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View Full Version : Bench is the only lift that doesn't increase. Why?



Behemoth
04-11-2005, 05:26 PM
My bench has always been weak but I've never really cared because I would use other exercises. In the 3 years that I've lifted it has only increased from about 125-135for reps to about 190-200 for reps. I guess I had mediocre success the first year or so as it probably went from about 125 to 175 but since then it's been virutually stagnate.

I don't really see where my weak points are. At one point I quit benching and began using dumbells and became much fonder of them anyhow. I went from using 65's to 100's in about a year. But that's all the high my gym has so now I'm back at barbells.

I had hoped since I had increased my strength through the dumbells that my bench would have increased but it was virtually the same. Maybe 10 or 20 pounds stronger.

Most people are stronger with BB bench than DB bench which rightfully makes sense. But I'm sure I could put up 100x8 on DB's and I might JUST get 200x8 with the bar. Where I fail is at the bottom. My delts, tris and lats really aren't lacking either.

Perhaps it's an issue of form. I've read many aritcles on form and tried to do everything possible. I spread my feet about shoulders width. I keep my butt on the bench but will arch my lower back. I keep my upper back on the bench. I don't flare my elbows straight out, then again they're usually not tucked awfully tight. They're probably about 8 inches out from my lats. I grip on the inner most portion of grip on the bar which (guestimate) 2 1/2 feet wide. I drop the bar to my nipples and push straight up while exhaling.

I'm know something isn't right when every other lift will skyrocket and this one stays stagnate as all can be. Even other chest lifts will soar while this one sits there.

Any ideas?

Maki Riddington
04-11-2005, 05:56 PM
Sometimes it's the small things that make the biggest difference. It may not be your prime movers in this movement that are a problem. Have your tried assessing your external rotator strength and released your internal rotators? Alot of times people have weak external rotators and very strong internal rotators.

Your big muscles are only going to be as strong as your stabilizers in this movement and if you feel that you can not "shoulder" (pun intended) the load when you are benching maximally it may be due to weak rotator cuff muscles. Something to think about.

Behemoth
04-11-2005, 06:44 PM
Sometimes it's the small things that make the biggest difference. It may not be your prime movers in this movement that are a problem. Have your tried assessing your external rotator strength and released your internal rotators? Alot of times people have weak external rotators and very strong internal rotators.

Your big muscles are only going to be as strong as your stabilizers in this movement and if you feel that you can not "shoulder" (pun intended) the load when you are benching maximally it may be due to weak rotator cuff muscles. Something to think about.

A good thought. I'm not sure I'm hitting both external and internal rotators but I do cuban presses every chest day first thing. I've actually seen an increase in double since I started doing them about a year ago. I'm now using 25lb dumbells.

Maki Riddington
04-11-2005, 06:58 PM
The last thing you want to do is compromise the shoulder complex. Performing stability type movements first followed by a compound movement is a big no no. Simply because it raises the risk of injury as you are prefatiguing the muscles that act as a support system in this movement.

I was thinkng more along the lines of hitting the external rotators on another day or after a chest workout. Start with higher reps (15 plus) and work your way down as you establish a foundation.

jazer80
04-11-2005, 08:10 PM
The last thing you want to do is compromise the shoulder complex. Performing stability type movements first followed by a compound movement is a big no no. Simply because it raises the risk of injury as you are prefatiguing the muscles that act as a support system in this movement.

:withstupi

prolly already tried this, but have you experimented with all grips? you said 2'6'', but maybe you need something closer/farther.

also you may try hitting your chest lower than your nipples, i have more power right below them

do you ever work on speed, like a dynamic day or anything? i know speed/dynamic training has helped me learn how to accelerate weights better, which is important off the chest while benching. if i don't nail the explosion off my chest i can't get up anything

[[[----]]]
04-11-2005, 08:40 PM
very true maki. Man, i should re evaluate some of my workout now that i think about it.

