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View Full Version : Opinions of switching my bench routine up



berfles
07-21-2009, 11:45 AM
Awhile ago I got stuck at 245lbs in my 5x5, so I switched to doing a 5x3 routine instead. I got up to 295 but I've yet to hit 300 for my 5x3. I seem to stall out at this number, though I did hurt my RC in my left shoulder so that may be this week. I'll give it one more shot next week, then I'll change it if I can't get a full 5x3. I had a week off not long ago and worked back up to 295lbs from 280lbs, thinking I'd blow by this time. Last week 290 wasn't bad at all, then I threw the two 35s on and it all went to hell.

So my question is, what should I try next to get my numbers moving again? Should I switch back to 5x5 and start at 250 and work my way up, or do something totally different? I seem to be lacking the endurance lately in benching, the first two sets aren't bad but after that I stall halfway up.

I also do heavy weighted dips with 110lbs for my triceps along with the benching, and the rest of my lifts are still fine.


I don't want to change my whole routine, just the bench portion.

-JM-
07-21-2009, 12:16 PM
I think you should leave flat bench the heck alone for a few weeks and work on some heavy variations. Floor presses, DBs, Incline..... just something to take your mind off it. Also, what assistance work do you do? Youre one stubborn sumbitch which is the reason you have progressed as far as you have and its a credit to you but you are torturing yourself over this 300lb bench. 5x5s and the like can really only take you so far.

You could sub any program/template for your bench only though and continue with the 5x5 for sq and dl.

GL man! You'll work it out.

Edit: youre shifting a lot of weight on sq and dl. They could be just too taxing at those loads in a 5x5. That could be killing your bench significantly.

Time to start packing 8k cals away each day.........kidding.

berfles
07-21-2009, 12:36 PM
I think you should leave flat bench the heck alone for a few weeks and work on some heavy variations. Floor presses, DBs, Incline..... just something to take your mind off it. Also, what assistance work do you do? Youre one stubborn sumbitch which is the reason you have progressed as far as you have and its a credit to you but you are torturing yourself over this 300lb bench. 5x5s and the like can really only take you so far.

Ahh, but this is a different 300lb bench issue :) Before I was pissed I couldn't max at 300lbs, now I'm sure I'm good for at least 320lbs. I just kind of wanted to be able to hit 300 in my 5x3 before I started to cut.



You could sub any program/template for your bench only though and continue with the 5x5 for sq and dl.

GL man! You'll work it out.

Edit: youre shifting a lot of weight on sq and dl. They could be just too taxing at those loads in a 5x5. That could be killing your bench significantly.

Time to start packing 8k cals away each day.........kidding.

Thanks. I'm actually not doing a 5x5 with deads at the moment, I'm doing what Tom outlined for me here. (http://www.wannabebig.com/forums/showpost.php?p=2143209&postcount=14) Tonight is my last week in that routine so after that I'll have to switch deads up as well, but no more 5x5s for them either.

I agree with squatting though, I was thinking of dropping those down to something else too because the volume is getting a bit much at these weights.

And 8k calories? Wash your mouth out with soap :D

Cards
07-21-2009, 01:12 PM
You’re making progress man; think about the size of your chest muscle compared to the rest of your body. It’s Just a slow progress. 3 months ago you were complaining that you couldn't hit 300 for a max and now you're saying you can hit 320. It’s a long haul dude.

I'm always checking to see if you have a journal and what not, but I know you don't. Louie Simmons had a great quote which went something along the lines of, the bench press doesn't stall, a muscle group does. Just asses what's weak on your bench and work on it. I'm sure with a bench of 320 you're more than capable of assessing what you need to work on.

Another thing, this is the bodybuilding section, if you really want advice post this in the powerlifting section. I'm sure if Chris Mason read this he'd tell you do try the 30 day bench program again if you've already done it. He mentioned that you can keep using it over and over, assuming there's a period of a few months rest inbetween.

berfles
07-21-2009, 01:29 PM
Youíre making progress man; think about the size of your chest muscle compared to the rest of your body. Itís Just a slow progress. 3 months ago you were complaining that you couldn't hit 300 for a max and now you're saying you can hit 320. Itís a long haul dude.

I know, I just like getting feedback before my short stall turns into a long one :) I can't stand feeling like my workouts are wasted time and effort so I need to get my thoughts out here or I go over them in my head non stop.


