Why Is My Bench Press Not Improving? (All The Answers To Smash Through Plateau)

L J Kudos

Why Is My Bench Press Not Improving? (All The Answers To Smash Through Plateau)

The holy grail for many who train is to have a well-defined, aesthetically pleasing, chiselled chest.

Unfortunately, there may be occasions where you notice that your bench press isn’t improving at all, which can mean you have hit that dreaded plateau.

This is something I have experienced in the past, which is very frustrating and it can be very de-motivating, but have no fear as I will be getting to the bottom of the issue…

Why Is My Bench Press Not Improving?

The main reason your bench press isn’t improving could be a lack of intensity during workouts. You need to consistently challenge yourself with heavier weights and more difficult exercises to keep progressing. Additionally, incorrect form or technique could also be hindering your progress. Make sure you’re using a full range of motion and paying attention to form cues from a qualified coach or trainer. Finally, if you’re not giving yourself enough time to rest and recover between workouts, your body won’t have the chance to properly adapt and grow stronger. Make sure you’re following a well-designed training program and allowing yourself adequate time to rest between sessions.

Let’s now take a detailed look at each of these points so you can make sure you are doing everything right and giving yourself the best chance to see some gains in your bench press.

Rest required between workouts

If you don’t give your body enough time to recover between workouts, then it won’t have the chance to properly adapt and grow stronger. This is an important point that a lot of people miss.

It’s not just about going in and lifting heavy weights, you need to make sure you’re giving your body the time it needs to recover so it can come back even stronger.

This is why following a well-designed training program is so important. If you’re doing too much too often, then you’re not going to see the results you want.

Poor technique or form

If you’re not using good technique or form when bench pressing, then this will undoubtedly hinder your progress.

It’s important to make sure you’re using a full range of motion and paying attention to form.

You might think you’re doing everything right, but it’s always worth getting a qualified coach or trainer to take a look and give you some feedback.

It’s not just about how much you’re lifting, it’s also about the quality of your reps.

Four to six quality reps are going to be more beneficial than 12-15 reps with poor form.

Incorrect technique can not only lead to poor results, but it can also increase your risk of injury, so it’s something you want to avoid.

Why Is My Bench Press Not Improving?

Intensity levels during workouts

If you’re not challenging yourself with enough intensity during your workouts, then you’re not going to see the results you want.

You need to be constantly pushing yourself and trying to lift heavier weights. This is the only way you’re going to see any real progress.

Of course, this needs to be done safely and under the guidance of a qualified coach or trainer, but if you’re not challenging yourself, then you’re not going to see any real gains.

Listening to music, using a pre-workout supplement or watching something motivational can all help you to get into the right mindset and really push yourself during your workouts.

Having a good training partner can also make a big difference. Someone who is motivating and supportive can make all the difference when it comes to pushing yourself during workouts.

Related: What Is The Most Painful Gym Exercise? (All The Answers Here)

Positive mental attitude

Being ready to overcome any obstacles and having the right mindset is also important when it comes to making progress with your bench press.

If you’re constantly doubting yourself and telling yourself you can’t do it, then you’re not going to get very far.

Maybe you have been stuck at the same weight or had to reduce it because you just couldn’t seem to move any further.

It’s important to stay positive and remind yourself that you can do it.

Visualize yourself succeeding and think about how good it’s going to feel when you finally achieve your goal. This will help to motivate and inspire you to keep going even when things get tough.

If you have a positive mental attitude and are ready to overcome any obstacles, then you’re much more likely to see the results you want.

Visualisation is also a powerful tool that many professional athletes use and can help you to improve your bench press and can help to increase your confidence and improve your performance.

Give it a try, you might be surprised at the results.

What are you working the day before?

The day before you are going to bench press, make sure that you are giving your legs a steady workout.

This is because when you are doing any sort of pressing motion, your legs are going to be the stabilizing force.

If you have weak legs, then this is going to limit how much weight you can press.

Make sure you are doing some sort of squat or leg press exercise and challenge yourself.

