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View Full Version : Westside and non-equipped benching



EdgarMex
03-02-2005, 11:18 AM
It's ironic. Yesterday I was browsing the bodybuilding forum and couldn't help to smile when I saw one benching post after another, and now I come here to ask about the bench.

Anyway, I've been lifting for three years and I started doing Westside about 12 weeks ago. I've been cutting since mid September (with at 3-week break in December). My bench routine is as follows:

ME exercise work up to a 1RM (so far I've done 1-3 boards, CGBP and maxed flat bench, chave every 3 workouts)
Skulls 3-4 sets of 12
Horizontal row 4-5 sets of 10 (seated cable row, t-bar row, BB row)
Rear delts 3 sets of 15

Speed bench 9 sets of 3 (3 different grips)
Incline CGBP 4 sets of 8
Chins 30 reps (done in as many sets as needed, usually 5)
Rear delts 3 sets of 8


8 weeks ago I maxed on the flat bench. I got 205, but failed at the bottom with 215. The progression was:
45x15
65x12
85x8
105x5
125x3
145x3
165x3
185x1
205x1
215x miss

I figured part of the problem was my lats, so I increased the number of sets of lat work from 6 to 8-10 sets per week. I also figured that I had used too many warmup sets

Today I maxed again. And again I got stappled with 215... twice. This time I used less sets than 8 weeks ago:

45x10
75x8
105x6
135x3
155x2
175x1
195x1
215x miss
215x miss


Since I've had some good progress on my deadlift and squat, even if cutting, I was expecting some sort of progress on my bench too, but it seems there has been none. The only two things that come to mind as the problem are form and lack of lat strength. My form may not be perfect, but it has improved a lot since I started doing Westside. Since Westside seems to focus heavily on upper part of the bench ROM (tris and delts), how can my routine be tweaked to improve the bottom of my bench? Should I be doing even more back work? Or the only thing to do is to continue to work on form and be patient and wait to get better back development?

I'm not desperate about getting my bench up (I'm not planning on competing or have anything to prove to anybody but me), but the lack or progress in 8 weeks has me kinda puzzled.

rpffly
03-02-2005, 12:02 PM
Is there a reason you didn't attempt 210 instead of 215?

EdgarMex
03-02-2005, 12:07 PM
No reason, just thought that I could get 215. Right after I finished my workout I asked myself the same thing "why didn't I go for 210 instead of 215?"

rpffly
03-02-2005, 12:13 PM
Well I think you have at least something to work with then. Did your other max presses increase (CGBP, board presses)?

EdgarMex
03-02-2005, 12:16 PM
Yes, all of them went up, usually about 10 lbs between the first and the last workouts

rpffly
03-02-2005, 12:19 PM
Nice.

It just sounds like you were overly ambitious. I'd be curious to see what the more experienced lifters think though.

EdgarMex
03-02-2005, 12:21 PM
Yeah, that could be what the problem was. I'll try 210 next week and see how it goes

Beebs
03-02-2005, 12:23 PM
Maybe throw dumbell bench or paused bench in either as your ME exercise every now and then or as assistance work. Plus sometimes it just isn't there, you will definatly get it in time though.

EdgarMex
03-02-2005, 12:25 PM
Paused bench sounds like a good idea. How long should the pause be?

Beebs
03-02-2005, 12:26 PM
Not particularly long, maybe a second or so.

EdgarMex
03-02-2005, 12:27 PM
cool, thanks for the advice

Isaac Wilkins
03-02-2005, 01:57 PM
West Side protocol works on having more warm-up sets. That's how you get your reps.

Anyway, to focus on your question: West Side stuff is mostly designed for shirted benchers. As you noticed, that's why they do so much lockout and tri stuff. Those who don't use a shirt generally need more full ROM and chest work. Use more low boards (2 and 3 boards, staying away from 4 and 5's), close-grips, reverse-grip benches, and reverse-band benches (if you use bands).

I like doing DB benching as an assistance exercise. Delt work is important, too.

Speed is very important for a raw bencher. You'll get stuck off the chest, and that's where speed comes into play. Be focused in your speed work. You want fast, perfect reps.

Learn to use leg drive and really keep your traps screwed into the bench.

By the way, how big are you? This is entirely constructive criticism: If you're struggling with like 210 for a single then most of the West Side technique isn't the issue. It's that you're simply not big or strong enough. Focus on continuously pushing up your assistance work.

EdgarMex
03-02-2005, 02:25 PM
Thanks for the extensive reply, Borris, this is exactly what I was looking for. I'm far from big, currently I'm 166 @ 12-15% BF, I'm this "light" because I've been working more on getting rid of the extra flab than on getting big, but I'm about to start bulking.

