Workout Plans
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Per Bernal / Shutterstock
Per Bernal / Shutterstock

Unleash your inner benching beast with this workout plan.

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So you want a bigger bench?

Of course you do. Any guy who has ever stepped foot in a gym wants a bigger bench. Hell, even the women I train want bigger benches. But few actually take the time to learn how to realize that goal.

Many spin their wheels searching for the perfect program and end up with the same max that they started out with. So how do you get a big bench?

Build Up Supporting Muscles

“My triceps are too strong,” said no bench presser ever. If you want a big bench—hell, if you want big arms—you need bigger, stronger tri’s. Most of the assistance work will focus on those soon-to-be fillets hanging off the backs of your arms.

You are also going to need a big back so you have a bigger base to press from. Rows and pullups are essential, so just hammer away at these moves.

Your shoulders are the final piece of the pie. Keep them healthy while slowly building up their strength and mass.

The Break Down

DAY 1:

Although there may be many traditionalists who argue that dynamic-effort work has its place in every training regimen (load the bar with 50% of your max plus accommodating resistance—bands and/or chains to load the top end of the lift), I believe it’s necessary for only highly developed lifters, i.e., those who have been training for 10-plus years and they’re fighting to put five to 10 pounds on their bench over the course of a whole year. It’s kind of the last-ditch effort when linear periodization stops working.

So as a more effective substitute to the dynamic-effort day, I do a repetition-style day, starting with light percentages that gradually increase over the 10-week wave (with a couple of lighter recovery days in there).

The main movement for Day 1 will rotate weekly between the incline bench press and the floor press. (Yes, this is a bench-press program, but you will bench-press only on Day 2.) The percentages are based on 95% of your one-rep max (1RM) for the flat bench press. For lifters who have no idea what their 1RM is, schedule a max day one to two weeks prior to starting this program.

The assistance work on this day is the key. Most days will consist of one heavy assistance movement to be completed first, and then three lighter assistance movements to bring up the smaller muscle groups. Keep in mind that this day is to flush blood through the muscles and ultimately to prepare for Day 2.

DAY 2:

Get ready for linear periodization—and by that, I mean gains. Weeks 1 to 4 will be kept relatively light. The goal is to build work capacity and muscle mass. By Week 5, you’re either thinking, “Thank God! I needed a break,” or “This light crap is for the birds.” Trust me—take that light day.

Remember, we’re working toward that bigger bench at the end of the training cycle, so keep your eyes on the prize. Weeks 6 through 9 are as straightforward as it gets. Throw a few more pounds on the bar over what you did the previous week and hit it for fewer reps.

Assistance work will focus even more on the triceps, because that’s how we get our bench to go up. These movements will be a bit heavier than Day 1’s assistance work.

MAX WEEK:

Day 1 of Week 10 sets you up for recovery. Keep it light. Day 2 is time to answer to the Iron Gods.For simplicity’s sake, let’s say you started the training cycle with a 300-pound 1RM. (Note: This should be a number that you actually hit within eight to 10 weeks of starting this training cycle.) And if it was a grinder, then do yourself a favor and underestimate your max by about 10%. So your training weights would be based on 270 to 280 pounds. Max-day warmups and attempts should look like this:

Max Week
Bar x 10 x 2 Sets
95 x 5
135 x 5
185 x 3
225 x 1
265 x 1
290 x 1
310 to 320 x 1 for a 10-20 pound PR

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

Week 10

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