Ultimate Bench Press Program
“So you’re a weightlifter? How much do you bench?” Every gym rat has been asked this question a dozen times. I can post my 345lb snatch, talk about squatting, but they always revert to that question. My old response was “Are you riding a chicken or are those your actual legs?”
This article is for me more than it is for you. What? I can’t change everyone’s mind from afar that bench pressing isn’t the ultimate modality. So I created this article to be able to refer people to who are dead set on increasing their bench press!
How do I know this program works? Let me give you a layout of my gains I have made with this program:
Max Bench Press After 8 Week Cycles on this Program:
Before 8th Grade: 260lbs
Before 9th Grade: 300lbs
Before 10th Grade: 340lbs
Before 11th Grade: 405lbs
Before 12th Grade: 460lbs
Before Freshman Year College: 515lbs
Before Sophomore Year College: 550lbs
That is when I stopped benching seriously due to a change of interest (Olympic weightlifting). Do I have your attention yet?
If you are skeptical, please watch this video, a video taken after not bench pressing for 2 years at 200lbs bodyweight:
I have trained many high school and college kids as well as older adults who have excelled with this same program (same layout, slightly modified). It is not an easy program, but, it IS a worthwhile program! You just have to commit to it and you will see results. This program is mainly for individuals who are looking to increase their bench press or put on muscle mass in their upper bodies.
Ultimate Bench Press Program:
Bench Press – 3sets x 12reps *
Close Grip Bench Press – 3×12 *
DB Bench – 3×12 *
Tricep Extension Superset (Cable + Rope) – 3×12 each
Flies (3×12) + Pullups (2xmax) Superset *
Dips (2xmax) * + Lat Pulldowns (3×12) Superset
Power Clean (or fast deadlift): 5sets x 3reps
Back Squats – 3×12
Leg Extension/Leg Curls – 2×20 each
Seated Shoulder Press (behind head) – 3×12
3 – Way Shoulders – 3×12
Bicep Curls – 3×12
DB Bicep Curls – 3×12
Decline Sit Ups – 3×25, + Static Hold in middle (30 seconds)
Incline Bench Press – 3×12 *
Decline Bench Press – 3×12 *
DB Incline Bench Press – 3×12 *
Tricep Extension Superset (Cable + Rope) – 3×12 each
DB Rows (3×20) + Face Pulls (3×12) Superset
Shrugs (3×25) + Upright Rows ( 3×15) Superset
V Ups (3×25) + Medicine Ball Throws (3×20) Superset
Deadlift – 3×12
Hip Sled (or Front Squat) – 3×12, + 1×20
Stiff Legged Deadlifts – 3×12
Chinups (2xmax) * + Lat Pulldowns (palms out 3×12) Superset
Lat Pulldowns (palms in) – 3×12
Bicep Curls (curl bar) – 3×12
Bicep Curls (curl bar, stripper set) 1×6 unloads
Here are the 6 keys to making this program fail proof:
1. This cycle goes in 2 waves. Wave 1 is weeks 1-4. Wave 2 is weeks 5-8. The rep ranges for the first 3 exercises on Days 1, 3, and 4 are as follows: Week 1 – 12, Week 2 – 10, Week 3 – 8, 6, 12, 10, 8, 6. That covers all 8 weeks of the program.
2. This program is only to be used a maximum of 3 times per year (6 months), and never back to back. It is a VERY demanding program, so, you need your recuperation time from it. The best results have always been achieved when individuals run the program, take 1-2 months off it, and come back on it again. This is to jump start your bench press and spike it in a very short amount of time. The more you do the program the better you will become at adjusting and fine tuning it. Thus, you will see your results get better each time you use it (notice my results got better as I learned how to tweak it according to my own strengths/weaknesses).
3. Accessory Movements – For all of the accessory exercises on those days the rep ranges stay in the 8-12 range throughout the whole program. That is something you can play with to see what you respond best to. My recommendation would be to go 3 weeks of 3×12, 3 weeks of 3×10, and 2 weeks of 3×8 to finish it off.
4. Day 2 is a little bit different. The same rules apply to the accessory movements. For the back squats please see Rule #1. Those exact rep ranges should be used for that as well. However, for the power cleans or faster deadlifts it will be best to use your own judgment. It is always best to have someone such as a coach helping you if you are doing a power clean. If not, you may do a speed deadlift (lighter than your deadlift weight, about 50-60%).
5. You must train to failure on certain exercises. These exercises are marked with a star at the end of the exercise (*). On days 1 and 3 it is for the first 3 exercises (the benching exercises). For example: If you are doing 3×12 you must pick a weight that you think you can get for a maximum set of 12. Lets say you get 13 (because you are to go to failure!). You will keep that SAME weight on the bar and try for 12 again. Ok, this time you only get 10. That is fine! Keep that same weight on the bar and try for 12 again. Even if you only get 8 the 3rd set, that is what I mean by “3×12.” You pick a weight so that you think you can get 12 on the first set. Then, regardless of how many you get on the first set you keep that weight on there and go to maximum for 2 more sets. Four weeks later when you come back to this same rep range (12 reps) you will be ready to unleash your new strength and put on 10-20 more pounds for that first set of 12.
6. You MUST train through soreness for the first 1-4 weeks. This is one of the most CRUCIAL aspects to this training program. I remember being so sore from all of the benching that I could barely stretch my arm back and behind my head. A few weeks later I did that exact same workout and was barely sore. You WILL adapt, you just have to push through it and continue on to the next workout. Like I said, this program is NOT for everyone. It is only for those who are willing to sacrifice and put forth all their effort to increase their bench press.
If you have any questions regarding this training program please feel free to post a comment. I will respond as quickly as I can to get you on your way to improving your bench press. Don’t waste any more time looking for that “top secret” program. The proof is in the puddin’!