Discover what's new & improved in the MyFitnessPal app!
We’re dedicated to helping you achieve your health and nutrition goals. And our newest features and updates? They do just that. Learn how we're making tracking your progress easier, faster, and more motivating than ever.

Need Advice - Stalling / Upper Body Strength Not Improving.

TheStephil Posts: 858 Member
I'm looking for some advice regarding my upper arm strength stalls, especially OHP and Bench Press.

23 years old, female, 5'7 152lbs
lifting for about 2 months
Eating at a deficit with 1,800 calories. TDEE is around 2,050.

Squats: 117.4lbs
Deadlifts: 115lbs
Bench Press: 65lbs
Pendlay row: 66.2lbs
OHP: 46.2lbs

Here's my problem, my strength seems to backtrack/stall more often than not with my upper body lifts. For example, Bench Press
4/25 - 65lbs x 5 x 5
4/30 - Couldn't get 65lbs up for even one rep. Tried multiple times and failed. No changes to my diet that day. Ended up doing 60lbs x 5 x 5
5/6 - 65lbs x 5, 65lbs x 5, 65lbs x 4, 65lbs x 3, 65lbs x 3
5/13 - Couldn't get the bar up at all with 65lbs for even one rep. Couldn't get the bar up with 60lbs. Did 56.2lbs x 5 x 5.

Nothing changed with the way I was eating on 4/30, 5/6 or 5/13. I drank plenty of water, ate carbs before lifting, plenty of sleep, etc. Same thing happens with OHP and Pendlay Row. I hit a new weight then suddenly can't do that weight for even one rep and have to back down 5lbs or so.

Any idea why this may be?

ETA: I am going to be increasing my intake to maintenance at the beginning of June. I am hoping this will help but I may be missing some other reason why this is happening.

Also, I have gotten my form checked and nothing seems to be causing this and there are no changes in my form from days I lift higher and lift lower.


  • jstout365
    jstout365 Posts: 1,686 Member

    I'm not quite sure.

    Periodic regression can happen. I've had days where I should move up and then just can't, have to back down and struggle with a weight I've already done.

    Are you doing anything on the days between lifting?

    If your diet and sleep are consistent, then those should be less of a factor, but bumping up to maintenance should give a little bit of a boost.

    And squats and DL are doing fine?
  • TheStephil
    TheStephil Posts: 858 Member
    I don't do anything between lifting days other than walking but that's every day and not excessive.

    I'm struggling to increase DL the full 10lbs each session so I've lower that increase and it's fine. Squats are hard but I've been increasing with fractionals and haven't had any regressions with it.
  • jstout365
    jstout365 Posts: 1,686 Member

    Still not quite sure.

    Hopefully some of the other ladies can give some insight into this.

    What confuses me is the on and off regression. Occasional regression is normal, and mostly temporary due to factors like diet and rest. You aren't doing anything on rest days that would tax those muscles.

    I think my recommendation would be to add in one or two upper body accessory lifts. These would be done in the 8-12 rep range for 2-3 sets. Exercises that work the back, triceps, biceps, chest, and shoulders would potentially help.
  • sbarella
    sbarella Posts: 713 Member
    I've been lifting for 2 months too and I hear you. We all struggle with those lifts to an extent... The muscle groups involved are smaller and the gender gap is bigger.
    Accessory lifts are really helping me (thanks jstout!), and if I just can't increase the weight I try to increase sets or reps until the weight feels easy(ish). Any progress is progress.
    If I were you, I'd try adding some accessory work after the big lifts then wait and see if eating at maintenance makes a difference.
  • SezxyStef
    SezxyStef Posts: 15,268 Member
    I noticed your Bench in May was once a week.

    I have had that happen to me as well I really couldn't find much reason either so I figured it was a mental thing.

    If my husband is around I have had issues...or a hard day at work/family can all have an impact.

    What about your cycle that alone can affect your lifts, energy etc.

    Are you lifting at the same time of the day everytime?
  • viglet
    viglet Posts: 299 Member
    What about your cycle that alone can affect your lifts, energy etc.

    This really effects me A LOT! Last week right before my TOM, I was so EXHAUSTED that I took the week off working out and went to bed at 8.
  • krokador
    krokador Posts: 1,794 Member
    Did you workout at the same time of the day on all those days? I get pretty sluggish when I have to go in after work so i've been avoiding that (also it makes me sleep more crappily than usual, so there is that). Was your grip on the bar and setup the same? (grip width does make a difference, so do pay attention to that!)

    I've had the on and off regression on OHP and bench for a while but I was eating like 1200-1400 cals a day when my maintenance is around 2000 so that was most likely why. Also, doing squats first is fairly taxing. Depending on how heavy your squats are, you also use your shoulders to stabilize the weight, so keep that in mind. There's a good chance if you go up in weight on squats the one day the rest of your lifts will suffer a bit.

    So I'll go with the majority here and say try to increase reps if you can't increase weight. And maybe add some triceps/shoulder work at the end of your session. Things like close grip bench, skullcrushers, face pulls, external rotations... See if that helps at all. :)
  • TheStephil
    TheStephil Posts: 858 Member
    Thank you everyone.

    I will start doing some accessory work. Hopefully that will help.

    I lift the same time every time; about 4:45pm. I've tried to lift in the morning but it just doesn't work for me. I lift with the same form, including bar grip/setup each time per my boyfriend. My bench was once per week this month due to less frequent lifting. Due to scheduling I had to cut my lifting to once last week and twice this week. Once my vacation during Memorial Day weekend is over then my lifting schedule will return to normal.

    Due to the birth control I use, my TOM only comes once every three weeks and it happens to be this week. I didn't even consider that being an option. I don't feel extra tired at all..

    I'll try to increase the reps if the weight is being difficult, at least I'll feel like I'm accomplishing something. I don't mind only being able to do 3-4 reps/set or only 3 sets but when I can't even complete one rep, ugh its a mental disappointment.