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Trying to bench press 400lbs....need some help

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Trying to bench press 400lbs....need some help

Old 02-11-05, 06:44 PM
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Trying to bench press 400lbs....need some help

First, Iíll explain that it has always been a goal of mine to bench press 400lbs. The most Iíve ever done is 380lbs and I was in so much pain I had to lay off for a while. What kind of pain? All the bones, muscles, tendons, etcÖ in my forearms hurt so damn bad that I practically had to peel my hands off the bar after each set.

Obviously Iím trying to do this naturally so all roid heads need not post any suggestions.

My routine currently consists of 6 sets of flat bench at 5 to 8 reps (all heavy weight of course) and thatís it. Iím currently just getting back into it so Iím only working out my chest once a week but once I get going I will be working it out twice a week.

Iím looking for any suggestions from people who have been in the same spot I am and who have succeeded in reaching the 400lb mark.

I currently weigh about 245 and Iím trying to gain just a little more weight to assist my goal

Once again, please remember that these are strength workouts and not your normal ďpretty boy walks into a gym with a beanie and sandals on only to do a couple of light sets and mingleĒ workouts Ė not that there is anything wrong with that though.
Old 02-11-05, 06:49 PM
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When you go for it, make sure you are filming yourself with a camcorder and there is no one else around the house.

Those always get good laughs on America's Funniest Home Videos.

Seriously though, it's been a while since I worked out heavily (I used to be a college lineman for a PAC-10 school) but I always preferred to use the increasing weight technique. Basically start with whatever weight you will fail at around 12 reps, then up it to what you fail at 10, then 8, 6 and I'd usually stop at 4.
Old 02-11-05, 06:54 PM
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It doesn't count as a bench press if someone helps you. I mean, I could get 5 or 6 friends together and we could bench press a half ton, but really -- what would that prove?
Old 02-11-05, 06:54 PM
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In your reps, you should probably go with something like
1 set of 12 reps
1 set of 10 (increase weight)
1 set of 8 (increase weight)
1 set of 6 (increase weight)
1 set of 4 (increase weight to where you can only do this 50% of the time)
1 set of 10 (decrease weight to that of last set of 10)

Do that for about a month, and then warm up with the first two sets before you attempt the max.
Old 02-11-05, 09:16 PM
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First, why are you doing so many sets? If you decreased the sets to around two, you could bench 3 times a week. With your current routine, you can probably only work your chest twice a week.

Second, I wouldn't recommend doing more than 6 reps. After the sixth rep, your form will suffer unless you are using lighter weights than can be used.

Third, when benching, be sure to squeeze your grip, glutes and back. Activating neighboring muscles recruits them as stabilizers, enabling you to handle more weight with proper form.

Fourth, start light, and build up your poundages slowly. When you reach a new max and feel you cannot progress further with good form, start light again and build to a heavier new max.

Good luck!
Old 02-11-05, 09:52 PM
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agreed with the last poster.

What are your reps and sets like before your last one (the one @ 380lbs?)? ---> ie., what weights at each set?

Dont listen to the other guys here, that suggest the crazy amount of reps and sets. Power lifters arent the same as normal weight lifters, you need to conserve as much as energy as possible for your heavy weights, and then explode.

I would suggest:
warmup set: 8-10 reps @ 1plate
then go straight to: 6reps @ 2plates
then go to: 4-6 reps @ 3plates
then finally: 4-6reps @ 4plates (405lbs)

I doubt you'll initially bea able to jump straight from 315lbs to 405lbs, but I think after a couple of weeks of going 3plates to 3plates and a half plates.

Another suggestion is to use an open grip versus a closed grip (I find it helps a bit).

Also, I noticed you said 380lbs? Im assuming 3plates, 25lber and a dime?
Old 02-11-05, 11:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Kennyx
Dont listen to the other guys here, that suggest the crazy amount of reps and sets.
Parcher LIVES!!!!
Old 02-11-05, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
Parcher LIVES!!!!


