Today I will be starting my run at a 900 equipped bench. If you train raw, don't leave this post. Below the training program in the notes is just one little change you'll have to make for the raw lifter. My training for raw and equipped benching is basically the same.
To reach my goal, I will be implementing a conjugate bench program. It will be a 12 week cycle culminating in a meet on 3/29. I have used conjugate training to bench 605 raw at shw, 600 raw at 308, and 850 equipped at 308. The program below is based on all I have learned from those training cycles. Here is the first month:
Monday: DE/RE Upper
DE Bench (% by feel) w/rev grip bar (reg grip) 9x3 or Pick weight for AMRAP 1-2x10-20
Rev gr bar ext (reg grip) work up to 3-6 rep max
Rolling dbl ext 5x12
Underhand pulldown 5x10-15
Seated dbl lateral raise 3x10-15
Preacher dbl curl 3x10-15
Wednesday: DE Lower/Upper Assiatance
DE Deadlift 8x1 (% by feel w/optional AMRAP)
1 leg dbl dl 3x8-12
T bar row 3x5-8
ľ dips w/weight 3 x5-8
McGill situps 3x10-15
Bird Dogs 3x10-15
Friday: ME Bench
Wk 1 Close grip bench w/Metal Catapult 3x1
Wk 2 Comp grip bench w/Metal Ace or Jack 3x1
Wk 3 2 board press close grip w/bands 3x1
Wk 4 Chain bench comp grip 3x1
Close grip incline 3x3-5
Tate presses 4x8-12
V Bar seated row 5x5-8
Seated dbl rear delt raise 3x10-15
Hammer curl 3x5-8
Sunday: DE Lower
DE Squat 12x2 (% by feel w/optional AMRAP)
GHR 3-5 x 8-12
Side/front/side planks 2x30 sec each
Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday:
Conditioning plus stretching and recovery work as needed
The easiest day to start with is the ME Day. Even though I devised this program for myself, it will work for both raw and equipped lifters (for equipped one must be more experienced and really know his/her shirt). For raw lifters just exchange the Week 2 shirt press for a floor press (another ME exercise that has provided great benefits, but beats up my nagging shoulder too much at this time to be used). Make sure with all lifts you are getting 3 presses within the 90% + range for that day.
Something quickly noticeable is the presence of two dynamic days a week for lower body (Remember, I am a bench only guy. Feel free to use your own lower body program). The logic for this is my lower body is weak. For a myriad of reasons I have not trained it hard in a long time. In addition, I am just coming off a hamstring strain. So, if I started right off the bat using ME work I would most likely hurt myself. Contrary to some popular belief lately, pushing submax weights with max force can make one stronger. Just ask Fred Hatfield and Josh Bryant. It will be very important I make certain to move all those DE sets with as much force as possible. Iím leaving an AMRAP option in there if I feel the need for additional work afterwards.
For my Upper DE Day I will press with the Swiss Reverse Grip Press Bar using a normal over grip. The reason for this is because it is much less stressful on my nagging shoulder issue. For me, just that little tweak in hand position lessens the stretch on the biceps tendon and helps to save my shoulder. Regarding the percentage, it will be based on how I feel and am performing that day. When I hit my first 600 lb raw bench, I had worked with weight as low as 205 and as heavy as 365 with doubled mini bands. I got stronger with my dynamic work as the training cycle went along. Hmm, that makes sense.
I have been a slave to percentages with dynamic work in the past. I really find it to be counterproductive. That would be akin to picking your max effort number. How could you possibly know what your max will be on any given day? There are just too many variables to consider. Sure you may have a number you are hoping for, you may even hit it. What happens if you smoke it, do you stop? F*(k no! You go for another. So my DE work will go by feel. If it feels fast I will bump it up. If I donít have it that day, the weight will be lighter, itís that easy.
The last note on the DE Upper Day, I am leaving the option for RE open. I have found more and more that I like some rep work here and there. For me rep work is almost like a deload for DE. I cannot implore enough, if you want conjugate training to work, you must treat your DE day as important, if not more important than your ME day. Just because it is lighter does not mean it requires less effort. If you are not pushing your DE day, conjugate training will not work for you. So if I am too beat up to give DE everything I have, Iím going to pick a weight I feel I can get between 10 and 20 reps and I am going to work a set of two of AMRAP.
