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  1. #1
    Registered User EliKoehn's Avatar
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    Why is pressing strength in particular so sensitive to changes in bodyweight?

    This is something I've both heard from a few places but also experienced myself, anecdotally. All else being equal, there seems to be among lifters a close correlation between one's bodyweight and their pressing strength, in particular. The past few months, I've weighed about 10-15 pounds less than about the same span of time at the end of 2020, and my presses have notably gone down somewhat. Merely eating at a deficit might have plenty to do with this, although my other lifts have not suffered the same way.

    Benches are of course the least callisthenic of the Big 3, so a lessening of bodyweight is in some measure effectively a reduction of the work on the squat and deadlift, but not for the bench, where aside from your arms everything you're lifting is on the bar. But if you're not already lean (and I'm not) and cutting right while training appropriately, you shouldn't be losing much if any actual muscle, so why does losing weight seem to drop people's bench numbers so consistently?

    Interestingly, this trend seems to have less to do with training experience and the development of relevant muscles than with something else pertaining to bodyweight itself. I've read something about the passive tension provided by the compression of soft tissue (which is of course greater in heavier individuals) around the shoulders and elbows, but that doesn't sound like the full picture and I am still curious that something else might still be playing a part here.

    Anyone know or have an educated guess?
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    Registered User air2fakie's Avatar
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    Don’t have a scientific answer and it can be very individualized, but if you’re still overweight and only weigh 10-15 less, I bet you could’ve trained (in some way that works for you) where you could’ve maintained your BP strength while cutting.

    Assuming it’s BP that you’ve built up/maintained over an extended period of time. Someone else will prob jump in with a scientific study that negates everything I said.
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    CEO 10k/year Ironface's Avatar
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    Atleast part of the equation is leverages. If you have a big fat chest, it reduces the RoM and you have more cushioning for stability etc
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    Registered User GeneralSerpant's Avatar
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    Higher metabolic rate with more juice to go around?
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    WOATbrah of peace :) sooby's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Ironface View Post
    Atleast part of the equation is leverages. If you have a big fat chest, it reduces the RoM and you have more cushioning for stability etc
    this, as you lose or gain weight your leverages shift slightly

    i'm probably putting this in the most broscience-y way possible but you probably get more of a rebounding/energy transfer effect when pressing against fat.
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    Age 60 MajorTendonitis's Avatar
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    I was 237 pounds benching 275-1 around my late 30’s . Lost 30 pounds in 6 weeks on a treadmill , no change in diet .
    Couldn’t bench 225-1 at that weight , and I was benching regularly at the time .
    My buddies wife even asked me what happened to my chest and shoulders
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    CEO 10k/year Ironface's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by sooby View Post
    this, as you lose or gain weight your leverages shift slightly

    i'm probably putting this in the most broscience-y way possible but you probably get more of a rebounding/energy transfer effect when pressing against fat.
    This is what I was trying to say in the last part. A bit like wraps for squats or bench, there’s just more meaty cushioning to store energy and trampoline the weight up

    Originally Posted by MajorTendonitis View Post
    I was 237 pounds benching 275-1 around my late 30’s . Lost 30 pounds in 6 weeks on a treadmill , no change in diet .
    Couldn’t bench 225-1 at that weight , and I was benching regularly at the time .
    My buddies wife even asked me what happened to my chest and shoulders
    Sucks ass. Did you lift during that time? Eat any protein whatsoever? Sounds like you lost pure muscle
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  8. #8
    Registered User WolfRose7's Avatar
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    Lost weight all last year and hit bench PRs lol.
    My deadlift goes to **** when I lose bw.

    Ime people's weakest lift suffers most
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    Registered User WolfRose7's Avatar
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    Lost weight all last year and hit bench PRs lol.
    My deadlift goes to **** when I lose bw.

    Ime people's weakest lift suffers most

    To add to ironfaces nice theory, I store no body fat above my mid section, at all.
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    Time is Muscle ECGordyn's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by GeneralSerpant View Post
    Higher metabolic rate with more juice to go around?
    This. There's just less "oomph" to power up the weight because of the caloric deficit.

    Weight loss is slower than loss of pressing strength. Things like leverages and fatty cushioning tissue take weeks to see changes in, whereas pressing strength drops off within days of starting a deficit. If someone loses 30 pounds, then sure their leverages change a bit, but that takes many weeks to see. And if you keep pressing/lifting then you're continually adjusting to your new leverages as they change.

