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I have been lifting weights for around a year now and my first program I followed was starting strength. Since then I have moved onto greyskull and my training week typically looks like this:

Wednesday

Squat                       2x5, 1x5+
A Bench     B Press         2x5, 1x5+
A Tris      B Bis           2x10-15
Optional Plugin

Friday

A Press     B Bench         2x5, 1x5+
A Bis       B Tri           2x10-15
Deadlift                    1x5+ (power cleans as warmups)
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Sunday

A Bench     B Press         2x5, 1x5+
A Tri       B Bis           2x10-15 
Squat                       2x5, 1x5+
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During this time I've make considerable 'noobie' gains, and haven't really had any bad plateaus until now. For the last 3 months I have been stuck at 85KG bench and can't seem to shake it. During this time my press, squat and deadlift have all continued to slowly grow.

I eat big and am constantly (slowly) adding weight. My sleeping patterns are normal and I get enough sleep for recovery. I am fairly certain my form is good - flat head positioning, slightly arched back, planted feet and shoulders, 45-60 degree grip and arm angle to body, elbows coming into body. Bar goes straight up and down.

So my question is, what is the best thing I can add in to assist my bench - this can be either in terms of exercises or tips to remember during the lift. Is there a way to determine which body part is slowing me down the most? (Other than the obvious ones)

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Created the greyskull tag, strange that we didn't have it before. (I did a google search and found the colloquial name to be greyskull-lp, I hope this is correct) –  Baarn Aug 30 '13 at 17:30
    
Could you post the sets/reps you're hitting and missing? –  Dave Liepmann Aug 31 '13 at 10:22
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4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

It's very possible that your bench isn't going to go up linearly any longer. As you grow out of the beginner programs this is what happens. The solution isn't adding new things, it's changing the way you program your bench. I'll write up more on that in just a moment.

The best raw bench instructional series I've read was Paul Carter's Developing Your Raw Bench:

  • Part 1 -- covers the power path and set up
  • Part 2 -- covers grip and assistance work
  • Part 3 -- covers some basic programming choices for the bench

It's worth a look to make sure your form is truly as good as you think it is. I've learned a few things with that series.

When my bench got stuck with linear progression, I moved to a weekly progression. When my bench got stuck with weekly progression, I moved to a monthly progression. In both those cases I started using a variety of rep ranges. If you look at programs like Madcow and Wendler 5/3/1, you'll find that they use rep ranges that are both shorter and longer than 5 reps. With your Greyskull LP background, you might find Wendler 5/3/1 to be very compatible with that style of training.

You'll also find that with more advanced programs you'll have some variation between the intensities used week to week. The general progression is that the first week is an easy weight and you do more volume work, and the last week is a hard weight for less volume work.

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I also had problems stuck in bench some time ago. For me, the weight was 33kg each side.

If you look at the starting strength program, you can check a section where there are several reasons for your stalling. Just look for the "Stalling, Resetting and Progressing".

In my case, my problem was the shoulders, I was doing presses one day before the bench. My shoulder were sore and tired, they compromised my form and I couldn't add more weight.

What I have done, unintentionally, at the time, was take off a break of the gym, and come back after 2 weeks, with other split on my workout.

So, what I can advise:

  • Try to pay attention to what muscle is the weak one, It may be the triceps, the shoulder or the grip.
  • If you think one muscle is the cause, try to get light on it on the days before the bench, even skip some exercise for that muscle for 1 or 2 weeks
  • Try to skip some benches, in your case, I would skip the Friday, so you get more rest in between
  • Try to get 1 week break, and get back to the bench with 70% or 80% of your current weight, than continue to add weight slowly

DISCLAIMER: I am no expert in fitness and weightlifting, just a curious guy who suffered the same problem and I am just guessing based on deduction.

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Already some good suggestions but I'll add what I did as I, and many more I am sure, have had this problem numerous times.

First time I had this problem I lowered by rep range to 2-3 reps for 3 weeks lifting heavier weight. I then returned to the previous weight and low-and-behold I easily pushed through.

Second time I started using a spotter. I simply asked a random guy in the gym each time and lifted until he had to lift it himself pretty much. Did this for a few weeks and then tried it myself and easily pushed through.

Third time (Which is what I am going through now) I am using a Smith Machine and it seems to be working. Its a bit too early to tell but figured I give it as advice anyhow.

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In the past, if I fail to hit my goals in a workout three times, I fall back 10% and work my way backup. It has helped quite a bit, though I have personally hit my own ceiling on bench.

I've seen suggestions that it might be time to alter the workout with fewer reps to increase weight (as mentioned previously.)

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