The 8-Week Program to Build Your Bench-Press Max

The 8-Week Program to Build Your Bench-Press Max
Edgar Artiga / M+F Magazine

Day by day we toil among our fellow iron warriors, heaving
weights thousands of times over the course of our training journey.
At its best, our progress is measured in a sliver of new muscle
here, a hard-fought extra rep there. Occasionally, workouts end
with nothing more than a towel ripe with sweat and a check mark in
the training journal.

That our physiques transform into carved sheaths of muscle mass
is a gradual reward, one well worth pursuing. Yet, nestled within
this steady drumbeat of ongoing effort is a unique opportunity for
a moment of sheer bliss—one born of all that hard work that came
before it.

Picture this: one day you stride to the bench press station,
warm up with a few sets, then slide more weight on each side of the
barbell than you ever have before. Confidently, you lie down, grasp
the bar, guide it out of the supports with the help of your
training partner, then smoothly push out one clean, impressive,
glorious rep. Sitting up, you catch your breath as you take a
second to marvel at your feat—your best bench press ever.
Consider it instant gratification years in the making.


Five Tips to Grow On

Akim Williams—aka the unofficial titleholder of “world’s
strongest bodybuilder”—has experienced just those types of
moments. The 5’10” 290-pounder originally from Grenada has hoisted
a 550-pound bench press, just one of many feats of strength that
have made him a gym legend, all the while racking up 14 top-10
open-class bodybuilding finishes over his five years in the IFBB
Pro League.

Williams has learned a lot through trial and error as he honed
his power while also maximizing his size and shape. His lessons can
guide anyone looking to increase their one-rep bench max, with
these five tips leading the way:

1. Skip the Singles When Preparing for a New Personal

While it may seem counterintuitive, Williams recommends going no
lower than three reps when training for a new max, instead of
regularly doing single-rep sets. “During a single, you’ll be
going all out and pushing explosively,” he points out. “But a
three-rep set is different—you want to maintain full control of
the weight on the way up and down, so you’re sure you’re
building true strength and not just generating momentum.”

2. Embrace the Powerlifting Trio

Williams also suggests doing not only bench presses but also
squats and deadlifts, since these big moves engage the whole body
in stabilization efforts while also providing you additional
experience in regularly handling heavy loads.

3. Exchange in Negative Behavior

Advanced athletes should try extra training techniques to ensure
they’re reaching complete muscle failure. “Negative reps are a
solid tool for breaking through a plateau, because the muscle can
handle more weight on the way down than it can on the way up,”
Williams says. “You can acclimate to a new weight by doing a set
of two to three negatives with a training partner, or add two to
three negatives to the end of a set after you hit positive

4. Stop Short Sometime 

Partials are another good tool to battle sticking points. “You
can use the safety rods in a power rack for squats or presses and
work through just the top third or middle third of the range of
motion, or just finish a set with partials to failure,” Williams
says. “They can help strengthen the muscle at that point you’re
getting stuck.”

5. Or Lighten the Load 


“If you’re stuck on a plateau for a certain lift, sometimes
the best option is to take a week or two and do higher reps for
that exercise, as many as 15 per set,” Williams says. “The
blood flow you get from the pump will help push nutrients into the
muscles, and the break from the really heavy weights will allow
them to recover.

Your 8-week Plan

Apply Williams’ tenets to the following three-days-a-week
program by Elliott Hulse, C.P.T. Over eight weeks—focusing on
form and pushing your reps to failure on every working set—you
could add up to 35 pounds to your max bench. Yes, it’s an
aggressive goal but also attainable. Your moment of “instant
gratification” awaits.

Perform each of the following three workouts once a week for
eight weeks, prioritizing chest and triceps by doing Workout 1 the
first every week. Rest at least a day between each session—for
instance, you can train on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Keep in
mind, the chart lists only working sets, in which you should be
handling a heavy load that causes you to hit failure at the
prescribed rep count. Beforehand, you should do warmups as needed,
anywhere from six to 15 reps per set with a light weight that pulls
blood into the muscle but brings you nowhere close to failure.

Try to increase the poundages you use on the first exercise of
each workout every week (except during Weeks 4 and 8). Instead, use
light weights and perform 12 reps on every exercise; do not take
these sets to failure. Each workout will take about 35 minutes. At
the ninth week, consider testing your one-rep max or determining
your new 1RM by finding your 10RM—the most weight you can do for
10 clean reps—and multiplying that number by 1.33.


Source: FS – All – Fitness – News
The 8-Week Program to Build Your Bench-Press Max