Part 1:  How to Bench Press 300 LBS & Beyond!

Carl Lanore of the Super Human Radio Show Chats With Big Bencher Mike Westerdal

CL:           I’m doing this show for selfish reasons.  Because, I have a bench press like a girl.  I’ve got a great deadlift and I’m got a great squat, but when it comes to the bench press, I’m embarrassed in the gym.

So, given that it’s the new year and lots of people are making resolutions, I decided that we’re going to do a show dedicated to how to build a big bench press and I couldn’t think of anyone else to have on the show other than Mike Westerdal from CriticalBench.com.  How you doing, Mike?

MW:                Doing good, Carl.  Glad to be here.

CL:                  Yeah, we’re glad to have you, too.  And actually, Critical Bench, while it’s dedicated to the bench press as an art form, you guys cover a lot more than that.  You cover a lot of weight lifting, weight training issues as well.  Correct?

MW:                Yeah, pretty much everything related to strength training.  We cover muscle building, sports performance and a variety of fitness related topics.  The central theme is Powerbuilding though.  This is where you train for strength and muscle size while keeping your body fat in check.  A hybrid powerlifting/bodybuilding approach so to speak.

CL:                  How did the website get started?

MW:                It got started…in college I was playing football and I had one of the better bench presses on the football team and I just put up a website as a hobby for of a class assignment.  All I did was I share program  I was using in college and that’s actually how it all began.  The site kept gaining popularity and getting bigger and eventually I was able to quit my full-time job and help as many people as possible doing something I love.

CL:                  So, what year are we talking about that…

MW:                It was a while ago, I graduated college in ’99.

CL:                  Wow!  That’s amazing.  So, in 1999 this was just like a combination of something you enjoyed doing, plus something that you had to do for a class, build a website.

MW:                Right.  It was completely a hobby.

CL:                  Wow!  Talk about…  It’s amazing, isn’t it?  Ten years later you’re doing it full time.

MW:                I never would have imagined.

CL:                  Now, on the football team, how big was your bench back then?

MW:                I had a 400-pound bench.

CL:                  Wow!  I mean, that’s really a big bench press for just about anybody.  That’s amazing.  That’s amazing.  So, all your teammate were like, Mike, man, how did you get your bench up that fast, that high.  And they all wanted to know what you were doing.

MW:                Yeah, that’s pretty much how it started.  Some of the younger guys would ask me a lot for training advice.  But I had mentors too from some of the older guys and there was a handful of people around the same strength level.  But, we all trained a little differently than what the coaches had us doing. 

The coaches all had us bench pressing like three, four times a week, doing the same routine and all the underclassmen were just following suit.  You know, you get a little stronger no matter what you do, but then myself and some of the more knowledgeable guys kind of started doing our own thing.  We’d leave and go to the local gym Powerhouse Gym and do some workouts there instead.  We all started getting even stronger and I documented all the workouts.

CL:                  Okay.  So, obviously that’s what we’re going to be talking about.  Now, this is part one of a two-show series, because we can’t cover it all in one show.  So, we’re going to be doing this.  The goal of this show is to take average, non-competitive guys and allow them to build a 300-400 pound raw bench press.  Correct?

MW:                Correct.

CL:                  Okay.  So, we’re going to do this in two parts, like I said, and Mike actually laid it out, because he’s the guru here.  So, part one, which is today’s show, we’re going to first address the common mistakes that people make, the things that they may have learned from common gym experiences or gym rats who tell them do this, do that, and so on.  And that’s where we’re going to start.

So, the first thing on the list that you sent me, the number one mistake that people make, you claim, is over-training.  Why don’t we talk about that first?

MW:                Yeah, sure.  I mean, most people that have problems with their bench press, they’re very, very motivated about it and they really want to improve it.  And that can cause an issue because it makes people want to train the same lifts and muscle groups several times a week.

I think what people really need to learn, to understand, is that your muscles are  growing and repairing when you’re resting, not while you’re training.  Just because you train more often and harder, doesn’t mean that you’re going to get better results.

CL:                  Now, there’s a consensus out there of powerlifters who say if you want a big bench, you’re got to spend a lot of time under the bar.  Maybe that’s misinterpreted by a lot of other people thinking you’ve got to spend a lot of time under the bar, multiple times in a given week, as opposed to just focusing a lot of your routines in the bench press.  Would you agree with that?

MW:                Yeah, I’d have to agree with that.  And it also depends on what kind of powerlifters you’re talking to.  I mean, you have…not everybody knows, there’s geared powerfliting when you use powerlifting equipment.  That takes a lot more time just to put on and use the bench press shirts.  And that’s not really what we’re focusing on today.  For your non-competitive guys that are not using gear you should keep your workouts less than an hour long and you don’t need to be bench pressing more than one or two times max per week before it starts being counter-productive.

CL:                  Okay.  And you know what?  I want to throw something in here because my audience, we talk about steroids and stuff like that, and I think this is a big mistake for even drug-using athletes out there, that they don’t give themselves enough time.  They think that by using drugs, that that means they can train with greater frequency.  And the central nervous system really does need time to recover.

