WTH is wrong with my bench?

Srikaleak

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So after a tumultuous 9 months of not working while tackling life, I re-started my weight training with good old starting strength. T/TH/S I alternate between Squat/Bench/Deadlift and Squat/Overhead Press/ Deadlift. 2 months in my squat/deadlift has grown from 85/135 to 225/250 3 sets x 5 reps. My bench, however, grew from 85 to 130 in the same amount of time (and my overhead press is just as bad).

I just realized with a wider grip I can push a little more weight. Originally my palms were inline with my shoulders, now they are outside of the shoulders. I'm 95% sure my form is OK as I've had it vetted by knowledgeable trainers.

Am I not eating enough? Do I need to do some chest accessory lifts? I've been pretty strict with starting strength and about to get into phase 2/3 by incorporating power cleans instead of just overhead press. By Q4 I want to totally move on from starting strength. Any other additional tips would great.

Edit for clarity
 
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charnicus

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Just my opinion but that’s actually good improvement on bench. Considering it’s a smaller muscle group. If you’ve been doing 3x5s for the whole 9 months mix in some different rep ranges to increase stamina. I would add in some dumbbell presses both flat and incline.
 

Srikaleak

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Just my opinion but that’s actually good improvement on bench. Considering it’s a smaller muscle group. If you’ve been doing 3x5s for the whole 9 months mix in some different rep ranges to increase stamina. I would add in some dumbbell presses both flat and incline.
The 9 month stint was when I didn't work out at all. I've been at this for 2 months. I'll start adding dumbbell presses. Maybe a 4 set 10 rep addition.
 

theLBC

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improvement isn't that bad, and you might level out a few times
are you mixing in dumbbells, incline and decline? dips?
 

winniethepooh

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What’s your weight at? Do you use a (good) spotter? I think with the improvements elsewhere you should be pushing 185 easy. And the trick I learned is you don’t always have to lift heavy. High reps and lower weight will get you to the finish line...
 

Srikaleak

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No dumbbells or anything else, strict barbell routine.

I've got a squat rack with cross bars for spotting. I've also got a dumbell set and a bench that can incline and decline.

My weight is around 185lbs probably 30-40% body fat.
 

XLR308

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By using dumbbells more you would see better gains as they work all of those smaller stabilizer muscles that don't get near as much work just on a flat bench pushing a barbell.
 
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theLBC

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No dumbbells or anything else, strict barbell routine.

I've got a squat rack with cross bars for spotting. I've also got a dumbell set and a bench that can incline and decline.

My weight is around 185lbs probably 30-40% body fat.
you definitely want to mix it up. dumbbells will work on the satellite muscles.
 
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charnicus

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The 9 month stint was when I didn't work out at all. I've been at this for 2 months. I'll start adding dumbbell presses. Maybe a 4 set 10 rep addition.
Yeah I read that wrong... Well shit just in two months that’s excellent! Does your rack have a pull up bar too? Another excellent workout is a mix of pull ups and push ups x how ever many sets you can do. Say 5 pull ups and 10 push ups 10 times.
 
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Srikaleak

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I've got a bar but I've never been able to do a pullup. My upper body is weak and my legs are thicc.
 

1500varmint

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I've got a bar but I've never been able to do a pullup. My upper body is weak and my legs are thicc.
I'd highly recommend getting a set of exercise bands like these - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01LED8ZVC/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

They can be used for a pullup assist, bicep curl, arm extension, leg extension, etc, etc.

Not a big expense, but very versatile. You can use multiple bands if you need more support for pullups (or for more resistance when you get jacked).

It will seem counter intuitive, but if you add lots of cardio into your routines you'll see quicker gains.

Consistency is the key.

Good luck.
 

codym

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Definitely need accessory movements, dumbbells, different angles and stretching. Flat bench uses a bunch of delt, tricep, lat and pec. All of those need to be developed. In my mid 20’s I struggled to break the 400 lb bench mark. It took a bunch of out of the box thinking, increasing intensity and all the other things I mentioned. I reached my one rep max of 445 around 28. I don’t work out like that anymore because the benefits vs injury isn’t there for me but at 33 I still get 315 for 20 reps and 405 for 6-8, but I do a shit ton of warming up and way more volume.
 
