Guide For a Novice When the Bench Press Stalls

The Bench Press: A Beginner’s Guide

By Robert J. LeBlanc

When the Bench Press Stalls?

How To Fix It!

There are many reasons why the bench press stalls when you first start training. Some of them may seem obvious, but others might not be so easy to fix. If your bench starts stalling, it means that something is wrong with your technique or maybe you just have bad genetics (or both). Let me tell you how to fix the problem and get back into your benching groove.

1) Don’t Push Too Hard When You Should Be Restarting Your Muscles After Each Set

You’ve probably heard this advice before, but I think it bears repeating again because it applies to most problems with any exercise. You need to rest between sets after each set. If you push too hard during the last few reps of each set, you’ll fatigue your muscles and then they won’t be able to recover properly between sets. That will make it harder for you to lift heavy weights in the next workout.

2) Don’t Do More Than One Exercise At Once

If you’re doing one exercise at a time, try to do only two exercises per muscle group; if possible, use different grips for each exercise. And, of course, try to use a variety of exercises during each session. Of course it won’t be possible for anyone to do every possible exercise for chest. But, if you can do one exercise for flat bench for the lower pecs and one for your upper chest using a dumbbell and an incline barbell, then you’re set.

3) Use A Variety Of Weights And Reps

Always change the weights and reps when you plateau on the bench press. You need to change the reps from sets of five and triples all the way to high reps of twenty or more. Try sets of ten and sets of two. Don’t forget to vary the rest period, too.

Guide For a Novice When the Bench Press Stalls - GYM FIT WORKOUT

Don’t just stick with 2-1-2 or 3-0-1 work sets. Instead, try some 3-1-1 or 3-2-2 as well. Don’t forget to change your grip and the width of your grip, too. Don’t just stick with the middle or the wide grip. Try the close grip, too.

4) Don’t Always Bench Press In The Same Order

Try not to always bench press in the same order. For example, if you do flat bench first (which is what most people do), then try doing incline bench first instead. You’ll probably find that you can lift more weight on the incline if you’re weak on that exercise. If you’re really adventurous, try doing the flat bench after the incline bench and see what happens.

5) Bench Press Behind The Neck Sometimes

You may not like to bench press behind your neck because it’s difficult or you think it’s dangerous, but there’s a big difference when you do it occasionally during the week. It can really wake up your chest and shoulders if you do it once every five or six workouts.

6) Don’t Do It Everyday

Try taking a day off between bench pressing days. Some people like to bench press every other day. Since most people have three or four muscles that need work on each side, that means five or six days of bench pressing each week. You might try doing more than that, but you might be overtraining if you do.

Either add a rest day or change your routine, but it’s probably a good idea to take a break from bench pressing everyday.

7) Make Sure You Don’t Get Fired For Stealing Company Time

I’m not kidding. There was a time when this happened. A company installed a key-activated light switch that turned off after 15 minutes. Their theory was that employees wouldn’t have enough time to just sit around and take naps at work (which a few were notorious for doing).

Guide For a Novice When the Bench Press Stalls - gym fit workout

Unfortunately, not everyone can instantly fall asleep when the lights go out and some people just randomly doze off from boredom. The company claimed that anyone caught sleeping on the job would get fired, but I don’t think it ever happened. I doubt if the lost productivity during bench pressing time was ever factored into their decision.

Also, it’s important to note that this policy didn’t extend to the graveyard shift.

8) Don’t Forget To Take Your Supplements

Everyone has heard of creatine and how it can help you build strength and muscle faster. Unfortunately not everyone knows how to use it properly or has the money to keep buying it each month.

Well, how about trying a less expensive and equally effective supplement?

This supplement is called Beta-ALA and it’s supposed to increase the body’s natural production of testosterone just as well (if not better) than steroids. The best part about it is that it doesn’t have any of the side effects of steroids and is completely safe to use for months at a time (unlike creatine which can cause water retention and muscle cramps if used for more than five or six weeks). Just take one 400mg tablet three times daily with meals.

Some Important Notes About This Program

1) As with any exercise program, please check with a doctor first to make sure it’s right for you.

2) Always warm up first by jogging or cycling for five minutes and do your stretches.

3) Never train to failure.

When you miss a lift, that’s your signal that you’ve reached your limit.

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4) Always have a spotter on hand in case you fail to lift the weight.

5) You may need to adjust the amount of weight you’re using as you adapt to this routine.

9 Week Bench Press Program

Week One

Day One: Chest

Start by warming up and stretching then practice your squat form for five minutes.

Find a comfortable seat and get into it. Take a deep breath and while pushing with your legs, slide the weight off of the supports and balance it on your thighs. This will be your starting position.

Start by lowering the bar towards your chest in a slow and controlled manner. Go down only far enough that your upper torso is slightly curled over the top of the bar but no lower. Now press the weight back up and when you reach the top curl your upper torso over the bar and hold it there for a moment. Pause for a split second and then slowly begin lowering the bar again.

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Lower the bar in the same manner that you did before. If you’re curling the bar to your chest, curl it again. Hold it at your upper torso then curl it one last time as you slowly press it back up. That is one repetition.

Do one more set of 12 repetitions with the empty bar.

Add 20 pounds total to the bar (10 pounds on each side) and perform sets of 8 repetitions.

Add 40 pounds total to the bar (20 pounds on each side) and perform sets of 5 repetitions.

Add 60 pounds total to the bar (30 pounds on each side) and perform sets of 4 repetitions.

Add 80 pounds total to the bar (40 pounds on each side) and perform sets of 3 repetitions.

Add 100 pounds total to the bar (50 pounds on each side) and perform sets of 2 repetitions.

Add 120 pounds total to the bar (60 pounds on each side) and perform sets of 2 repetitions.

Sources & references used in this article:

Chapter One: What’s So Interesting About the Bench Press by IPF Men’s –

Standard scores for women’s weight training by LE Kindig, PL Soares, JM Wisenbaker… – The Physician and …, 1984 – Taylor & Francis

Velocity based training for maximal strength by R Pacey – 2017 –

Starting machine by ATJ Bahr – US Patent 1,770,450, 1930 – Google Patents

Reconstructing the office furniture: The art of the early modern choir stall by AD Glover – 2016 –

Choir Stalls and Their Workshops: Proceedings of the Misericordia International Colloquium 2016 by A Seliger, W Piron – 2017 –

Things are popping at WPI police office by G Doerschler, N Stall –

Conducting terrorism field research: A guide by L Durrell – 2012 – Open Road Media

Strength Training Bible for Women: The Complete Guide to Lifting Weights for a Lean, Strong, Fit Body by A Dolnik – 2013 –