Bench Pressing - Help - Fatigue after first set

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  1. David 470 profile image83
    David 470posted 12 years ago

    I am training for size/strength. (size first) I been really discouraged about my benching. For some reason, I feel "Significantly" stronger my first set than 2nd,3rd, and 4th.

    I know most big weight lifters would tell me (15 reps) is to much, however, it seems like I have to do a weight that I can do 15 times my "FIRST SET" so my muscles are able to get in the range of 6-10 on my next sets.

    I feel like my triceps are giving out on my 2nd-4th sets. So I have to do lighter weight to compensate my better strength on the other sets.

    For example - I did 130 lbs 15x8x7x6. I feel very strong my first set. I know your a little bit weaker after 1st, but for me its more.

    Are my triceps weak? Or is it my chest giving out, and shoulders and triceps are assisting on my last sets?


    1. rcrm89 profile image63
      rcrm89posted 12 years agoin reply to this

      15 rep sets won't do much for size/strength - once you pass the 12 rep mark it is more strength-endurance focused.

      Also with high rep sets you accumulate more lactic acid in the muscles than lower reps which causes fatigue makes it harder to reproduce repeat efforts.

      For size-strength typically recommended that you work with heavier weights in the 5-10 repetition range as that recruits more fast twitch muscle fibres which have the most potential for muscle growth and strength.

      1. David 470 profile image83
        David 470posted 12 years agoin reply to this

        Perhaps it is lactic acid in the muscles. I felt very fatigued my 2nd set after 90 second rest.

    2. Ian Turner profile image60
      Ian Turnerposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Also try increasing your protein intake. I have and I'm doing more sets and benefitting from it.

    3. David 470 profile image83
      David 470posted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Wow, did not realize this many people replied. Just for some input - I have a olympic bench that is able to do incline as well. Can be used for shoulder presses too.

      The reason why I am doing more than 15 reps my first set is because when I did heavier weight I could do for 10 reps - my 2nd, 3rd sets still would be bad (less than 8)

      I understand 8-12 is generally hypertrophy
      3-6 is generally for strength
      15-20 is for endurance

  2. Bill Manning profile image64
    Bill Manningposted 12 years ago

    I've always had this same problem. If I do only 10 reps the first time, I can hardly do 5 by the 3rd set. This is true with any type of weight lifting I do. I normally only do 2 sets

  3. Wayne Orvisburg profile image62
    Wayne Orvisburgposted 12 years ago

    If you're trying to build size, you want to lift heavier weight for fewer reps and more sets. Doing 15 reps for 3 or 4 sets is going to build strength and endurance.

    For size, do 6 sets of 1 at almost your max. Or you can do 4 sets of 4 with like 85% of your max.

  4. Pearldiver profile image68
    Pearldiverposted 12 years ago

    And MAKE SURE That Glutonius Erectus can last longer than 2 minutes.. if you're dating as well.. big_smile

  5. joecseko profile image65
    joecsekoposted 12 years ago

    Holy wad of misinformation in ALL of these replies. NONE of these people are certified trainers, and I doubt many even lift!

    Your protein intake has absolutely nothing to do with your performance whilst training! 6 sets of 1 is one of the most retarded things that I've ever heard!

    Your problem is multi-tiered. You're probably training the bench press too often, you're NOT resting long enough, you're doing too many high rep warm up sets, you may not be getting enough carbohydrates (unlikely, though).

    Size results from two things: microtrauma and proper recovery. If you're failing at 15 reps and getting sore, then then microtrauma portion is there.

    You could benefit from lower repetitions. Train your bench ONLY one time per week, and distanced from shoulder presses and any other triceps work. Make up your mind, too. I'm a competitive powerlifter, so power is what I train most of the year. I do focus on physique training for some portions of the year, though. I don't want to get any bigger, just look better in the "off season".

    Protein should be consumed every 2.5 -3 hours while you're awake. This will help you retain a positive nitrogen balance and keep your body anabolic (building muscle).

    One thing to remember- only the bench press improves the bench press. No other lift is as beneficial in training this lift, as goes for the other two powerlifts; squat and deadlift. I do have a hub published on improving the bench press. I won't post it here (not allowed), but if you're interested, check it out.

    And please ignore all of the previous advice. Not one word of any of it is based on experience. I'll pretty much guarantee I'm the only world record holder in this thread, too.

    1. couturepopcafe profile image60
      couturepopcafeposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      joe - any advice for women on strength and muscle building?  Same as for the guys?

    2. David 470 profile image83
      David 470posted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I know I am not over training. I only train bench press once per week, as well as other various body parts.

      When I warm up, I basically do 50-65% of my repping weight 8x or so....

      1. qwark profile image60
        qwarkposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        I've been a 200 lb "trainer" and powerlifter for over 40 yrs.
        Pay attention to jzepess and 
        joecseko! They know what they're talking about!

        I still workout at over 65. I don't do any barbell work anymore ...just dumbells and fairly heavy leg work. I keep my reps hi, but I'm no longer working to win power contests.

        Remember, diet is the most important facet of any lifters program!

        I always believed in "cheating." Using groups of muscles to lift VERY HEAVY  weight ( up to 1000 lbs in 1 lift; quarter deads) and accustoming the brain and nervous system to adapt and adjust, neurologically and  physiologically to the feel and use of "HEAVY!"

        Good luck.


  6. tritrain profile image69
    tritrainposted 12 years ago

    Are you warming up enough beforehand?

