may be important:
height 6’2"
weight: 200lbs [/quote]

boyscout,

imho your ME cycles are too long and you never mix in a rep day or backoff into the ME cycles. Yes, newbies can milk a ME exercsie for 2-3 workouts, but after 3 weeks of ME, you need to change either to a back off and/or a rep day. I would recommend high rep db floor presses for 3 sets of reps 15 or higher or a mini nfl combine, maybe using 95 or 115 for an all out rep set, shooting for 20, then finish with a close grip set shooting for 2/3 of the reps of the previous set.

You also need to stop doing all singles for a while, do mainly triples on ME day. On your RE day, what volume are you doing? You need to be doing at least 25 reps of bench. What about lockout and lats? Plates raises for front delts will help that transition sticking point, as will rear delt work for stability.

Food? Rest? Stress? Activity outside the gym? Bench press is a high maintenance mistress.

jack

[quote]jackreape wrote:
boyscout wrote:
Okay, let me preface this by saying I am not strong. I’m trying to change that.

That said…my problem:
apparently I suck at bench pressing. I train westside style, but with an RE instead of DE day (ala Joe Defranco).

My ME upper rotation has been…
3 weeks floor press
3 weeks incline press
just started doing flat bench for a few weeks today.

Last week I pressed 165 for 1 on the incline press. Today I barely got that on flat bench. I did 165 for 1 as well.

It seems my sticking point is half way up. I’ve been trying to hit the arms (tris) hard, but I’m not sure what the problem could be.

I do tuck my elbows. I stay tight throughout the lift (probably not as tight as I should stay, but I’m working on it).

Ideas? Solutions? Thoughts? How wide should the hands be? I usually take a wider grip because it feels like I can actually lock my back in tight at a grip just inside the rings.

Thanks in advance.

PS:
My other lifts have come along great in the past few months. Up some 30lbs on squat and deadlift.
Other things that may be important:
height 6’2"
weight: 200lbs

boyscout,

imho your ME cycles are too long and you never mix in a rep day or backoff into the ME cycles. Yes, newbies can milk a ME exercsie for 2-3 workouts, but after 3 weeks of ME, you need to change either to a back off and/or a rep day. I would recommend high rep db floor presses for 3 sets of reps 15 or higher or a mini nfl combine, maybe using 95 or 115 for an all out rep set, shooting for 20, then finish with a lcose grip set shooting for 2/3 of the reps of the previous set. You also need to stop doing all singles for a while, do mainly triples on ME day. On your RE day, what volume are you doing? You need to be doing at least 25 reps of bench. What about lockout and lats? Plates raises for front delts will help that transition sticking point, as will rear delt work for stability.

Food? Rest? Stress? Activity outside the gym? Bench press is a high maintenance mistress.

jack

[/quote]
DeFranco’s WS4SB has a RE day in which you do max reps on bench at 95, 135, 185, or 225. So, in essence, you should be doing over 25 reps on that day. I am at around ~35 reps @ 135 (3 setsXfailure, 60 sec rest only).

I was also thinking, on ME days, it says to do 3-5RM. Couldn’t you just incorporate that into a 5x5 bench?

I wouldn’t try to mix two things. If it says work to a 5RM, that’s what I’d do.

[quote]jackreape wrote:
boyscout wrote:
Okay, let me preface this by saying I am not strong. I’m trying to change that.

That said…my problem:
apparently I suck at bench pressing. I train westside style, but with an RE instead of DE day (ala Joe Defranco).

My ME upper rotation has been…
3 weeks floor press
3 weeks incline press
just started doing flat bench for a few weeks today.

Last week I pressed 165 for 1 on the incline press. Today I barely got that on flat bench. I did 165 for 1 as well.

It seems my sticking point is half way up. I’ve been trying to hit the arms (tris) hard, but I’m not sure what the problem could be.

I do tuck my elbows. I stay tight throughout the lift (probably not as tight as I should stay, but I’m working on it).

Ideas? Solutions? Thoughts? How wide should the hands be? I usually take a wider grip because it feels like I can actually lock my back in tight at a grip just inside the rings.

Thanks in advance.

PS:
My other lifts have come along great in the past few months. Up some 30lbs on squat and deadlift.
Other things that may be important:
height 6’2"
weight: 200lbs

boyscout,

imho your ME cycles are too long and you never mix in a rep day or backoff into the ME cycles. Yes, newbies can milk a ME exercsie for 2-3 workouts, but after 3 weeks of ME, you need to change either to a back off and/or a rep day. I would recommend high rep db floor presses for 3 sets of reps 15 or higher or a mini nfl combine, maybe using 95 or 115 for an all out rep set, shooting for 20, then finish with a close grip set shooting for 2/3 of the reps of the previous set.

