Thursday, September 6, 2018

Basic Bench Work

Start With This . . .

1) Squat, 5x5
2) Bench - 5x5 (2-second pause on all benches)
3) Pulldown - 5x5
4) Abs

1) Seated PBN, 5x5
2) Barbell Curl, 5x5
3) Standing Calf Raise, 2x20
4) Abs

1) Squat, 5x5 with 80% of Monday weight
2) Close (16") Grip Bench, 5x5
3) Deadlift, 5x5.

Start out with manageable weights. On the 5x5's do 2 progressive warmup sets, then 3x5 with your working weight. As the cycle progresses the work sets will eventually be as heavy as you can possibly manage. If the 3 work sets become too much, do a 4x5 with just two top work sets with the same weight.

Test for powerlifting triumvirate maxes at the end of this first 12 week program.  

Take a week off and go to this . . .

1) Squat, 5x5
2) Bench Press, 2x5 (warmups), then 5/4/3/2/1 (2-second pause on all benches)
3) Barbell Row, 5x5
4) Abs

1) Seated DB Press, 4x6
2) Incline DB Curl, 4x6
3) Seated Calf Raise, 2x10
4) Side Bend, 1x15

Deadlift, 5x5
2) Bench Press, 4x5
3) Pulldown, 4x5
4) Low Incline DB Press, 4x5
5) Abs

For the 5/4/3/2/1 - do a few warmup sets and then - the first set will be a weight that makes you work do get 5 reps, but not your absolute 5 rep max. A good effort. Add some weight and do 4 reps with the same level of intensity, hard, but not impossible. Add weight and do a set of 3, same deal. Add weight for a double. More weight, a single. The triple, double, and single will not be true max attempts since you will be tired from the preceding sets of five and four. This keeps you from going heavy too soon and outrunning your body's ability to toughen up to it.

Don't use your top weights right from the start. Build momentum.

Test for your three true maxes, squat, bench, deadlift, after 12 weeks.

Take a week off and go to this . . .

By now your curiosity and ambition should have led you to study, work on, and refine your technique in the three powerlifts. Right?


1) Squat, 4x5 (warmups) then 2x5 (heavy)
2) Seated Calf Raise, 2x10-15
3) Abs

1) Bench Press, 3x5 (warmups) then 5 singles with 70% of your established one rep max. Add weight each week until you are handling 90% of your former one rep max. This should occur around week six. From then on try to add 5 pounds per week for the final six weeks. Most lifters can only add 5 pounds per week here for one or two weeks, and they they reduce to 2.5 pounds per week. You can also drop down to 2-4 singles if needed. Some get better results from working up to only one heavy single. Find out what you need to do to keep progressing without going stale and plateauing. Remember to train your bench with a full 2-second pause on all reps.
2) Pulldown to Chest, 4x5
3) Abs

1) Deadlift, 4x5 (warmups) then 2x5 (heavy)
2) Shrug, 4x6
3) Hammer Curl, 4x6
4) Side Bend x 30 each side.

Test for maxes, take a week off.
Carry on in like fashion until you're benching 300, and that will take some doing for a lot of lifters, then -- here's a program of at least eighteen months you can work with . . .

Phase One: Building the Chest

1) Regular Grip Bench Press, 5-6 triples, starting light and working up to your top weight for 3 reps, then one more set with 10 pounds less. Do each rep with a 2-second pause at the chest. By now you should be getting very good at 'coiling the spring' on the bar's descent, pausing at the chest, and EXPLODING the bar up. You can work on this at random times of the day and you don't have to be prone to do it. Sure, look like a fool sitting in a chair and practicing, training your mind and body to better coil and explode. Hey, who cares what anyone thinks.
2) Low Incline DB Press, 5x5-8 (2 warmups and 3 heavy sets)
3) Pulldown to Chest, 5-6 sets of 6, working up to your heaviest for 6.

1) Squat, 6x3, working up to a top triple for the day
2) Seated Overhead Press, 4x5, working up to about 90% of your top 5 rep weight of the day. That's right. About 90%. Not your maximum for 5 that day in this one.
3) Barbell Curl, 4x6-8, working up to that day's top weight on the last set.
4) Calf Raise, 2x20-30.