The stronger your legs are, the better your performance is going to be when you’re bench pressing.

Working any of the secondary muscles involved with bench press, may harm any progress (more on this below).

Be aware of secondary muscle groups in the movement 

When you are bench pressing, there are a few other muscle groups that are involved in the movement.

Your shoulders and triceps are going to be working hard to stabilise the weight and help you to push it up.

If these muscles are weak, then it’s going to limit how much weight you can press.

Make sure you are doing some sort of overhead pressing or triceps exercise to help strengthen these muscles.

Don’t overlook your core either, a strong core is going to help you to keep good form and improve your performance.

Make sure you are doing some sort of core exercise, such as a plank, to help strengthen your core muscles.

Working on these secondary muscle groups is going to help to improve your bench press.

Focusing on the mind-muscle connection 

When you are bench pressing, it’s important to focus on the mind-muscle connection.

This means that you need to focus on the muscle that you are trying to work.

For example, when you are bench pressing, you should be thinking about pushing through your chest and not just moving the weight up and down.

If you can focus on the muscle that you are trying to work, then you are much more likely to see results.

This is because you are able to better activate the muscle and recruit more muscle fibres.

When you focus on the mind-muscle connection, you are also less likely to injure yourself because you are using good form.

Make sure you are focusing on the mind-muscle connection when you are bench pressing and you will see better results.

Change up routine

If you have been doing the same bench press routine for a while, then it’s time to change it up.

Your body adapts to exercise and if you’re not challenging yourself, then you’re not going to see results.

Try changing the exercises you are doing, the order of your exercises, the amount of weight you are using, the number of reps you are doing, or the amount of time you are resting between sets.

Any change is going to help to challenge your body and improve your performance.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and find what works best for you.

Look to alternative chest exercises

If you feel like you have hit a plateau with your bench press, then it’s time to look to alternative chest exercises.

There are several different exercises that you can do to work your chest muscles.

Some examples include push-ups, dumbbell presses, dips and flyes.

Try incorporating some of these exercises into your routine to help improve your bench press.

Why Is My Bench Press Not Improving?
Dumbbell press is a good alternative to bench press

Change how you lift

If you have hit a wall lifting, why not try changing the way you do the exercise?

Try doing the negative part of the lift, or the eccentric portion, for a slow count of four.

Lowering the weight under control like this can help to break through plateaus.

Time under tension is key for muscle growth, so make sure you are focusing on the negative part of the lift.

You can also try using paused reps, which is where you pause at the bottom of the lift for two to three seconds before pressing the weight back up.

This type of lift is more challenging and can help to improve your strength.

Finally, try tempo training, which is where you control the tempo of the lift.

For example, you could lower the weight for a count of four and then press it back up for a count of two.

See if any of these help to improve your bench press.

There are a few other crucial things to consider to help improve your bench press if it’s plateaued.

Warming up?

Make sure you are taking the time to warm up properly before you start lifting.

A good warm-up is going to help improve your performance and reduce the risk of injury.

You should be doing some sort of cardio to get your heart rate up and then some light stretching.

After that, you can do some warm-up sets with lighter weights.

Warming up is important, so make sure you are taking the time to do it properly.

Foot position

Your foot position is important when you are bench pressing.

If your feet are too close to the bench, then you will have a hard time activating your leg drive.

This can lead to you not being able to move as much weight.

Your feet should be flat on the floor and about shoulder-width apart.

This will give you a good base to push from.

Grip width

Your grip width is also important when you are bench pressing.

If your grip is too wide, then you won’t be able to recruit as many muscle fibres.

A narrower grip is going to help you target your chest more.

A good rule of thumb is to have your hands just outside shoulder-width apart.

You can experiment with grip width to see what feels best for you.

Related: How Do I Make Leg Day More Bearable? (Everything You Need To Know)

Retract your scapulae, squeeze and tuck that chin

When you are bench pressing, it’s important that you retract your scapulae and squeeze them together.

