Hitting a plateau on bench press Hitting a plateau on bench press

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Thread: Hitting a plateau on bench press

  1. #1
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    Default Hitting a plateau on bench press

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    My bench press has always been weak. I'm on my 11th week of NLP. Since the last 3 weeks I am stuck at 162.5LB for my bench press. I've improved my number of reps and range of motion on 162.5LB, for example, I started 162.5LB at 4 reps (1st set), 3 reps (2nd set) and 2 reps (last set) and now I am at 5 reps, 5 reps, 4 reps. And each session I am able to improve my ROM i.e bar almost touching my chest. I increased the weight from 160LB to 162.5LB only when I was able to do 160LB with full range and 5 reps x 3 sets.

    I am progressing, but I am also frustrated that I stay on the same weight for bench for a month before I can increase it by 2.5LB. I can increase squats, deadlifts and even shoulder press at a faster rate.

    Do I need to train my triceps more and get stronger arms in order to bench more? I feel like my triceps are the limiting factor and if I can tweak my program a bit I can progress faster on bench press. Any advice would be appreciated.


    NLP Week 11
    Current body weight: 164LB
    Deadlift: 330LB
    Squat: 295LB
    Press: 115LB
    Bench: 162.5LB

    NLP week 1
    Starting body weight: 150LB
    Deadlift: 245LB
    Squat: 195LB
    Press: 75LB
    Bench: 135LB

    Age: 42
    Height: 5' 8"
    Body fat: 22%

  2. #2
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    You're not doing the program.

  3. #3
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    Sir Rippetoe. Iím trying to follow the program as it is described in the book. Iím not sure what Iím doing wrong. It would help if you can clarify more please.

  4. #4
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    I skimmed through the pages again and I found this part that I want to try, would you suggest that this applies to my situation?

    ď Any time a trainee working very hard is allowed a bit of extra rest and recuperation, performance will increase. This is evidence not of a dramatic unexpected increase in overall physical ability, but of the increased ability to display it on a given day. Itís not that heís actually stronger; heís just not tired. ďPeakingĒ for a contest or testing procedure works the same way: no dramatic increase in strength occurs at a peak, just the ability to demonstrate the strength that is actually present as a cumulative effect of the training program. And, in this case, this is exactly what is necessary. A trainee at this stage is not terribly ďstuckĒ and will not take much unsticking to get back on the road to progress. A little extra rest will always allow a small increase in the weights that can be handled afterward, and the accumulation of strength through progressive loading can resume from there.Ē

  5. #5
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    Your own reported numbers indicate you're not doing the program, you should have added 150 pounds to your squat by the end of week ten. So either you've missed a bunch of workouts or you're not adding 5 pounds every workout. And you need to keep pushing your bodyweight up.

    Aside from that, though: what is preventing you from benching with full range of motion?

  6. #6
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    You noted it right. I havenít added 150LB to my squats in 10 weeks. Thatís because Iíve not been able to add 5LB in every session after I reached 270LB. After 270LB Iím repeating multiple sessions with the same weight until Iím able to gain some confidence to add 5 more lbs.

    On deadlift I was struggling with grip strength for a few weeks as I stuck to double overhead grip. But after I started using alternate grips Iím able to progress well.

    Iím putting on 1-1.5LB/week of body weight and eating 200g protein per day.

    Finally, Iím not able to do full range on bench with 162.5lb. I was able to do with 160lb and then I bumped the weight up by 2.5LB. I feel like Iím really weak on my bench.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bharath Mukkati View Post
    Sir Rippetoe. I’m trying to follow the program as it is described in the book. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. It would help if you can clarify more please.
    He mean that you should be doing 5s.

  8. #8
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    To do the program:

    1) Pick a weight that you can do for 5 reps, with full range of motion.

    2) Lift this weight for three sets of five.

    2) In two workouts, add weight (usually 5 pounds) to that, and perform it for three sets of five.

    If you miss any reps, make up those reps after the three sets have been completed. Complete fifteen reps no matter what. At your discretion, you might repeat the weight you failed to complete the 3x5 once. If you fail to get the 3x5 at the second attempt, you might begin to consider yourself stuck. However, if you are still able to complete a full set of five triples, you might just continue with that, and can likely make good progress for a long time.

    The way what you have done differs from the program is:

    1) You did not perform the lifts. A bench press done with partial range of motion is not a bench press, in the same way that a motorcycle is not a car. I find it very hard to believe that after getting 160x5x3, you could not do 162.5 for a single set of 5. This is probably related to your problems performing the lift.

    This is getting to a more subtle error: range of motion is not a training variable. Every rep on the bench press is carried to the chest. Range of motion cannot be "improved" because it is identical. Range of motion on the bench press is moreover probably the easiest to control of all the lifts: it does not rely on proprioception, but rather a simple tactile cue. A missed rep on the bench press means you were pinned by the bar. It should not mean anything else.

    2) You did not complete the prescribed volume, which means your applied stress was far in deficit of the prescribed volume. You completed 9 reps on the bench press at 162.5, which is far less stress than 160x5x3, and so cannot produce an adaptation in excess of that produced by the earlier set. You have just gotten back to a comparable level of stress produced by the 160 workout, and so will probably have finally produced an increase.

    Next workout, put 165 pounds on the bar, and touch it to your chest fifteen times. If you fail to complete even a single set of triples, maybe repeat that weight. If you fail a second time, then you might consider yourself stuck. Heavy emphasis on "might"

  9. #9
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    Thank you, Maybach, for explaining my mistakes in performing the program. I have a follow up question about the making up for missed reps. Say I was able to do 5 reps + 3 reps + 3 reps in the first 3 sets. Should I target to do 4 reps with an additional set to complete the total 15 reps? Or should I only count a full 5 rep set to call my workout complete and discard any set that is lower than 5 reps from the equation? The latter would be extremely hard to achieve for me since the fatigue will accumulate making it impossible to hit a 5-rep set the longer I re-attempt the set.


    Next workout, I want to go back to 160LB and perform 3 sets with 5 reps and ensure I am doing the full range. And after that I will add more weights to the next workout. Reason I don't want to attempt 165LB in the next session is because I am certain that I will fail in the first set to even do 2 reps.

    Also, from now on I won't even think of partial range.

  10. #10
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    May 2019
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    starting strength coach development program
    Quote Originally Posted by Bharath Mukkati View Post
    After 270LB Iím repeating multiple sessions with the same weight until Iím able to gain some confidence to add 5 more lbs.
    This isn't a programming problem, it's a psychological one. But, your squats are probably starting to get hard, given your very low bodyweight when you started. The "Advanced Novice" section in Practical Programming has some good strategies. BUT-- this assumes that you actually loaded 5 more pounds, walked it out, and squatted it, and missed a rep or two on your last set. Multiple sessions at the same weight is not productive at this stage.
    Finally, Iím not able to do full range on bench with 162.5lb. I was able to do with 160lb and then I bumped the weight up by 2.5LB. I feel like Iím really weak on my bench.
    This still doesn't make any sense. How are you not able to touch the bar to your chest, whether or not you can complete the rep afterwards?

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