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Thread: Which of these should I try to get over my bench plateau?

  1. #1
    Senior Member berfles's Avatar
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    Which of these should I try to get over my bench plateau?

    I was searching around last night after getting pissed off that I'm still stuck at benching 225 in my 5x5. I even took a week off thinking I was burned out and I dropped 10lbs and worked my way back up to 225 but I still only got 5-5-5-4-3 in my workout. I'll give it one more week before I try the following:

    -5-4-3-2-1 sets, then try to get one more rep next session and so on, leading up to a full 5x5

    -Skip 225 and throw 230 on and try a 5x5 with that for a few weeks

    -Micro plates so each week is only a few pounds more regardless if I finish a full 5x5 or not

    I got stuck at 205 for weeks last time, I don't really remember how I got through it and had so much ease getting up to where I am now, but I remember trying floor and pin presses and having them not really work that well for getting by the wall. Maybe I just need to relax and give it some time, but I really thought I'd be closer this time. I mean 220 last week was relatively easy in my 5x5, and I put two 45s on each side and it sucks, it makes me think my weights aren't accurate and maybe my 45s weigh more than that.

    And before you tell me to eat more, I'm actually gaining some weight currently, up to an all time high of 174lbs. I'm also currently taking creatine which seemed to help me get by the last time, maybe it's time for a break from it?
    22 - 5'10@236lbs!
    Bench - 325 (old)
    Squat - 455x2 (old)
    Deadlift - 500(old)

    Total: 1280lbs 100% raw




    The key to my exercise program is this one simple truth: I hate my body.

  2. #2
    SchModerator ZenMonkey's Avatar
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    OK, slow down. What's your entire split? Where is your sticking point?

    Couple of Options:

    Revise your routine to specialize
    Try Negatives
    Incorporate DE Bench day
    Sarvamangalam!

  3. #3
    Senior Member berfles's Avatar
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    I'll have to look into what DE bench day entails... I know it means dynamic effort but aside from that I don't really know.

    My split is probably one that everyone here would say sucks, but I've seen great changes from it in size and strength. I basically work out 5 days a week, focusing on chest-mon/back-tues/shoulders-wed/legs-thurs/more triceps-fri. I stick to compounds like flat bench, shoulder press, deadlifts, squats, and dips while throwing some things like flyes and dumbbell work in too.

    I've tried a chest/tris/shoulders, back/bis, legs/abs routine before and never really got anywhere with them, though it was awhile ago. My other lifts are still going up fine, it's just my bench that is stuck again. It sticks about halfway up which means my triceps are holding me back I guess. The weight comes off my chest rather easily and from there it slows down by my 4th and 5th rep.
    22 - 5'10@236lbs!
    Bench - 325 (old)
    Squat - 455x2 (old)
    Deadlift - 500(old)

    Total: 1280lbs 100% raw




    The key to my exercise program is this one simple truth: I hate my body.

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    Edit: Yes, your routine is the problem.
    Last edited by Kastro; 08-12-2008 at 03:07 PM.

  5. #5
    SchModerator ZenMonkey's Avatar
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    your EXACT split please
    Sarvamangalam!

  6. #6
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    I had the same problem you had...stuck at 225...

    I took 3 months off and only did dumbbell presses while increasing my squats/deadlifts by a significant amount of weight. When I started doing bench again, I was 10 pounds heavier and 225 5x5 is pretty damn easy now.

    I also mix in a 2 set bench day on thursday to get my nervous system used to heavier weights. Ill do the 5x5 on a monday...then two heavy, low rep sets on thursday. Won't hurt you to try the same thing.

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    dumbbells might help, i also do a split similar to yours

  8. #8
    Senior Member berfles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZenMonkey View Post
    your EXACT split please
    This is the base of my routine, the things I do every time. Depending on how I feel I add other exercises in too which range from more compounds to more isolated things. They change all the time though.