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Delicatessen

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Keep training hard to tell but a few quick tips:

Many times it’s you shoulders that may limit your chest, make sure to not skip out on stabilizing muscles etc. excercise rotator cuffs at crazy light weight

Keep your elbows around 30 deg from perpendicular to torso (protects your shoulders)

Squeeze your traps together (shoulders back and down) helps keep everything in line for bench.

Generally a good idea to have a spotter lift off to make sure your form is good when trying to up the weight.
 
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JFR

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Dumbell flys from different bench angles and flat bench dumbell pull-overs will also help. And work. Always work.

JFR
 
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bschneiderheinze

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You should be doing a pulling exercise for every pushing exercise. I was never really good at bench only worked out with around 360 but I always alternated a bench or shoulder exercise with lat pulls or tricep push downs single arm row
 
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BCX

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Sounds like you plateaued. Which is common unless your pushing the juice. Mix your routine up. Heavy for 4 weeks, lite high reps , 10X10 of 60% of your 1 rep max. Keep your hydration up w a high protein diet and get plenty of rest.
 
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z7.jled

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No issue with the gains, you gained a lot on the lower body because you had greater strength starting out and is a much more complex and larger muscle group, allowing for more initial gains

As others have said, mix it up. If you can’t get more equipment, mix up the reps. Find a weight that you can bench 25 reps, then do 150 reps in a session.
For pull-ups, do negatives, jump up to the bar and fight gravity on the way down, hang as long as you can

Bent over rows with the barbell are another good way to build grip, lat, shoulder and bicep strength for doing pull-ups

Don’t use straps when deadlifting all the time, just grab the bar (use a belt when heavy, be safe, but don’t use wrist straps as they hinder grip strengthening)

Do aggressive pyramid workouts, light weight and stupid high reps (25-35 reps) then work your way to a 2-3 rep near max weight, failing is good, but get the reps in

Don’t stress about the numbers, feel good, get stronger, don’t injure yourself trying to push more weight for the number (from a guy who tore a rotator cuff benching dumbbells on a moving ship)
 
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19Scout77

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What were you benching before the 9 month break? His old are you?
 
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Srikaleak

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I was benching 115lbs before the break. I prefer dumbbell presses so I was pressing 40lb dumbells at the time. I'm in my thirties.
 

TheGerman

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Is it 115 plus the olympic bar or 115 total?

Find roughly your max rep weight (dont kill yourself) and take about 75-80% of that.

Do 10 set reps focusing on form, but speeding the reps up a bit to where its really getting to you towards the end. Rest 1 minute between, do it again, 5 times, focusing on form.

When you can get through all of the sets, or are to the point its getting hard only in the last 10 or so, add 5lbs.

Also do some sort of circuit where you're lifting weights for all the upper body areas and have at least 2 exercises for each. Have 1 circuit where its 1 of the 2 exercises and do them 1 after the other for all body groups with only 1 min rest between sets and 2-3 mins rest between changing body groups. Then start on circuit 2 which is the 2nd exercise for each group.

For example, your chest exercises today are a bench and incline pushups.

Do the bench with the first circuit of exercises. Then do 5 sets of 30 incline pushups for chest on the 2nd circuit.

You're going to need complimentary exercises for muscle groups.
 

--BLACKOUT--

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When using percentages, it's best to use a 3 or 5 rep max. 1 rep max is too arbitrary cuz it can differ from day to day just cuz of how you slept, ate or whatever. Also good to remember, in the 3 or 5 rep max is that each rep should look the same with proper form used throughout. For example... 3 rep max: down, up, down, up, down, up. Not... down, up, down, uuuuuup, down fast and then Uuuuuuuuuuuuup.
 

Lionsbreath

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How hard are you pushing yourself? Training programs never worked for me back in the day, and all the technical stuff just wasted to much time for me.. A guy has got to be willing to train insane to continue to grow, unless your juicing.. Are you hammering your legs, ass to to grass?? Destroying your legs hard is a good way to get your bench up, along with sleep, good food, and water.. This thread almost makes me wanna go stalk the iron pile😆
 

Srikaleak

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Yea, it's a struggle but that's what makes it worthwhile.
 

black5.3

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I would start some muscle confusion as has been mentioned already. Also i never really started seeing gains on my squats, deadlifts, and bench until i started working those muscle groups trice a week. Every body is different but mine responded better to that. The first session with that muscle group im working is heavier weight low reps and then the second time that weeks is lighter weight higher reps with some lifts that help stretch me as well.
 

