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Bench Press Training Advice

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  • Bench Press Training Advice

    Hi All,

    I know there's a couple threads on this topic already but was hoping for some feedback by the older set on this (40+). I'm 40 and 210lbs and have been training for about two years. I'm happy with progress so far on main lifts with exception of bench. Here's what happened.

    Initially adopted too wide of a grip and made stellar progress up to an E1RM of 275 (at then 190 lbs.) But then my grip caught up to me and I had really bad shoulder impingement for several months. Worked through that, have narrowed grip, and basically retrained Bench from 165lbs upward, working on form all the way.

    Trouble now is I'm stalling out on my work sets around 190-200lbs. Today I worked up to an 8 rpe at 225, then a set of five at 8.5 rpe at 210 lbs, then four sets of five at 190lbs. Looking back at my past few months history I see that I basically cycle up to these numbers (or thereabouts) then stall out. Given my other lifts--Squat is well above 300, Deadlift is a bit north of 400, Press (max) is about 165-I feel I am underperforming on Bench. But I don't know to what extent this is true; and if it is true, what I'm doing incorrectly from a programming standpoint.

    I'm currently running week five of Strength III and love it--esp my capacity for Squat and Deadlift work has increased a ton on this program--and prior to this ran Bridge 1.0.

    Since I've not been training for that long and started when I was 38, I'd love advice from anybody but especially from any older dudes who've made progress in their bench past 40.


  • #2
    A couple thoughts:

    1. I don't think age has much to do with the stall. Granted you are not 24 years old anymore, but in terms of training, you are probably closer to your 24 year old self than say a hypothetical 74 year old version of yourself in how you respond to training.

    2. Bench seems to respond to frequency. Try to hit it 3 or 4 times a week. One nice thing about the bench press is the variations tend to be fun.

    3. Since you are using a narrower grip make sure your triceps are strong.

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    • #3
      hi, I'm 50. I haven't tested for 6 months or so but my lifts back then were 325 bench, 425 squat, and 455 deadlift. I'm 5'10" and 225 (need to lose 10-15 lbs still).

      Of course, I don't know what you don't know, so my apologies in advance if I'm stating some things you already know well.

      I agree with philibusters, as I haven't really experienced any differences because of my age. Be careful not to nocebo yourself there.

      I haven't experienced any shoulder issues since I started appropriately using RPE based training. It was trying to grind out heavy fives, with associated form break-down, that caused issues. Correct bench form (arch your back, set you lats, tension with leg drive) really helps to protect your shoulders.

      As for driving gains, I would say the most helpful for me has been to alternate the hypertrophy templates with the strength templates. Upper body lifts go up slower than lower body lifts. Put in the volume, stick to the programming (training with recoverable volume), and you should safely improve over time.

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      • #4
        Thanks philibusters and sjalbrec. I think that my intensity in the gym (I'm likely to go too hard rather than not hard enough--on the bench and most other places in life, alas) is masking what is really my impatience. I'm pushing intensity too hard together with volume and probably--if I'm going to be totally honest--guilty of telling myself that what Is really a 9RPE is an 8RPE. I need to slow down and put the work in at lower intensity, I guess.

        I do plan to run the bbm hypertrophy cycle after this strength cycle.

        Philibusters what in your opinion is the most effective/least obnoxious tricep isolation accessory exercise?

        Thanks to you both again!

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        • #5
          I will echo the recommendations to add more volume using variants, and more frequency.

          My bench e1RM went up 16% after being stuck for over a year after going from 4 day TM to the Bridge 3.0. The difference was the increase in volume at a more appropriate intensity (more sets @8) and adding 1-2 more bench movements to my week. I believe if you add an additional bench movement to your week with multiple @8 sets you’ll see progress.

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