Today’s topic. Why is my bench press stuck at 150?
You probably added more weight to the barbell weekly when you first started lifting weights. But as you got stronger, your body adapted to the weight you were using. Eventually, you hit the 150lbs plateau, where you couldn’t lift any heavier.
As you get older, your muscles adapt to the load you put on them. This adaptation happens over time, and eventually, you reach a point where you can’t lift anymore. Many lifters never make it past this point because they stop trying to lift heavier weights. But if you continue pushing yourself, you will eventually find a way to break through your limitations. And remember, we need progressive overload for muscle growth and getting stronger.
I will share my top tips for breaking through plateaus and finding new strength levels. These tips will help you achieve your goals faster and stay motivated throughout the journey.
Why is My Bench Press Stuck at 150?
There are a couple of things to remember when your bench press is stuck. The reason you hit this bench press plateau is because of one or a combination of the following reasons:
You are pressing with a limited technique; you are following a low-calorie diet, you lack quality sleep. or you lack rest between workouts. To boost through this weight plateau, you first need to improve your technique, as described later in this post.
6 Important Questions You Should Ask Yourself
1- Are You Eating Enough?
If you want to increase your strength, it is essential to consume sufficient calories daily. In addition, you must ensure that you consume enough protein, carbs, and fat throughout your diet.
According to Ronnie Coleman, nutrition is one of the main factors determining how much weight you can bench press during your workout session.
Ronnie recommends consuming around five meals per day. In addition, he suggests making sure that every meal contains some form of protein, such as chicken breast, beef, fish, eggs, etc. Each meal should include a good portion of proteins and complex carbohydrates.
A general rule of thumb for calorie intake is to consume at least 15 calories per pound of body weight. Moreover, ensure that your carbohydrate intake is at least one gram (1g) per pound of your body weight.
Even though calories and protein are likely the most critical aspects, remember that carbohydrates will help you burn fat during exercise and recover after workouts.
2- Are You Training Triceps and Chest on the Same Day?
One of the most critical overlooked factors that can cause you to hit that bench press plateau at 150 lbs can be weak tricep muscles. It’s an important muscle in your bench press. Make sure you keep on working on your tricep strength.
To get stronger triceps, you must train them when they’re fresh—therefore, you shouldn’t train them after a heavy bench press session.
3- Are You Getting Enough Rest & Sleep?
Muscle tissue grows during periods of rest and recovery. So it stands to reason that adequate sleep and downtime are important factors in maximizing muscle size and strength gains.
Studies show that people who exercise regularly experience better sleep quality and more profound, longer sleep.
While some people might say they don’t need much sleep, I’d argue that everyone needs at least 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.
Get plenty of rest and sleep if you want to maximize muscle growth and strength.
4- Are You Using Bench Press Negatives in Your Training?
A negative rep is the part of the bench press where you lower the barbell to your chest.
Negative training involves using heavy weights (up to 1.5 times your one rep maximum) and lowering them slowly down to your chest so that two assistants can help you raise them back up again.
Negatives are often underrated and can significantly impact your upper body strength.
If you’re unfamiliar with this exercise, try it out and let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.
5- Are You Willing to Train Outside of Your Comfort Zone?
If you’re asking yourself whether you’re genuinely training outside of your comfort zone, most people aren’t. They train hard but don’t push themselves as hard as they can. It’s easier to stick with the routines you’re used to than to change them.
Switching up your workouts will help you get better results.
Varying the intensity of your workouts.
Change up the rest between sets.
Perform some push-ups after every set.
Up your bench press frequency.
You can do these things to add the variation you need to get stronger.
6- Are You Using Dumbbells For Your Bench Press?
If you want to break through a benching plateau, there’s no better way than to ditch the barbell and train with dumbbells. I recommend doing just that during every single micro or meso training session.
Because the barbell bench press is often used as a default exercise to hit while warming up, many people stick with it throughout the entire workout. However, it doesn’t always make sense to use the same routine repeatedly, primarily if it doesn’t provide many benefits.
When you perform a micro or meso training program without the barbell, you skip the warm-up phase and jump straight into the main event. As such, it makes perfect sense to switch things up by performing the dumbbell bench press exclusively.