Srikaleak

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Yea, that muscle confusion ain't no joke. My stamina was piss poor. I tried to do a 5x10 of 80% of my 5 rep squat max and the fatigue was real. I think I'll switch it up with small weight large reps for the next month. I made a quick list of some exercises I'm gonna start adding in as well.
 

M8541Reaper

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So after a tumultuous 9 months of not working while tackling life, I re-started my weight training with good old starting strength. T/TH/S I alternate between Squat/Bench/Deadlift and Squat/Overhead Press/ Deadlift. 2 months in my squat/deadlift has grown from 85/135 to 225/250 3 sets x 5 reps. My bench, however, grew from 85 to 130 in the same amount of time (and my overhead press is just as bad).

I just realized with a wider grip I can push a little more weight. Originally my palms were inline with my shoulders, now they are outside of the shoulders. I'm 95% sure my form is OK as I've had it vetted by knowledgeable trainers.

Am I not eating enough? Do I need to do some chest accessory lifts? I've been pretty strict with starting strength and about to get into phase 2/3 by incorporating power cleans instead of just overhead press. By Q4 I want to totally move on from starting strength. Any other additional tips would great.

Edit for clarity
Not sure if anyone else hit on this, but you will see bigger numbers on your S/DL because each workout the program calls for an increase of 10# (because they are the larger groups and can handle that increase during the novice effect/period). Whereas the P/BP call for a scheduled increase of +5# per session due to the nature of those groups. So you should be seeing about a 50% difference between the numbers. ...which you roughly do. So you’re on the right path and performing as you should.

If you haven’t yet, read Rip’s book and it will explain why this occurs and why it is expected.

However if you want a bigger bench and you want it faster, then once you become an intermediate or advanced (phase) lifter, focus your efforts with a goal/lift-specific program. You can obviously do a specific lift program to increase a bench/squat/DL/wtf-ever as a beginner, but you will not be as effective nor will you reach the same level as you would if you did so as a more advanced/seasoned lifter.

Good luck and keep at it!

Also, when you move on from SS, I recommend checking out Candito’s 6 week strength program. It’s a good one and can be repeated. Also allows for the programming of accessory lifts.
 
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Kyle92

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Figure out where your sticking point is, and that will be indicative of your weakness and how to approach it. It could be a movement pattern breakdown from using too much weight, or it could be a lagging muscle group.
 

Srikaleak

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Figure out where your sticking point is, and that will be indicative of your weakness and how to approach it. It could be a movement pattern breakdown from using too much weight, or it could be a lagging muscle group.
Usually my shoulders are my limiting factor.
 

Kyle92

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So you feel like you are losing position/tension in your shoulders? Doing band pull apart, pull ups, facepulls, etc with help with shoulder stability.
 

Barracho

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Try some dips. With a spotter do some negatives. Like others have said, mix up your exercises to give other supporting muscles some work. Definitely increase your repetitions with lower weight to help increase strength vs. size. Diet is extremely important-you won’t make gains if your body can’t support and fuel them. Rest is important too...research your workout schedule/timing. Back in college I maxed out at 300lbs for flat bench but couldn’t break that- I had plateaued. Pec size was good but couldn’t get stronger. Reverse for my calves- kept on getting stronger but wouldn’t get bigger! Confusing stuff sometimes. But keep at it. There’s more info available now online than there ever was in the library at Purdue.
 

Phineas7

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I started lifting about a year and a half ago after recovering from shoulder surgery due to a motorcycle wreck. I've been doing a high rep, high set workout and feel I've maxed out. So I decided to switch over to the Stronglift 5x5 program. I've only been doing it about 2 weeks, so I can't say how good it is, but a lot of people swear by it. I'll give it to the end of the year. There's quite a lot of information about it on the internet. Unfortunately for me it's my other shoulder, that I injured 30 years ago, it's giving me the most grief on bench press. For some reason dumbbells are okay but the straight bar hurts.
 

Fatorangecat

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Alright first of all you are never going to see your bench move up as dramatically as your squat and deadlift. Both deads and squat use your glutes, hams, quads and back. Bench and overhead press simply use smaller muscle groups. Also on programs like starting strength and 5x5 you hit deads and squats more than bench. The squat and deadlift utilize a lot of the same muscles so your hitting them with more frequency. And lastly you are two months in. Strength takes time.