Last, but certainly not least is assistance. Assistance work is where the magic happens. When finishing ME or DE work, you need to get to assistance with the same intensity. It is important that you make progress with this work. I am keeping the same exercises for the first month so I can make sure to improve upon them weekly. Each week I will either increase weight, reps, or speed up rest intervals. Progress here has to be made if progress is expected on the major lifts.
Clearly triceps are the priority for a big bench. Increased triceps work is the reason I have been able to work my way down in bodyweight yet maintain a 600 lb raw bench. Second most important is lat work. Because I have noticed the correlation between increased tri and lat work and my bench press, I wanted to increase the volume of that work. However, I know I only have so much in me for each session. This is why I have added extra upper body assistance to one of my lower body days. Wednesday made the most sense because it was not up against another upper body day. I do not think this will lead to overtraining. Regardless, I do mostly believe there is a lot less overtraining than we all think, just under eating, recovering, and sleeping. Remember people, the little things add up. Make sure you are doing them.
Well, there it is, my training program and the thought processes that went into it. Feel free to use it and get stronger. If you have any questions or comments please fire away.
Very cool of you to share. Thanks Vincent.
Best Lifts unequipped
Best lifts Equipped
Thankfully Representing AtLarge Nutrition and EliteFTS
I lurk here every day. I am always interested to see how others who compete in bench only set up their training. So, thank you for posting this.
As always, looks solid.
For a while I thought you were working with Josh Bryant. What did you like and what pushed you away from another go at his methods vs a return to Conjugate? Josh has had a lot of great ideas and success, so not trying to bash him, but see what worked and didn't.
Regarding the training, I don't know whether it was my age or tolerance, but I could not do that kind of volume regularly. I did EVERYTHING that was asked of me. I don't know that most people are that committed. I have spoken to a few of the guys who have worked with Josh and they actually confessed they cut a little work here and there. It is demanding, but you will get bigger and stronger working with Josh.
Now tha I have hit my raw goal, I have some unfinished shirt business. I always like conjugate training for that. Actually, I just love conjugate training. It never gets old.
Awesome insight Vin. Working with Josh is pretty brutal, but he's definitely one of the best out there whether you're looking to get huge or slim down. I plan on working with him again soon.
260's by May
wow, apart from some little differences you program looks similar to the one which i have just finished putting together yesterday!! i also wanted to focus on my bench press -before i lose hope with it!! i opted for a three day week however...
wednesday-ME or DE lower (switch weekly-not too interested in focusing on SQ/DL right now) + extra back and tricep work
friday- RE upper
I feel like ive exhausted DE work and that i will be better served getting some reps in.I plan to go back to DE benching every 4th week just to keep in touch with it.
looking forward to hearing how you get on with you journey to 900!!
Last edited by gaz90; 01-01-2014 at 07:41 AM.
last meet, GPC, Irish Open: 03/11/2012
@ 82.5kg/ 181 junior raw
B: 130 kg/286
best gym lifts:
B: 135 kg/300
D: 220 kg/485
Vincent, thanks fo sharing this program, and good luck with the 900!
I have a few questions. I know you said you used this to hit several 600+ raw benches and an 850 with a shirt, but what were you benching before using this type of training? Also, what kind of bands and amount of chains would you usually use? And would the 3 sets of 1 over 90% be throughout the entire training cycle on the max lift (or would you ever do more reps)?
Best competition lifts:
650lbs. raw squat
441lbs. raw bench
580lbs. raw deadlift
1650lbs. raw total
The bands and chains vary by feel. I just make sure they are consistent when comparing lifts. Regarding the 3 sets of 1 sometimes there may be one or two extra reps, but that is by feel. That is throughout the entire training cycle. The only exception will be one to two weeks out from the meet.
Def looks like a solid setup. But I'm curious would you still recommend the Militia Style bench training?