    Part of it also might be psychological. The caloric deficit makes you feel weaker, so you perform weaker because you expect it.
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    CEO 10k/year Ironface's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by WolfRose7 View Post
    Lost weight all last year and hit bench PRs lol.
    My deadlift goes to **** when I lose bw.

    Ime people's weakest lift suffers most

    To add to ironfaces nice theory, I store no body fat above my mid section, at all.
    You are an anomaly. Bench is the most correlated with bodyweight out of the 3 powerlifts, with deadlift being the least. Being fat can actually hurt your deadift leverages, whereas fat can only help your bench.
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    Originally Posted by Ironface View Post
    Atleast part of the equation is leverages. If you have a big fat chest, it reduces the RoM and you have more cushioning for stability etc
    I think this is a big part of it. A little change in ROM can make a big difference (one way to see this is to just to do weighted pushups with and without a deficit, the rep count can drop a lot by that small adjustment). And benching definitely feels "easier" while bloated, it is like you have a feeling of being in more control of the weight.
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    Extra rom from less back and titty fat. An extra inch of rom to a min/max'd bench form is a lot especially if you never trained a deeper than straight bar rom.

    Less squish at the elbow (Bicep to 4arm)for some compressive rebound like a knee sleeve

    You also use a lot less muscle to bench than you do to squat and dead and are legs are far more conditioned from walking ect.

    Calorie defecits just suck

    Deads... If your fat and cut you get so much better positioning. That's why you see the best pulls done in limited weight classes.

    Squats.. Belly and thigh Fat helps you rebound out of the hole.

    Plus what everyone else said.
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    WOATbrah of peace :) sooby's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Ironface View Post
    You are an anomaly. Bench is the most correlated with bodyweight out of the 3 powerlifts, with deadlift being the least. Being fat can actually hurt your deadift leverages, whereas fat can only help your bench.
    could be other things too, like finally not training like a phag
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    Originally Posted by Ironface View Post
    You are an anomaly. Bench is the most correlated with bodyweight out of the 3 powerlifts, with deadlift being the least. Being fat can actually hurt your deadift leverages, whereas fat can only help your bench.
    It's a recovery thing as well, I can still comfortably recover from 20+ sets of bench a week in a deficit.

    Whereas not being at full strength hits deadlift much harder, squats too, but I find I can push through fatigue on them a bit more.
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    I've also been looking into this recently. I've found that it's not just with free weights, but the amount of weight I can lift on a chest press machine has also been affected by slight changes in bodyweight. I've found this with as little as a 3 to 4 pound difference in bodyweight. I don't know though if this is from actual muscle loss/gain, as it's not like I've had much fat difference between the two weights.
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    Originally Posted by ForecasterJason View Post
    I've also been looking into this recently. I've found that it's not just with free weights, but the amount of weight I can lift on a chest press machine has also been affected by slight changes in bodyweight. I've found this with as little as a 3 to 4 pound difference in bodyweight. I don't know though if this is from actual muscle loss/gain, as it's not like I've had much fat difference between the two weights.
    Yeah that's the general idea wht not.
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    /resurrecting this thread

    I just ran a novice LP that I had run a few years before and my deadlift and power clean numbers stayed the same despite having 8% less body weight. Now, my bench and OHP suffered considerably.

    My bench was 12% less and my OHP 15% less; yet you would see less of a reduction in the OHP ROM than in the bench ROM. I think that because of the increased body weight, you may have more of a "base" to press from, giving you more stability that a standing movement like the OHP would require.
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    Originally Posted by Sun tzu View Post
    /resurrecting this thread

    I just ran a novice LP that I had run a few years before and my deadlift and power clean numbers stayed the same despite having 8% less body weight. Now, my bench and OHP suffered considerably.

    My bench was 12% less and my OHP 15% less; yet you would see less of a reduction in the OHP ROM than in the bench ROM. I think that because of the increased body weight, you may have more of a "base" to press from, giving you more stability that a standing movement like the OHP would require.
    this could also be just that traditional novice LPs have **** pressing volume. heavy or hype
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    Registered User EliKoehn's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by WolfRose7 View Post
    this could also be just that traditional novice LPs have **** pressing volume. heavy or hype
    Apparently intermediate ones do too re C6W.

