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8 Ways to Bust Through a Stubborn Bench Press Plateau

Bench Press

The bench press, some of the beloved and irritating lifts that can be carried out in the health club. Barbell coaching journeys typically start on the bench, and mockingly, they typically get caught on the bench as properly. In respects to barbell compound movements, the bench press may be one of the toughest lifts to progress at occasions.

Bench press mechanics are easy in nature, however begin to get extra complicated as weight continues to go up. The deadlift and squat could be stubborn at occasions, but they are typically slightly easier to work with with regards to grinding by means of sticking factors and plateaus. The bench press however is an entire totally different animal. This movement requires precision and crystal clear fine-tuning when new 1-RMs are on the horizon.

It’s pretty widespread to encounter bench press plateaus from time-to-time, and they are often extremely irritating to work by way of. Loads of occasions extra quantity is the answer, though, there are some useful equipment and training strategies value making an attempt with regards to breaking via a bench press plateau.

Did You Really Hit a Plateau?

Earlier than going any further, let’s make one thing clear: A plateau isn’t outlined as one or two dangerous days within the health club on a certain raise. Far too typically, newer lifters have a nasty coaching day and assume they’ve plateau’d on a specific carry, and that’s sometimes removed from the truth.

Photograph by By Maksim Toome/Shutterstock

There are a ton of various elements that would contribute to at least one or two “off” lifting day akin to stress, lack of sleep, poor vitamin, being worn down, and that’s on prime different life elements. Now, if your bench press has been stalled for a number of months and you may’t seem to move past a sure number whether or not it’s because of bodily power or a mental roadblock, then you’ve got a case for a reputable bench press plateau.

Earlier than implementing any of the methods under, it’s essential to be objective together with your present lifting state and really assess if it’s essential to change things up.

General Bench Press Plateau

Typical Problems: Stale programming, lack of foundational power, lagging muscle teams. 

1. Keep away from the Barbell and Opt for Dumbbells

One approach to break via a bench press plateau is to truly avoid using the barbell for a full micro or meso training cycle. As an alternative of hitting the barbell bench press, make the dumbbell bench press your main motion in your urgent day. This cannot solely present a mentality with a refresh in the direction of the bench press, however it can be a good way to concentrate on and spotlight weak factors with the dumbbell bench press variation.

Dumbbells provide a number of distinctive benefits on the bench press that the barbell merely cannot do.

  • First, they can help you transfer with a slightly bigger range of movement, which might help improve the stretch of the musculature wanted in the bench.
  • Second, they’re performed unilaterally, to allow them to assist highlight imbalances of weaknesses on one aspect of the bench press.
  • Third, dumbbells might be useful when making an attempt to provide the shoulder (glenohumeral) joint a bit relaxation and recovery. You possibly can grip dumbbells neutrally, carry out them with a traditional bench grip, or diagonally to accommodate for potential shoulder problems.

For those who opt for the dumbbell bench press over the barbell for a micro/meso coaching cycle, then you’ll be able to nonetheless use barbell bench press variations (incline and decline), however achieve this sparingly to offer the physique some proper rest and recovery.

2. Bench More Typically and Range the Reps

One thing that’s fascinating concerning the bench press is how it responds to larger volume coaching. Of the large three (squat, bench press, and deadlift), the bench press is usually recommended to respond extra favorably with a better coaching volume and extra exposure. A better training volume and its advantages can differ from athlete to athlete, however the bench press is a extremely technical motion, so it is sensible when you think about a better exposure facilitating better bench improvements.

To improve the bench press as an entire, then power, power, and hypertrophy ought to all be thought-about. These elements all play a task together in relation to pressing heavy weight and if one is out of alignment, then the others can endure.

On the bench press, don’t be afraid to play around with totally different rep schemes and intensities. Typically occasions, a plateau is just indicative of a rep scheme and intensity that has run dry. For instance, in the event you have been linearly growing weight for 12-weeks in a row within the 5-rep vary and out of the blue hit a wall, then shift your reps and play with totally different intensities to coach the bench press in a special method (energy, relative power, hypertrophy, and so on.).

Keep in mind, for those who shift bench intensities and reps abruptly — build a plan based mostly off of that. This may also help you progressing together with your new shifted path, as opposed to merely throwing in a assorted rep/depth day right here and there.

3. 1 1/4 Reps

The 1 1/four rep is another superior software for building work capability and dealing by way of plateaus. This rep scheme is beneficial when you could strictly build your work capability on the bench. To carry out a 1 1/four bench press, you’ll convey the barbell right down to the chest, press up midway, deliver the barbell back right down to the chest, then full the press and lockout.

You possibly can perform 1 1/four reps with both dumbbells and a barbell, and this makes them helpful for strengthening the bench press on multiple fronts. For those who select to carry out 1 1/four reps, keep in mind to drop the depth slightly to account for the extra workload.

Caught Off the Chest

Typical Issues: Weak chest muscle tissue, inconsistent type, and poor loading mechanics. 

four. Spoto Presses

In the event you find that your bench press is stalling within the first portion off the chest, then take a number of weeks and check out implementing Spoto Presses into your routine. This exercise is usually promoted by power coach and powerlifter Jonnie Candito — and that’s for good cause. The Spoto Press entails a traditional barbell bench press, but as an alternative of bringing the barbell all the best way to the chest, you cease the bar just shy of contact and pause.

