The 225lbs benchmark is something that any tough man will have to face at some point in their careers. The days when we bench 225 are certainly interesting days as every lift that we see appears to be so amazing and so distance from our eyes. I personally remember the day I was benching 225 and all the weights that existed ahead of me looked impossible. Little did I know that the 225 barrier was the barrier that taught me a lot, perhaps more so then 500lbs did. Why? It was my first barrier and once I broke 225 I knew that I could do anything that I set my mind to! And soon enough that benching base of 225 has allowed me to lockout 710lbs off the bench press rack at 177lbs 5 years later! I took 710 off a rack and brought it all the way down to a rack an inch off my chest! Making me one of few men well under 200lbs to have pressed 710 up for 3 inches, held over 700lbs at lockout for 5 seconds, and then bringing it all the way down to a rack an inch over my chest as it moved a few inches up. Top Bencher Phil G, thought it was one of the greatest displays of lockout power that he has ever seen. But, it only happened because of 225.And I have reversed band pressed 455 for 12, 405 for 25, but it's all because of the initial 225.
225 was the day that sparked a fire within me and the days when I would ask myself "How is it done, how do these guys do it" You see a little spark of motivation was there and that spark grew into a ball of fire! This fire after 5 years has started pyromania within me and has put me ahead of some of the 350lbs bald freak benching champions of the world who are still dreaming of getting 650 in a lockout position. I will always thank myself for fighting the 225 and believing in myself, else it could never have happened, and it never could have happened because the days benching 225 are the days that make you just say, "I have a small bone structure and I want to quit". Then top lifters will tell you that your structure is too small to hold 700lbs, but it's all in what you think. And I know that all of you can hold 700lbs for 5 seconds, without having your arms ripped off and bringing it down with an eccentric lift too at 165lbs! You know how you do it? First say you can do it and have the determination of John Claude Van Dam from Blood sport and just do it! Just listen to your monster; whatever you call your deepest inner drive, he knows that he is scarier than any weight ever is! Listen, the monster that is your current darkness and depression will be embraced into intense motivation and passion to make the unknown real on many levels. Positive levels, the 2nd spark of the fire of excellence! To make yourself stronger!
And this applies to everyone. Once we meet 225 for the first time and skyrocket pass it we will then say "I'M an animal, I'm hardcore and I can do anything". And this animal that we discover within us will allow us to move mountains, making us unlimited beings, with spirits so strong that our energy can conquer anything. But in order for this to happen the 225 bencher needs some basic education and a routine first. Let's go over a routine for the 225lbs bencher.
O.K., at this point I assume you have benched 225 and you are maxing out all the time and either missing or hitting it, but not getting any farther. This is not the mindset that we want so let's start all over again and slowly create ourselves as UNLIMITED BENCHERS instead of men that say "I bench 225 or I don't bench 225". Get ready for a freaky future ahead.... Here is the program.
THE BEGINNING.... The weeks of relaxation... putting your old monster to sleep to build a new one...
Week 1- 100 lbs for 8 sets of 3 (rest 30 seconds between sets)
Week 2- 115lbs for 8 sets of 3 (rest 30 seconds between sets)
Week 3- 120 for 8 sets of 3 (rest 30 seconds between sets)
Week 4- 135 for 8 sets of 3 (rest 30 seconds between sets)
Week 5- 150 for 8 sets of 3 (rest 30 seconds between sets)
Week 6- 160 for 8 sets of 3 (rest 30 seconds between sets)
Now speed strength has been developed and we got rid of the thoughts of "225" but we have learned to just attack the weight and we have trained the Central Nervous System. So it's time to focus on heavier weights to get the tendon strength and maximum force and allow a new monster to be born for the bigger weights...
Week 7- 170 4 sets of 5
Week 8- 190 2 sets of 3
Week 9- 200 2 sets of 3
(GET LOTS OF REST BETWEEN SETS, GET PUMPED, DON'T MAX, REMAIN DISCIPLINED) The biggest mistakes lifters make is maxing too frequently or never going for the max at all. Just let these weights motivate you, breathe, visualize and then attack the weight at full focus mixed with maximum intensity! You see we have built the monster, and now it's time to unleash him, finally when matters matter most! THE TIME TO BENCH MAX! And also by saving him gives him value because that monster can only be used on special moments, 5 times a year on your raw bench max and a few other times on assistance maxes!
O.K., we are getting closer to the big max day.