    As long as the thread is already resurrected, as OP I'll make the observation in hindsight that my pressing strength actually exceeded where it was before I lost any weight referenced, having regained only about 5 pounds of the 10-15. Hence I think this was actually mostly a matter of being in a deficit.

    That said, I'm still not lean so I'm still currently getting the advantages of tension/bloat around joints, etc., at least still categorically if not as much.
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  21. #21
    Registered User jademonkey's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by WolfRose7 View Post
    this could also be just that traditional novice LPs have **** pressing volume. heavy or hype
    What counts as **** pressing volume?
    I've been doing 6-9 sets a week which seems very low to me, but I seem to have lost less strength than that time I cut on a higher volume PPL.
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    Registered User WolfRose7's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by jademonkey View Post
    What counts as **** pressing volume?
    I've been doing 6-9 sets a week which seems very low to me, but I seem to have lost less strength than that time I cut on a higher volume PPL.
    My current block is low volume high intensity.
    And I'm at around 23 a week.

    Any thing under 10 sets at 7 or above is pretty low IMO and probably not going to find many that progress well with bench or press like that.
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    Registered User jademonkey's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by WolfRose7 View Post
    My current block is low volume high intensity.
    And I'm at around 23 a week.

    Any thing under 10 sets at 7 or above is pretty low IMO and probably not going to find many that progress well with bench or press like that.
    23 sets!! Is that just horizontal?
    When I was doing high volume, 2 hours a day, 6 days out of 8, I was around 11-15 sets in each 8 day cycle. But I also did flys and pullovers at the time, so that probably helped.
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    Registered User EliKoehn's Avatar
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    23 sets is pretty high but that's honestly not too surprising to me, either. 7-8 sets three times a week? A normal bench day I would do 4-5 flat, so throwing in some variations as well gets you there easily.
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    Originally Posted by jademonkey View Post
    23 sets!! Is that just horizontal?
    When I was doing high volume, 2 hours a day, 6 days out of 8, I was around 11-15 sets in each 8 day cycle. But I also did flys and pullovers at the time, so that probably helped.
    1/6 is overhead.
    Seated ohp @6,7,8,8. Counting that as 3 sets.
    Main bench is 7,8,9 1 back off so 4 hard sets.

    Day 2
    An overload bench that's a bit higher volume with 5 back offs after a single.

    Day 3
    Hard assistance 4 sets, like main but higher reps.
    Tricep focused rep bench, like ohp but 10s so 3 ish sets.

    Day 4
    High rep tng ramps n back off so about 4 sets

    It's not low, but it's not high volume really either
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    Originally Posted by jademonkey View Post
    What counts as **** pressing volume?
    I've been doing 6-9 sets a week which seems very low to me, but I seem to have lost less strength than that time I cut on a higher volume PPL.
    I did 8 sets of 8 OHP a day less than once a week and rode it for a long time doing double progression. One of my best runs.
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    Time is Muscle ECGordyn's Avatar
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    Current blocks have 15 working sets of bench, 6 working sets of OHP, all spread over 4 days. I'd say this is on the high volume side though I've done similar in the recent past. Prior to that did 8 working sets a week and had flat pecs.
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  28. #28
    Registered User Strawng's Avatar
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    My bench varies even based on water weight. It's generally a chit site, but this t-nation article theorizes that shoulder strength and size take the biggest hit from weight loss:https://www.t-nation.com/6-heavy-bench-press-lessons (lesson 2). My personal experience jibes with this.
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    Originally Posted by Strawng View Post
    My bench varies even based on water weight. It's generally a chit site, but this t-nation article theorizes that shoulder strength and size take the biggest hit from weight loss:https://www.t-nation.com/6-heavy-bench-press-lessons (lesson 2). My personal experience jibes with this.
    I used to read T-Nation a lot and now I'm kind of embarrassed to admit that. Most of their articles are just set pieces to market products, and many of the "coaches" on there look neither strong nor athletic.

    Even back then a lot of those guys were easy enough to identify and ignore, but I began to follow certain contributors fairly closely. It was somewhat disillusioning to find that they too were pawning off some ridiculous stuff and usually wrote articles clearly tailored to sell supplements.
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