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Thread: 3x5 bench/overhead just don't work for me

  1. #1
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    3x5 bench/overhead just don't work for me

    For about 8 months I have been doing 3x5 routines (3x5 for the big 3 and overhead press, and 3x10-15 for curls, chins, and dips). I have definately been eating enough, as I have been gaining fat. However, as usual I hit a wall very quickly for my bench and overhead press. All other lifts are progressing. I was only adding 1kg per week (2.2lbs, the minimum I can do). When I was a beginner I was doing 3x8 which made better gains, but could have been newbie gains.

    Is it possible 3x5 for pressing movements just don't work for my body? Has this been the case for anyone else? I do 3x5 squats and 1x5 deads and they seem to go well. Progress on 3x12-15 on chins/dips seem to go up the fastest

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    Hit your big muscle groups harder, I think. Shock your body. Try this workout (or something similar)

    Chest day 1: Bench 5x5, Close grip bench or skullcrushers/tri ext 3x5 - then do your supplemental work like shoulder press, curls, etc
    Chest day 2: Bench 8x3 @ 60-70% 1RM - Do this controlled, but explosive - continue workout as normal

    Do this for a week or two and see if anything changes. The day 2 is a dynamic training day and should help your body become more explosive.

    Your body becomes used to what it has to do. If you are doing 3x5 twice a week, EVERY week, your body 'knows' that's whats going to happen. TRICK IT! SHOCK IT!

    Let me know how that works and/or if you have questions!
    CURRENT: 6'2 @ 260
    TARGET: 6'2 @ 225
    BY: August 1, 2010

  3. #3
    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    What are your numbers like?
    Are you using linear progression?
    Have you cycled the weights down and ramped back up?
    How often do you do those exercises?
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    I think you'll find that pressing movements develop the slowest, so don't get discouraged. Try doing a 5x3 instead of a 3x5 for a while and see how that goes.

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    Wannabebig Member tcooper's Avatar
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    you know what i found that works better than a straight 5x5

    is ramp your sets up to a max 5rm

    i started doing bill starrs 5x5 which in deads, squats ,oh press, bb rows, bench you ramp up to your heaviest set of 5 man now i am doing my old 1rm for 5. in about 2 months

    i find that it is ALOT better than just regular 5x5 on the 3 big lifts
    Last edited by tcooper; 02-09-2010 at 10:24 AM.

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    Senior Member jtteg_x's Avatar
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    were you following any type of routine or program?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tcooper View Post
    you know what i found that works better than a straight 5x5

    is ramp your sets up to a max 5rm

    i started doing bill starrs 5x5 which in deads, squats ,oh press, bb rows, bench you ramp up to your heaviest set of 5 man now i am doing my old 1rm for 5. in about 2 months

    i find that it is ALOT better than just regular 5x5 on the 3 big lifts
    Yes this I agree with. I did bill starr for a year on and off and always made gains with it. They are really slow gains...as in sometimes it would take me 3 weeks to go up 5 pounds....but a gain is a gain.

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    The King of Crash jtrink's Avatar
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    I was debating this same thing. Whether to follow 3x5 for bench, dead, row, squat like in starting strength - or do 3x5 ramping the weights to my 5RM. Advantages/Disadvantages?

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    Bench and Press I do once a week on the same day. My numbers are quite small but that's because the majority of the time I've been lifting has been cutting (except for a small bulk attempt, and now more recently a proper bulk attempt). My numbers are:

    Squat: 3x5 105kg (231lb)
    Deadlift: 1x5 160kg (352lb)
    Bench: 3x5 70kg (154lb)
    Press: 3x5 42.5kg (93.5lb)

    Since I started my current bulk I incremented 2.5kg to my squat each week, 3.5kg to my deadlift each week, and 2kg to the bench/press each week. When I started the bulk I made it so I would hit my 3x5 maxes 4 weeks into it.

    I have never done the 5x5 with ramping the weights each time. Have many people had success doing this? So basically it's easy till your last set? Could this be done with 3x5 (asking because I hate changing plates so much )

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    I wouldnt do the press and bench on the same day. The second one will always feel fatigue after the first similar movement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jtrink View Post
    I was debating this same thing. Whether to follow 3x5 for bench, dead, row, squat like in starting strength - or do 3x5 ramping the weights to my 5RM. Advantages/Disadvantages?
    Depends how much you are stalling.....I didnt start madcow 5x5 (ramping) until I could already bench 225. I used starting strength and while I did plateau several times, it wasnt until I hit 225 that I knew I needed a change.

