3 Powerlifting Programming Ideas to Break a Bench Plateau

Stuck in a bench funk? Update your powerlifting programming method with these tips.

There’s a lot of nuance to powerlifting training, but it doesn’t have to be all smoke and mirrors. Here’s a few SIMPLE, actionable items you can use when building your next training block if you’ve been in a funk with your bench.

  1. Pause.

    If you’re weak off the chest or even in the mid range of the press, you’re giving up a lot of poundage on your bench by sticking to TnG reps.

    Not only will the pause on the chest build your power out of the bottom of the lift, but it will also give you the ability to carry momentum into the mid and top end of the press.

  2. Small Deviations.

    It can be enticing to go do the wildest bench variation out there. 1-Arm Neutral Grip DB Bench might look good on paper, but specificity plays a large role in getting your training selections to carry over to the comp lifts.

    Stick to 2 deviations from the comp lift.

    For example, using lower %s for reps instead of a 1RM is one deviation. Another could be going to a Close Grip Bench, Another deviation could be using accomodating resistance like bands and chains. . With those 3 options, we could do high intensity (circa 1RM) CG bench with accommodating resistance, moderate intensity bench with accommodating resistance, or Close Grip with moderate intensity.

    Of course, there are some exceptions to the rule and some lifters will do better/worse with strategic variation, but the majority of lifters will do well with the above.

  3. Extra Sessions.

    The tough thing with bench is that the Stimulus-Recovery-Adaptation Curve is much quicker than a Squat or Deadlift for most lifters. As such, detraining can happen quickly, even if the lifter isn’t ready for another overload session just yet.

    Adding in 1-2 weekly sessions @~70% of the week’s overload session can be a good way to keep the ball rolling forwards, preserve technique and keep you fresh for your next big bench session. These are a great strategy to space out heavy sessions.

P.S. Whenever you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you to overcome your training obstacles and put up PR totals:

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