PizDoff
04-11-2005, 09:43 PM
Talking about grips, how has your grip strength improved?
Forearm strength? Wrist curls? Grips?

jazer80
04-12-2005, 09:05 AM
why do you think grip strength is his problem? i'd seriously doubt that

Gutz981
04-12-2005, 09:16 AM
Dude if grip is the problem put 135 on and mess around to what feels right...and if you are having problems getting the bar up right off the chest...you might try "pauses" take the barbell and unrack it bring it down leave it on ur chest for a good 2 seconds then explode out I know they help me I usually have a problem right off the chest so I did those and got 235 yesterday...which took me a while...but those pauses help man...

Behemoth
04-12-2005, 02:42 PM
Maki - Thanks for the advice, I'll stick them at the end.

Jazer - I'm much weaker if I go much wider and I'm weaker but not all that appreciably when I go narrower (my 12" C.G. bench probably only trails my regular by 30lbs or so.

I have tried faster paced benching although not in a particular program. Just for maybe 2 or 3 weeks I dropped the weight where I could go much faster safely. I've never really wanted to change my workout to gear it towards strength all that much because my primary purpose for weightlifting is bodybuilding. However it's a concern now because I've run out of weight on dumbells and now must see improvement in bench if I want to keep growing.

Pizdoff - Grips good. It's increased like everything else (excluding BP).

Gutz - Perhaps I'll give that a try next week.

WBBIRL
04-12-2005, 02:56 PM
Im at a loss here.... I mean your doing a hare more then me at DB bench and yet yesterday I repped 225 11 times and it didnt really bother me. Ive yet to do these (mainly because i havent felt i need them yet) but you could try some super set and some negatives/forced reps.

A super set works like this ( youll most likely need 2 people to help ). Start with your max whatever it is... for coversations sake well say 230lbs... do that however many times you can and then drop to say 185 and rep that... then drop to like 150 and rep that and then drop to 135 and go till failure. Obvisiouly these weights will need adjustment because for one doing super sets weights for the most part can only be taken off... you might be able to add 5's or 10's but 25's will screw up your balance.

A negative is when you add about 35% of your max bench to your bench... say if you bench 100lbs max then a negative would be done at 135, you have a friend or two if need be and have them get the weight up for you and you let it down to your chest by yourself... getting the best intense part of the rep and really forcing your muscles to break down through extreme intensity.

Some people just dont gain very fast, some like myself, seem to gain on a very decent pace, and some just get huge overnight (not to many). But the important thing is to keep working

Big Bas
04-12-2005, 03:24 PM
could it be a metal issue? are you 100% there? I know sometimes when i bench, i dont go all out because Im afraid of getting pinned underneath the bar, but when i use DBs, i go as hard as possible

Behemoth
04-12-2005, 05:48 PM
But the important thing is to keep working

Yeah... I don't think thats the problem :)


A super set works like this ( youll most likely need 2 people to help ). Start with your max whatever it is... for coversations sake well say 230lbs... do that however many times you can and then drop to say 185 and rep that... then drop to like 150 and rep that and then drop to 135 and go till failure. Obvisiouly these weights will need adjustment because for one doing super sets weights for the most part can only be taken off... you might be able to add 5's or 10's but 25's will screw up your balance.

That'd be a dropset. A superset is pretty much the same thing but jumping immediately to a different exercise :)


Big Bas - This is a possibility. It could be that I always know my bench is going to suck that I physch myself out. But then again I work very, very close to failure and push reps thats might last a few seconds longer than are really safe. If it is mental is mental pre-set and not when I'm actually lifting it.

jazer80
04-12-2005, 05:52 PM
pre-set, do you mean right before the lift? if so, i always visualize myself hitting the weight and writing it down in my book before going for it. visualization is helpful.

if you never train speed/explosiveness, i'd bet you anything that after a couple weeks you'd break your 1RM, no question about it. you should try a westside program, i add weight to my PR's (squat/bench/dl) on a weekly basis. i've added 70lbs in a little over 2 months

Behemoth
04-12-2005, 06:55 PM
pre-set, do you mean right before the lift? if so, i always visualize myself hitting the weight and writing it down in my book before going for it. visualization is helpful.

