We have all seen the guy at the gym who has been doing the same routine for years and years, it might even be you! On Mondays he slaps 185lbs onto a bar to bench press and does 3 sets of 8-10 reps then moves on to his general bodybuilding chest routine. He looks alright, but his look has not changed, and may actually begin to look worse as he ages. Why is this? If everyone preaches that consistency is key, shouldn’t he be jacked by now? The simple answer here is no. Consistency is only half of the equation to seeing gains in strength and size, the other half is progression.
There’s an old saying, if you continue to do what you’ve always done, you’ll continue to get what you have always gotten. In the case of training, if you do not increase the difficulty of your workout in some capacity, you will likely never see further results. This does not necessarily mean you need to add weight to the bar daily, but you do need to do more work in the form of reps, sets, weight on the bar, etc.
There is so much room for improvement across the board, you just need to know where to find it. So, let’s dive a bit deeper. If your bench press stalls out at 3 sets of 10 reps with 185lbs, where do you go? My first suggestion would be to switch it up if you have been doing the bench press as your main chest movement for several months or even years. Cycle off of the flat barbell bench and switch to an incline press, or even use heavy dumbbells instead. Either way, eliciting a new stimulus to the chest musculature will force the body to adapt in ways it hasn’t in a long time, resulting in growth. Then, when you cycle back to the bench press, you will be able to push that ceiling higher than where you left it.
Secondly, if you really want to get more out of the bench press itself you can simply do one of two things. Either add weight to the bar, which will force you to drop in total reps for a period of time, but work your way back up to that 3 sets of 10. Once you are working with a heavier weight for that same rep scheme, you can officially say you are stronger. Then rinse and repeat. The other option is to drop the weight a little bit and try to perform sets of 12 to 15 reps and work towards building that up to using the same weight as you were for sets of 10 at one point. If you are doing the same weight for more reps your body has certainly changed, you are stronger and likely bigger.
These concepts apply across nearly all lifts and body parts. The key is to do something different. It has been said that insanity is doing the exact same thing, but expecting a different result. Otherwise known as foolishness or irrationality. So why would you waste your time training insanely, instead train in a progressive manner and reap results like never before.