The Spoto Press is beneficial for off the chest-oriented bench press plateaus as a result of it requires lifters to concentrate on two key elements. First, it helps with reinforcing general body pressure in the course of the bench press, which is a elementary key for fulfillment, especially at first of the press. If the higher body is dropping tightness, then the strong foundation that is being pressed from is principally ineffective.

Second, it promotes consideration to tempo and full muscle contractions. The Spoto Press helps take the traditional bench press’s precision up a degree by requiring an athlete to decelerate and ensure they’re pausing appropriately. This in return can translate to understanding the place a press is perhaps falling brief. For example, in case you notice you pause at the bottom and the triceps are solely on hearth, whereas the the higher physique is relatively unfazed (chest, rear delts, and so on.), then you definitely is probably not contracting and benching correctly.

5. Tempos and Pauses

For those who compete in powerlifting, then you definitely in all probability find out about tempo and pauses far too nicely within the bench press. Tempo and pauses are incredibly powerful instruments for constructing a robust bench press. In tempo coaching, intensities are often dropped barely so as to adhere to a selected loading sample and timeline. For anyone new to tempo coaching, there might be three (typically four) numbers hooked up to lifts and will resemble the instance under,

Bench Press 3 x 5 — Tempo: 311

  • Three = Three-second eccentric (decreasing)
  • 1 = 1-second pause on the backside 
  • 1 = 1-second concentric (urgent)

*Observe, if there’s a fourth number used, then it’s used to indicate a maintain on the prime of a motion. This fourth number is most useful for pulling movements like chin-ups, pull-ups, and deadlifts.  

Growing tempo may be useful for selling a robust bench at the backside of the press as a result of it may possibly help facilitate your capacity to load drive into the eccentric and into bench, then shift that drive into the bar. Tempo can be useful to promote proper type and constant reps. 

Outdoors of tempo, you can too pause in the bench press to bust by way of an off-the-chest plateau. A pause is pretty much synonymous to using tempos, and may help facilitate better proprioception when holding weight and kinesthetic consciousness of where you may be falling brief off the chest. In the event you’re new to utilizing pauses, then start with a lighter intensity and work on staying strict with pause occasions.

6. Lifeless Cease Bench Press

The lifeless cease bench press is another useful gizmo for busting by way of a plateau on the backside of the bench press. To carry out the lifeless cease bench press, you’ll set a squat rack’s safeties about 1-3″ off the chest so the barbell won’t keep in touch with the body. When you’re set underneath the barbell, you then’ll merely press from the lifeless cease position.

Why does it work? As opposed to allowing you to load eccentrically, the lifeless stop bench press focuses on building concentric power with completely no momentum or stretch shortening cycle. This may also help promote a stronger start place on the bench and enhance your means to supply drive via the barbell, as you’ve literally no momentum to take action.

Caught At Lockout

Typical Problems: Lagging triceps, inconsistent type, poor urgent mechanics. 

7. Flooring Presses and Rack Lockouts

A plateau drawback that resonates on the lockout of a bench press might be because of lagging tricep power. Two bench press variations which are unbelievable for constructing stronger triceps are the ground press and rack lockouts. The floor press uses the ground as a stopping level in the course of the press, so your range of movement is just about minimize in half.

By slicing the vary of motion in half, the triceps are then pressured to serve as the first movers for the complete train, which may also help improve lockout. Additionally, you possibly can sometimes load the ground press barely heavier than your normal bench press, or perform with it larger reps to reap advantages.

Rack lockouts are just like lifeless stop bench presses, however the press will start a lot greater in relation to the body. Usually, a rack lockout will begin with a peak that facilitates a 90 diploma or higher angle with the elbow joint. This allows you to supra-maximally load the bench press because the vary of motion is 50% or much less of what it usually is. Plus, the triceps are going to be heavily labored, as they’re the prime movers when locking out the bench press.

eight. Heavy Bench Press Holds

Heavy bench holds are one in every of elite powerlifter and world report holder Jen Thompson’s favourite equipment for building an enormous press. This entails taking a supra-maximal weight from the rack and simply holding it at lockout for a time oriented objective. In our underrated powerlifting equipment article, Thompson beneficial taking about 150% of your present 1-RM and holding it at lockout for about 15-seconds.

In case you choose to carry out heavy lockouts, then it’s necessary to remember two things. First, all the time make the most of a spotter for liftoffs and putting the barbell again on the rack safely. Second, scale the time oriented aim in the direction of your degree of fitness. In case you are model new to this exercise, then opt for a shallower time aim like 5 or 10-seconds.

Wrapping Up

Typically one of the simplest ways to beat a bench press plateau is to easily press more. If that’s not working and you’re nonetheless struggling to enhance, then it may be time to objectively assess the place you could be falling brief on the bench press. As an alternative of taking a look at a plateau as an entire, attempt to pinpoint where precisely a bench drawback lies, then work backwards from there!

Function image from Maksim Toome/Shutterstock. 

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