Vanessa Best 

One of my lifting goals was to be able to bench the 25 plate for 8 reps. I made this goal at the start of the new year and have been working on it since. Bench pressing is one of three powerlifting movementsI had never been very confident benching but my journey towards this goal has helped me form confidence in myself.

I wanted to share what that journey was like for me in hopes of inspiring you to keep working towards your goals or to create a new lifting goal!

When I first started this journey I knew I had to learn one important thing: how to bench. I wasn’t completely lost form wise; I am a trainer after all, but I knew there was room for improvement. I told myself that in order to improve I needed to be open to guidance. I would ask mostly males at the gym who I had seen benching to spot me and sparked a conversation by asking for tips. They all seemed to know something I didn’t after all!

I learned so much! As girls, up until more recently, lifting hasn’t been a rite of passage like it is for boys. It seemed like all the boys in highschool or college were benching. So, I asked some of them. Some tips I took with a grain of salt but for the most part I felt more stable in my lift and started to make weight improvements. 

I’d give you the tips they gave me but the whole journey of figuring it out on your own is something you truly need to experience. It’s one thing to read about form but another to ask someone and get in person tips!

Months went by and I kept benching. I had a chest day scheduled at least two times a week. I saw improvements for a while until I didn’t. At some point I simply couldn’t go up in numbers easily. I was stuck at a certain weight.

Let me tell you, I was there for a WHILE! I was able to do 8 reps at a certain weight and when I added the 2.5 plate I couldn’t do more than 3 or four reps. At first, I was frustrated when I reached this point because I wanted to see the weight keep increasing. However, I kept showing up. I tried increasing the weight on other chest exercises and tried new ones. I did less reps and most importantly made sure to make sure I was getting a good amount of protein in, lowered by stress levels, and slept.


And it really does go like this: One day you and your friend decide to put on more weight and you feel great knowing you have a spotter. You believe you can and you end up doing a few reps. It starts to feel like ALL the hard work and days of showing up were worth it because you did it. In fact, you can barely believe you did it so you rest for a couple of long minutes and try again... You do it again!!

I learned I needed to let my body catch up and build the muscle and strength to bench more weight. My mind needed to learn what pushing felt like at a higher intensity. It was about learning how to push more weight and being exposed to that feeling because once I was able to rep four the next week, I did a couple more reps and I made it to my goal shortly after. 

I share this in hopes that you keep showing up. I hope that you keep going to the gym because there is nothing more empowering than working on something for months and finally reaching a goal! 

I laugh as I write this because now it’s time to create another bench pressing goal and start the process all over again.


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