View Full Version : breaking a bench plateau?

08-01-2005, 03:46 PM
how does one go about this? for like 4 months ive been within 5 lbs of the same weight on bench. my dead is pretty messed up too but it doesnt seem as bad (hasnt been stuck as long, even though its lower than it was)

really, im beggining to think that ill NEVER come out of this plateau, ive changed a lot of things since it first became a problem and im still coming up with ideas.

my most recent idea was to supplement partial rom presses. yes, i have trouble off my chest because im benching raw, but floor presses for example allow me to move a bunch more weight. if i want my CNS recruitment to go up could these help? it seems that theres more too partial presses than just getting a better lockout.

also, ive thought about taking a more radical approach and not just supplementing in this type of work, but literally QUITTING bb flat bench for like a month (id be doing db flat bench still as well as incline pressing and of course partial ROM type presses)

thoughts? (btw, if anyone has a program that is supposed to be good for busting a bench plateau, please tell me about it)

08-01-2005, 03:49 PM
I'm about in the same boat as you buddy I've heard some sick ass heavy negitives will help break the dam...Which is what I am about to start trying I'll let ya know if I get any results

08-01-2005, 04:00 PM
I don't know where your bench is now, but not doing BP at all and then expecting it to go up it is a really, really bad plan unless you are a beginner.

You haven't detailed what you've been doing, so it's tough to give options.

Here's one of my favorite Dave Tate articles on getting stuck at the bottom of your bench press:

08-01-2005, 04:40 PM
Jack...feel your pain and been there. A couple things I might suggest: negatives. Assuming you have a workout parther or spotter of course, but these have helped me break plateaus in the past. They just take the intensity up a notch.

Also, I don't know how much rest you're allowing between sessions but something that has worked for me is: bombing my chest as hard/intense as hell...(lotsa sets / negatives on every set) then allowing at least a week (maybe a week + a day or two) before hitting it again to ensure full recovery.

08-01-2005, 08:05 PM
Just eat more. also working with dumbells and then switching back to barbell can help a great deal.

08-01-2005, 08:22 PM
Just eat more. also working with dumbells and then switching back to barbell can help a great deal.

im trying to get a higher strength/weight ratio, so eating more works against my goals. im cutting to drop down to hopefully less than 10% bf and then ill see where i stand in relation to weight classes and see how im coming along competetivley speaking then bulk/get stronger as needed.

@ sensei, just over 3 months into training i had reached 200 lbs max on bench. im basically still there (it went up to 205 but i think it may have fallen again) roughly 4 months later. so in a way, i AM a begginner since ive got nearly the same total as my noob self. so as i see it, if its reccomendable for someone with just 3 months expierience, its reccomendable to me.

08-01-2005, 08:52 PM
question, any of you ever tried the russian bench style routines?

im thinking about trying it. of course with it i cant really do it with all 3 powerlifts at once... so it looks like squat has got to go :D. i figure that my dead will do more for my squat than vice versa so if i try this routine would i be right to pick those 2?

do you think this will increase my bench and dead? because both are really dug into their plateaus and i start to think that if i put just 5% on my bench i might break through and then see nice results with something like westside or even my current routine.


08-02-2005, 12:08 AM
hrm, i got stuck on my bench for awhile, but i managed to break through. What I did was strip sets (i think thats what their called). Anyways, do a warm-up set or two, and then do your 1 rep max. Then remove 5 pounds and do as many reps as you can. Keep doing that for 10-20 sets, and if your not feeling tired, go back up, adding 5 pounds each set. When you wake up the next morning, you'll feel like someone put a vice grip on your chest, if you've never done them before.

08-02-2005, 12:15 AM
Floor presses are a good exercise. But you're probably wrong if you think you'll be handling more weight than your regular bench press. Most normal people floor press less than they bench press.

Don't even think about doing negatives. They are not only a waste of time, but they are also dangerous. You're better off working close grip 2 ro 3 board presses.

I would not switch to dumbbell benching and abandon barbell benching for a while. But, it would be a good idea to supplement your bench workouts with dumbbell benching.

I would not do what nongan told you to do for more than one workout. I guess it'd be ok for one workout to mix things up though.

If you're looking for a Russian style routine, hit up Kyle's Russian bench routine: http://www.fortifiediron.net/mambo/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=38&Itemid=63

I'm on the last week of the routine and I feel a lot stronger. If you can only do either squat or deadlift, I'd recommend you squat instead of deadlift. I've never heard of the deadlift improving the squat, but I know for a fact that the squat will improve your deadlift.

Also, check out this great article about raw benching by Jim Wendler:

08-02-2005, 01:31 AM
why not just take a break. My bench stopped and slowly went down. I took a week off from lifting and just took it easy and BAM Hit 280x5 today. Take a break, **** take 2 weeks off. Also take a look at ur calorie intake. Those 2 things make a big difference in everything

Miguel Zambia
08-02-2005, 03:19 AM
I think taking occasional, periodic breaks from benching helps a lot, as long as the benching times are hardcore.

I think the biggest keys for benching is periodizing, but mostly concentrating on the 5 reps or less range. When I first finally started moving out of my pathetic 250 max years ago, I did it mostly by doing pyramids (10-8-6-4-2-1) with RM at each set. I sure wouldn't do this now, but I think staying heavy, at around 4 reps, with periodic testing of max singles or doubles (singles are better), is a good way to go. (But you should also periodize with higher reps, e.g. 10 reps for ~3-4 weeks.)