if you never train speed/explosiveness, i'd bet you anything that after a couple weeks you'd break your 1RM, no question about it. you should try a westside program, i add weight to my PR's (squat/bench/dl) on a weekly basis. i've added 70lbs in a little over 2 months

Not that I have anything against westside but I'm really not concerned with overall strength. On top of that my lifting is quite sporatic due to my job and it's much easier to have a more typical workout than something laid out in stone. I do focus like mad and won't begin a set a unless I'm sure I'm ready. I don't know, maybe I just need some real hard concentration and a little more time to get going on it.

jazer80
04-12-2005, 07:32 PM
you could still just adapt a couple of the principles to get your bench going, specifically speed work. i know you are not concerned w/ strength alone, but you cared enough to start a thread. i bet if you incorporated a little powerlifting stuff into your routine you could break your plateau, and it definitely wouldn't hurt your gains to add some speed work for a couple weeks. my 2cents

KingJustin
04-12-2005, 07:40 PM
Behemouth, it seems like you've made some decent size gains in all the primary movers and that your main issue is sort of tied to the CNS. I think a great routine for you would be Kyle's (Fortified Iron's) Russian Bench Routine. It takes one month and I've done it twice: the first time I added 25 lbs and the second about 40. You might want to give that a shot.

If you don't do that, maybe some wide grips/pause benches/declines ?

pfc3rex
04-13-2005, 01:31 AM
grips, usually help alot of people. If that's not the case work on your lats, and delts.

Big Bas
04-13-2005, 12:21 PM
i sometimes use this "technique," and it has worked for me. If im stuck at a weight, Ill try to lift 10 lbs or so above my stuck weight (with a spotter) as my last set during one exercise. I wont put tooo much emphasis on ROM. So i may only end up doing half reps throughout the exercise. The next week, I go back down to the weight i originally wanted to hit, and i get it without much trouble. It's similar to negatives, but not quite as extreme. I think when ur mind believes it can lift a weight, you will be able to do it

Anthony
04-13-2005, 12:50 PM
http://www.elitefts.com/documents/determining_and_strengthening.htm

Behemoth
04-13-2005, 02:50 PM
Now you guys are talking :)


you could still just adapt a couple of the principles to get your bench going, specifically speed work. i know you are not concerned w/ strength alone, but you cared enough to start a thread. i bet if you incorporated a little powerlifting stuff into your routine you could break your plateau, and it definitely wouldn't hurt your gains to add some speed work for a couple weeks. my 2cents

I'll look more into this for sure, thanks.

Bizatch - What makes you think it's CNS?
Know where I could find some info on the russian bench routine? And what are grips? When you just hold a heavy weight up there?

Anythony - Thanks, that's a great link. Get's me thinking, perhaps it's my postieriors. I'm not really sure where they're at, they don't hinder my pulls at all but I also don't directly work them. I always figured between lat pulldowns/chins & a row they got enough.

Anthony
04-13-2005, 03:08 PM
Also, what exactly is the problem? No progress or slow progress? Maybe you just have long arms when compared to the rest of your body and makes it harder to progress. :)

Behemoth
04-13-2005, 07:03 PM
Also, what exactly is the problem? No progress or slow progress? Maybe you just have long arms when compared to the rest of your body and makes it harder to progress. :)

Virtually no progress at all. All lifts seem to increase well even other chest lifts but I'm just really stuck on BP. I don't think my arms are that long. But I am only 5'8" so just about anything is long compared to that.

bill
04-13-2005, 08:34 PM
If you know someone at the gym who knows what there doing and can also lift fairly heavy, get to know them. Lift with a partner and make sure you have a spotter so you can push yourself. Get a some type of workout and stick to it, say like, just for instance. 1st set 50%x12,2 65x8, 75x3, 80x2, and so on. don't use that just giving you a idea. Gain wt. if its not a conflict for you. Hope that helps

corraomonster
04-15-2005, 05:52 AM
do you have trouble early in the rep, or later, say halfway below racking height?