Not only does this method allow you to skip the warm-up phase entirely, but it also allows you to focus on specific aspects of strength and performance that the barbell cannot address.
For example, you could use dumbbells to target weakness in the shoulders or chest muscles.
Or maybe you want to emphasize mobility in the shoulder joint.
Either way, the dumbbell bench press provides a ton of flexibility and versatility that the barbell cannot offer.
They let you move with a slightly greater range of motion, which may help increase the flexibility of the muscles required for the bench press.
You can still use a barbell for other variations, such as incline and decline bench presses. Ensure you don’t overexert yourself too much so your body recovers properly.
4 Bonus Tips To Brake Through Your 150 lbs Bench Press Plateau
1) Concentrate on Form and Technique With Lighter Weights
While this may seem counterintuitive, it does work. Instead of increasing your bench press and lifting more than 150 pounds, try lowering the weight. You want to perform the bench press with light weights using the proper bench press technique while performing as many repetitions as possible.
If I were to train for strength, I’d probably increase my reps with a lighter weight before moving to heavier weights. For example, try performing higher rep sets (12-15 reps) with 120 lbs, concentrating purely on correct form.
When you can do 15 reps perfectly with 120 lbs, you will notice that you automatically will be and feel more comfortable bench pressing the 150 lbs. You will be able to perform more reps and can try to hit the higher numbers. Remember that a wrong technique can also cause injuries.
2) Start Doing the Rest-Pause Method
The rest-pause approach involves taking short breaks during sets to improve the correct technique. I will give you an example:
- You start with a maximum 6 rep failure weight
- Do 4 reps (2-3 from failure)
- Then you rest for 20 seconds
- Do 3 more reps
- Then again, you rest for 20 seconds
- Do 2 more reps
Now you’ve completed 50% more reps than you could perform in one go. This also helps you learn to avoid failing reps in workouts.
Now you’ve completed more reps than you could perform in one go. Use this method at least twice weekly to see quick improvements in strength. This also helps you learn to avoid failing reps in workouts.
3) Create Tension Through Your Legs
An effective way to develop power during the bench press is to focus on creating tension through your legs. This allows you to push out against the weight while maintaining control of your body throughout the movement.
You want to push yourself onto the floor as hard as possible until you take the bar off the rack for the first time.
Once you start bench pressing, you must keep your legs driving down and up throughout the movement.
When performing a chest press exercise, think about pushing your body weight away from you so that you push your upper body up and back into the bench.
4) Create Tension Through Your Hands
Grip the bar as hard as possible during your setup. Focus on that. During your bench press, you can slightly relax the fingers but keep having the feeling of squeezing the bar “inward” during the bench press.
By squeezing the bar, you signal to the rotator cuffs (shoulders) to prepare for action by packing themselves. This helps keep the shoulder joints stable, which is always suitable for lifting heavy weights and will prevent injuries.
Squeezing the barbell can also help create a better wrist position. A neutral wrist can grip a bar much better than an extended one.
Another benefit of squeezing may be that it decreases inhibitions and increases aggressiveness. What I mean by this is that your body is preparing itself for an important task.
For example, you may be worried about a heavier than your regular bench press.
Squeezing the bar focuses your attention on the task at hand, which helps you overcome your fear. And that way, you will brake that 150lbs number.
Watch Jeff Cavaliere from Athlean-X explain how to perform a perfectly correct bench press.
What is the biggest mistake made doing the bench press?
I’d say it’s trying to press the barbell with your front delts and arms while relaxing the rest of your body. Instead, you must create leverage by pressing and creating tension through your legs, back, chest, and hands.
We’ve all been there. We’ve hit a plateau when we cannot increase our bench press numbers. At 150 pounds, it happened to me too. And that is why I wrote an article about it.
After trying out a lot and doing some research, here are the tips and tricks that helped me quickly break through that weight hurdle.
By strengthening your shoulder muscles and triceps, you’ll be able to lift heavier weights with the bench press.
If you apply the rest-pause method, concentrate on the proper form during the range of motion using lighter weights, and focus more on creating tension through your hands and legs, you will improve your bench press strength in a few weeks.
Did you hit a bench press plateau? On what weight have you got stuck?
Please let me know in the comments section below.