    Monday - Chest

    * Flat bench press - 5 sets, 5 reps
    * Weight dips
    * Dumbbell flyes - 3-5 sets, 8-10 reps


    Tuesday - Back

    * Deadlifts - 5 sets, 5 reps
    * Pull-ups - 3-5 sets, 8-10 reps (wide, narrow, or parallel grip)
    * One arm rows


    Wednesday - Shoulders

    * Seated shoulder press - 5 sets, 5 reps
    * Side lateral raises supersetted with front lateral raises - 3 sets, 10 reps


    Thursday - Legs

    * Squats - 5 sets, 5 reps

    Friday - Arms?

    * CG bench
    * Lying dumbbell extensions
    * Behind the neck DB extensions
    * Dips

    As I said, I know everyone here will say it sucks and that I shouldn't have been doing this, but I can't argue with my progress pictures nor my strength progress. It may be time to change up now, but for the last 5-6 months this routine has done more for me than anything I've tried, so don't reply and say I'm a fool for doing it.


    Quote Originally Posted by mchicia1 View Post
    I had the same problem you had...stuck at 225...

    I took 3 months off and only did dumbbell presses while increasing my squats/deadlifts by a significant amount of weight. When I started doing bench again, I was 10 pounds heavier and 225 5x5 is pretty damn easy now.

    I also mix in a 2 set bench day on thursday to get my nervous system used to heavier weights. Ill do the 5x5 on a monday...then two heavy, low rep sets on thursday. Won't hurt you to try the same thing.
    I was thinking of trying DB bench for awhile too, I've never done them in my life.
    22 - 5'10@236lbs!
    Bench - 325 (old)
    Squat - 455x2 (old)
    Deadlift - 500(old)

    Total: 1280lbs 100% raw




    The key to my exercise program is this one simple truth: I hate my body.

  9. #9
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    ya i would definetely try dumbbells, and that split doesnt look too good.

  10. #10
    Senior Member berfles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frank View Post
    ya i would definetely try dumbbells, and that split doesnt look too good.
    Like I said, I've tried others and none have added more mass or strength than this. It's all about what works for you, and I don't care what people think of the split. I'm open to new ones, but to say this one wasn't very good just doesn't mean anything to me. I could see if this post was about me not gaining on my lifts in months, but I've added over 50lbs to my bench and even more to my deads and squats with this routine so it obviously wasn't that bad.
    Last edited by berfles; 08-12-2008 at 08:33 PM.
    22 - 5'10@236lbs!
    Bench - 325 (old)
    Squat - 455x2 (old)
    Deadlift - 500(old)

    Total: 1280lbs 100% raw




    The key to my exercise program is this one simple truth: I hate my body.

  11. #11
    SchModerator ZenMonkey's Avatar
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    Well I think it is time to see if we can jumpstart the linear periodization power back into this split. How about we take it down to four days and you make a list of all of the movements you must have and simply want. Then we can adapt it to chest specialization and get you going on a split that is most efficient for you. PM me if you like. Here's a start of options that I think are worth considering:

    Horizontal Pushing & Pulling
    Vertical Pushing & Pulling
    Squat
    Deadlift
    Quad Dominant Movement
    Ham Dominant Movement
    Unilateral Hip movement
    tricep accessory
    snatch
    snatch variation
    CnJ
    CnJ variation
    Ab work
    ME, DE Bench
    ME, DE Squat
    ME, DE DL
    Last edited by ZenMonkey; 08-13-2008 at 11:53 AM.
    Sarvamangalam!

  12. #12
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    sleep more and put another 5 lbs on it, works for me.

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    Take longer rests in between sets. If you can get 5 reps for 3 sets, there is no reason you shouldn't be able to get 5 sets. Take up to 10 minute rests if you have to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by berfles View Post
    It's all about what works for you, and I don't care what people think of the split. I'm open to new ones, (snip)
    This actually is nice to see. I get sick of all the posts "please criticize my routine". Other people criticizing a routine is not very meaningful if its working for you. Experimentation and a workout log is very important, IMHO.