KingJustin
04-15-2005, 09:07 AM
Grips = Wide grips ... holding the bar out wide.

Here's the Russian bench routine. It's by far the most effective thing I've ever done for bench. Did it twice with great results both times.

http://www.fortifiediron.net/mambo/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=38&Itemid=63

I think it's CNS because you've put on size in all the areas. I think with a routine like this one you'll put on a lot of strength.

shansen008
04-15-2005, 12:42 PM
i sometimes use this "technique," and it has worked for me. If im stuck at a weight, Ill try to lift 10 lbs or so above my stuck weight (with a spotter) as my last set during one exercise. I wont put tooo much emphasis on ROM. So i may only end up doing half reps throughout the exercise. The next week, I go back down to the weight i originally wanted to hit, and i get it without much trouble. It's similar to negatives, but not quite as extreme. I think when ur mind believes it can lift a weight, you will be able to do it
:withstupi
Almost exactly what i do, if i start to plateau in strength gains i add a set at the end of the exercise...like a mini max in the 1-3 rep range. Shocks the CNS into adapting for the next weeks lifts.

Behemoth
04-15-2005, 03:10 PM
Corrao - It is early. Right off my chest.

Bizatch - Thanks for the link.

corraomonster
04-15-2005, 03:53 PM
if its right off the chest, that means u have weaker pecs, and bench more with tris... work on dumbell bench. thats what i did, and it sky rocketed my bench

Behemoth
04-15-2005, 08:16 PM
if its right off the chest, that means u have weaker pecs, and bench more with tris... work on dumbell bench. thats what i did, and it sky rocketed my bench

No offense but you should read the thread through. I DB bench 100's for a good 6-8 and BB bench 200x6 as of last workout. My gyms DB's go no higher than 100.

Thanks for suggesting it though. :)

corraomonster
04-15-2005, 09:33 PM
No offense but you should read the thread through. I DB bench 100's for a good 6-8 and BB bench 200x6 as of last workout. My gyms DB's go no higher than 100.

Thanks for suggesting it though. :)


lol oh sorry i missed that.. idk then thats reallly wierd.. its gotta be all those little muscles then... or maybe deltoids, but i doubt that

KingJustin
04-16-2005, 09:54 AM
lol oh sorry i missed that.. idk then thats reallly wierd.. its gotta be all those little muscles then... or maybe deltoids, but i doubt that

I'm sticking with the CNS. It seems he's strong in every muscle group. The little muscle groups shouldn't mean much.

Maki Riddington
04-16-2005, 11:46 AM
if its right off the chest, that means u have weaker pecs, and bench more with tris...

How so? Can you explain this a bit more indepth?

corraomonster
04-16-2005, 12:15 PM
How so? Can you explain this a bit more indepth?


what i was told by football coaches (which might not be too beleiveable) is that ur using almost all pecs for the first few inches or so, and then tri's and other muscles have a bigger factor after that

Sensei
04-16-2005, 01:50 PM
I can't believe no one has posted this yet. If this doesn't answer your question, I don't know what will:

"5 Reasons Your Bench Gets Stuck at the Bottom (and What to do About it)" by Dave Tate http://www.t-nation.com/findArticle.do;jsessionid=927199BF403D6BA3592C8990E3A13C27.ba08?article=180press

Behemoth
04-16-2005, 02:51 PM
I can't believe no one has posted this yet. If this doesn't answer your question, I don't know what will:

"5 Reasons Your Bench Gets Stuck at the Bottom (and What to do About it)" by Dave Tate http://www.t-nation.com/findArticle.do;jsessionid=927199BF403D6BA3592C8990E3A13C27.ba08?article=180press

Thanks man, that was a great read for me. I know at least one thing I do wrong, I don't pinch my shoulder blades together enough while spreading my lats. Man that's tricky.

Vapour Trails
04-17-2005, 10:06 PM
I have a weak bench and that article was very informative.

I'm guilty of pressing the bar too slowing and relaxing my lats. I think I'm goning to reduce the weight and do some speed work and practice keeping "tight".