PT on the Net Research

Bench Press: Pushing the 1RM


I have been training a 46-year-old male that wants to increase his bench press max to 250 pounds. He weighs 155 pounds, and we have been at it for eight months and have been stuck at 225 pounds for at least three months. I have used a slightly modified Russian cycle (total of eight weeks) and the Verhoshansky peaking plan (total of six weeks). Just resently, we have done some negatives. Nothing seems to move us forward from 225 pounds. Any suggestions?


It seems you have done your homework regarding periodization – great job! Given this fact, we would recommend moving AWAY from the bench press (and the current intensity) to enhance bench press strength. Our suggestion is to focus on bio-motor abilities that assist in the strength gains you’re seeking. Example: Flexibility is a critical component to the stretch-shorten cycle. The stretch-shorten cycle is the key to increasing strength. Another key component is joint stability. By enhancing joint stability, the prime movers will be recruited to a greater degree. In other words, your body is only as great as its weakest link. So, the stronger the stabilizer system, the more force your client will exert. To accomplish our recommendations, sift through the PTN stretching and exercise library and select pectoral stretches, thoracic spine foam roll mobilizations and stabilization exercises for the core and shoulder girdle. Create a flexibility/stability program that lasts two weeks while eliminating the bench press – but select bio-mechanically similar exercises (DB press on ball, ball push-ups, one arm DB press on bench, etc). This will give your client an active rest phase while enhancing necessary components of “bench-press-strength.” Note: We have performed this approach clinically with 100% success; if anything gets in the way, its usually the psychology of the client, who misses the bench.