T Nation

Why So Many Low Benches Relative to Squat and Deadlift?


Hey there everyone, I’m new to T-Nation (I love it and all of you guys already) and I was reading through a few old posts. A lot of people here and on bb.com will put their PR lifts for the big 3 in their bio-type thing below all their posts. I’ve been wondering for a while, why is it that some people have such low bench presses relative to their squat + dead PRs? I saw one a few minutes ago where the op had squatted 275x15, deadlifted 445x5, but his bench was only 195x5. That’s odd to me (or maybe I’m the odd one) because I maxed out after my last deload week and I got 285x1 for bench, 325x1 for squat, and 405x1 for deadlift. Obviously my numbers aren’t crazy, but I was wondering if anyone could explain this to me scientifically. I’m on a 5 day split right now with bench and squat 2x/week and deadlift 1x/week. Why is it that my deadlift is so much higher than my squat, and why is my bench so close to my squat? Why are some people able to deadlift 2x their bodyweight 5 times but barely bench their bodyweight 5 times? Does it really all come down to genetics, or am I missing something? Sorry for such a long post, but I figure most of you guys are smarter than I am. Thanks!

5/3/1, Extra Squat Day Instead of Shoulder Press

Scientific explanation: your squat sucks.

I’m just bugging you, but seriously, bench seems to take the longest to make progress. Long arms are an advantage for deadlift but a disadvantage for bench and vice versa. Squat is arguably the most technical lift of the three, so if your technique isn’t solid then you will be severely limited in how much weight you can lift. With bench and deadlift you can just push through with bad technique and still make the lift (unless you get injured, and that only works to a certain point) but with the squat there seems to be less room for error. My squat sucked for a long time, I had about a 350 bench and a 425 squat at one point. I have also been training bench with some degree of seriousness for longer than squat and deadlift.


Current PRs are

485/285/550 (gym)
457/265/529 (meet)

I have long arms. I compete at 198, am 5’9" and my armspan is 6’2". So that makes me good a pulling but bad for bench.

Other than that, I dunno why I’m so bad at bench.


I think it boils down to:

  • bench takes longer to grow for most people
  • what makes you good at DL will often carry over reasonably to squats but not to bench

There are lots of other factors, but I think those are the main ones.