Also, my all-time favorite bench assist exercise are Close-Grip Bench Presses. Grab the bar near the very middle of the bar. I go as close as, when my thumbs are extended, each thumb touches the other hand (about 3" close). Or I'll go 2 thumb lengths apart (outside of hand touches knurl on bar); or about 3-4 thumbs apart (inside of hand touches knurl). These can get very heavy; I happen to be able to do a rather heavy closegrip relative to my main bench, from what I can tell compared to other powerlifters. Do the same sorts of rep ranges as on main bench. 5's, 4's, doubles, singles, plus the occasional 10's or 7's.

Another great assistance is Isometric Rack BP's. Get inside a power rack; get a bar underneath the spot pins; the bar has NO weight on it; and push UP against the underside of the pins as hard as you can, for about 5+ seconds. Repeat for about 5-6 reps, about 2-3 sets. Also, adjust the rack pins, so that one range, you push just above the chest; the next range, an inch or 2 higher; and so on, until you are pushing near lock-out height. These are terrific.

08-02-2005, 06:46 AM

Can you tell us a little about what kind of training you have tried. It makes it easier for everyone.

08-02-2005, 07:28 AM

Can you tell us a little about what kind of training you have tried. It makes it easier for everyone.

ok, when i first started lifting i lifted everyday and it was by bodyparts. it wasnt quite overtraining but the volume was probably too high. well i worked sets pyramidding to higher weights and lower reps finishing with a set of 4. i was benching twice a week, military pressing twice a week, squatting and dling once each, rows, and doing powercleans too. those were the basic motions and i did do other lifts but not necessarily every workout. well this worked fine for a while until i found out that i wasnt lifting in an optimal way by doing this. i changed some things around and i actually made it more similar to westside. i had a heavy push day and a speed push day, i had a heavy pull day, i had dls and squats on seperate days and i had a speed day for dl/squat. thats 6 days a week. well it was when i switched to this crap that my lifts started to plateau, i immediatley quit making decent gains and then just ran out of steam altogther. in an effort to break this i quit pyramidding heavy days and changed the rep scheme to something more optimal... still no. by this time im probably 4 -5 months in, my gains pretty much left with the end of my first routine (with the exception of my dl which went up nicely until i quit pyramidding). so this chapter of my routine closed...

i moved onto a full body routine with a heavy day and a medium day each week. i worked the same motions each workout for 2 sets each (heavy day was sets of 3, medium was 6's). i did dls, bench press, pull downs (pull ups on heavy day), squats, mil presses, and rows (i had curls in there for a while). this routine i basically did for the duration of the summer until a week ago. i quit because nothing went up, my dead actually did get back to where it used to be by the rep range, but the 'predicted' max is NOT my max. (i attribute the skew to me resetting slightly every couple reps). so that routine did nothing, my bench hit 205 a week in and never went up, it might have gone down in fact.

ok, so a week ago i started a new routine like this upper body push, lower body pull, off, off upper body pull, lower body push, off, repeat. check my sig, ive just been on it a week.

granted ive never actually full up tried something like westside but i would think that i wouldnt plateau that bad with any kind of crappy routine especially when my routines have probably gotten BETTER with time (yet my gains quit when i ditched the crappy one).

the funny thing is, im not willing to go back to my original routine, thats no way to train.

08-02-2005, 09:43 AM
For DL, try including rack squats using the same stance as you use for deadlift. Also incorporate rack pulls (lockouts) if you don't already. Set the pins about 2 inches above your knees and pull to lockout. You should be able to do about 100lbs more than you dead. It will improve your grip strength, as well.

Good luck.

08-02-2005, 11:41 AM
Whoever said not to do negatives, is a goof. Everytime my bench has gone up has been when I've done bench one day and negatives another. This month my bench has gone from 225x1, to 225x4 in just over 3 weeks, Suprise, suprise, Negatives were on thursday, Bench was on monday.

08-02-2005, 12:02 PM
I see no point in doing big negatives. I took my bench from 255x4 to 280x5 in 5 weeks. But i been there before so muscle memory is great. If I can remember correctly I read something on a test with negatives and only 30% noticed more strength, or size than the others. Ill do em once in a blue moon when Im bored, other than that, I have no need for them. My negatives come from lowering the bar to my chest, in a controlled but steady pace

08-02-2005, 12:11 PM
I think heavy(>1RM) negatives can be very useful, but in moderation.

08-02-2005, 12:59 PM
Just work on getting stronger with 4-6 reps and test something heavier every 3-4 weeks. Work the shoulders, the lockout, and the lats.

People try to make this stuff too complicated too early.

08-02-2005, 01:32 PM
My advice would be to eat more. More muscle = more strength.

Pretty simple if you ask me.

08-02-2005, 07:14 PM
Just work on getting stronger with 4-6 reps and test something heavier every 3-4 weeks. Work the shoulders, the lockout, and the lats.

People try to make this stuff too complicated too early.

You're right. Most of this stuff isn't rocket science.

08-03-2005, 05:49 AM
Just work on getting stronger with 4-6 reps and test something heavier every 3-4 weeks. Work the shoulders, the lockout, and the lats.

People try to make this stuff too complicated too early.


It was tough to follow your routine, but bench at least once and sometimes twice a week. Don't train more than 4x/week total. Follow PowerMan DL's advice.