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I am stuck at 5x75 kg bench press.

I bench press once a week for 4 sets and overhead press once a week for 4 sets.

I could increase the frequency by training 3 times a week instead of 2, or I could increase the number of sets to 5. I think either of these approaches would work. However I want to try to avoid doing this, since I find going to the gym boring.

Instead I want to progress, but slower.

Earlier I did linear progression: 4 set x 5 reps. But when I came to 5x60 kg adding 2.5 kg each week was a ca. 4 % increase in 1RM and I could not do it.

I then switched to double progression. So instead of doing 5x62.5 kg the next week I did: 6x60 kg: ca. 3 % increase in 1RM. Once I hit 7 reps on the top set (I also switched to doing a pyramid instead of straight sets) I added 5 kg and worked my way up to 7 reps again.

Now even this is too fast progress. I find it demotivating not being able to add 1 rep each week.

One option could be to switch to something like 5/3/1. Here I could progress as slow as 2.5 kg every 4th week: ca. 1 % increase in 1 RM per week. However I do not like the idea of a preplanned work plan based on percentages. I like looking at my log book each workout and deciding on the spot what to do.

I have come up with an idea that I wonder if anyone here has some experience with or thoughts on?

I alternate volume and intensity weeks. On volume weeks the aim is to increase the total number of kgs lifted. On intensity weeks I work up to a heavy top set. My goal is to increase the top set by one rep. I start at maybe 3 reps and once I hit maybe 5 reps I add 5 kg and work my way up again. This way I could progress at the slower rate of 3 % every second week.

This way I could also still decide from my log book what to do each workout, only this time I would have to look at not the last workout, but the one before that.

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There is a lot of different opinions and research showing the benefits of both intensity and volume. I personally prefer high intensity and low volume as a general rule, but, individual differences can vary what works best for you. That being said, if your primary goal is to increase your strength then intensity and specifically high resistance is what you want. A training method I've personally had great success with, aswell as others I've suggested it to, is a low rep, high set routine that prioritises power. The method is, take your 1RM max and find roughly 85%. Then do sets of 2-3 reps making sure to emphasise power (controlling the weight down and pushing it up as fast and as hard as you can). You need to watch your rep speed and once you've slowed by 20%, which is about when you'll be able to notice the reduction in speed, this is where you stop. That should be about 6-7 sets.

On the other hand, if you are trying to maximise hypertrophy, so increasing muscle mass, your out-of-gym routine is just as, if not more important, than your training method. This means optimising your diet and sleep quality. I know this wasn't really part of your question but I think it is important to mention, if you are training consistently and still experiencing a plateau, you more likely need to look at and improve the above-mentioned. That could mean optimising your calorie and protein intake and ensuring get adequate sleep.

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    I take anywhere from 3 - 5 minutes. It depends on the exercise and on your ultimate goal. Again, if you're training for strength and power, especially on bench press, I'd go nearer the top end, 4+ minutes. In terms of retesting your 1rm, I personally try to train with a balance between optimising hypertrophy and strength increase and so I only did this method a few times and for 3 to 4 weeks at a time. And yes, I had the same thought before trying this routine, and so, I took one chest day before beginning it and used that to test my one rep max.
    – Ethan
    Nov 12, 2023 at 14:39
  • How often do you retest your 1 RM and increase the weights? What kind of workout do you do after you have tested your 1RM? I would think such a test would impact your power output on subsequent sets
    – Andy
    Nov 12, 2023 at 14:40
  • I Personally, only used it for a short period as a one off to overcome a plateau, but you could incorporate it into your routine. Just remember the speed and power is only important if that's what you're training for. If you then want to prioritize hypertrophy and building mass, time under tension and reaching failure would be more important do doing the reps slow up and down could be more beneficial for that. For example, I tend to combine both by using a bit more explosive power on my presses, flat and incline, but then use slow controlled reps for flys to increase time under tension.
    – Ethan
    Nov 12, 2023 at 16:12

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