This is going to help to engage your lats and give you a solid base to press from.

If you don’t do this, then you are more likely to arch your back, which can lead to injury.

Make sure you retract your scapulae and squeeze them together before you start lifting.

When you are bench pressing, it’s important to tuck your chin.

This is going to help to keep your spine in alignment and reduce the risk of injury.

It’s also going to help you to engage your lats.

Make sure you tuck your chin before you start lifting.

Are you cheating at the exercise

One thing people do when struggling to increase the weight they are lifting is to bounce the bar off their chest.

Not only does it put you at risk of injury, but it also doesn’t allow your muscles to work as hard.

You are better off lifting a lighter weight with good form than trying to cheat the lift.

Do you have the correct bar direction/elbow position?

Another common mistake people make when bench pressing is having the barbell too far away from their body.

This puts unnecessary strain on your shoulders and puts you at risk of injury.

The barbell should be close to your chest, and your elbows should be tucked in at a 45-degree angle.

When some people press, they aren’t following the correct path of the lift, meaning they aren’t pushing the bar straight up, but at an angle, which can also lead to injury.

Make sure you are pressing the barbell in a straight line and not flaring your elbows out.

You should also be lowering the barbell to your chest before pressing it back up.

Correct Breathing 

A basic rule of thumb when lifting weights is to exhale on the effort.

So, when you are pressing the barbell up, you should be exhaling.

This is going to help to improve your performance and reduce the risk of injury.

Make sure you are exhaling as you press the barbell up.

Are you fuelling your workout?

If you aren’t eating enough food, then you won’t have the energy to lift heavy weights.

You need to make sure you are eating enough calories to support your training.

A general rule of thumb is to eat 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.

So, if you weigh 200 pounds, you should be eating 200 grams of protein per day.

This is a rough estimate to gauge how much you should be eating.

You may need to eat more or less depending on your activity level and training goals.

If you are trying to gain muscle, then you will need to eat more calories than if you are trying to lose weight.

Make sure you are eating enough food to support your training.

You also need to make sure you are eating enough carbohydrates and fat.

Carbohydrates are going to give you the energy you need to train, and fat is going to help to support your hormones.

Make sure you are eating a well-balanced diet to support your training.

Why Is My Bench Press Not Improving?
Having a well balanced diet is key to improving your bench press

What is the plan? 

If you don’t have a plan, then you are just going to be guessing and making things up as you go.

You need to have a plan if you want to see results.

Your plan should include how many days per week you are going to train, what exercises you are going to do, how many sets and reps you are going to do, and how much weight you are going to lift.

Manageable markers to work towards

Don’t try to do too much too soon.

If you try to increase your weight, sets, and reps too quickly, then you are just going to end up getting injured or burnt out.

Take things slow and make sure you are progressing gradually.

A good way to do this is to set manageable markers to work towards.

For example, you could say you are going to add 5 pounds to your bench press every week.

Or you could say you are going to add 2 reps to your bench press every week.

Make sure you are setting goals that are achievable so you can stay motivated and see results.

Final Thoughts…

There are a number of reasons why your bench press might not be improving.

You could be lacking intensity during your workouts, using the incorrect form, or not giving yourself enough time to rest and recover.

Make sure you are following a well-designed training program and eating enough food to support your training.

Take things slow and make sure you are progressing gradually.

Set manageable markers to work towards so you can stay motivated and see results.

Do you have any tips for improving your bench press? Share them in the comments below!

If you enjoy sport and use CBD to help with your recovery in between grueling workouts, then you are in the right place. Here at Sport CBDs, we train hard and recover the best way possible…

We have regular workouts (check out the YouTube channel), CBD news and CBD products to help you gain that edge! 

If you wanted to check out the reputable CBD we have on offer here at the site, then please head to the Sport CBDs Store (CLICK HERE). We also do fitness clothing and yoga accessories too. 

Until next time, all the best…

Beginners Upper Body Kettlebell Workout

Lee

Founder – Sport CBDs

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