Comeback Bench Program
For those who are not familiar with my name, I am a National Level Strongman competitor in the United States. I lift stones that weigh just under 400 pounds, flip a 900+ pound tire routinely, and lift logs overhead. I eat regular food and drink a protien powder, that's it. My strength comes from my training, and that is why you can benefit from my programs. This program and the weights used are representative of my strength several years ago. Using this and other programs, my strength has soared to new heights, and so can yours!
This is a program that I have used in the past when I haven't been lifting for awhile and I wanted to get back in benching shape as quickly as possible. It involves heavy singles 3 or 4 times a week for as long as it works, which is usually 3 to 5 weeks. If you haven't lifted at all for a while, you will need to get a couple of lighter bench workouts under your belt before you undertake this program. With that being said, let me take you with me through the first time I used this program and show you what I learned about it.
When I started this program, my previous best shirtless bench was 445. After taking some time off, I couldn't get past 385 for a couple of months. I started this program planning on benching 4 or 5 times a week, or basically as often as I could without overtraining. The first day I warmed up with 135 for a few reps, then 225, 315, and 365. At that point I could feel that I was near my max for the day. Since the idea was to do multiple singles near my max, I did 385 and then a couple more singles at 365. Some days I did no assistance work at all, and others I did some tricep and bicep work. The main program is just heavy near max singles several times a week in the bench press. I repeated that workout 4 times that week and the weight seemed to feel only a little lighter by the end of the week.
When Monday rolled around I was able to do 405 for 2 singles, 385 for 2 singles, and 365 for 6 more singles. I got 405 in each of the 3 other workouts that week, but my total number of sets was more like 4 or 5 singles each workout instead of 10. I felt like I might have been able to do a little more weight on a couple of occasions, but I didn't want to overtrain.
The next week I was surprised when I pressed 435! I mean, I know I had done 445 in the past, but I was stuck at 385 for a couple months and in only 2 full weeks of this program I was already up 50 pounds! The next day I lifted 440 and I was starting to really believe in this crazy program. I only did one more workout that week and only went up to 405 so that I would be fresh for the next Monday.
On Monday, after 3 full weeks on the program, I benched 450 pounds without any supportive equipment. That is a 5 pound all-time personal record, and 65 pounds more than the 385 I had been stuck at for 2 months! I couldn't believe it, and I wanted to stay on this program forever. That's when I discovered that this program was only effective for a short time.
It is very difficult for the body to deal with the stress of benching heavy 4 times a week. All of a sudden 405 seemed heavy and it was obvious to me that I had reached the point where I needed to reduce my benching to once or twice a week again. Now I know that common belief is that all programs work for a little while, but let's face the facts: very few programs can boast even a 20 or 30 pound strength gain in a few weeks, much less 65 pounds. I also admit that it is much easier to regain strength than to gain it in the first place. My experience is that although it is easier to regain strength, it is still amazing to be able to break through a plateau and set a personal record in only 3 weeks. Especially when the 3 week increase is 65 pounds!
I am currently testing a variation of this program on a friend who is serving in the Armed Forces in the Middle East right now. I will be writing another article about what we learn, when he returns later this year.
Until the next time,
Lift Hard and Lift Heavy!
2001 Washington State USAPL Superheavyweight Champion
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