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  1. #1
    Registered User bhuether's Avatar
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    Aiming for 2x body weight bench press - tips (46 yrs old)?

    Hi, I am 46 male, about 5' 8", 180 lbs. Been lifting for many years. No drugs, no supplements. Just healthy eating and somewhat consistent regimen in gym (albeit sometimes go a month or two with no visits to the gym, after which I always have to rebuild back to where I was). I go about 2-3 times a week, for an hour each time. Nothing extreme. I stretch a lot, and I think I have good form. No lifting of back, no contortions just to get weight up, none of that nonsense.

    I currently do about 265 lbs for 6-8 reps. Lately I am finding it very difficult to increase weight beyond around 300 lbs, and find that at 265 I am not really seeing much progress.

    I should note I have very small wrists, hands. Most women have larger hands! So while I have a lot of upper body strength, I have small bones in hands/wrists, and maybe this is becoming a limiting factor, and maybe it is even dangerous to pursue this goal, knowing my body frame's reality.

    Lately, if I rep, say, 240 for 12, such that I feel like I could have still done several reps, then rest for 5-7 minutes, then move to 265, the minute I lift 265 I feel a bit of pain in my forearms. Then when I do reps my mind is more on the fact that I feel some forearm pain, and that the weight swayed in my hands unsteadily when I brought it down for first rep. Then I go on to do 6-8 reps, and they all feel tough. On the other hand, if I do 220 lbs (I am in Europe, where everything goes by 5, 10, 20 kg increments, so 220 lbs is with 2 20s on a side, plus bar, so around 220 lbs), I can do 20 reps and it just feels like very normal weight, no pain.

    I have tried taking different approaches. Like doing low rep warmup with 180-220 lbs, then trying 265 and seeing how many reps. No matter what I do lately, seems 6-8 reps of 265 lbs is my max. Low reps at 220, 16 reps at 220, 10 reps at 240, etc, etc, the number of reps I do at 265 stays 6-8, and 8 is rare. What is weird, is that my progress with 220 had been tremendous. In a couple months going from 12 max reps to 20. But 265 just feels like it is some tipping point, where maybe my small bones are becoming the determining factor. If I do 300 or so, then that just really starts feeling tough and I can't do more than 1-2 reps.

    Also, my gym doesn't have much in terms of dumbbells. I don't do any dumbbell work. I do incline chest on machine, and shoulder presses on machines. Maybe that alone is hindering me. I do close grip bench for triceps, and go heavy on that, so 220 for a handful of reps.

    So that is my situation. Looking for honest tips, even if it comes down to "Your body frame/bone structure is just going to make this too physically taxing and dangerous." This goal of mine is not so set in my mind that I am attached to it. When I climbed mountains some years back I knew when to turn around. So here, I am really trying to figure out if something is wrong with approach, or if this really suggests a physical limitation.

    thanks,
    Brian
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  2. #2
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    Physical limitations do exist. But you are not close to it.

    Honestly it sounds like you have terrible programming. Constantly varying your reps, taking months off at a time. You need a structured program with progressive overload and scheduled deloads. Read the stickies, theres a lot of good base programs in there. Your strength is already beyond some of the basic programs, but its a good place to start to start understanding how a good program is structured.
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  3. #3
    Registered User Screwtape's Avatar
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    Upper back work.
    Something bench press world record holder Julius Maddox has talked about is the fact that he does 2-3 pulling exercises for every pushing one. while it may not be necessary for the average person to do that much, I have definitely always noticed that my drive off the chest and stability is always strongest when I train my upper back and rear delts heavy.
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    Originally Posted by bhuether View Post
    Hi, I am 46 male, about 5' 8", 180 lbs. Been lifting for many years. No drugs, no supplements. Just healthy eating and somewhat consistent regimen in gym (albeit sometimes go a month or two with no visits to the gym, after which I always have to rebuild back to where I was). I go about 2-3 times a week, for an hour each time. Nothing extreme. I stretch a lot, and I think I have good form. No lifting of back, no contortions just to get weight up, none of that nonsense.

    I currently do about 265 lbs for 6-8 reps. Lately I am finding it very difficult to increase weight beyond around 300 lbs, and find that at 265 I am not really seeing much progress.

    I should note I have very small wrists, hands. Most women have larger hands! So while I have a lot of upper body strength, I have small bones in hands/wrists, and maybe this is becoming a limiting factor, and maybe it is even dangerous to pursue this goal, knowing my body frame's reality.