Week 10- 225x3
(At this stage you shall be hitting 225 for easy triples) just do it once. The World record holder Chabot only benches once per month and skips a muscle group each day to ensure recovery. It's important to do little and get out of the gym. Forget burn out sets, lifters do them to prevent over training, meaning doing 50 bench sets in the gym first. Plus, you want your muscles to remember a heavy weight at the end. Think of more excessive sets as weakening you like if you took too much medicine. Everything works, but only with proper amounts. So the bottom line is go intense and make it as hardcore as possible, but don't make yourself feel like you are doing an endurance workout else go run marathons or bike.
Week 11- 250x1
(You have hit your new bench max, great job) next week see if you can go heavier....
Week 12- 275x1....
(Keep going until you finally hit your 1 rep max, and then test yourself in another lift and when you fail then the program is over. Then work on weaknesses; play around with exercises like high rep dumbbell presses or whatever your heart desires. Then get on another program and it's time for basics. Low reps, heavy weights, each week go closer to your max until you peak.
ALSO, along the way- look for specific weak spots in your lifting. For example work your back so you can get weights off of your chest and don't neglect anything! Also, work on technique, technique and technique!
The little things like mastering your mind and your technique will determine how much you get out of your program. As well as your habits away from the gym.
For Assistance work during this program-- DO. Rack lockouts, skull crushers, and close grip incline presses. Keep the reps under 5.You want to stop just before you fail in the power game, but still make it hard. On other bench press days do shoulder work and do high rep tricep push downs.
FOR TOP END STRENGTH-
Make sure you hold the weight at lockout for 3-5 seconds. Else you will destroy your lockout, this is a big step. Too many benchers kill their lockouts with fast reps when they aren't doing speed days. Like if you bench 225 then rep 135 slow and hold it at lockout for a count of 5. If you bench 550, don't rep 315 too fast, hold it at lockout. The little weights define the lockout because you use them to train and prepare your tendons and ligaments for the bigger weights.
BOTTOM END STRENGTH-
PAUSE- Make sure you pause the weight at your chest for a few seconds to maximize bottom end strength. Also negative techniques are okay.
Also use bands and chains because both techniques will teach you how to explode from the bottom of the lift and to teach you how to finish heavier weights as you hit lockout. Adjust the band tension and change tension based upon how much or little you want them to resist the weight back. Finally add chains/bands to the top of the weight to work on lockouts and get use to a groove similar to that of a bench shirt.
The boards will make sticking points stronger. We all have a sticking point whether you are weak during the middle phase of the lift or top. Put a board an inch below that sticking point so you can push and explode through it. It equates to a bigger bench! Other exercises like. Floor presses, benching lying on the floor will help you improve your weakness a few inches off of your chest. Exercises like JM presses, drop set dips, etc all will work well! But it's not the exercise but the lifter doing them, how hard, how carefully and how much they need them. I think other lifts like the chamber bar bench press is a great lifter for starting power, as this allows the lifter to get more depth like Mike MacDonald. Lifts like Floor presses will help lifters overcome that sticking point "a few inches off the chest". So use your common sense and modify them into your routine accordingly. And help your buddy incorporate them into their routines as well.
And also remember BASICS, BASICS, BASICS are key. Very little volume, intense work, much rest is needed! This is the key for the RAW bencher and the beginner. Get strong first and then you can play around with these routines and just work the lockout and get super strong! Yet if you want to be the RAW great instead continue to keep your volume low and get much needed rest. Other wise train heavy and do lockouts. It's personal preference or break them down in cycles. Now it's all about what you FEED!!! Feed your lockout enough and you will press up over 1000lbs eventually! As long as you know when to back off so you don't get a serious case of tendonitis! Feed your RAW bench enough with little volume, much rest, and strict form, through periodization and you will instantly develop major power for a bigger bench fast! Sometimes the RAW bench is right in your hands; your body just needs to practice the single for a few weeks. Feed that 3 sets of 10 number in your head and feed that year after year! You have the power...
SO...For the 225 bencher get on the program! Keep making modifications through your failures and successes. If your mind fails, make adjustments! If your body fails in your training, make adjustments! If it's something away from the gym then make adjustments. If you continue to make adjustments with form, body, mind and training eventually you will become that unstoppable monster bencher that re invents himself into a better monster and will then reinvent the numbers you press! Attack, Attack, Attack, Learn, Learn, Learn, that bench will come!
Critical Bench Program
This bench press program is a power program designed to help you increase your one rep max by an average of fifty pounds during the ten week training cycle. It is different from other programs because you are provided with the actual weights you will be using on bench day and given a full body lifting split to follow. Over 3500 powerlifters, weekend warriors, and athletes have had success with our system. Get more in depth information by clicking here. If you're ready to order now be sure you know your one rep max. You can look it up on our chart.