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    Wannabebig Member tcooper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greemah View Post
    Bench and Press I do once a week on the same day. My numbers are quite small but that's because the majority of the time I've been lifting has been cutting (except for a small bulk attempt, and now more recently a proper bulk attempt). My numbers are:

    Squat: 3x5 105kg (231lb)
    Deadlift: 1x5 160kg (352lb)
    Bench: 3x5 70kg (154lb)
    Press: 3x5 42.5kg (93.5lb)

    Since I started my current bulk I incremented 2.5kg to my squat each week, 3.5kg to my deadlift each week, and 2kg to the bench/press each week. When I started the bulk I made it so I would hit my 3x5 maxes 4 weeks into it.

    I have never done the 5x5 with ramping the weights each time. Have many people had success doing this? So basically it's easy till your last set? Could this be done with 3x5 (asking because I hate changing plates so much )


    not its by far not easy until the last set.

    just look up bill starrs 5x5.

    for my bench im only 5'6 about 175 and my bench kinda sucks. ive only been lifting for about 8 months this is how do it

    just using bench as an example
    monday bench session is currently like this
    135 x5 155x5 165x5 175x5 185x5 205x5

    then friday it will look like this

    135x5 155x5 165x5 175x5 210x3 175x8

    then the following monday i will try my last set of 5 to be 210. and believe it works well

    like i said just look up the bill starrs 5x5 routine and its awesome. ive made great strength and muscle gains on it so far

  13. #13
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    Cutting calories isn't going to help.
    What other exercises are you doing for chest?
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  14. #14
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    i peaked on bench and oh press, and it was recommended to me to drop my dips. i did, and my bench and oh press started progressing again. sometimes less is more. i'd also recommend a deload if you havent yet.
    ain't nuttin but a peanut.

    You will have gotten stronger when the weight that feels heavy is actually heavier than the weight that feels heavy now. Then the weight that feels heavy now will be a warmup for the weight that feels heavy then. But the weight will always feel heavy or you're not lifting enough weight. Clear? -Rippetoe

  15. #15
    Loves to squat hellagrant's Avatar
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    I have had very very little progress in bench and military press. While squat and DL went up. For me I cut back on other shoulder related exercises (dips, dumbbell overhead press, etc) Hasn't helped.

    I am thinking about subbing dumbbell bench press for barbell bench press, just to switch it up.

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    I will move overhead press to another day so it's not right after bench which should help. Do you think adding another chest excercise may help? All I do at the moment is flat bench once a week. Do you guys ever do the same weight/reps each week if it was particularly hard till you feel comfortable moving it up?

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    Senior Member ironwill727's Avatar
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    I am not really a fan of 3x5 or 5x5. Also, 8 months is probably too long to do the same stuff.

    Try changing rep ranges around. Also, check out 5-3-1 program by Jim Wendler. I can not say enough great things about this program. I did not bench a weight over 315 (3 waves) using his program and just smashed 365x1 easy which was a 15lb pr.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by greemah View Post
    I will move overhead press to another day so it's not right after bench which should help. Do you think adding another chest excercise may help?
    Huh? You are moving the press so it won't interfere with the bench, but you're going to replace it with another chest movement? None of that makes any sense.

    If you want your bench to move, start light, ramp up, and eat a lot. When you get close to your max poundages, start adding small ammounts to the bar. make sure your form is good and you are getting enough rest. Do that several times trying to break your PRs each cycle. After that, find another form of progression.

    If both the press and the bench are important, do them on seperate days. Also, put them first in your workout, they won't interfere much with other big lifts. Make sure you are using a basic workout and not one filled with extra movements just to make you feel good.

    Give linear progression a good try while eating big before you try other methods.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Off Road View Post
    Huh? You are moving the press so it won't interfere with the bench, but you're going to replace it with another chest movement? None of that makes any sense.

    If you want your bench to move, start light, ramp up, and eat a lot. When you get close to your max poundages, start adding small ammounts to the bar. make sure your form is good and you are getting enough rest. Do that several times trying to break your PRs each cycle. After that, find another form of progression.

    If both the press and the bench are important, do them on seperate days. Also, put them first in your workout, they won't interfere much with other big lifts. Make sure you are using a basic workout and not one filled with extra movements just to make you feel good.

