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weight lifting plateau

8/17 9:09:27

I am 51, 5'8", 160 pounds and am very physically active (3 times a week weight lifting and 3 times a week tennis). I am taking creatine but I fear I may have reached my peak in weight lifting.  I have not been able increase the weights I can lift in my bench press in weeks.  I can do 80 pounds in each hand dumbell press 8 times and then 85 pounds 6 times. What should I do? thanks

Hello Leighton,
I have a suggestion that is sure to raise your bench press.  It has worked time and again for a bench press plateau.

Add to your weight lifting routine an exercise called close grip press.  It is performed on a bench with a barbell.  Instead of taking your normal bench press grip, bring your hands in closer together.  The goal is to have your elbows drop down and brush your sides when pressing the weight.  This will activate the triceps.  Your hands should be at a width that allows for the elbows to brush your side.  Some people like about six inches between their hands (although this can be hard on the wrists), while other like 12 to 16 inches.

The goal is to activate the triceps.  Play around with the width until you find what isolates the triceps (the back of the upper arm).

The reason for this exercise is that your bench press can only be as strong as your weakest link.  The triceps are the weak link in a bench press, so strengthening them by making them more active in the close grip press will raise their ability to perform when you do a regular grip press.

Add these to your routine for a few weeks and watch your bench press begin to climb.  You will also have to raise the weight that you are using on the close grip as your triceps get stronger.

The strength will also carry over to your dumbell presses, and any shoulder pressing, as again the tricep is the weakest link in these movements.

Shoot me back an e-mail and let me know how it is going.  Also, let me know if you have any other questions, or if I can clarify anything that I wrote here.

Best of health,
Dr. Bret

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