  15. #15
    Senior Member berfles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Notorious View Post
    Take longer rests in between sets. If you can get 5 reps for 3 sets, there is no reason you shouldn't be able to get 5 sets. Take up to 10 minute rests if you have to.
    I was under the impression that long breaks like that were actually more harmful than good. As it stands right now I usually rest 3 minutes between sets, sometimes 4 depending on how hard the last one was.

    Quote Originally Posted by BigTallOx View Post
    This actually is nice to see. I get sick of all the posts "please criticize my routine". Other people criticizing a routine is not very meaningful if its working for you. Experimentation and a workout log is very important, IMHO.
    Thanks, appreciate it. That's exactly what I think.


    As for what ZenMonkey suggested, thanks. I'll get back to you when I think about it some more.

    I'll probably see how I do this Monday before making any changes, if I still get the same then I guess it's time for a routine flip.
    Last edited by berfles; 08-13-2008 at 11:53 AM.
    22 - 5'10@236lbs!
    Bench - 325 (old)
    Squat - 455x2 (old)
    Deadlift - 500(old)

    Total: 1280lbs 100% raw




    The key to my exercise program is this one simple truth: I hate my body.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Jorge Sanchez's Avatar
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    Try changing the reps. Switch to 3x5, starting with 225 increasing 5lbs/session until you stall again. Once you stall with that rep scheme, I'm sure you'll be able to hit 225x5x5.

  17. #17
    SchModerator ZenMonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jorge Sanchez View Post
    Try changing the reps. Switch to 3x5, starting with 225 increasing 5lbs/session until you stall again. Once you stall with that rep scheme, I'm sure you'll be able to hit 225x5x5.
    yea, or something like

    Week 1
    BP 225 5x5

    Week 2
    BP 235 4x4

    Week 3
    BP 245 3x3

    Week 4
    BP 255 2x2

    Week 6
    BP 265 1x1

    START OVER

    Week 1
    235 5x5
    Week 2
    245 4x4
    etc...

    or any variation or reducing volume and increasing weight. This would go really well with a specialization split where you could INCLINE DB PRESS later in the week the same type of thing but in higher reps (like 5x8, 4x8, 3x8, 2x8 increasing weight each week), to support the increasing low rep flat press. You could just do this ^^ and keep your split although the split looks like it needs some love too. I do remember you had some gaining problems recently so I'd think about revamping the split.

    You could do all of this^ and maybe conjugate a DE bench press with it and have a ME tricep movement ( work to a 1RM on dips or CGBP or floor press.) We just need to even out the pushing and pulling so its balanced.
    Last edited by ZenMonkey; 08-13-2008 at 12:12 PM.
    Sarvamangalam!

  18. #18
    Senior Member berfles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jorge Sanchez View Post
    Try changing the reps. Switch to 3x5, starting with 225 increasing 5lbs/session until you stall again. Once you stall with that rep scheme, I'm sure you'll be able to hit 225x5x5.
    Thanks, I'll try that.

    Quote Originally Posted by ZenMonkey View Post
    yea, or something like

    Week 1
    BP 225 5x5

    Week 2
    BP 245 4x4

    Week 3
    BP 235 3x3

    Week 4
    BP 245 2x2

    Week 6
    BP 255 1x1

    or any variation or reducing volume and increasing weight. You could just do this ^^ and keep your split although the split looks like it needs some love too. I do remember you had some gaining problems recently so I'd think about revamping the split.

    One of these two things I'll try, but I've had trouble gaining since I started. You're probably thinking of my recent trouble due to my fast paced warehouse job, but that's over now and for the first time in months I've been gaining about 2lbs a week up to where I am now. The whole time I was at that job and losing weight, my lifts were still going up. When I started the job in late January I was only repping 195lbs on bench I believe. I don't think I could even do 225 once at the time.

    I'll go for some change after this coming week.

