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.
Bodybeast maybe an older program but the core concepts are still the same and they still freaking work. You can see why I like it here if you want to read more about the strength training routine. But for those of you who really just want to focus on increasing you max bench press let's focus on that for now.
My Favorite Bench Routine
Ok, I really got off track so let's get back to the what bench press works that anyone can do who want to start seeing gains in 2-3 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 The routine was originally made famous by the Nebraska Cornhusker football strength coach back in the 80's. They took a very simplistic approach of doing 5 sets of 5 reps and by using a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.
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
You 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.
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.
Here is what an example full workout would look like on paper.
- 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
Here is what another set might look like:
- 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
A New Updated Bench Workout Program I would Recommend
There is a guy I have been following for years who's name in Mike Westerdal and is the owner of the Critical Bench Program. He played Division 2 football at Central CT State University in college which led him down the road into several personal training certifications and soon led him into competing professionally in power lifting in both the APA and APF federations. Let's just say Mike figured out the success to increasing his bench press by maxing out at 603 pounds in competition!!! lol Yeah that doesn't suck.
As his career progressed he started his own company creating several fitness products that are just straight up awesome and built from his own personal experienced and based on his eduction in fitness. One that you will be interested in is his Critical Bench program.
Critical Bench Workout Program
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- Critical Bench Program 2.0
- 80 Customized Training Logs
- Critical Deload Routine
- Critical Exercise Guide
- Creatine Report
- For Bodybuilders, power lifters, skinny people, high school athletes and more.
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. You can check it out here to ready more about increasing your bench press. 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. 8/8/2019.