I'm about a month or two into the Stronglifts 5x5 programme and I've stalled on my bench-press. I'm stalling because I can't unrack the bar for the 5th set, the 4th set was pretty easy once I'd unracked it so I feel like the 5th set should be do-able and I should be adding 2.5kg and moving on. The problem is unracking.

I have bench a bit like this one http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Product/partNumber/9237245.htm, when I'm unracking my arms are bent and I'm not getting the power. I workout by myself in my garage and don't have anyone to lift the weight so I can start from a straight-arm position.

Any tips on getting a bit extra to unrack?

  • just out of curiosity, what's your working weight?
    – DForck42
    Aug 24, 2012 at 17:16

2 Answers 2


I don't have a whole lot of immediate help for you, but the bench you linked to has a couple of design flaws that will make unracking the bar more difficult:

  • The deep J hook. Can't just rip the bar forward off the hook.
  • Non-adjustable J hook. Can't raise or lower the hook to be at a more optimal location.

In the long run, you'll want a bench that isn't so rigid. In fact a good squat stand with 1" hole spacing in the bench range is a very good option.

The quick answer is find someone to give you a lift-off, but as you mentioned, this just isn't practical at the moment. The way StrongLifts is set up, you deal with stalls in the following manner:

  • Repeat the weight up to 3 times.
  • If you stall 3 times, deload. 90% of the weight, and work your way back up.
  • If you have to deload at the same weight 3 times, switch to 3x5.

Now, you can always go with lower increments. This is called micro-loading. I had to do that for a while until I graduated to an intermediate program.


Sounds like you just don't have the power at the top of your range. This means you're not ready to move on, or are attempting too large of an increase from your last successful weight. Does Stronglifts allow for smaller increments? Like instead of 2.5kg/5lbs, could you try going up by 1.25kg/2.5lbs?

I'd treat this the same way your program would treat any failure to complete the prescribed reps. (I don't know what SL says to do, but Starting Strength says to try the weight up for up to three workouts, then deload and use smaller increments on the way back up.)

  • It does allow for smaller increments. May 31, 2012 at 16:41

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