End Your Bench Press Plateau | STACK
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

End Your Bench Press Plateau

May 8, 2012

Must See Strength Training Videos

Whether you're training for sport or recreation, a plateau in your Bench Press progression is never welcome. Increasing your intensity or switching up your workout may make a difference, but the problem could lie deeper, making it hard to fix with such obvious changes. Let's take a look at two common issues that could be preventing you from making gains in your Bench Press.

Set-Up
You might be able to move off your plateau instantly with a few changes in your set-up. Tightening up your lats and setting your feet solidly on the floor can increase the force you apply against the bar. These two simple tweaks could get your Bench Press ramped up again.

Upper Back
If you are still having a poor showing in the Bench, the issue could be the strength of your rotator cuff muscles. When people hear the term "rotator cuff," they often think "shoulders." In fact, all four rotator cuff muscles originate on your scapulae (shoulder blades), which are located on your back.

All the muscles surrounding your shoulder blades need to be tight and strong to stabilize your shoulders so you can handle more weight. On your Bench Press workout days, first perform the following circuit for three rounds—and your plateau will be history.

Under-the-Bar Rows

  • Set up bar at hip level on Smith Machine or squat cage
  • Hold onto barbell or straps attached to bar
  • Lean back until arms are straight and body is at 45-degree angle
  • Keep body straight and pull chest to bar with elbows to the side and scaps retracted
  • Lower body with control back to start position and repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3x10

Close-Grip Pulldown

  • Sit on Lat Pulldown machine and grip bar overhead, using V-grip attachment
  • Without rocking back, pull bar down in front until it touches upper chest
  • Allow bar to rise back to start position until arms are straight
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3x10

Face Pulls

  • Face cable machine with rope attachment at eye level
  • Hold ends of rope with straight arms and knuckles facing each other
  • Maintain tension in cable and bend knees slightly
  • Keep elbows above hands and retract scaps, pulling hands toward face
  • Extend arms and repeat in slow, controlled fashion
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3x15

Rest two minutes after you complete the circuit.

The extra 10 or 12 minutes you spend on this circuit before beginning your workout will not only add strength over time, but will flood your upper body with blood and tighten up the muscles, priming them for the pressing to come. Assuming you do a full back workout on another day in the week, the added volume of back training can only do you good.

Whether you're after strength, muscle gain or improved sports performance, you'll accomplish your goals with this circuit. Use these tricks of the trade and experience a blast-off in results.

Photo:  dualfit.com

Lee Boyce is a strength coach based in Toronto who works with strength, sports performance and conditioning clients. He is the fitness expert for a national TV show, First Look; and he contributes to many major magazines, including MUSCLEMAG, Men's Fitness, TNATION and Men's Health. A former university level sprinter and long jumper, Boyce is the owner of leeboycetraining.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Lee Boyce
- Lee Boyce is a strength coach based in Toronto who works with strength, sports performance and conditioning clients. He contributes to many major magazines, including...
Lee Boyce
- Lee Boyce is a strength coach based in Toronto who works with strength, sports performance and conditioning clients. He contributes to many major magazines, including...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Never Bench Press With Your Feet in This Position

I don't like using the terms never, everyone, and always when discussing any topic related to fitness. Why? Because, generally, it's arcane and short...

Don't Train Your Arms Until You Can Do These 4 Things

4 Sure-Fire Ways to Build a Strong Core

4 Exercises to Build True Lacrosse Power

7 Strategies for Dealing With a Meathead in Your Gym

10 Ways to Get Stronger With a Sandbag

Improve Your Back Strength with the Inverted Row

7-Exercise Core-Blasting Workout

7 Best Lower-Body Strengthening Exercises

4 Lifts to Build Wrestling Strength

7 Ways to Work Out Competitively Without CrossFit

Make Lifts More Challenging With Resistance Bands

Basketball In-Season Battle Rope Complexes, Part 1

Get a Ripped Core With 6 Advanced Dead Bug Variations

7 Strategies for Faster Workout Recovery

Female Athletes: Get Strong, Not Bulky, With These Workouts

Get Faster by Improving Your Core Mobility

The Simplest Bodyweight Workout Ever

These 3 Single-Leg Movements Will Improve Your Squat Technique

7 Exercises That Safely Build Shoulder Strength

Build Powerful Pecs With This Multi-Angle Chest Workout

4 Deadlift Variations to Increase Your Pull

3 Explosive Exercises Designed to Increase Pitching Power

Notice On-Court Results With This Basketball Core Workout

5 Softball Catcher Drills for Throwing Power

Build Full-Body Strength With 5 Suspension Trainer Exercises

Bench Press Grip Guide: How Hand Placement Changes the Exercise

A Better Way to Train Your Core

3 Nordic Hamstring Curl Exercises to Boost Your Performance

Blast Through Plateaus with Tempo Sets

3 Sandbag Training Mistakes Athletes Make

The Best Single-Leg Exercises for Youth Athletes

Kyle Lowry's 12-Week All-Star Training Program

The Science of Building Muscle: 2 Ways to Maximize Hypertrophy

Top 5 Baseball Strength Training Myths

Dominate Your Bench Test With This Strategy

3 Post-Activation Potentiation Combos for Explosive Strength

Master the Lateral Lunge to Improve Your Hockey Stride

Improve Your Strength for Track & Field Success

Perfect Your Squat Technique With the Unloaded Squat

5 Isolation Exercises Your Workout Is Missing

How Functional Training Has Overly Complicated Strength Training

4 Weaknesses That Can Ruin Your Exercise Technique (With Fixes)

Break Through Plateaus With the 1-10 Drop Set Method