Last updated on October 31st, 2022 at 01:44 pm
Are you worried that your bench press is stuck at 225?
You’ve been benching habitually and you’ve been happy to see your bench increase on a regular basis.
However, the second you hit 225lbs everything seems to have stalled.
It’s been weeks, maybe months, and perhaps even years since you managed to add any weight.
In fact, even when you try to add no more than 1lb to either side of the bar, your bench press immediately stalls.
So, what exactly is going on here?
Allow me to reveal all.
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Bench Press Stuck at 225
The main reason your bench press is stuck at 225 is typically due to poor workout programming. This could mean that you’re not actually trying to regularly progress in terms of weight, but rather taking the easy option and allowing your training to stagnate. Realistically, there’s no plan behind your workouts and eventual progression. You should also look closely at your calorie consumption and sleep, as if you’re not getting enough of either, this could severely hamper your training.
Your Workout Programming is Poor
As far as I’m concerned, if you go to the gym without an actual plan then you may as well not bother going.
Okay, perhaps that’s a little harsh, but you’re not doing yourself any favours if every training session doesn’t have a particular goal.
Basically, you go to the gym, you go through the motions, and then you leave.
Unfortunately, if you continue training in this way you’re never going to reach your body composition goals.
Granted, regular physical activity is fantastic and it will keep you fairly healthy.
However, once you’re into the realms of lifting for a few years, you have typically gone from a recreational lifter to an advanced one.
So, it obviously makes sense that you should train as an advanced lifter.
This would generally mean that there’s a lot of planning and preparation for your workouts.
Plus, you are also a lot more serious and your food, rest, and recovery (more on this in a moment).
And let’s not forget that the body tends to adapt fairly quickly to the stresses and strains we place upon it.
So, if you want to push past that 225lbs bench press plateau then you need to plan out exactly how you’re going to do this.
I’ll now go through the main steps that will help you achieve this.
Are You Eating Enough?
There’s no two ways about it, if you’re not getting enough calories and protein, your muscle-building and strength-gaining potential is going to stall.
And I would say that the vast majority of lifters probably aren’t taking in enough calories and protein.
In fact, it could even be a case where you think you’re eating effectively, but actually you’re not.
In the main, I would say a good aim is to consume a minimum of 16-18 calories per pound of body weight.
Furthermore, ensure that your protein consumption is at least 1g per 1lb of body weight.
That being said, even though calories and protein are probably the most important aspects, don’t forget about carbs.
Carbs will provide you with the energy to workout at your best, while also helping with muscle recovery.
Are You Sleeping Enough?
Unfortunately, many people tend to hit the gym hard, but aren’t as strict with their recovery.
And this is especially true of how much sleep they’re getting.
That being said, as a beginner and someone new to lifting, you can probably get away with a lot more.
You would think that the new training stimulus would leave you feeling tired and lethargic.
However, in truth, it typically has the opposite effect.
So, in essence, you probably don’t have to concentrate that much on your recovery to see improvements.
But, once you’ve been training for a while, and can be considered an intermediate lifter, things change.
Basically, it almost feels as though you have to work twice as hard to maintain your hard-earned muscle and strength.
And this is where poor recovery and not sleeping well can severely hamper your efforts in the gym.
So, when it’s rest and recovery time, make sure that is exactly what you’re doing.
Plus, you’ll want to ensure that you’re getting 7-9 hours sleep a night.
How Important is Sleep to Building Muscle?
Try Decreasing the Weight
Now, while this may sound counterproductive, it is definitely something that works.
Rather than trying to increase your bench and lifting more than 225lbs, try decreasing the weight.
Your aim here is to perform the bench press with strict form, while getting in an adequate number of reps.
Personally, I would actually focus on increasing reps with a lighter weight until I feel I’m so far ahead of the game when it’s time to start benching 225lbs again.
What I mean by this is that it could be a case that you can quite happily pump out 10 reps at 200lbs.
However, whenever you try to bench 225lbs you’ve pretty much hit failure at the 3-rep mark.
So, by regularly increasing the reps on my 200lbs bench press, I’ll still be able to keep my form on-point, while also improving at the lift.
In fact, I would go as far as getting from 10 reps to 15 reps at 200lbs before finally going to 225lbs.
Then, once more, the aim is to increase reps on my 225lbs bench until I feel it’s “easy” enough for me to be hitting double figure reps.
Once achieved, this is the time to increase the weight.
Are You Burning Too Many Calories?
The final thing to consider if your bench is stuck at 225lbs is how many calories you’re burning throughout the day.
Okay, I’ve spoken of ensuring that you consume enough calories, but this doesn’t take into consideration how many calories you’re actually burning.
I guess initially we’d all look at how much cardio we’re performing, and perhaps aim to cut back slightly so that it doesn’t affect our strength levels.
However, you also have to take into account any other physical activities you perform throughout the day.
Perhaps you have a physically demanding job.
Maybe you’re having to work in excessive heat.
It could even be the case that you work at a desk job, but are constantly going up and down stairs at work.
Whatever it may be, you also have to determine how many calories you’re burning in comparison to how many you’re consuming.
It’s all well-and-good increasing both your calorie and protein intake, but if you’re burning more calories than you’re consuming, your strength levels will suffer.
So, as much as you should keep an eye on how many calories you’re consuming, don’t forget to take into account the calories that you’re burning.
So, I hope you understand that there are a number of reasons why your bench press is stuck at 225lbs.
This generally comes down to poor workout programming.
In other words, you have no real workout plan and are simply going through the motions.
Realistically, you should be following a program that allows you to progress frequently and safely.
Furthermore, your calorie consumption, especially protein, needs to be enough to allow you to regularly increase weight.
The exact same can be said for rest and recovery, while ensuring you’re getting plenty of sleep.
Finally, you should also be aware of exactly how many calories you’re burning a day, as you may need to increase your calorie intake to counteract this.
Once you’ve burst your way out of your 225lbs plateau you may want to check out my article about how rare a 405lbs bench press is.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.