I'm always checking to see if you have a journal and what not, but I know you don't. Louie Simmons had a great quote which went something along the lines of, the bench press doesn't stall, a muscle group does. Just asses what's weak on your bench and work on it. I'm sure with a bench of 320 you're more than capable of assessing what you need to work on.

I'm always strong off the chest, I stall about halfway up and thought it was my triceps, but when I can strap 110lbs onto myself and do dips, it confused me.


Another thing, this is the bodybuilding section, if you really want advice post this in the powerlifting section. I'm sure if Chris Mason read this he'd tell you do try the 30 day bench program again if you've already done it. He mentioned that you can keep using it over and over, assuming there's a period of a few months rest inbetween.

True enough, I always forget about the powerlifting forum because I tend to just see the "Weight lifting" portion here since I subscribed to this forum in my UserCP.

I really don't want to change my whole routine though, so I don't want to do the 30 day bench one. My other lifts are still fine aside from needing their usual rep tweak, just wanted some other ideas for my bench.

I may just switch off from flat bench for a few weeks and do as Flynn said. After this coming Monday I'll see how I do (hopefully my damn shoulder is 100%, that probably has a lot to do with it) and come back to this thread and make my mind up.

Cards
07-21-2009, 01:46 PM
The dips thing is weird, I've strapped 145 on before and been able to crank out 2 dips, but I struggle putting up 275 on bench.

berfles
07-21-2009, 01:53 PM
Yep, I really thought my triceps were weak until I saw I could do BW+110x5x5 no problem. I don't know what else the stall at halfway could be. I use a hell of an arch now, leg drive, and squeeze the bar extremely hard. I read about trying to pull the bar apart but that's hard with a lot of weigh on, I guess it takes awhile to get used to.

I don't think it's my shoulders because they're strong, but I forget where lats and shoulders come into play with benching.

-JM-
07-21-2009, 02:05 PM
Just out of interest....what (briefly) is the outline of your routine? It might be easier to make suggestions that way. Sorry if you have posted it before?

Cards
07-21-2009, 02:10 PM
Do you do any variations of bench? Chains, bands? 2 board press? If you're strong off the chest but have trouble about half way up, try a 2 or 3 board press which targets the area where you stall? Weighted Chin-ups? I know lats help with the initial drive and stability and shoulders also help with stability.

It would be nice to get Travil Bell or someone in here to comment as well, toss him a PM or something.

Progress
07-21-2009, 02:13 PM
Three words: Ascending wave loading.

berfles
07-21-2009, 02:13 PM
Just out of interest....what (briefly) is the outline of your routine? It might be easier to make suggestions that way. Sorry if you have posted it before?

I think I posted a version of it here somewhere in one of my threads, but I'll type it up again when I get home.


Do you do any variations of bench? Chains, bands? 2 board press? If you're strong off the chest but have trouble about half way up, try a 2 or 3 board press which targets the area where you stall? Weighted Chin-ups? I know lats help with the initial drive and stability and shoulders also help with stability.

It would be nice to get Travil Bell or someone in here to comment as well, toss him a PM or something.

I was going to make boards but got busy helping with remodeling. I'll definitely make some soon and try that, totally slipped my mind again. I bet working with those for a few weeks would get me moving again.

I do weighted chins and pull-ups as well.

-JM-
07-21-2009, 02:17 PM
Now its moving towards what I was thinking. Periodization. I mentioned that the 5x5 linear progression can only get you so far and there are only so many times you can successfully deload and move further at those kind of loads.

Even WS4SB or something along those lines but you had mentioned about not wanting to alter the rest of your routine.

Off Road
07-21-2009, 02:33 PM
I'd set the pins at your stalling point and push from there.

rbtrout
07-21-2009, 03:57 PM
Don't forget that lats and shoulders play a big part in your bench pressing.
For my weak point - about 3" off the chest, I've done some 2/3 board presses. Pause on the board, explode up.
You really should post this in the PL section, you'll get some help from the big boys.

joey54
07-21-2009, 04:03 PM
Well, lets move it over there and see what they have to say.

Guys?

berfles
07-21-2009, 04:04 PM
Was just going to ask to have it moved :D

joey54
07-21-2009, 04:05 PM
I figured you were, so I just went ahead. These guys will help you out.