Now be nice. I don't think that was his intention. Besides, he is correct about the number of sets. Three sets would be the max I would try, maybe even only two, not counting a warmup set. I would also only train the chest once, maybe twice a week, looking for small increases in weight. I am not even sure I would pyramid up, but instead might try to pyramid down, starting my first set with the heaviest weight. I would try this particularly if I had been doing the opposite for some length of time.

Are you dedicating any time specifically to the supporting muscles? They could be the limiting factor, not your chest. Just a thought.

Good luck!
Old 02-12-05, 12:00 AM
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There's some dude that goes to my gym that does power lifting. All he does is stack on 4 plates (2 on each side,) does it once, rests for 20 mins then does it again. quite the out of shape looking type guy too. but none the less he gets that one rep done.

I think you need to hit up a REAL weight lifting gym where each guy's goal there is only there to get in that one max lift.
Old 02-12-05, 12:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Mole177
There's some dude that goes to my gym that does power lifting. All he does is stack on 4 plates (2 on each side,) does it once, rests for 20 mins then does it again. quite the out of shape looking type guy too. but none the less he gets that one rep done.

I think you need to hit up a REAL weight lifting gym where each guy's goal there is only there to get in that one max lift.
that seems a bit odd. 20mins is alot of rest time, -most people I know that powerlift take about 4-5mins in between sets. Im wondering if he's actually gaining from anything (have you seen him do anything more than 2plates?).

And about my previous post... I really didnt mean to offend anyone. It's just that 400lbs+ is a very big weight. Especially for his weight class.
I just dont see any way to lift that weight if you're doing that many sets... youre just wasting too much energy on lower weights, -which is something that you dont want to do.
Old 02-12-05, 12:48 AM
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Let me first thank you all for your input, some of your ideas have really made me think but I guess the most important thing missing was how much weight I bench during a workout so....................

I start off with a warn up set of the typical 135 at 10 reps

Now, since I'm asking for advice on benching 400lbs, I'm going to give you my routine at where I was at 380 instead of my "back into it" period where I'm at now:

warm up: 135lbs for 10 reps

1st set: 300lbs 8 reps
2nd set: 300lbs 5 reps
3rd set: 280 about 6 to 7 reps
4th set: 250lbs 8 reps
5th set: 235lbs 6 reps
6th set: varies: around 225lbs to 230 reps 4 to 5 reps

After all that I'm done, I'm fucking cooked and sometimes I have to stop after the fifth set.

It looks like I'm taking a different approach by starting off high then going low - have any of you tried this approach or do you think I should try doing the exact opposite?
Old 02-12-05, 01:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Kennyx
that seems a bit odd. 20mins is alot of rest time, -most people I know that powerlift take about 4-5mins in between sets. Im wondering if he's actually gaining from anything (have you seen him do anything more than 2plates?).

And about my previous post... I really didnt mean to offend anyone. It's just that 400lbs+ is a very big weight. Especially for his weight class.
I just dont see any way to lift that weight if you're doing that many sets... youre just wasting too much energy on lower weights, -which is something that you dont want to do.

