Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Bench Routine -- Norman Zale (1981)

Pat Casey 

Well, I finally up and started going through my die-in, er, walk-in closet in search of bloggy substance to reincarnate for a while. The two dead wives' stuff gots to be gone now I guess, unless they're expecting me to bring it with me when I goes to heaven. Not quite sure how this works . . . what's the allowable luggage? And if I goes the other way, will everything catch fire? I mean, why the eff worry about this stuff if it's all gonna just burn up and vaporize in the end, he queried existentially in a terribly blunt metaphor. 

Anyhow, a nice couple-a shit-tons of schtuff in there waiting to get gotten on this blog. And MAN! Wasn't Rader's IronMan, Balik's too, just bloody great? So many things hiding in those. 
And now, right here on our stage . . . 
Norm Zale and his dancing bench layout! 

When using special routines such as this one, it is of utmost importance that they are not used regularly, but alternated with lighter training systems that do not burn you out. A month of extra heavy training cycled with five or six weeks of medium and medium heavy work should prove effective for most lifters. To train extra heavy continuously is an invitation to overwork, possibly injury, and a loss of strength.

Here is a bench routine that has proven successful time and time again. Many lifters who have been at a standstill for months have made what they considered excellent progress when on this type of training system.

Bodybuilders, powerlifters, Olympic lifters, athletes and the stay-in-shape group can all use this type of training with equal success. 

Use this routine twice a week and do it at the beginning of your session. Because of the type of work you will be doing you will require a good training partner.

Note: If you train alone, you may have to settle for only the negative portion of the overload singles, and slightly unload and rerack the bar up top after each single. Don't panic over it. Just use all you have access to and work hard at it. 

Spend a few minutes stretching, rotating your arms, doing pushups, and a  two to three minute routine of five or six different barbell exercises with a very light weight. You know, empty bar drills and such. 

Rest a few minutes, get your bar set and look over your training log so that you know exactly how much weight to use for each set of benches. 

When you are ready, perform two sets of benches with a progressively heavier weight. One set of 10 and another set of 6. 

After a short rest perform 3 sets of 3 reps using heavier weights with each succeeding set. 

Next, perform singles up to your maximum for the day.

Here is where your training partner will prove himself. Do 5 sets of only one rep. 5 singles, increasing the weight of the bar by 20 pounds with each set so that on your last (5th) set you are using 100 pounds above your maximum. With each of these five, one-rep sets, your training partner will assist you ever so slightly for a forced rep on the way up. On lowering the bar to your chest, your training partner should hold on to the bar but allow you to lower it under control so that you are doing negative reps. After your last set of negatives, reduce the weight of the bar and again do 3 sets of 3 with as heavy a weight as you can handle properly. 

Again, I guess I just gotta mention that, if you train alone, drink alone, get high alone, have sex alone, eat alone, dream alone, live alone and more than likely will die alone (humor's very subjective, ain't it) . . . you won't be doing any of the "forced" rep up-part of the singles on the concentric unless you have an extra pair or two of arms comin' out of your torso. Genetics matter! Just ask a flying pig who speaks English. Yeah, so just do the negative part and do it with oomph. You'll have to get the bar back up and onto the rack hooks after each one, so it's that deal with removing some plates and just getting it back there. If you make sure the collars are on nice and tight, well then you can lift one end of the loaded bar onto the hook and then the other. But hey, if it's too much hassle this routine ain't for you.  Others . . . continue . . . 

After completing your benches perform a couple of assistance exercises. Incline barbell press, weighted dips, and dumbbell bench done for 5 x 3 reps are the suggested exercises. Select two of these movements each workout and alternate them from day to day to maintain overall pec, delt and triceps power.

The forced reps and the negative rep sets are the key sets in this routine so work extra hard on them and make sure your training partner [now married to a flying pig that speaks English] understands that he is only to assist you slightly, that you want to do as much of the work as possible short of squirming around on the bench. A fish outta water suffocatin' on air. A snake with he's tail painfully nailed to the bench. A guy havin' a fatal heart attack while benching. That last one I'd definitely pay to see. "One time only performance! sunday, Sunday . . .  SUNDAY at BLUTO'S GYM!!!

This is a tough routine and takes a good man [or a strong and determined evil one] to complete with heavy poundages, but heavy poundages and hard work is, oops, are the only way that you can increase your size and strength. After a month on this routine return to more conventional training and you will notice that your chest has thickened and your maximum has increased. A 20-30 pound increase is not unusual so don't be surprised at your progress, just lie back, gloat, and plan your next assault on the king of upper body exercises. 

Your routine should look like this: 

Stretching and warmup, light barbell exercises. 

Bench Press:

1x10, increase weight

3x3, increase weight with each set

Singles up to your max for the day, increase weight each set
5x1 [five singles], increase weight by 20 pounds with each set. Do forced reps as the weight is raised and negative reps as the weight is lowered. 

Reduce weight and do 3x3 with as heavy as weight as possible.

A. Incline barbell press, 5x3 reps.

B. Weighted dips, 5x3 

C. DB bench, 5x3

Alternate these last three exercises doing two of them each workout. How would that work . . . A and B . . . A and C . . . B and C . . . repeat. 

Now stop screwing your training partner's flying pig wife on the sly and

Enjoy Your Lifting! 



  1. Best read and laughed reading.
    Straight talking

    1. Turns out Mr. Zale was funnier than we realized!


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