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How can I increase my pitiful bench (without gaining weight)? watch

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    My bench is an embarrassment.

    Deadlifts and squats I can get some progress in but bench just doesn’t change. Can barely manage 35kg for 1 rep - even when I was 6kg heavier than I am now it’s never seen higher than that.

    Are some people just cursed with a pathetic upper body?

    Not overly keen on gaining weight (not a significant amount anyway). Is it possible to increase strength other than gaining mass?
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    (Original post by LavenderBlueSky88)
    My bench is an embarrassment.

    Deadlifts and squats I can get some progress in but bench just doesn’t change. Can barely manage 35kg for 1 rep - even when I was 6kg heavier than I do now it’s never seen higher than that.

    Are some people just cursed with a pathetic upper body?

    Not overly keen on gaining weight (not a significant amount anyway). Is it possible to increase strength other than gaining mass?
    I feel you Upper body strength is a huge challenge for me too. I think it's a fairly common experience for women.

    What training programme are you following?
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    (Original post by Puddles the Monkey)
    I feel you Upper body strength is a huge challenge for me too. I think it's a fairly common experience for women.

    What training programme are you following?
    5/3/1 - but potentially starting a different powerlifting programme soon.
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    Technique is my fist thought. Bench has more technique to it than squat or deadlift imo.

    Is your set up solid? Do you arch? Are your shoulder back? Do you bend the bar? Do you stay tight all the way down? Do you touch your chest further down (towards your feet) than where you start? Do you use leg drive? Is your bar path always consistent?
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    (Original post by BKS)
    Technique is my fist thought. Bench has more technique to it than squat or deadlift imo.

    Is your set up solid? Do you arch? Are your shoulder back? Do you bend the bar? Do you stay tight all the way down? Do you touch your chest further down (towards your feet) than where you start? Do you use leg drive? Is your bar path always consistent?
    Set up variable depending on where I’m doing it - depends if I can get a flat bench or am stuck with one that dips. Do always try and get a flat bench when I can.

    I have a bit of an arch, feet planted, try and use leg drive.

    What do you mean by “bend the bar”?

    I try and bring the bar down to my chest, I suppose this may be further down than where I start - what would you recommend.

    I think I should film myself to check if my bar path is straight.
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    (Original post by LavenderBlueSky88)
    Set up variable depending on where I’m doing it - depends if I can get a flat bench or am stuck with one that dips. Do always try and get a flat bench when I can.

    I have a bit of an arch, feet planted, try and use leg drive.

    What do you mean by “bend the bar”?

    I try and bring the bar down to my chest, I suppose this may be further down than where I start - what would you recommend.

    I think I should film myself to check if my bar path is straight.
    Bend the bar at the top before you stat to lower. Rotate your elbows outwards and make sure your are tight. As if you are trying to pull it so you're bending it in half- without actually moving. Bend the bar is a cue that helps a lot of people do it. Then a you lower, you want to be actively pulling the bar down, not just letting it fall. Mos people think keep bending the bar or think about engaging their lats.

    Your bar path shouldn't be straight up and down. That's what I mean by touch your chest further down. You want to drive back and up and an angle off your chest then go straight up. I can't explain the science (I get bored half way through trying to read explanations) but I promise it's a thing.

    For example- because you can see what I mean quite obviously, not claiming to be perfect
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    (Original post by LavenderBlueSky88)
    My bench is an embarrassment.

    Deadlifts and squats I can get some progress in but bench just doesn’t change. Can barely manage 35kg for 1 rep - even when I was 6kg heavier than I am now it’s never seen higher than that.

    Are some people just cursed with a pathetic upper body?