    EDIT: The thing I have printed out that I followed for my 5x5 does talk about switching to higher reps for 4-5 weeks and then going back to the lower reps, I totally forgot about that.
    Last edited by berfles; 08-13-2008 at 12:14 PM.
    22 - 5'10@236lbs!
    Bench - 325 (old)
    Squat - 455x2 (old)
    Deadlift - 500(old)

    Total: 1280lbs 100% raw




    The key to my exercise program is this one simple truth: I hate my body.

  19. #19
    SchModerator ZenMonkey's Avatar
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    check out my edit on the incline pressing too in the same way but higher reps which will help you move to the next level by being efficient in higher reps and different angle. Think about the DE bench and ME tri movement too. Combining these is possible and will have you pushing more quick. promise
    Last edited by ZenMonkey; 08-13-2008 at 12:15 PM.
    Sarvamangalam!

  20. #20
    Crikey, its a 30 foot ape! Kong's Avatar
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    What ZenMonkey said. Take a step back with the weight and gradually work it back up by lowering volume and increasing weight. I had the same problem when i was relatively new to it and got stuck so tried this -
    Week 1 - 5x8 @ 75% (190lbs)
    Week 2 - 5x7 @ 80% (200lbs)
    Week 3 - 5x6 @ 85% (215lbs)
    Week 4 - 5x5 @ 90% (225lbs)
    Week 5 - 5x4 @ 95% (240lbs)
    Week 6 - 5x3 @ 100% (250lbs)
    Week 7 - 5x2 @ 105% (265lbs)
    Week 8 - 5x1 @ 110% (275lbs)

    These were ramped sets not straight sets. The numbers in brackets are approx weights for you to use estimating your 1RM at approx 250lbs. Just make sure you eat loads and give it your all to get the deignated reps.

    Also try doing a heavy assistance lift after to cater for your weak point. eg, if you have trouble locking out then do rack lockouts with th pins set to whatever height you get stuck at. Also to heavy Close-Grip bench when you train triceps.

