What's going on with my bench press? (Ideas for overcoming plateau)

  1. Question What's going on with my bench press? (Ideas for overcoming plateau)


    Hey all. So I currently just started an 8 week powerbodybuilding program where I'm looking to increase my strength on the major compound exercises (bench, squat, deadlift, BB shoulder press, etc.).

    I'm still developing my exact routine as in the past I've generally focused only on bodybuilding, but my main goal is to overcome what has been a plateau for me on bench press for awhile now.

    For some reason, I am having trouble getting back to being able to do clean reps 4-6+ with good depth/form with 225 lbs. (A bit embarrassed to admit that). However, I am able to get 215 for solid reps (7 last week). But when I move up to 225 I seem to stall on the part of the movement that goes below arms parallel to the floor.

    When I bench in the power rack to where the barbell starts when my arms are just above parallel to the floor, I can do an easy 6 partial reps with 225, and I can do easy 1 rep negatives lowering past parallel with 245+

    Any thoughts on techniques to improve my bench from chest level to parallel? I'm doing partials and heavier full ROM negatives now as mentioned, but I'm not sure it's making a difference.

    I also switched today from creatine hcl which I'm not sure does that much for me to creatine mono and we'll see if it makes a difference.

    In my early 20s I could do tricep close grip bench with 235 for reps and mainly did dumbbells for chest, so I have benched more than 225 before, but I was doing cycles of AAS at the time.

    TLDR: Trying to get over sticking point on benching 225, can do above parallel portion of the movement easily, but hit a sticking point when lowering it below parallel and can only do 1-2 reps, but would like to work up to 6+ reps and eventually 245 for at least 4.


  2. I would try doing some negatives. If you r having trouble at 225 being your max your working set needs to b a bit lower. I would try some negatives around 185/205. Go to failure on your last set n then have a spotter help you with an extra 4 or 5 negatives to kill the muscle
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  3. I can't really rely on a spotter in my gym but I do have access to a squat rack/power rack with adjustable safety bars.

    Yeah, I guess next time I'll try to find some 2.5s and go for 220. It just seems silly that I'd be able to get 215 for 7 no real issues but have trouble getting past parallel with 225. But we'll see. Maybe C-mono will help cause I have a feeling the HCl is a joke or minimally effective.

  4. Studies show there isn't really and difference between mono and hcl but you may have some mental block to. Happen to me a lot. Get frustrated. That's when you wanna just change your rep n set scheme or weight n do something different to just shock the body n force it to grow in a different way n then when you go back to your regular way you will probably see a good improvement

  5. Yeah I was thinking about a possible mental block because it's moving to 2 plates. I am stopping because I FEEL like I will fail vs. actually failing when going below parallel. Our gym just got a squat rack w/ adjustable safety bars so next week I'll adjust them properly and see if I can actually complete the reps without worrying about being able to get it back up.

    And that's what I'm trying here with a focus on powerbodybuilding only - basically try to gain strength on compound movements, get to a new level on each and then increase reps from there which should increase mass. So if I can get to the point where I'm easily repping 225 and doing working sets with 245, I should get a decent muscle mass gain.

    As far as creatine mono vs HCl, I'm not so sure, but we'll see. I have mostly been using HCl since I started bodybuilding again in 2015, based on "expert" advice, but I'm starting to really think the mono simply does work better (at least for me). I'll be able to test strength differences in the coming weeks but I do know I get a better 24/7 pump and more muscular look from mono than HCl, and also more energy. Next week I'll be able to see if there are any difference in strength gains.

    I have been taking patented Kaged HCl and have now switched to ON Creapure Micronized German Mono so both brands should be high quality. I doubt I'll go back to HCl cause I don't know that I get much from it.
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  6. Not sure about your general routine, but maybe you could incorporate more tricep work? Dips, skull crushers etc... Will help get your bench up.
    "If we use our emotions as a means of forming conclusions and making decisions, then it is our emotions that businesses will appeal to, and in such a world, dishonesty reigns." - Par Deus

  7. Yeah, I've been doing dips for my main tricep exercise, but I think I'll switch to straight close grip bench and work on that simultaneously

  8. I wouldn't worry about the supps as much as the exercises you r doing. The training is what will really make the difference. Most plateaus will b broken once you start doing something different that your body isn't use to

  9. True, although I switched from creatine HCl to mono and had a better bench day today. Was able to get 225 x 4 for reasonable depth, and I did some work on my weak point (the lower part of the movement) where I was able to lift 220 off the safety bars at the bottom bench press position (closest to chest). I couldn't do that last week and I think it's mostly due to creatine mono as I'm also eating less calories now.

    I also switched to close grip bench for triceps and got 185 x 3 but my arms were fairly beat after doing bench and shoulders.

    I did some static holds and negatives for bench and CG bench, and rotator cuff work as well. Next week I'll try to get 225 x 6 for greater ROM and work on strengthening the lower portion of the movement again.

  10. When I start getting stuck on flat barbell bench, I like to incorporate dumbbells more. When I come back to the barbell a couple weeks later, I usually find my plateau broken. Of course, I wouldn't take advice from me and you probably shouldn't either. Haha.
    "They say the meek will inherit the Earth,
    But the ground they’ve left us is barren cold."

  11. Actually that's a good idea. Dumbbells should also target chest more which is involved in the portion of the movement I'm having trouble with (the part between chest level and parallel).

  12. Pause work of any kind...Pause directly on the chest, Spoto press, Pin Press from chest level, Paused Floor Press, JM Press...pauses don't have to be excessive, a quick count to 1-2 is more than enough...

    Pause work improves your ability to enforce proper technique while actually controlling the weight, makes it easier to initiate cues, and as long as you're practicing safe Bench patterns (pinching shoulder blades, tucking elbows, etc), can be much safer than your typical bouncing Touch and Go rep work because each rep when paused makes following the same stroke much easier...

  13. Quote Originally Posted by Martyfnemec View Post
    When I start getting stuck on flat barbell bench, I like to incorporate dumbbells more. When I come back to the barbell a couple weeks later, I usually find my plateau broken. Of course, I wouldn't take advice from me and you probably shouldn't either. Haha.
    This works for me too. Also, arching my back and fully retracting my shoulders helps me at the bottom of the movement. I started making really decent gains when i figured out how to use my back to drive the transition.

  14. Do your elbows flare when you try to push off your chest, or do they stay tucked? If your elbows flare as soon as you try to press, either your triceps are weak and your body is trying to get stress off of them and onto other structures (probably your shoulders), or your lats aren't staying tight. If your form stays good but you still miss, you need to work strength in the bottom position (pin press, long pause bench, etc), possibly some speed work to build explosiveness off the chest (banded bench with 45-55% of max), and it might help to do some shoulder work (OHP full ROM paused on sternum, Arnold press, etc).
    OLYMPUS LABS
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  15. Aside the the things mentioned, one other way I have broken a few personal rep plateaus is by tricking/priming my CNS. For example, If I was stuck at 225 for reps, I would do warm up sets up to a higher weight and then drop the weight to 225 for reps. So basically I would pyramid up 135,185, 225 doing far less than max reps. Then maybe do 245 for as many as you can for a set (which might only be a couple reps), and then drop back down to 225 for the next 2 or 3 sets (depending on how many sets you do)
    I have gone from being stuck at 5-6 reps to jumping up to 10 reps in a single workout with this method. You cannot do it every workout, but once in a while it is a good trick. I think it also has benefits in helping to overcome mental barriers to progress.
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