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I'm looking to improve my bench press and I'm having trouble about 1/4 way off my chest - can someone describe what muscles are primarily activated during each phase (break the movement down to 1/4's or 1/3's).

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Do you plan to train those muscles separately or would you much rather prefer an advice on how to perform a correct bench press? Because either you're using too much weight or use the wrong technique (thus load muscles in a way that they can't overcome the strain). –  Ivo Flipse May 25 '11 at 18:04
    
If I can identify the muscles/weak points, I would train them separately. I've been working on form and went from 180 to 220 in a week (clean single bench press) - now I'm looking to take it to the next level (over time of course) –  Meade Rubenstein May 25 '11 at 18:21
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

This article might have what you are looking for. Since I can't get in, I can't be certain. There are a couple other articles that may be of interest, but not exactly what you wanted:

That said, you may need to try a process called deloading. Essentially, cutting back 10% on the weight so you can get your full set in. Then progressively load by adding 5lbs back on each bench press session. As the theory goes, you should be able to get past the plateau that way. In short, it's taking longer for your muscles to recover than the typical 48 hours or however much rest you normally give them.

Eventually you'll get to the point where even deloading won't get you past a plateau. With the StrongLifts program you compensate by going from 5x5 (5 sets/5 reps) to 3x5 on that lift. The threshold for that is when you deload twice and it doesn't help you improve. From there you go to 1x5, and eventually transition to another routine when you've maxed out that program. I think the takeaway is that eventually you have to reduce load to increase weight on the bar.

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Note this is from the purely academic standpoint. I haven't progressed enough to stall or need a deload yet. –  Berin Loritsch May 25 '11 at 18:06
    
great articles - two good points: plyometric training to increase off-chest power (I think that could be it) and eccentric focus (letting it down slow)...thanks! –  Meade Rubenstein May 25 '11 at 18:31
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