How Did I Put 40 lbs on my Bench Press in 6 Weeks?

How Did I Put 40 lbs on my Bench Press in 6 Weeks?

For the past 6 weeks I have been following a training program unlike anything I have ever done before. I decided that it was time for a change and I wanted to do something totally different than what I have been doing. This happens from time to time-in the sumer I decided to follow a modified version of the warrior diet for 3 months. This type of lifestyle was on the exact opposite end of the spectrum from what I was doing for the previous few years-eating 6 meals a deal.

As a performance coach and somebody who loves lifting heavy weights, I am constantly experimenting on myself to see what works, what doesn’t work and how I respond to different programs. For the past 6 weeks I have been following Christian Thibaudeau’s Look Like a Bodybuilder, Perform Like an Athlete. Before starting the program I was talking shop with fellow Underground Strength Coach, Steve Rizzo, about my training program and how I felt something was off. He began to tell me about Christian Thibs program that appeared on T-Nation a little over a year ago. I was intrigued to check it out so I went home and did my homework and later that week I started the program.

Christian Thibaudeau

Christian Thibaudeau

I highly recommend you check out the program yourself to see the theory and methodology behind it. No need to reinvent the wheel here, Chirstian Thibs literally laid everything out for you-the how, what, when and why. In a nutshell, I will tell you this program took the concept of olympic lifting an applied it to the squat, bench press and deadlift. Before the program started I tested out my close grip bench press, military press and 2 board press.

Before the program here were my lifts…

Close Grip Bench Press 275 X 3

Strict Military Press 160 X 3

2 Board Press 285 X 3

After the 6 week program…

Close Grip Bench Press 315 X 3

 

Strict Miliatary Press 175 X 3

2 Board Press 315 X 3

This is unheard of…40 lbs on my close grip bench press in 6 weeks! Anytime I read an article that makes claims like this I roll my eyes and laugh. I couldn’t believe the gains I made during this program.

Did I mention I took my close grip bench from 275 X 3 to 315 X 3 without going over 245 lbs? The whole program revolved around using submaxinal weights day in and day out, week in and week out.

Here is the training program I followed:

Monday & Tuesday

1) Military Press

2) Close Grip Bench Press

3) 2 Board Press

4) Squat/Deadlift

*In between sets I would do a ton of assistance work for my traps, rhomboids and rear delts*

Wednesday 

Neural Charge Training

Lats And Biceps

Thursday & Friday

1) Power Snatches

2) Squats

3) Deadlifts

*I was suppose to bench/military press after deadlifts but I omitted this as my body was still getting conditioned to the program*

Saturday

Neural Charge Training

Lats And Biceps

Sunday

Off

There were some major changes for me during this program. First off training 6X a week is totally out of the norm for me and something I that I never recommended in the past. Second, bench pressing and overhead pressing on back to back days was something I never recommended in the past. The funny thing is my shoulders actually felt better than ever before doing this.

As I mentioned earlier, this program followed many of the same principles that olympic lifters follow. Back when I was in college, some of the best olympic lifters in the country trained in our weight room. It was amazing to watch these guys train. They would literally perform the same basic movements everyday-back squat/front squat, cleans, presses and snatches.

Here is the exact workouts I followed Monday & Tuesday. Please refer to Christian Thibs Article for more information

WEEK 1

 

Strict Military Press
Set Weight Change Bar Weight Reps Zone
1 40% 1RM 3 Feeler Set
2 MTW – 40 100 3 Activation Zone
3 10 110 3
4 10 120 3 Potentiation Zone
5 10 130 3
6 MTW 140 3 Max Training Zone
7 -10 130 3
8 5 135 3
9 5 140 3
10 -10 130 3
Close Grip Bench Press
Set Weight Change Bar Weight Reps Zone
1 MTW 240 3 Max Training Zone
2 -10 230 3
3 5 235 3
4 5 240 3
5 -10 230 3
2 Board Press
Set Weight Change Bar Weight Reps Zone
1 MTW 250 3 Max Training Zone
2 -10 240 3
3 5 245 3
4 5 250 3
5 -10 240 3

* When I finished the overhead press, I would use that finishing weight to start my bench press. From there I would add 20 lbs on each set till I reached my max training weight of 240 lbs. *

WEEK 2

 

Strict Military Press
Set Weight Change Bar Weight Reps Zone
1 40% 1RM 3 Feeler Set
2 MTW – 40 100 3 Activation Zone
3 10 110 3
4 10 120 3 Potentiation Zone
5 10 130 3
6 MTW 140 3 Max Training Zone
7 -10 130 3
8 130 3
9 5 135 3
10 135 3
11 5 140 3
12 140 3
13 -10 130 3
Close Grip Bench Press
Set Weight Change Bar Weight Reps Zone
1 MTW 240 3 Max Training Zone
2 -10 230 3
3 230 3
4 5 235 3
5 235 3
6 5 240 3
7 240 3
8 -10 230 3
2 Board Press
Set Weight Change Bar Weight Reps Zone
1 MTW 250 3 Max Training Zone
2 -10 240 3
3 240 3
4 5 245 3
5 245 3
6 5 250 3
7 250 3
8 -10 240 3