    Not overly keen on gaining weight (not a significant amount anyway). Is it possible to increase strength other than gaining mass?
    Why is gaining weight bad if it means you are gaining muscle?
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    (Original post by LavenderBlueSky88)
    5/3/1 - but potentially starting a different powerlifting programme soon.
    Have you tried something with more volume and/or frequency on benching/pressing movements?
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    When my bench was lagging behind, I did Smolov Jr. It means benching 4x a week and putting everything else on maintenance pretty much, but as people say and I agree with, if you want to get good at benching, do a lot of benching. My 1RM increased by 15% in 4 weeks, from benching 2.5 plates to benching 3 plates :top:
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    Technique and variation. OHP especially carries over massively to bench in my experience
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    This advice is basic but might help if you aren't doing it.

    1.) Going gym with someone who is good at spotting. (They don't help you too much, and they help you push yourself). Some plataeus are mental rather than physical.

    2.) Warming up properly
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    (Original post by It's****ingWOODY)
    When my bench was lagging behind, I did Smolov Jr. It means benching 4x a week and putting everything else on maintenance pretty much, but as people say and I agree with, if you want to get good at benching, do a lot of benching. My 1RM increased by 15% in 4 weeks, from benching 2.5 plates to benching 3 plates :top:
    Wow, thats pretty insane! Considering 120kg is a reasonable bench to begin with.

    Did you gain much weight/maintain that increase in strength on the bench when you went back to your regular training routine?
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    (Original post by LavenderBlueSky88)
    5/3/1 - but potentially starting a different powerlifting programme soon.
    This might not be helpful (because I am not as strong as you, nor am I a powerlifter ), but I have found for upper body that dropping weight and increasing reps makes a big difference. I started progressing on OHP when I stopped 5x5 and began doing 4x 6-10 reps instead.
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    (Original post by In One Ear)
    Wow, thats pretty insane! Considering 120kg is a reasonable bench to begin with.

    Did you gain much weight/maintain that increase in strength on the bench when you went back to your regular training routine?
    Yeah, definitely a fan of very high frequency routines for improving lifts now. Squats are next!

    I only ate about 500 above maintenance. Back to benching 531 once a week for now and improvements are still being made :top:
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    I've found my bench typically improves after a period of rest after high volume for a while. Similar for squats and deadlifts to be honest.
    If you're starting a new programme, check out the GZCL method as it's pretty customisable to whatever you want to focus on. You could therefore set out a programme with a greater focus on stuff for bench such as bench variations and upper body accessories.

    Also, it probably helps to remember that it is much more difficult to make progress for bench, especially as a girl, and you have to be quite patient hahaha. I've been lifting 'kinda' seriously for almost a year and a half now and over the past half year, I would say I have probably only added 5kg to my bench (from 57.5kg ---> 62.5kg, maybe 65kg without the pause required for powerlifting competitions).
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    (Original post by rz290)
    I've found my bench typically improves after a period of rest after high volume for a while. Similar for squats and deadlifts to be honest.
    If you're starting a new programme, check out the GZCL method as it's pretty customisable to whatever you want to focus on. You could therefore set out a programme with a greater focus on stuff for bench such as bench variations and upper body accessories.

    Also, it probably helps to remember that it is much more difficult to make progress for bench, especially as a girl, and you have to be quite patient hahaha. I've been lifting 'kinda' seriously for almost a year and a half now and over the past half year, I would say I have probably only added 5kg to my bench (from 57.5kg ---> 62.5kg, maybe 65kg without the pause required for powerlifting competitions).
    Thanks for the info - I’ll check out GZCL. I’m also starting at a new gym soon which specialises in power and Olympic lifting so hopefully can get some more guidance too.

    I just need to work on upper body strength full stop. My OHP has never progressed and I still can’t do 1 strict pull up. I’m a bit worried it’s just genetics and I’ll never see anything over 40kg for bench which is depressing as my deadlift and squat have the potential to be pretty decent if I start training properly.

    Your bench is strong! Do you compete/plan to compete?
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    (Original post by LavenderBlueSky88)
    Thanks for the info - I’ll check out GZCL. I’m also starting at a new gym soon which specialises in power and Olympic lifting so hopefully can get some more guidance too.

    I just need to work on upper body strength full stop. My OHP has never progressed and I still can’t do 1 strict pull up. I’m a bit worried it’s just genetics and I’ll never see anything over 40kg for bench which is depressing as my deadlift and squat have the potential to be pretty decent if I start training properly.

