Best Bench Press Workout – My Favorite Revealed

Bench Bench Press Workout

For years I have used a very simplistic bench press routine when I want to go after raw strength gains and it just works like clock work 27 years. This just goes to show you that old school techniques are still working today and will continue to work.

You apply resistances to your muscles, they respond, tear a bit, repair and get stronger. You rinse and repeat. It's really that simple.

This is also why I really like doing the bodybeast program when I head back into the gym in the fall after a long summer of cycling.

I don't do any heavy  weight lifting during the summer because I'm on the bike all the time and I don't want to pack on any more upper body muscle at that point.

My Favorite Bench Routine

Ok, I really got off track, so let's get back to my favorite bench press workout that works every single time to gain strength and muscle. You literally will start to see yourself increasing the weight you are doing in your sets within 3 weeks' time.  The routine was originally made famous by the Nebraska Cornhusker football strength coach back in the 80's.  They took a very simplistic approach of doing 5 sets of 5 reps and by using a percentage of your 1 rep max to figure out how much weight you should use in each set.

olympic weight set

This is seems like a magic number once you get into the routine. It hits the lower end of working on power and the middle range of working on strength while not going into too many reps where you work on muscular endurance.

This type of workouts is excellent for anyone needing to do pushing exercises in their sport. I would highly recommend this for any high school athlete who wants to strengthen their chest, tricep and shoulder muscles.

How To Do The Bench Workout Routine


Benching press At HomeYou will need to start out warming up your chest, triceps and shoulders. One easy way to do this is to start with 3 sets of 15 push-ups.  If you are using a regular Olympic weight bench, I would start with something really light, which might be the Olympic bar (45lbs) or something like 135 which would be the Olympic bar and 145-pound dumbbell on each side of the bar.

If you are using a pair of dumbbells, I would start out with something like 25-pound dumbbells to get warmed-up.

Focus on your technique during warm up by lowering the bar slow, keep your feet solid on the floor with a sturdy base, shoulders rolled back, core tight, lowering the bar straight down touching the chest and coming up slow for a 2-3 second push. We are doing nice, controlled reps in that 10-12 rep range.

We want to really stretch the muscles and get your muscle memory goal of what great technique is when we start packing on the weight later on in the routine.

Actual 5 sets x 5 Reps

You will have to get a feel for where to start for the first time doing this based on what you have done lately or previously. If you have no idea, don't worry. Start light and figure it out as you go. The next time you do this, you can zero in better on what weight to start with based on where you finish the 5th set.

Just so we have something to go off of, let's say you can bench 200 pounds max.

Let's start out with 135 warm up of 10 reps.

For the 1st set I would probably go about 50 pounds lighter than my max and start with 150.

great program

From there we will increment each set by 5 lbs if you can make the jump 2.5 if the last set was hard or keep the same weight if the previous set was super hard.  Note what I said here. We want to keep adding resistance each set. Even if you stay the same and it's still hard as heck to complete or you need a partner to assist you on the last few reps that still counts.

Example Workout Set

  • Set 1: 5 reps of 150lbs.
  • Set 2: 5 reps of 160lbs.
  • Set 3: 5 reps of 170lbs.
  • Set 4: 5 reps of 180lbs
  • Set 5: 5 reps of 190lbs

Another Example Set:

  • Set 1: 5 reps of 150lbs.
  • Set 2: 5 reps of 155lbs.
  • Set 3: 5 reps of 160lbs.
  • Set 4: 5 reps of 165lbs
  • Set 5: 5 reps of 170lbs

If you get to your 2nd or 3rd set and you can only do 2-3 reps out of the 5 you started way to heavy and need to go lighter.

There might be times that on your 4th and 5th set that you stay at the same weight as you did on your 3rd set. My point here is to be honest with yourself. Don't cheat and go light. Put the weight on there that you can just barely get.

Bench Workout Workout Frequency

shirtless body builder doing bench press for chest

Another reason why I love this workout so much is that you only have to do it 3 days a week. You don't want to do this workout every day. 3 days a week is a perfect range to give your muscles enough time to recover and repair in between workout days.  I found that doing this on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday rotation works the best. Allow the weekend for a 2 day recovery period.

Pro Tip:

Now when you start the next week, you will more than likely start with what you ended with on Friday.

It's a judgement call as to how you feel if you want to start with the same weight you did on set 1 on Friday or not. There are times I just know I'm going to crush that and I automatically add an extra 5 or 10 pounds to the starting weight.

If I do that, I adjust along the way to what my other sets will be. I love to add 10lbs each time but more than likely I'll be adding 5lbs each set.

From personal experience I've seen it work like this.