Oops. I meant 4 plates each side. Sorry. Im not thinking right tonight. as for the 20 mins it may not be 20 mins, but its a mighty long time for a rest.
Old 02-12-05, 10:43 AM
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I was trained by a man who took third in the World's Strongest man competition back in the early 80's. His theory, as I stated above, is that you have to take each set to the point where you fail. Because of this, if you want to drastically increase your bench, you need spotters when you work out.
Old 02-12-05, 01:12 PM
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I would say that you should be focusing the part of the lift you get stuck at. If you have trouble locking it out, strengthen your triceps (weighted dips would work pretty well because they will add some chest strength as well). If you can't get the bar off your chest, work on your lats. If you haven't read the articles here http://www.westside-barbell.com/articles.htm# , you will probably be able to find something that will help you.
Old 02-12-05, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Green Jello
I was trained by a man who took third in the World's Strongest man competition back in the early 80's. His theory, as I stated above, is that you have to take each set to the point where you fail.
That is probably why he didn't take first.
Old 02-13-05, 12:00 AM
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Originally Posted by evitagen
That is probably why he didn't take first.
What's wrong with working out to failure?
Old 02-13-05, 01:47 AM
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Failure is bad for [at least] three reasons. First, it is quite unsafe. Second, failure necessitates a decrease in training frequency. Low frequency results in low neural adaptation, meaning that the demand placed on the muscle is not sufficient for it to change in response to a load. Third, training to failure works against the neural pathways. As we know, the strongest men don't necessary have the biggest muscles: they have the best neural network for maximal muscle recruitment. By lifting a weight to below the failure threshold, the nerves learn that this stimulation is successful. The body will strengthen this neural pathway, making the task easier the next time. When a weight is lifted to failure, the nerves have failed: the body must reconfigure the neural pathways to complete the lift. When one constantly lifts to failure, the body has a difficult time learning what configuration is successful for the lift, IE progress is slowed down.
Old 02-13-05, 03:14 AM
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Its been quite a few years since I've lifted weights at all - in my day I was 180 ish - and 6-8% body fat.

My best bench was 320 and nothing I did would get me past it.

I worked on increasing the strength of my supporting muscles - and worked my legs quite a bit.

I was able to get to 350 but that was it.

My workout partners for chest days were "animals" - I found that spotting for them really helped my overall strength and built a "comfort" with the weight.

I got past the psychology of the weight - but still couldn't go beyond.

Just want to add - when lifting - there is NOTHING wrong with having spotters - unless of course you like having your chest crushed.....

-g
Old 02-13-05, 09:43 AM
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First, Iíll explain that it has always been a goal of mine to bench press 400lbs. The most Iíve ever done is 380lbs and I was in so much pain I had to lay off for a while. What kind of pain? All the bones, muscles, tendons, etcÖ in my forearms hurt so damn bad that I practically had to peel my hands off the bar after each set.
This is probably not what's keeping your bench below 400, but it will likely become a problem.
Since you are at 380 now, it will take a long time before you reach 400. In that interval, I recommend you:

- take fish oil supplements, lost of it.
- get your doctor to prescribe Voltaren retard for you. I guarantee that it will have some effect on your injury.
- Do *not* provoke your injury by doing anything that hurts.

Now I have to ask you - the pain, is it also present when you're working with lighter weights?

My routine currently consists of 6 sets of flat bench at 5 to 8 reps (all heavy weight of course) and thatís it. Iím currently just getting back into it so Iím only working out my chest once a week but once I get going I will be working it out twice a week.
I'm surprised you've reached 380 without a more "intelligent" routine. You're current plateau is probably the reason why you're stuck.

Iím looking for any suggestions from people who have been in the same spot I am and who have succeeded in reaching the 400lb mark.
Well I am nowhere near 400 lbs, but I'll be so bold as to claim that I do have a working knowledge when it comes to weight training.

I currently weigh about 245 and Iím trying to gain just a little more weight to assist my goal
Yes, this sounds fair, most people I know that bench 350 or around there weigh about 300 lbs.
You probably need to eat more.

Seriously though, it's been a while since I worked out heavily (I used to be a college lineman for a PAC-10 school) but I always preferred to use the increasing weight technique. Basically start with whatever weight you will fail at around 12 reps, then up it to what you fail at 10, then 8, 6 and I'd usually stop at 4.
Bad idea, i'll tell you why later.

In your reps, you should probably go with something like
1 set of 12 reps
1 set of 10 (increase weight)
1 set of 8 (increase weight)
1 set of 6 (increase weight)
1 set of 4 (increase weight to where you can only do this 50% of the time)
1 set of 10 (decrease weight to that of last set of 10)

Do that for about a month, and then warm up with the first two sets before you attempt the max.
That too is a ridiculous idea, no offense. It has no purpose.