    Give linear progression a good try while eating big before you try other methods.
    No I moved the overhead press to a different day so the bench can't interfere with that. I havn't added any other chest excercises just asking if it might be a good idea as all I do for chest is flat bench.

    I think I will try ramping as I havn't done it before and sounds like it would be easier to do more weight for the one last set than all 3. Is it ok if I just did a light set then medium then high instead of following a ramping routine? e.g. 5x60kg, 5x67kg, 5x 74kg. Also is it ok to just ramp for those two lifts, and possibly the squat in the future?

    I know I am eating enough as I have gained a heap of fat. Would it be detrimental to my progress if I dropped a couple hundred calories so I don't keep gaining too much fat?

    I do 13 lifts total, 4 of which are isolation (crunches, calf raises, bycep curl, bent laterals)

  20. #20
    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    I was talking about ramping the weight from session to session, not ramping the sets. In other words, start light and easy then build up to heavy and hard.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Off Road View Post
    I was talking about ramping the weight from session to session, not ramping the sets. In other words, start light and easy then build up to heavy and hard.
    Oh ok yeah I did it this last month, deloaded so the workout was easy and did small increments so that I would hit my normal numbers after a month. Looks like all I've done is gain fat though. All my lifts have improved except for bench and overhead. Overhead may be due to the fact that it's behind the bench which it wasn't previously, so I have shifted that. My routine is this:

    Mon
    3x10-15 Weighted pullups
    3x5 BO barbell row
    1x10-15 Shrugs
    1x5 Deadlift
    3x20-30 Calf raises

    Wed
    3x5 Squats
    3x5 Bench press
    3x10-15 Weighted dips
    3x20-30 Weighted crunches

    Fri
    3x10-15 Weighted chinups
    3x5 Overhead press
    3x10-15 Bycep curls
    3x10-15 Bent laterals

  22. #22
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    Well, to be fair, you may be ready for a differnt progression, but I'd give linear another shot just to be sure. Give it another shot and stay on the eating. You don't have to turn into a slob, but you shouldn't be cutting. I'd try a routine that was designed for this type of progression and make sure to do the bench and press FIRST during the workout. Your routine isn't layed out with recovery in mind.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Off Road View Post
    Well, to be fair, you may be ready for a differnt progression, but I'd give linear another shot just to be sure. Give it another shot and stay on the eating. You don't have to turn into a slob, but you shouldn't be cutting. I'd try a routine that was designed for this type of progression and make sure to do the bench and press FIRST during the workout. Your routine isn't layed out with recovery in mind.
    That routine was layed out with recovery completely in mind, what makes you think it isn't? The only issue I can see would be the triceps getting hit during overhead press agani as they were hit the previous workout.

    When you say a different progression, what exactly do you mean? Do you mean like ramping sets or having heavy-medium-light days?

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by greemah View Post
    That routine was layed out with recovery completely in mind, what makes you think it isn't?
    You have your pressing movements in back-to-back sessions with only one day of rest. You could spread them out more to increase recovery between sessions. The press and the bench are hitting basically the same muscles. If they were on Monday and Friday, they would have 2-3 days of rest.

    I'm not saying there is one best way to do things, but there are a lot of tricks to get unstuck when lifts stall. It's worth exploring those before jumping into a heavy/medium/light.Things like prioritizing, microloading, recucing volume, increasing rest times, increasing recovery, and many more. But maybe you should go to a different progression, I'm just throwing out suggestions.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Off Road View Post
    You have your pressing movements in back-to-back sessions with only one day of rest. You could spread them out more to increase recovery between sessions. The press and the bench are hitting basically the same muscles. If they were on Monday and Friday, they would have 2-3 days of rest.

    I'm not saying there is one best way to do things, but there are a lot of tricks to get unstuck when lifts stall. It's worth exploring those before jumping into a heavy/medium/light.Things like prioritizing, microloading, recucing volume, increasing rest times, increasing recovery, and many more. But maybe you should go to a different progression, I'm just throwing out suggestions.
    Ok thanks for your suggestions I will explore these options. Will take ages but guess it's it's the only way to find what works

    One question though, if benching and pressing are the same muscles, why is pressing said to be a shoulder exercise? And don't a lot of people have a bodypart split routine? Surely that would mean bench and press would be on the same day

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