On Monday's

I'll come in fresh and strong. I tend to see gains from my previous weeks workout on this day. In which case, I adjust my second set right away if my starting weight was too easy. Like I said above I usually repeats Friday's set 1 weight to start out the workout unless I'm just feeling strong, in which case I add more starting weight.

On Wednesday's

I usually repeat the weight ranges I did on Monday. I tend to struggle to get all 5 reps on the 4th and 5th set. This is a good thing by the way. You are really overloading your muscles when you nail it like this.

On Friday's

I see a mixture of results.  Sometimes I see gains right away and I have to add an extra 5 or 10 pounds to the set. There are other times that I struggle to hit all 5 sets clean because I really added more weight on Wednesday's workout and I'm still recovering from it. Again this is all good. You are continuing you challenge your muscles to react, repair and grow stronger.

Best Bench Press Workout Summary

I'm pretty damn stoked to get this down on paper finally. I have shared this to so many people over the years verbally or showed them. Every time, I repeat every time this works!  You will have to play with it to figure your starting weights. You will have to give this 3-4 weeks to really figure out your body, how it responds and what type of weight increments that work for your body type.

Please, please be faithful. Put your time in the gym and just do this like you have to eat breakfast every morning. I promise you won't be disappointed. Make sure you absolutely keep track of your sets, reps and weight you did each day and each week.  By week three you can look back at what you started and just smile. You will start to see your bench press increases and then you just get even more stoked!

Hit me up with any questions you might have and I'll gladly answer what I can. There is a bench press program that is a really great program to follow if you really want to focus on bench a lot of weight or hit a new personal goal.
So, if you are wanting to increase mass to get bigger or increase your bench press then I would highly recommend looking into this program that was created by a professional in the field. You will get a detailed workout guide and log to get you started at the weight that works for you personally.  Here is the break down.

Bench Press Max Chart

Below is bench press chart that will help you estimate you 1 rep max.  If you are not sure what your 1 rep max is, I would get a good warm up in and then do a weight that you can barely do 5 times or right to failure so you can then use the chart to figure out your 1 rep max in the chart below to find the proper weight.  Coming soon. It was so large that I could not fit it on the page. 9/24/2020

Best Bench Press Tips

The bench press is the most efficient pushing exercise for toning your upper body muscles and getting the V-shape you so dearly desire. Simply put, it allows you to quickly add muscle mass and strength to your shoulders, arms, and chest.

Here are some easy bench press tweaks and tips that can improve your performance and shoulder health:

Warm-up Properly

Despite being one of the easiest and most apparent bench press suggestions, many weightlifters overlook the value of a good warmup. If you don't warm up properly, your strength will be limited. When warming up for the bench press workout, you should work on the following:

Motion range: To achieve a full range of motion without difficulty, increase your flexibility.

Blood Pressure and Heart Rage: Boost the blood flow to your arm and chest muscles. Your heart will naturally beat faster to pump blood as a result.

Weight Adjustment: Work your way up to the heavier weights you’ll utilize for the bench press gradually. For heavy lifting, you need to prepare both your body and mind.

Eat Like There's No Tomorrow

If you want to get bigger and stronger, you must eat like Ronnie Coleman! You should have up to seven meals every day, with each one including a substantial portion of complex carbs and protein (in different forms). This is critical for improving your bench press. Don't expect to add more pounds to your bench if you don't take in enough calories each day.

If you plan to lift big, my minimum suggestions are:

  • Protein - 200 grams per day.
  • Calories - 3500 per day, or more if you are underweight.
  • Fats - At least 25-30% of your daily calorie intake.

Be Persistent

Reset your goals. Make a big deal out of little PRs. Achieving 1 kg/2 lb PRs on the bench press doesn’t sound too impressive, but the sums add up. You can bench press 52kg/104 lbs more in a year by increasing your bench press by 1 kg/lb weekly. 

This bench press goes from 60 kg/135 lb to 112 kg/249 lb. This is greater than the average bench press for men in gyms. All it takes is a little bit of chipping away each day. With time, your bench press will improve.

Engage the Correct Muscles

You’re not getting the most out of each exercise if you do not know how to engage, fire, or stabilize your muscles during it. The main muscle groups used in the bench press are the anterior deltoid, pectoralis major, and triceps. 

The purpose of the stabilizing muscles is to help maintain a specific posture or to keep a joint in place. These muscles include the anterior deltoids, triceps, biceps, and rotator cuff.

Tone Your Triceps and Back

The body's muscles are connected, so you must focus on your triceps and back to fully develop your chest with the bench press. Lifters often hit a weight-lifting plateau when they neglect to work out their triceps, which power the bench press.

  • Make your bench press grip smaller to target your triceps. Additionally, try skull-crushers, dips, and overhand cable extensions to strengthen your triceps.
  • The opposite of the bench press, barbell rows, can help tone your upper back. This exercise should considerably strengthen your back if done correctly.

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