My main focus so far have been learning to use leg drive and keeping my traps and back tight. Speed is something I have to hammer real hard, as I don't think I'm explosive enough. I don't use bands, and with the set up I have at home, I'm not sure if I could do reverse bands.

I will focus on the low boards and close grips and add some DB work as assistance. And, of course, keep hittin my lats hard.

I was thinking of getting some chains for speed work, mostly just to add some variety. Do you think I could benefit from that or should I wait a bit more?

Thanks again for the helpful info.

Paul Stagg
03-02-2005, 02:27 PM
What weight are you using for speed work?

Are you really fast?

You are learning what works and what doesn't for you - If the ME work is going up, you are getting stronger - you just have to keep figuring out what's weak.

EdgarMex
03-02-2005, 02:31 PM
I'm using 125 lbs for speed work, roughly 60% of my max. Usually the slower part is the bottom of the rep, once I go past the first third of the distance it goes faster.

Isaac Wilkins
03-02-2005, 02:32 PM
What Paul said.

I wouldn't bother with chains yet. Spend a few months really learning how to do speed work and make it fast. Then start messing with it by adding chains, bands, or weight releasers if you'd like.

EdgarMex
03-02-2005, 02:36 PM
Chains will wait then. How can I tell if I'm going fast enough? Also, since I don't use a shirt, should I do all speed sets with my regular bench grip or keep doing three different grips, as recommended by Dave Tate?

Isaac Wilkins
03-02-2005, 02:45 PM
You know, I never really found much of a difference.

Some people like the three grips, some like one grip.

debussy
03-02-2005, 02:48 PM
Hey Edgarmex, I've been following your journal for a while, and I believe your lats are strong enough. Hell, your lats are stronger than mine. I believe you are strong enough to bench 215. All your assistance lifts and ME exercises are looking very strong.

Anyway, do you feel that you are activating your lats when you bench? When I bench I can usually feel a nice lat pump afterwards. One thing with the speed benching.... if you lower the bar as fast as possible, in my experience it takes out a lot of lat activation. I've been trying to lower the bar a little slower and then blast up.

Another thing, I agree with Borris on the dumb bell work. I've been thinking about doing some as well. I've been stuck at this crappy 255 bench for a while now.

Last question, do you tuck your elbows in hard when you bench? Thats one thing I really have to pay attention to. And when I hit my usual sticking point I flare my elbows hard and the weight usually flies up smoothly.

EdgarMex
03-02-2005, 04:27 PM
You know, I never really found much of a difference.

Some people like the three grips, some like one grip.

I've tried both, but close grip feels a bit strange. I'll go back to just regular grip and see how that works.


Hey Edgarmex, I've been following your journal for a while, and I believe your lats are strong enough. Hell, your lats are stronger than mine. I believe you are strong enough to bench 215. All your assistance lifts and ME exercises are looking very strong.

Thanks for your comments, debussy. I've always seen my back as a weakness and it feels like I don't work it enough.


Anyway, do you feel that you are activating your lats when you bench? When I bench I can usually feel a nice lat pump afterwards. One thing with the speed benching.... if you lower the bar as fast as possible, in my experience it takes out a lot of lat activation. I've been trying to lower the bar a little slower and then blast up.

Yes, I try to activate my lats as much as possible, although I don't feel much of a pump on them after benching. The way I set up, first I shrug my traps, pinch the shoulder blades and get a bit of an arch on my back, then I grip the bar and try to flare the lats as much as I can, and then proceed to unrack the bar.


Another thing, I agree with Borris on the dumb bell work. I've been thinking about doing some as well. I've been stuck at this crappy 255 bench for a while now.

I've never like DB work much, but I'll add some high rep benching after the ME exercise instead of skulls, it'll give my elbows some rest too.


Last question, do you tuck your elbows in hard when you bench? Thats one thing I really have to pay attention to. And when I hit my usual sticking point I flare my elbows hard and the weight usually flies up smoothly.

Yes, I tuck the elbows as much as possible, but I've never tried flaring them on the way up. I'll have to give that a try too. Thanks for your comments and suggestions.

Darracq
03-08-2005, 07:17 AM
You need more work off your chest, when i did Ws i got nothing on my flat bench either, but my board work got stronger, when i started working off my chest it took off. Also get some mini bands for your speed work. Have you tried benching 2 times a week? I do a comp grip one day and then narrow grip board work 2-3 days later and my bench has went though the roof. I also use bands on every thing.