    Lately, if I rep, say, 240 for 12, such that I feel like I could have still done several reps, then rest for 5-7 minutes, then move to 265, the minute I lift 265 I feel a bit of pain in my forearms. Then when I do reps my mind is more on the fact that I feel some forearm pain, and that the weight swayed in my hands unsteadily when I brought it down for first rep. Then I go on to do 6-8 reps, and they all feel tough. On the other hand, if I do 220 lbs (I am in Europe, where everything goes by 5, 10, 20 kg increments, so 220 lbs is with 2 20s on a side, plus bar, so around 220 lbs), I can do 20 reps and it just feels like very normal weight, no pain.

    I have tried taking different approaches. Like doing low rep warmup with 180-220 lbs, then trying 265 and seeing how many reps. No matter what I do lately, seems 6-8 reps of 265 lbs is my max. Low reps at 220, 16 reps at 220, 10 reps at 240, etc, etc, the number of reps I do at 265 stays 6-8, and 8 is rare. What is weird, is that my progress with 220 had been tremendous. In a couple months going from 12 max reps to 20. But 265 just feels like it is some tipping point, where maybe my small bones are becoming the determining factor. If I do 300 or so, then that just really starts feeling tough and I can't do more than 1-2 reps.

    Also, my gym doesn't have much in terms of dumbbells. I don't do any dumbbell work. I do incline chest on machine, and shoulder presses on machines. Maybe that alone is hindering me. I do close grip bench for triceps, and go heavy on that, so 220 for a handful of reps.

    So that is my situation. Looking for honest tips, even if it comes down to "Your body frame/bone structure is just going to make this too physically taxing and dangerous." This goal of mine is not so set in my mind that I am attached to it. When I climbed mountains some years back I knew when to turn around. So here, I am really trying to figure out if something is wrong with approach, or if this really suggests a physical limitation.

    thanks,
    Brian
    Strengthen upper back
    Do floor presses or pin presses instead of close grip bench to improve lock out strength
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  5. #5
    Registered User bhuether's Avatar
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    Haven't done pin presses before. Can't imagine floor presses being comfortable! Will give this a try. But the answers so far have not addressed my main concern, which is how does one determine when upper body strength exceeds the mechanical limits of a person's wrists. I mean if I have strong upper body but narrow wrists, doesn't that sort of indicate that my wrists are not capable of bearing very heavy weight?

    Also forgot to mention that I have been training without spotter so maybe that is also getting in the way of progress here.

    thanks
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  6. #6
    Registered User Screwtape's Avatar
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    If you're wearing wrist wraps, it shouldn't be a concern. I've got skinny wrists and have benched over 400.
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  7. #7
    Registered User bhuether's Avatar
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    Should the wraps be worn very tightly? I have gloves and wraps. The gloves have straps as well. So I put on the wraps, then gloves, and the straps on the gloves overlap slightly with the wraps. Just curious if too much pressure (and blood restriction) in the wrists can lead to trouble. thanks, Brian
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  8. #8
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    Look into supplemental movements that are pretty damn specific to the bench press. Think lockout work or anything that reduces ROM. Pin Presses are great too. Board presses should be enough (2/3/4 board) and floor presses. JM Presses are also extremely effective. If I were you, I'd pick a supplemental movement from the ones I listed above and combine it with JM Presses. Sets and reps need to be programmed tho and perhaps you need to rethink your programming and its structure.

    More importantly, technique is everything. I suggest you work on that before changing or adding anything else.

    In the meantime, watch/read this:

    https://www.elitefts.com/education/j...ch-press-form/
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  9. #9
    Registered User bhuether's Avatar
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    Interesting about how you should always be using a spotter, something I haven't been doing. Maybe that is why I am feeling fatigue right from the start when going heavy. Also interesting about keeping shoulder blades touching bench, and trying to angle them in to one another. That plus some other tips from this thread also in that article.

    thanks,
    Brian
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  10. #10
    Registered User Screwtape's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by bhuether View Post
    Should the wraps be worn very tightly? I have gloves and wraps. The gloves have straps as well. So I put on the wraps, then gloves, and the straps on the gloves overlap slightly with the wraps. Just curious if too much pressure (and blood restriction) in the wrists can lead to trouble. thanks, Brian
    Wraps should be tight enough to give support, but not so much that your hands start getting numb. Don't bother with gloves, they don't do anything support wise and look weird.
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