Whats up everyone.  I'm trying to reach 225 for three on the bench.  Currently, I'm at 195 for three and 205 for one.  Those are completely unassisted full reps.  I'm a little worried about plateauing.  I eat often and healthfully.  I haven't been benching for long, probably about two and a half months now.  I could barely do 185 not too long ago so I know I've made progress.  When should I worry about plateauing and if I do, how should I combat against it?  Thanks.  

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By how often, do you mean if I up it weekly?

For chest, I'm doing sets of threes at the moment.  I work to failure and I do incline bench, decline bench, and flies.  

If you cant complete a set or plateau then go back down on weight just a little bit and work back up. Thats what I was told to do for squatting 

Two things: one is that the pecs are a difficult group (no, not just one) of muscles to get growing, so 205 for a 1 rep max isn't too shoddy. Second, in the bench, the last third/quarter of the movement heavily relies on triceps. Are you working these as well? Dips are an excellent follow up exercise which work both the pecs and the tris (more pec of you look down, more tris if you try to straighten up). The advice from the other men is excellent, hit a plateau, so back off to 70 or 80% then work back up, and beyond.

Chances are your bench press technique needs a lot of work.  Reason I say that is, well, because it's true for 99.99% of people who are not elite lifters (myself included to some degree).  Try this link: http://tinyurl.com/bmdhgua (made tiny, it was long).  This is Dave Tate describing the proper setup for bench press.  Despite the salty language, he gives a great tutorial on getting the proper setup.

Any linear progression program should get you to 225x3 eventually.  Given where you're at and where you want to be, look into Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 program (block periodization, modified).  You should be able to run that for a long time before you hit a plateau.  Unless you're 6'5 150 and scratch your knees without bending over, or a tiny, tiny person, 225x3 should be attainable in a very short amount of time given proper training and nutrition.

Make sure you're not just focusing on your bench.  Make sure you're pulling...A LOT. 

For credibility's sake: I bench 390 and after five maximal effort attempts (the final being 400 and missing), I put up 225x28 at 5'7 195.  So feel free to ask me anything you like about programming, technique, nutrition, lessons learned, etc.  I'm currently rehabing a non-sporting related knee injury, but my goal is to total Elite in the 198 class in my next meet (combined 1495 in squat/bench/dead lift).  Right now I'm 105 lbs. away.

I actually got a deep thigh bruise.  The swelling accumulates in the knee, so there isn't any real structural damage, just limited ROM and a lot of pain.  I got it drained and some cortisone injected a few weeks ago and that helped a lot. 

Depending on the degree of injury to the MCL, isometrics can be effective as a way to begin to restabilize the joint.  I have no qualifications to suggest a treatment plan for your situation, but if it were mine, I would manage swelling and inflammation with the old RICE formula (and some Ibuprofen) while working on increasing my pain free ROM.  I'd start with really light leg curls and box squats, then as those improve incorporate leg extensions and eventually free-bar squats.

Sports Medicine guys are pretty good.  In many cases better than the doctors.  They are used to getting athletes back into shape to perform instead of "hey, don't do that again."

Thanks for the reply dude.  I had a bud check out my form and he says it needs a little work.  I'm going to concentrate on form next week.  I'll keep you updated as time goes on. 

Matt, where's your bench at?

Form is definitely a major thing, but what I found that worked for me was I do a lot of work on my triceps and shoulders as well. Once I got help correcting my form, and strengthened those other muscle groups, I started noticing that I could lift more.

Google the 5 3 1 workout.

It looks way more complicated than it actually is, and the whole reason behind it is to constantly keep the body guessing. I've switched from the basic Starting Strength program because I was hitting these intractable plateaus.

On it I've started blowing through several plateaus, including chest. You won't necessarily need a spotter until your backoff set for your bench that way, as you don't go to failure till that last set.

Good luck!

I appreciate all the replies everyone.  All of your advice has been sound.  I actually hit 225 for one last week.  It was a long haul.  I think I'm going to switch things up.  That 5/3/1 workout sounds good. 

A couple things you can try.

1.  Do many sets for a few reps each.  If, for example, your max is 225; do sets w/ 190# (~85% of max) - 10 sets of 3 reps each.

2.  Try pre-exhausting the assisting muscles - the triceps and anterior deltoids (<--lol the spell checker wants to change that to "Altoids") - then use a light weight (50%-60% of max) and do slow controlled bench presses focusing on firing "only" the pecs (you can't completely isolate them).  You should always have a spotter for overhead lifts but be careful with this one.  You'll fail a bit quicker.

3.  On the flip side of #2 make sure you don't ignore the assisting muscles.

4.  Rest is very important.  Don't over train.

Good luck!


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