“Bench Press Plateau”. It’s a feared term for powerlifters, bodybuilders, fitness trainers, and regular gym enthusiasts, which breeds doubt, leading to inaction about your bench press max.
You’ve been steadily progressing, achieving personal records, witnessing those weights grow larger, and then…
Progress slows. Nothing increases. You continue hitting the same numbers in each training session.
Initially, you think, “Okay.” But after a week, you realize: Your bench press isn’t improving.
This leads to a stream of mental questions: How can I increase my bench press again? Why am I losing strength in bench pressing?
Stop dwelling on these thoughts. You’re not weakening. You’re encountering a common plateau in your fitness journey.
Sometimes they persist for days, or even weeks, and in bodybuilding, they can extend for years.
Although some fitness trainers might preach to do accessory movements for a bench press plateau, I believe that is the last thing you should be doing when you’ve hit a bench-press ceiling.
The best way to break a bench press plateau is to do MORE benching or INCORPORATE different benching techniques like pause-benching, static holds, or slow-tempo reps.
Nonetheless, If your bench press has plateaued, I present straightforward bench-press techniques to smash your bench press plateau and regain those personal records.
Exercises To Bust Through Your Bench Press Plateau
311 Tempo Bench Technique
Performing bench presses with a 311 tempo represents the most common method to practice this slower-paced repetition.
This implies that you’ll spend 3 seconds lowering the weight, hold for 1 second without movement at your chest, and take approximately a second (or your usual speed) to raise it back up.
The act of lowering the bar slowly proves beneficial for refining proper technique because it compels you to maintain tension, control the bar, and follow the optimal bar path.
Additionally, it’s advantageous for building strength since we possess greater strength during the lowering phase of the lift.
Thus, it’s logical to lower the weight gradually and execute the upward phase briskly. You have the opportunity to incorporate the tempo bench press into your competition bench press preparation or various strength training sessions.
Pause Bench Press
The Pause Bench technique involves briefly stopping the barbell’s descent during a bench press.
This pause, usually lasting a moment, enhances control and stability in your bench press form.
It teaches your body to maintain proper technique and builds explosive strength during the pause, helping you overcome where people fail, the ascent of the barbell.
To perform it, lower the bar to your chest, pause momentarily, and then press it upward.
Include the pause bench in your training to improve bench press performance and tackle challenging portions of the lift effectively, a.k.a the lockout of the bench press.
Explosive Bench Press
To do this leave your ego at the door and drop the weight to 60-70% of your max bench press. Instead of struggling with a heavy load, you’ll concentrate on explosive movements during the bench press.
This means pushing the barbell upward as swiftly as possible.
By reducing the weight and emphasizing speed, you can enhance your explosive strength, improve your bar speed, and develop the ability to generate power effectively during the bench press.
This technique of exploding up contributes to overall strength gains but also aids in breaking through plateaus by refining your lifting mechanics and promoting rapid force production.
So, leave your ego at the door, embrace the lighter weight, and focus on explosiveness to break your bench press plateau.
Banded Bench Press
Conversely to the 311 tempo bench technique, this technique focuses more on the concentric portion(upper part of the lift) of the bench press.
This technique of placing bands(or chains) on each side of the bar is one of the more effective techniques for crushing your bench press plateaus.
Your body is forced stabilize through your abs, shoulder, and your back, particularly your lats. you are engaging your entire upper body for the lift while teaching your body to work as a WHOLE to stabilize and control the bar for the rep
Simply Bench More
What we imply with the typical “simply do it more frequently!” is exactly that. Dedicate a specific training period to prioritize bench work.
An instance could be as straightforward as:
- If you perform 1 bench press session weekly, Increase it to 2 times weekly.
- If you currently engage in 2 weekly bench press sessions, elevate it to 3 times weekly.
- And so forth.
Among the three – squat, bench press, and deadlift, the bench press generally benefits the most from increased training frequency.
The muscle groups involved (chest, shoulders, and triceps) are smaller than the lower body muscles, enabling quicker recovery and better responsiveness to higher training volumes.
Nonetheless, if your approach involves ramping up your training, ensure you blend power, strength, and hypertrophy. These elements must harmonize to yield results.
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Wave Goodbye to Your Bench Press Plateau
Take into account that these techniques serves as a powerful strategy for enhancing strength across various exercises. However, it is advisable to prioritize core multi-joint movements within your training program.
Core multi-joint exercises, such as squats, deadlifts, and bench presses, target multiple muscle groups simultaneously, providing comprehensive strength development.
By focusing on these fundamental movements, you not only build a strong foundation but also improve functional strength that can benefit various aspects of your day to day life!
A clear indication that you’ve reached a plateau is when you can’t raise the number of repetitions or the amount of weight you’re lifting.
For most people, insufficient tricep strength could be responsible for a plateau problem that becomes apparent during the final lockout phase of the bench press. The floor press and rack lockouts are two bench press variations that prove highly effective in enhancing tricep strength and overcoming bench press plateaus.
Around 4-6 months into a training regimen, your strength improvements can plateau during bench pressing. It’s crucial not to prematurely abandon your routine since noticeable progress may not immediately become evident.
Consider incorporating effective techniques like tempo reps and banded bench press into your training routine. Take advantage of progressive overload and try to lift more weight or do more reps/sets every gym session.
Limit bench press sessions to 2 to 3 times per week. It’s crucial to allow your muscles adequate recovery time by spacing out these sessions with at least 1 day in between.