You also need to stop doing all singles for a while, do mainly triples on ME day. On your RE day, what volume are you doing? You need to be doing at least 25 reps of bench. What about lockout and lats? Plates raises for front delts will help that transition sticking point, as will rear delt work for stability.

Food? Rest? Stress? Activity outside the gym? Bench press is a high maintenance mistress.

jack

[/quote]

I didn’t really intend to do a single on 165. I’ve done it before for 5 reps (last time I did WS4SB in the fall). I was shooting for three. I usually start ME cycles with a 3-5RM then move to single or triples depending on how I feel.

For RE day I’ve been sticking with push up variations for the past few weeks. Like Defranco recommends: 3xmax reps with 90 sec rest.

I was thinking of just dropping ME stuff to one week. I made amazing progress on squats last time around just switching every other week: back box squat, free front squat, back box squat, free front squat. There was never a week I didn’t add at least 5 lbs to a 5RM sometimes ten on those lifts.

For lats I’ve been focusing a lot of chins because I suck at them. So I got a measly 5x5 with body weight last week and was fried, so I dropped the volume this week. Not sure what do here. I think I probably need more volume, but the chin is such a basic exercise that I have trouble dropping it completely in favor of using less weight with more volume on the pull down.

I’ve been doing rear delt work every upper day in the gym. Not much front delt work as I always feel pretty friend in them after pressing. Should I incorperate more front delt work? Iso exercises or compound movements?

As far as the other stuff: I live a pretty low stress life. I eat well and at about 2500-3000kcal a day (above or at maintenence for me). I’m a former fatty, and my metabolism seems crazy slow. The most strenuous activity I do outside the gym is practice my guitar (I’m finishing up my B.Music in guitar performance).

I think the guys above may be right: I just need to forget about this shit for a while and do a more basic program. Like rippetoe’s or a 5x5.

I would take a close look at the volume of your accesory work as I would suspect it is too light.

Remember that you are not going to be able to bench more if you are not adding muscle mass. Per Jack’s post if you are going to stick with a conjugated template you should move to triples for ME day and I would probably rotate around variations of full range barbell benching for quite some time utilizing your accesory movements to address muscle groups that need to come up (which is probably everything so I wouldn’t try to get fancy and build in bias.)

[quote]Last week I pressed 165 for 1 on the incline press. Today I barely got that on flat bench. I did 165 for 1 as well.
[/quote]

[quote]
DeFranco’s WS4SB has a RE day in which you do max reps on bench at 95, 135, 185, or 225. So, in essence, you should be doing over 25 reps on that day. [bold]I am at around ~35 reps @ 135 (3 setsXfailure, 60 sec rest only)[/bold].

I was also thinking, on ME days, it says to do 3-5RM. Couldn’t you just incorporate that into a 5x5 bench?[/quote]

Maybe I’m misunderstanding what you wrote, but does this mean that you’re doing 135 for 35 reps, but you only got one rep at 165?

-Soup

You wouldn’t happen to live in IC and work out in the Field House, would you?

EDIT: sorry for the mini-threadjack, btw, but you look familiar.

[quote]Epimetheus wrote:
You wouldn’t happen to live in IC and work out in the Field House, would you?

EDIT: sorry for the mini-threadjack, btw, but you look familiar.[/quote]

Nope. I live in Des Moines, and work out in Drake University’s Weight room.

I was in iowa city a few weeks back for a tuba recital (of all things)…

Yeah I’d cut back on the lifts that aren’t full ROM benching and keep the regular bench press volume high. there is a long long way to go before you need anything like floor or board press. Just bench/squat/deadlift/pull/press for the next 2 or more years.

If you progress the volume and intensity of these basic movements you will be surprised how much you can get out of them. A fella I train with has done nothing but O-lifts and the 5 movements above for the last 10 years of his training. The only none basic lifts he does are shoulder rotations and stuff like that in the warm up. That being said he is an Olympic athlete for Canada. He’s jacked.

So I’d say until you get very competetive in things such as benching or PLing (which could be a ton of fun) there isn’t much purpose behind doing movements that aren’t the simple basic movement.

Just be sure to keep the weights going up and vary the repetition range from 3-6 and occasionally down to 1 on a test or post-test.

Rippetoe and Starr are both really realy strong options for someone at your level.

-chris

ah, cool. Never actually been, but I know a couple people who go to school there.

As for your bench, on top of what these other guys have already said, I’d suggest finding a good training partner. Having someone around who can motivate you is very nice, as is having someone to compete with.

PM me if you want to come up to Ames and train in the Weight Club gym a couple days some weekend or this summer. We’ll help try to straighten you out.

At 6’2" and two hundy, I bet you’re about as thick as a coat hanger, putting some thickness on will help you bench, as will getting fatter than holy hell, but I bet you don’t want that.