    1. David 470 profile image83
      David 470posted 12 years agoin reply to this


  7. profile image0
    fit2dayposted 12 years ago

    There are many factors o consider if you're trying to build size.

    15 reps is too much, unless you're trying to focus on endurance.

    When I first started lifting, I was small, I'm not huge now, but at the same time, I lift to stay in shape.

    What helped me increase size was, I would do 3 sets, you could also do 4. My first set would be 12 reps, then 10, then 6 while increasing weight each set.

    Another thing to consider is how much time you rest in between each set, your muscles need time to recover or you're just doing them an injustice, I would rest for 3 to 4 minutes, it may get boring, but it helps you perform your best each set.

    One last thing to consider is what else you're doing, you won't get bigger by just doing bench press, you have to do other things too, consider doing dumbbell flys, incline bench, switch up so you hit the chest at different angles. Also push-ups are the most underrated exercise in my opinion.

    If I can help in any other way feel free to e-mail me at, I hope you get the results you're looking for.

    1. David 470 profile image83
      David 470posted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I want to get bigger, but still get stronger. (Hypertrophy) My problem is finding weight that I am able to do exactly between 6-12.

      I heard that 90 seconds rest between sets is good for building size, but I feel like I need 2 minutes. 2 minutes might be considered powerlifting rest time....

  8. supplement-advice profile image58
    supplement-adviceposted 12 years ago

    With regards to you reps its good to mix things up, try to biuld the weight up through your sets, so the first two my be a warm up and then you biuld up the weights each set. I have found a pyramid session works really well for increasing strength on bench press.
    It goes like this for me..... I'm looking to bench around 115kg - 120kg for 3 reps in the end so.....
    - 1st set 60kg 10 reps (warm up ish)
    - 2nd set 80kg 8 reps
    - 3rd set 90kg 6 reps
    - 4th set 100kg 4 reps
    - 5th set 110kg 3reps
    - 6th set 115-120kg depending on how 110kg felt

    Its a workout and you can change the weights to suit your strength (sorry i used kg but I don't use lbs)

    With regards to you triceps being weak, firstly if you fail at the bottom part of the rep close to your chest them the weakness is likely to be your chest (you can do wider grip bench to work on this). But if you manage to get it off your check 3inches say then its your triceps being weak when you try to finish off the rep. Remember your tricep (tri mean three) has three parts so you need to pinpoint which one you need to work, try tricep push downs, skull crushers and narrow grip bench to see which triceps are weakest

    Hope this helps
    (oh and also get some good supplement advice! If your struggling during reps you may want something to give your workout a kick start, cratine, beta alanine etc, check out for any help)

  9. Ben Evans profile image66
    Ben Evansposted 12 years ago

    As the person supplement-advice had indicated pyramids are good and I use it to develop strength and size.  Pyramids are great for developing strength.

    Now bench pressing is a "show of strength exercise".  It works parts of your pectoral muscles.  It also works your triceps, your deltoids, biceps and other shoulder and back muscles.

    I personally think that you will do better by concentrating on your tri's with french curls, working with different bars on the cable pull down, dips ect.

    For you pecs, you want to isolate them with exercises such as flys or cable cross over exercise, maybe even dips with and without weights.

    I think it is good to work in bench presses but this shouldn't be the cornerstone of your exercise routine.  It works many muscles at once.

  10. jzepess profile image60
    jzepessposted 12 years ago

    If you are going for size first, then you want to make sure that when doing the bench press that you use your pec muscles to their maximum ability.  However, it sounds like your triceps are fatiguing before your pecs, thus leaving your pecs able to do more work.

    As a competitive bodybuilding, I recommend a technique called pre-exhaust.  This is where you will do pec isolation exercises (such as flyes) to tire the chest before you get to the bench press or any other compound movement.  This way, your chest will fail before your triceps do, allowing you to work your pecs to their maximum ability.

    You may also want to try other chest exercises such as dumbbell presses, flyes, machine press.  Everyone is a little different, so you may have to experiment to find what works best for you.

    Good luck.

  11. Mikeydoes profile image45
    Mikeydoesposted 12 years ago

    I've never been big on doing heavy weights as it is.

    Make sure you stretch really good, that is one thing I see a lot of people NEVER doing. I agree with trying other chest exercises as well. Dumbbells are good because you have to control them individually as well as bench them.

    I was able to bench upwards of 300lbs at around 190lbs, for a while, but usually would do 45lbs(the bar) and just bench really slow. Best thing I ever did. There is nothing enjoyable about doing a bunch of weight to me at least.

    Don't rely too much on benching. I really have no idea why it is what everyone cares about. I personally like push ups much better. I was also never looking to get the huge muscles or anything, I was more focused on the sports I was playing.

  12. optimus grimlock profile image59
    optimus grimlockposted 12 years ago

    try 5- 10mins of cardio before you bench also add some light stretching you'll find doing 1 set 0f 135 is plenty then more up the next set.

  13. mquee profile image67
    mqueeposted 12 years ago

    There is a lot of advice here. Some good and some not so good. The basic here is, if you are lifting for size then go heavy. Nutrition is also important. Eat within 90 minutes after lifting to help gain or maintain size. Make your first set your warmup set, then do six to eight reps for four sets. Work hard when you work out with an absolute minimum of 48 hours rest between working out muscle groups.

  14. kephrira profile image61
    kephriraposted 12 years ago

    If you want to keep your reps in a tight range then you can always drop the weight you're lifting each set.

    1. mquee profile image67
      mqueeposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      That is very good advice.


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