1) Rack Deadlift From the Knees, 6x3, working up to your top triple weight for the day 
2) Regular Grip Bench Press, use 80% of Monday's weights
3) Low Incline Overhead BB Press, from a dead bottom stop in the rack. 5x6, 3 warmups and 2 heavy sets.
4) Abs
5) Grip work.

Test for maxes after XXX weeks, take a week or two off, then . . . 

Phase Two: Building the Shoulders

1) Regular Bench Press, 5x5, 4 warmups and a top 5 for the day. Do touch and go reps during this phase, not reps with the 2-second pause.
2) Pulldown or Bentover Row, 4x6-8 ramping up to your top weight for the day.
3) Steep (80 degree) Incline Seated DB Press, 5x5 working to the day's top 5.
4) Overhead Press in the Rack from Eye Level (seated or standing). Push the bar from eye level to lockout, 5x3 ramping to your top triple for the day.

1) Squat, 5x6 working up to a top set of 6
2) Standing Calf Raise, 2x20-30
3) Abs, Side Bends
4) Grip Work.

1) Deadlift, 5x6, to a top 6 for the day
2) 80 degree incline barbell press in the rack. Start at the bottom, dead stop each rep, working up over 6 sets to a top set of 6 for the day
3) Push Press, strong knee drive to get the bar going, vigorous lockout, slow lower. 5x5 working to a top 5 for the day.
4) BB Curl or Alt DB Curl, 3x6-8 ramping to a top weight for the day.
5) Grip Work, not as much as Wednesday.

Phase Three: Building the Triceps

1) Regular Bench Press, 5x5 working up to a top 5 for the day, then 4 singles with 10-30 pounds (depending on your energy level that day) more than your top 5 for the day. Do touch and go reps on the 5's and pause for 2 seconds on the singles.
2) Pulldown or Chin, 5x6, adding weight each set up to a top set of 6 for the day.
3) Close Grip Bench Press, 16" grip, same deal as the pulldowns.
4) Grip Work.

1) Squat, 5x5 ramping to your top 5 for the day
2) Calf Raise, 3x15
3) Barbell Curl, 3x6 ramped
4) Abs.

1) Deadlift, 5x5 ramped to your top 5 for the day
2) Close Grip Bench in the Rack. Set the pins 2-3 inches above your chest and do 5 progressively heavier triples, then 2x5 with 30 pounds less than the top triple.
3) Alternate DB Press, standing or seated (see-saw motherfucker!), 5x6, 2 warmups and 3 sets at the day's top weight. Flex the triceps hard.
4) Abs
5) Grip Work.

Phase Four: Building the Back

By now you should be well aware of the role the upper back plays in bench pressing.

1) Deadlift in Rack from the Knees, 6x5 working to 2 tops sets of 5 for the day
2) Shrug, same as deadlift
3) Regular Bench Press, same as deadlift, pause briefly at the chest on all reps
4) Close (16 inch) Grip Bench, 2x6-8 with your top weight for the day
5) Grip Work

1) Seated Overhead Press, 5x6, working up to the day's 2 tops sets of  6
2) Pulldown to Chest, 5x8-12, 2 warmups and 3 work sets
3) Wide Grip Chins, strict, 2 sets of max reps
4) One Arm DB Row, 2x8-10 each arm

1) Squat, 6x5, work up to around 20 pounds less than your top 5 rep weight and do 2x5 with it
2) Standing Calf Raise, 2x20-30
3) Seated Calf Raise, 2x15-20
4) Hammer Curl, 3x8-10, ramp to top weight for final set
5) Semi Stiff Legged Knees Slightly Bent (Not Locked) Safe As Milk Deadlift, 1x20 with bodyweight. Solely to stretch and loosen the lower back muscles. Don't use more than bodyweight on the bar. But how does one get one's body on the bar, you might ask. Simply, my friend. Place one end of the bar in the corner. Firmly attach the bar at its center to a box in such a way that the facing end of the bar is at approximately sternum height. Now run headlong at it and dive into the bar chest first, thereby attaching your body to the bar. Truly old school. Grimek was known to throw Stanko onto a bar with typical gusto in the York gym on all-out days, leaving the phlebitis inflicted tongue twister of a lifter skewered for the world to see until the following Wednesday, when he would again be ready to hit the weights for all he was worth. Some of these old timers had phenomenal recuperative powers, but the question remains . . . 
were they natty or not. Bro. 
Blast Your Bench. 



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