    Also i know that your routine works well for you but you may unkowingly need to back off a bit and lower the volume. While focusing on your bench just do a push/leg/pull 3 day split to allow for plenty of rest.
    Last edited by Kong; 08-13-2008 at 12:23 PM.
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  21. #21
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    Westside Barbell www.westside-barbell.com Overcoming Plateaus Part 2: The Bench Press
    By: Louie Simmons
    Everyone likes to bench press, but no one likes to get stuck. Not making progress is no fun and sometimes grounds for retirement. Only the strong at heart will continue. But should anyone ever stall out? The answer is no. The problem is if you do the same training, you will get the same results.
    There are basically four reasons for falling or succeeding: physiological, psychological, technical, and exercise selection.
    Letís talk about psychological. Donít have deadbeats hanging around you. Stay in a positive mental state. If your training partner canít hang, no matter what their age, give them the hook. You must be competitive, even while training. But you also must want your training partner to succeed, so you will be pushed even more.
    On maximum effort day go until only the top man is left. On dynamic day try to hurt your training partner with short rest periods. To win, you have to put yourself through hell. Have training partners that want to kick your ass all the time (during the workout). Trash talk is always present at Westside. A new lifter at the gym wanted to load my plates for me during one of his first workouts. I asked him if he respected me. He said he did. I said, ďIf you respect me while we train, Ill boot you out of here.Ē He got the idea. When I was young, I didnít want to lose to an old man. Now that Iím an old man, I donít like to lose to young men. I cop an attitude, and that attitude kept only five men on the TOP 100 list kicking my ass (and I know where they live).
    I will sum up the psychological aspect of training with the words of Dr. Mel Siff and Dr. Yuri Verkhoshansky, authors of Supertraining. A high degree of performance depends on motivation, to gain certain goals, aggression, concentration, focus, the ability to tolerate pain and cope with anxiety or stress, developing a winning attitude, and raising the ability to manage distractions and to relax.
    What about the physiological aspects? This encompasses several aspects of training, such as the development of starting, accelerating, absolute, and special strength. These are primarily developed with barbell training. The correct loading on the dynamic day as well as the maximum effort day is essential.
    The physiological aspects also include the development of muscle hypertrophy. This can be accomplished with dumbbells, sled work, and the proper use of special exercises such as chins, rows, triceps extensions, and delt raises. Exercises that raise work capacity or general physical preparedness
    Westside Barbell www.westside-barbell.com
    (GPP) are also essential, especially for drug-free lifters. Men such as Bill Gillespie and Sean Culnan are perfect examples.
    To address the technical aspects of benching, we must determine what is proper bench press form. It has always been thought that you should push the bar back over the face. However, it makes little sense to do so. When a bar moves toward the face, many bad things occur. The delts are placed under great stress, especially the rotators, and no one wants that. Also, the lats are no longer involved in the lift when the bar moves toward the face. The bar should be lowered with the lats, not the arms. Without strong lat involvement, there is little chance that the bar will be placed on the chest correctly. It may land too high or too low. If it is too low, the delts are involved too much. If the bar lands too high, the triceps are involved too much. Strong lats will ensure the bar is placed in the correct position, that is, with the forearms vertical. In this position, an equal amount of delt, pec, and triceps are used in pressing. If you donít place the bar in the correct position, delt and pec injuries are more likely to occur.
    The path of the bar in the concentric phase (raising) should be a straight line. This requires the correct use of muscles. When the Clemson University coaching staff wanted to know which are the most important muscle groups for benching, George Halbert told them triceps are first, lats second, upper back third, and delts last. George holds the world record in the 220ís at 657, a world record of 688 in the 242s and a 683 at 227, the heaviest triple bodyweight bench of all time (457 pounds over bodyweight!).
    The delts are almost always overworked, and the triceps are underworked. You see a lot of delt and pec injuries but not a lot of triceps injuries. This tells me that most lifters donít train their triceps to the max. When the triceps, upper back, and lats are the strongest muscle groups, the bar will travel in a straight line, making the distance to lockout much shorter. Also, it does not require the arms to rotate outward, which causes injuries to the pecs and rotators.
    Exercise selection is crucial. On dynamic day, after doing your 8-10 sets of 3 reps at 60% of a shirtless max, train the triceps first. It is quite common for our guys to do 14-18 sets of triceps extensions. They are done mostly with a straight bar. One frequently used exercise is J.M. presses, for 3-5 reps, working up as heavy as possible. Always try for a new PR. The same applies to straight bar extensions to the chin, forehead, or throat. Heavy dumbbell extensions are also used, 6-10 reps for 6-10 sets. Use short rests be-tween sets, 30 seconds or less. For the bar work 90 seconds is advised.