Notorious
07-21-2009, 05:12 PM
Didn't you start cutting recently? That could be it.

berfles
07-21-2009, 06:01 PM
No, I didn't start my cut yet, I wanted to get my numbers up to where they were prior to my week off before I started. They're to that point now, but I wanted to at least get to a 300lb 5x3 before cutting.

vdizenzo
07-21-2009, 06:43 PM
You either need to change exercises or your rep scheme. I recommend either going with Westside or 5/3/1.

barbell01
07-21-2009, 07:21 PM
You either need to change exercises or your rep scheme. I recommend either going with Westside or 5/3/1.

yes. what he said.

Reko
07-21-2009, 07:25 PM
You either need to change exercises or your rep scheme. I recommend either going with Westside or 5/3/1.


yes. what he said.

Yup.

berfles
07-21-2009, 07:26 PM
Alright, looks like I'll be researching those two over the next few days.

mikesbench
07-21-2009, 07:35 PM
Some form of conjugate training will help; you can't just bench all the time to bench more. You need some other variations thrown in, floor press, bands, chains, boards. Maybe go 3 weeks on a variation of bench, then try our 5x3 again at 300. No harm in throwing in some partial wok as a second exercise instead of your weighted dips too. Maybe 3 Board, ideally with chains or bands (board height will vary with arm length / sticking point). A video would help a ton too, it helps to see "how" you miss, along with where.

robchris
07-21-2009, 09:04 PM
I did Chris's 30 day 30 lbs. bench routine then went w/ the 5/3/1... I havent plateaued since!!!

Give it a shot. Good luck man!

Xellarz
07-22-2009, 12:48 AM
I'd suggest board presses if you want to add another exercise. But if you'd like to just change reps, why not change more than you have? Going from 5 reps to 3 reps isn't a big change... You could go up to 7 or 10 for a couple weeks and then back down. Or...you want to hit 300x3, 300x3, 300x3, 300x3, 300x3, right? How about you try to hit 300x3 and then just do 5 sets of whatever you get (assuming you can get it atleast for 1 set of 3). Then the next week add more weight. As long as you get ###x3 - you move up - even if you can only get it for 1 set. <---I like this a lot because you can put a lot more effort (mental effort especially) into that one first heavy, hard set.

berfles
07-23-2009, 10:29 AM
You either need to change exercises or your rep scheme. I recommend either going with Westside or 5/3/1.

I know of a few people who did the 5/3/1 program but I know nothing about it, I guess I'll try searching around here. Could I keep my workouts days the way they are now or do I have to follow the 3 day split? I'd rather just apply the principles to my bench and other lifts if I want, but keep my accessory lifts and lifting days.


I'd suggest board presses if you want to add another exercise. But if you'd like to just change reps, why not change more than you have? Going from 5 reps to 3 reps isn't a big change... You could go up to 7 or 10 for a couple weeks and then back down. Or...you want to hit 300x3, 300x3, 300x3, 300x3, 300x3, right? How about you try to hit 300x3 and then just do 5 sets of whatever you get (assuming you can get it atleast for 1 set of 3). Then the next week add more weight. As long as you get ###x3 - you move up - even if you can only get it for 1 set. <---I like this a lot because you can put a lot more effort (mental effort especially) into that one first heavy, hard set.

I'm going to get my ass to the hardware store this weekend and get some lumber for boards. I may try using them for a week or two to see if that gets me moving again, if not, I may try what you're suggesting.

If that doesn't work, 5/3/1 it is. Something like this anyway.

berfles
07-27-2009, 07:18 AM
New plan is to start 5/3/1 next week. This week I'm going to diddle around with board presses, do some light-ish deadlifts, attempt shoulder presses (shoulder still iffy), work up to some more heavy squats, and then figure out my 5/3/1 template over the weekend.

Unless it would be better for me to test my max squat and bench this week, rather than underestimating it too far for the program. I have a good idea what my maxes are but if anything, I'm underestimating them.

joey54
07-27-2009, 03:52 PM
New plan is to start 5/3/1 next week. This week I'm going to diddle around with board presses, do some light-ish deadlifts, attempt shoulder presses (shoulder still iffy), work up to some more heavy squats, and then figure out my 5/3/1 template over the weekend.

Unless it would be better for me to test my max squat and bench this week, rather than underestimating it too far for the program. I have a good idea what my maxes are but if anything, I'm underestimating them.

Definitely underestimate your maxes.

berfles
07-27-2009, 04:18 PM
Definitely underestimate your maxes.

Yeah, I know you're supposed to do them at 90%, but I mean in terms of me not even knowing my real maxes. I have a pretty good idea of them, but if anything, I'd be underestimating them not overestimating them.

