how do I keep progressing?

As a training newbie in early 30s, I decided to hire an online coach to help design me a custom training plan to help build muscle and burn fat.

One of the exercises in it is flat dumbbell bench press, well I never thought an average bob like could me eventually come to a point where I'd be picking a pair of 50lb dumbbells' but I did it!

I achieved this after almost 2 months since I started training.

However, it was not fairly easy. I had to get get a few tips from Athlean-x videos on how to properly lift heavier weights. Going into my next training session, I am a little nervous as to how I'll keep progressing after this point. 55lb, then 60lb, then 65lb and so on.

I only had the training coach for a month. He was awesome but my wallet was taking a dent.

It just sees heavier and heavier and its intimidating me. What if I just break my back or fall while trying to get off ?

What if next time I am not able to lift 55lbs? Does that mean I have achieved my maximum weight and I can just maintain bench press at 50lbs?


  • Dogmom1978
    Dogmom1978 Posts: 1,581 Member
    I’m confused by a couple of things here:

    How would you break your back? And why would you fall getting off the bench? And if you can’t lift as much next time, you go back to a lighter weight and stay at that until it becomes too easy (depends on goals, but for me if I can do 5 sets at 12-15 reps per set, I know it’s time to increase the weight).
  • pondee629
    pondee629 Posts: 2,487 Member
    You keep increasing weight until you can't lift the additional weight the assigned number of reps (failure). You then go back, in my case, three increments, and start again. Progress until failure, go back three and progress until failure...
  • BrianSharpe
    BrianSharpe Posts: 9,145 Member
    Do you have space for a rack or a cage? (If it's a rack make sure to get one with safety arms) It sounds like you're ready to move to using a barbell rather than dumbells which, personally, I find more comfortable bench pressing as you have your bar racked, slide in under it on the bench and do your set.

    An Olympic bar weighs 45 lbs, less than you're pressing now but you have absolute control over your progress as plates are available in a wide range of weights (you can even find what are referred to as fractional plates as light a half pound) which gives you the ability to really fine tune things so that if a 5lb increment is too much you can go a bit lighter.

    The alternative to increasing weight is to increase reps but there seems to be some controversy over which is more effective. Assuming that your goals don't include either bodybuilding or powerlifting the choice is yours.

    I can very safely say that you're nowhere near the maximum weight you can press, have a look at a program like Stronglifts 5 x 5 or Beginning Strength. With perseverance and consistency you'll surprise yourself.
  • steveko89
    steveko89 Posts: 2,179 Member
    Like others mentioned, weight is not the only metric for progression. Reps, sets, rep tempo, pauses/holds, and time between sets are all knobs that can be turned in the name of progression.

    I also agree with @BrianSharpe that upgrading to a barbell (if you have the space) is the logical next step. As someone who also came to lifting a little later in life than others (26) you'll be surprised what you can become capable doing if you stay consistent. When picking up my first barbell/plates set from a retail store I vividly remember telling my skeptical-looking wife "This is 300 lbs, I can't imagine getting to where I ever need more plates". Within a year I was in the market for bar/plates set so I could easily superset reps at 200+ and max over 300 (Currently 31M 6'1" ~175 lbs) and my profile pic is my current DL PR at 395.
  • Chieflrg
    Chieflrg Posts: 9,081 Member
    edited November 2020
    I would talk to your coach about his plan. One thing for certain is thinking your back will break is a unhealthy thought for short or long term progress.

    There are many ways to accomplish progress with DB work but not knowing your programming, equipment available, goals, and personal response makes any answer a dart at a board.

    I have my methods that yield results until they don't. If the eye is good, then change is dosed before a big red flag comes about.

    I would be extremely surprised if coach was planning to continue to add weight in a linear fashion beyond your ability. Usually linear progress lasts about 2-3 months, and then more advanced programming is a optimal avenue.