    For advanced lifters, such as Phil Guarino, superset light pushdowns or light dumbbells in between bar extensions or J.M. presses. This will greatly increase your GPP and thus your bench press. Phil used this method for 1 year and pushed up his bench from 525 to 633 at 242 and recently made a 661 at 253 bodyweight.
    Westside Barbell www.westside-barbell.com
    Also for the triceps try using Flex bands while benching off five 2 x 6ís. This takes the delts and chest almost completely out of the movement, leaving only the triceps to do the work.
    Lats are next. Rows of all kinds are done as well as lat pulldowns with a wide variety of bars. We donít do many chins, but they are a good way to work the lats also. We do a lot of upper body sled work. This is my personal favorite. We also do a lot of static lat work with the Flex bands by hooking one band around one of the uprights of the power rack and holding the ends of the band so the lats are contracted for a long period of time, about 2-4 minutes. When you become fatigued at one position, change the position by slightly bending or straightening the arms and continue to hold the tension. Remember, when bench pressing, the lats are held statically. The delts rotate and the arms bend, but the lats stay contracted.
    The sled and bands work perfectly for the upper back as well. Inverted flyes, dumbbell power cleans, and lat pulls to the face can also be done. Choke a set of Flex bands to the top of the power rack, one on each side. Place a bar in the loops. Lie down as if to bench and pull the bar to the chest or belly using various grips. This simulates the action of the lats while benching. Tuck the elbows in tight.
    It is also important to have strong forearms. I have never seen a strong bencher who doesnít have large, powerful forearms. The tighter your grip, the easier it is to activate the triceps.
    To use the biceps fully when benching, imagine you are stretching the bar apart. The first muscle to flex while pushing a bar concentri-cally will be the biceps. This technique of pushing the bar apart is very important and requires that one do external rotator work. This can be done with rubber bands. Older lifters may remember the chest expanders that Bob Hoffman sold. When these were popular, there seemed to be many fewer shoulder Injuries. Could it be that all of that external rotating prevented rotator injuries, which we see so many of today?
    Letís look back. If your bench press is not progressing, it could be poor form, which could be a result of a lagging muscle group or not knowing how to bench correctly. Donít merely take someone elseís advice on how to bench, but think for a minute and review what was discussed here.
    On speed day, speed is what we are after: starting and accelerating as well as reversal strength. Train with 60% of a no-shirt max. This will utilize power production maximally. Do 8-10 sets of 3 reps.
    Westside Barbell www.westside-barbell.com
    On the maximum effort day you must max out on one core exercise, and donít be afraid to miss. Do a final warm-up with 90%, then try a PR or two. This workout should occur 3 days after speed day.
    On both days push up your special exercises such as triceps extensions, delt raises, lat work, and forearm work. After the core lift pick three or four exercises, and never work out longer than 60 minutes. Do your triceps first and forearms last.
    If possible, do a second workout later in the day. This workout should be 20-30 minutes long and should consist of extensions, raises, lat work, and curls. No bar pressing should be done.
    Does this work? At Westside we hold 3 out of the 12 all-time world records in the bench: 657 at 220 (George), 688 at 242 (George), and 728 at 275 (Kenny Patterson), the last having the greatest bench co-efficient of all time. Eighteen of our lifters bench more than 550 pounds, and two of these are over 40 years old and are 198ís (Jeff Adams and Jerry Schwenker). Seven men bench more than 600 at Westside. Bill Gillespie, strength coach for the Washington Huskies, has gone from 480 to 628 in about 5 years and has passed every drug test he was given. This should be proof that this sys-tem works for anyone, not just those at Westside.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by berfles View Post
    I was under the impression that long breaks like that were actually more harmful than good. As it stands right now I usually rest 3 minutes between sets, sometimes 4 depending on how hard the last one was.
    Long rests are completely optimal for strength purposes. 3 minutes is not nearly enough.

  23. #23
    THE FRIDGE! thewicked's Avatar
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    try picking different attempts and longer rests between the sets first..

    eat more

    then hit your weaker muscle groups to build i up more overall..


    none of those work.. maximus mass stack tends to be a pretty good problem fixer HAHA!
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Notorious View Post
    Long rests are completely optimal for strength purposes. 3 minutes is not nearly enough.
    This.

    When strength training with sets across we rest for as long as needed to get all the reps of the next set, be it 3 minutes or 10 minutes.

  25. #25
    Senior Member berfles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smokinHawk View Post
    sleep more and put another 5 lbs on it, works for me.
    Adding 5lbs seemed to be the key. I went into my workout tonight at 177 and 225 basically flew up for all five sets. I could tell right at the end of the first set that I was going to get all 25 reps.

    Onto 230.
    22 - 5'10@236lbs!
    Bench - 325 (old)
    Squat - 455x2 (old)
    Deadlift - 500(old)

    Total: 1280lbs 100% raw




    The key to my exercise program is this one simple truth: I hate my body.

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    By Tryska in forum Bodybuilding & Weight Training
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    Last Post: 11-28-2001, 07:35 PM

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