I don't think I want to try maxing tonight in case my shoulder isn't 100%, but then I shouldn't even do board presses either. I guess I'll see how I feel, but I'll probably try the board presses tonight.

What about the rest of the week, should I try maxing 100% on squats or just use the method he says in the book to calculate based on how many reps I've done with whatever weight?

mchicia1
07-27-2009, 04:34 PM
"eat more...squat...deadlift"

JK

The routines that have really worked for me for getting my bench past a plateau, in order of effectiveness:

1) Texas Method
2) 30 pounds in 30 days
3) Madcow

I have been on the texas method about a month and I blasted right through my bench plateau. Volume monday/intensity friday. I think with the weight you are pushing, it is going to be tough to hit 5 sets of 3 and go up in weight consistently. I would alternate singles and doubles on the friday of every week. My max before texas method was about 275...well I just did 275x2 this past friday and it felt light.

1) Start with a single
2) Following friday, do a double of the same weight
3) Up the single 5 pounds
4) Rinse repeat.

You still get your volume in on the monday workout which is a 5x5, thats why I like it.

berfles
07-27-2009, 05:33 PM
I'll keep those in mind for later, but I'm going to give 5/3/1 a try.

I'm going to try maxing tonight on bench and possibly doing a couple sets of board presses after. The rest of the week I'm ok, it's just tonight that I'm not sure what I should do. Next week is 5/3/1.

joey54
07-27-2009, 07:10 PM
Yeah, I know you're supposed to do them at 90%, but I mean in terms of me not even knowing my real maxes. I have a pretty good idea of them, but if anything, I'd be underestimating them not overestimating them.

I don't think I want to try maxing tonight in case my shoulder isn't 100%, but then I shouldn't even do board presses either. I guess I'll see how I feel, but I'll probably try the board presses tonight.

What about the rest of the week, should I try maxing 100% on squats or just use the method he says in the book to calculate based on how many reps I've done with whatever weight?

If I were going to use the 5/3/1 I would use the method to calculate, and maybe even go below that. If you feel up to maxing, it won't hurt you, but you should be fine either way.

berfles
07-27-2009, 07:20 PM
I actually did max tonight, and it was just what I needed. Big confidence boost after having so much trouble with benching 300lbs once, I started off with 310lbs and it flew up. I could have done 2 or 3 reps with it. Then I also got 320x1 but grazed the hook on the way up so it was a grinder at the top. I was going to go for 325 but I figured I'd end on a positive note before in case I missed, then I'd be pissed again.

There's no doubt in my mind that I have 325 in me, if I go from 300 to 325 I'm sure I'll get it no problem. For 5/3/1 though I'll use 320 as my max.

I guess after obsessing so much, it isn't that bad at all. I benched 285 at 185lbs and now I can get 325 at 225lbs, so at least I maintained my BW+100 bench. That in itself makes me pretty psyched.

sayagain
07-27-2009, 07:22 PM
Don't forget to base your numbers off of 90% of your max. I think that is probably the most important part. Otherwise you will struggle and stall on the 5/3/1 rather quickly.

jbrin0tk
07-27-2009, 07:34 PM
You seem to be on the right track, man, but like everyone else has said, don't worry if your max is a bit underestimated. I underestimated mine a decent bit and the program has worked really well for me, with the exception of my squat. Good luck, man.

mchicia1
07-27-2009, 08:21 PM
FYI...you are a beast...is that you in the pic? Are you close to Philly? Maybe you can give me some tips on my bench LOL. Going for 280 x 2 this friday.

joey54
07-28-2009, 05:22 AM
Use 305 or even 295 as your bench max to start the program. Think long term.

berfles
07-28-2009, 09:08 AM
FYI...you are a beast...is that you in the pic? Are you close to Philly? Maybe you can give me some tips on my bench LOL. Going for 280 x 2 this friday.

Yeah that's me in my avatar. I'm about 2 hours away from Philly.


Use 305 or even 295 as your bench max to start the program. Think long term.

Well 90% of 320 is 288, so I was thinking of going with a max of 290 for it. I'm going to finish the book tonight for sure since I have off tomorrow, and from there I'll iron out the details and weights of the program.

joey54
07-28-2009, 04:09 PM
Good plan.

berfles
07-28-2009, 11:54 PM
Now that that's out of the way, should I wait until I get established and moving some higher weights in the 5/3/1 before I start my cut? It seems like if I start now while the weights are lighter than I'm used to, I'll lose more muscle. I am really getting anxious to cut, regardless of what season it is.