* When I finished the overhead press, I would use that finishing weight to start my bench press. From there I would add 20 lbs on each set till I reached my max training weight of 240 lbs. *

WEEK 3

Set Strict Military PrressWeight Change Bar Weight Reps Zone
1 40% 1RM 3 Feeler Set
2 MTW – 40 100 3 Activation Zone
3 10 110 3
4 10 120 3 Potentiation Zone
5 10 130 3
6 MTW 140 3 Max Training Zone
7 -10 130 3
8 5 135 3
9 5 140 3
10 -10 130 3
11 5 135 3
12 5 140 3
13 -10 130 3
14 5 135 3
15 5 140 3
16 -10 130 3
Close Grip Bench Press
Set Weight Change Bar Weight Reps Zone
1 MTW 240 3 Max Training Zone
2 -10 230 3
3 5 235 3
4 5 240 3
5 -10 230 3
6 5 235 3
7 5 240 3
8 -10 230 3
9 5 235 3
10 5 240 3
11 -10 230 3
2 Board Press
Set Weight Change Bar Weight Reps Zone
1 MTW 250 3 Max Training Zone
2 -10 240 3
3 5 245 3
4 5 250 3
5 -10 240 3
6 5 245 3
7 5 250 3
8 -10 240 3
9 5 245 3
10 5 250 3
11 -10 240 3

* When I finished the overhead press, I would use that finishing weight to start my bench press. From there I would add 20 lbs on each set till I reached my max training weight of 240 lbs. *

Weeks 4-6

  •  Repeat weeks 1-3 but add 5 lbs to your max training weight

Keys to the Program

    • Eccentric Less Volume- Christian talks extensively about this in the article. During the past 6 weeks I did a ton of eccentric less volume for my legs on Thursdays and Fridays and for my lats and biceps and Wednesdays and Saturdays.
    • Assistance Work for Upper Body- According to Thibs, training the supporting muscle-traps, rhomboids and rear delts, with high volume is critical. I took Thibs suggestions and staggered it between sets of upper body pressing.
    • Train the lats and biceps with low to moderate volume, using constant-tension techniques.
    • Use the rocket launch method for each rep. Make sure you are performing each rep as fast and as explosively as possible. The more force you apply to the bar the faster the bar will move.

Not only did this help my bench press but I stet a new personal record on the DB Clean & Jerk…

Everything I covered in this post is just a general outline of the program. Make sure you cheek out the article in full yourself, Look Like a Bodybuilder, Train Like an Athlete.

Again, I am extremely impressed with the results of this program. I took 2 weeks off from the program to retest my lifts and I am now doing another 6 week cycle with my updated numbers. Regardless if you decide to try this program out or not, I think there are a few key lessons to learn

Lessons learned

  • If you want to get good at something, you have to practice it. Just look at the training of olympic lifters-they train the same basic lifts everyday but alter the load and volume for variety.
  • You can get stronger using submaximal weights. For awhile I always thought you needed to lift near maximal weights to get stronger.  Don’t get me wrong, max effort work is still important but it isn’t the only way to get strong. If you are utilizing the right volume, the right intensity you will get stronger using submaximal weights.
  • When using submaximal weights you need to move the bar as fast as humanly possible. Ultimately, speed work coupled with high volume to reinforce great technique is what took my close grip bench press form 275 X 3 to 315 X 3 in 6 weeks.

References

Neurral Charge Training

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance_neural_charge/neural_charge_training&cr=

Look Like a Bodybuilder, Train Like an Athlete

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/look_like_a_bodybuilder_perform_like_an_athlete&cr=

High-Performance Mass Program

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/highperformance_mass_upper_body_pressing&cr=

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Leave A Reply (3 comments so far)

  • Thanks for checking the article out guys. Drop a comment to get the ball rolling!

  • tyler hall

    How long did you rest between sets? I haven’t been able to read Christian Thibs article yet I’m sure he mentions it. One more question not related to this article. I have heard it’s not good to stretch everyday, especially your legs since stretching actually tears muscle fibers. Do your muscle fibers not repair themselves in 24 hours? It doesn’t seem like stretching does that much damage to your fibers in my opinion.

  • Hey Tyler,

    I never timed my rest period. This is something Christian Thibs said NOT to do in the article. I rested as long as I needed to before I was ready to go again. On the warm-up sets I’d say < 1 minute. On the heavier sets I would rest a little more till I felt I was good to go. If I staggered assistance work between sets that also affected the rest periods. You really have to get to know your body and recovery abilities. As far as your second question goes I will post an article on that soon 🙂 Thanks for checking in, Joe Meglio

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