    Your bench is strong! Do you compete/plan to compete?
    You just have to keep chipping away at it to be honest. It's really frustrating at times but if you keep track, it's really encouraging to look back on progress over time and realise, wow, I have come a long way. And I've found whenever I slack off bench (which is easy for me to do since I usually don't enjoy it that much... although that's changed a bit recently, hahaha) I actually lose progress (although it comes back quite quickly) so maintaining strength can still be an achievement.

    If pull-ups are something you want to get as well, possibly start with attempting to get chin-ups and then move up to pull-ups. I can do a few chin-ups in a row but only 1 pull-up, hahaha.

    I've done a few 'mock' meets organised by my uni's powerlifting club and I may compete in the British Unis comp at the beginning of April but I'm feeling a bit discouraged at the moment since I haven't been able to make any progress in my deadlift since January and last week, I couldn't pull 130kg which used to be a not too difficult triple hahaha. My friend said it was the fact I got about 2 hours of sleep but still... really really discouraging.

    How about you?
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    (Original post by It's****ingWOODY)
    Yeah, definitely a fan of very high frequency routines for improving lifts now. Squats are next!

    I only ate about 500 above maintenance. Back to benching 531 once a week for now and improvements are still being made :top:
    Yeah I'm hearing from a lot of people now that high frequency is one of the best ways to improve lifts - particularly the upper body pressing ones as lighter weight lifted on them (relative to squats and deadlifts) means that recovery isn't so much of an issue.

    When you moved to higher frequency, what was your recovery like?
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    (Original post by rz290)
    You just have to keep chipping away at it to be honest. It's really frustrating at times but if you keep track, it's really encouraging to look back on progress over time and realise, wow, I have come a long way. And I've found whenever I slack off bench (which is easy for me to do since I usually don't enjoy it that much... although that's changed a bit recently, hahaha) I actually lose progress (although it comes back quite quickly) so maintaining strength can still be an achievement.

    If pull-ups are something you want to get as well, possibly start with attempting to get chin-ups and then move up to pull-ups. I can do a few chin-ups in a row but only 1 pull-up, hahaha.

    I've done a few 'mock' meets organised by my uni's powerlifting club and I may compete in the British Unis comp at the beginning of April but I'm feeling a bit discouraged at the moment since I haven't been able to make any progress in my deadlift since January and last week, I couldn't pull 130kg which used to be a not too difficult triple hahaha. My friend said it was the fact I got about 2 hours of sleep but still... really really discouraging.

    How about you?
    I’m the same re: pull ups - can do maybe 3 chins on a good day, just have weak af shoulders and back.

    I’m hoping when I start actually focusing on bench it might go up - I have put most emphasis on squats and deadlifts as I have just got so discouraged at bench. Fingers crossed anyway! Not expecting a miracle but 50kg one day would be amazing.

    Oh you should definitely compete sounds like you could do that 130kg x3 on a better day - I wouldn’t even attempt to go to the gym on 2 hours sleep (or anything less then 6 hours haha literally can’t function without sleep).

    I’m just seeing how it goes at the moment, I’m no where near competing level especially for my weight class (only managed a 100kg deadlift today for 1 rep) . I’d love to do a meet one day though just to see if I could get through it!
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    (Original post by Smack)
    Yeah I'm hearing from a lot of people now that high frequency is one of the best ways to improve lifts - particularly the upper body pressing ones as lighter weight lifted on them (relative to squats and deadlifts) means that recovery isn't so much of an issue.

    When you moved to higher frequency, what was your recovery like?
    It was a bit up and down, depended largely on how well I slept really. Shoulder joints were a bit achey throughout but that was to be expected cause it's heavy going. Made sure I did my rotator cuff work, also completely avoided any shoulder pressing or triceps work and just did side laterals when it came to shoulders. OHPs went up though as well, obviously through increased triceps and front delt strength.
 
 
 
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