First, why are you doing so many sets? If you decreased the sets to around two, you could bench 3 times a week. With your current routine, you can probably only work your chest twice a week.

Second, I wouldn't recommend doing more than 6 reps. After the sixth rep, your form will suffer unless you are using lighter weights than can be used.
Nothing wrong with doing so many sets, I know a guy who is just below 500 lbs in bench. He usually does 12-14 sets per workout, half of them being with a complete ROM.

Third, when benching, be sure to squeeze your grip, glutes and back. Activating neighboring muscles recruits them as stabilizers, enabling you to handle more weight with proper form.
Good advice. But you should write "Get a 100% perfect technique" instead. What you're listing is only part of the technique.

I'm to lazy to comment the rest...

Evitagen> Thumbs up, failure was invented in hell - so were forced reps.

You need to combine acceleratory lifting along with the heavy lifting.


Where's your sticking point? At the chest, at the lock-out?
Are you benching in a shirt or not? I assume not.
Are you pausing the bar on your chest (which you should)?
How often do you deload/deconditon?
Is your lift "approved"? Do you do it with en even lock-out and with your ass in the seat?

Pyramid training, like KRDAVE suggests, is a waste of time, and will give you little strength. I've written about it before, search on my user name.
Old 02-13-05, 09:49 AM
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By the way, whener you do try to bench 380 or 400 again, get some video of it, so we can see it.
Old 02-13-05, 10:29 AM
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An also a small comment...

When I called Krdvaves suggestion ridiculous I meant only that the idea itself was ridiculous... I am not trying to bad mouth you or anything, I've put that long behind me.

I'll see if I can find some Boris sheiko Bench routines, but what i Truly recommend you do is follow this program:

http://img196.exs.cx/my.php?loc=img1...atfield0do.jpg
(obviously ignore the "kg" parts...use the percentage value and take that percentage of your own 1rm. Day 2 is meant to be CAT day, in other words, you lift the bar as fast as possible).

In addition, eat right - lots of protein, lots of healthy oils and lots of carbs too. You probably WILL have to gain weight.
And correct your technique so that it is in fact optimal - pull your shoulders back, arch your back as much as humanly possible, squeeze the bar, keep your elbows to your body (don't stick them out), lower the bar just below your chest (or where you chest is "highest") flex your abdominal region, don't look at the bar as you lower or lift it, flex ALL of your body, work with your breathing (hold it when pushing).

And tell me where your sticing point is.
Old 02-13-05, 11:33 AM
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One quick way is go buy a shirt that right there may add your 20 lbs, the other things I have found that help are negatives, and dumbell benches. dumbells help with all of the supporting muscles allowing the main pectorals and triceps and forarms to get stronger. One other suggestion is grunting and mentally preparing does wonders get angry at the bar, very angry, then let it all out during your presses. Just some advice from a former big fat powerlifter.
Old 02-13-05, 11:54 AM
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On the subject of fat powerlifters, does the fat serve a practical, structural purpose, and/or are powerlifters just not terribly concerned with being lean?
Old 02-13-05, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by evitagen
On the subject of fat powerlifters, does the fat serve a practical, structural purpose, and/or are powerlifters just not terribly concerned with being lean?
Well a massive caloric surplus enables you to build more muscle and recuperate faster, also it gives you better leverage in the lifts.
Old 02-13-05, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Parcher
Well a massive caloric surplus enables you to build more muscle and recuperate faster...
This is true, but it is also true that consuming surplus calories with a low body fat percentage yields a greater lean mass to fat mass ratio of gains than with a higher BF%. I bring this up because I have never seen any of the big powerlifters in my gym on a treadmill or exercise bike, so I thought the fat must have some significance.

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