MW:                Exactly.

CL:                  That’s where a lot of the strength is developed.  So, that’s a rule that applied no matter who you are, in my humble opinion.

MW:                Yeah, I mean, that’s definitely something you’ve got to take into account when comparing strength training to bodybuilding.  If you’re training a bodybuilding type workout for looks, and you’re not pressing the big poundages the same way, you don’t need to rest your central nervous system as much.  On the other hand if you’re lifting heavy weight on a consistent basis you’ve got to let your nervous system recover.

Same thing with your bones and tendons. You get people getting all kinds of tendonitis problems.  If you get strong too quick, your bones can break.  Your tendons have to catch-up.  And like you mentioned, people using drugs are especially prone to this.  Their muscles are getting strong so fast, so quick, their bones and their tendons aren’t able to keep up, and that’s when you get the injuries.

Personally I like bench pressing heavy only once per week.  This way I give it my all and know I won’t get another shot at it for another week.  If you have another bench workout coming up a few days later it’s a lot easier to take it a bit easier and not push yourself as hard every workout.   For me it’s a mental thing.

CL:                  Well, I’ll tell you something else, too.  When I was working on my deadlift, as my primary goal, and increasing my deadlift, I really started to pull some very, very heavy weight.  I knew that I was over-training because one of the things I started to experience was I would start to obsess about the workout that day before and I would start to get anxiety on the way into the gym.  I would think, oh, man, I hope I don’t blow a heart valve today.  I hope I don’t pull my…I just hope I don’t injure myself.

And when you’re feeling that level of angst and anxiety, your body’s talking to you.  It’s say, you know what?  You need to back off a little bit.  That doesn’t mean necessarily stop the deadlift at that weight, but you need more time off so that psychologically you start missing it again.

MW:                Yeah, definitely.

CL:                  Yeah, so that’s a really good point.

MW:                I have competed in powerlifting and I trained at a powerlifting club called Tampa Barbell. There’s a couple guys in there that can deadlift 800-pounds, and they only dead lift once a month. The guy that’s actually the strongest deadlifter in the gym, he only dead lifts off the floor once a month.

CL:                  Ok.  The rest of the time he’s doing accessory work?

MW:                Yeah.  He’ll do a another kind of deadlift exercise.  It might be stiff-legged deadlifts on a different week. But, just basic back workouts, good mornings, things like that.  But, the actual deadlift exercise, he’s only doing once a month.

CL:                  That’s really interesting.  That’s really interesting.  And that’s a good point.  That’s a good point.

Okay, the next thing you have on your list is pre-fatiguing muscles, which obviously has come from the bodybuilding segment of resistance training.  Would you agree?

MW:                Right.

CL:                  So, let’s talk about that.

MW:               First of all there are a lot of bodybuilding methods for getting a muscle pump that shouldn’t be used at the beginning of a workout if one of your goals is also to increase your bench press max.  When I’m talking about pre-fatiguing a muscle that means you shouldn’t exhaust a muscle group before your main working sets.

For example lets take a look at the way a lot of guys warm up on the bench.  Let’s say most people are pyramiding up, so they start with a light warm-up of ten reps and then they follow that with a couple of sets of eight.  By the time they get to their actual work sets that consist of triples they’re already worn out.  That’s a huge mistake though because those are the most important sets for building strength.  Save the 10s and 8s for later on in your workout.

Stay tuned for a follow up this week where I’ll walk you through exactly how to warm up for a one rep max attempt.

CL:                  Right, right.  And I guess you’ve got to make a decision.  What are you there for?  Are you there to get a great pump or are you there to move a lot of weight?  I mean, I’ve had this conversation because of a routine that I’ve been experimenting with and I talked about it on my show one day.  And I said, you know, you’ve got to look at training like you do work.  If you had a job at UPS lifting boxes, before you left for work, would you do things to fatigue your back before you got there?  Before you leave for work, would you like lift the furniture in your house a dozen times so that your back is really sore when you get to work?  Like, you’re not going to be able to lift as much as you want then, once you’re there.  So, that’s a really good point.

MW:                True, but to make sure you don’t get caught in that pitfall you have to know all the muscles being utilized in the bench press in addition to your chest.  You’re using your shoulders. You’re going to need your triceps towards the end of the lift when you’re locking-out.  And then, you also use your back for stabilizing the weight.   The take home point is that you shouldn’t be doing any other shoulder or triceps exercises prior to bench pressing because you are going to need those muscles to assist your bench.  Taking things even further I don’t recommend training shoulders or triceps within two days of a heavy bench workout.

CL:                  Would you agree with the 72-hour rule, or you think that even…when you start lifting every heavy weight, that even goes out the window?

MW:                In my experience seventy-two hours, is the minimum.  I prefer to have them three days apart.

CL:                  And again, that comes from the bodybuilding culture, because they’re looking to stretch that muscle, the casing around the muscles to get a really good pump so that they have…their muscle is getting larger as opposed to strength.  And obviously, there’s a lot of guys who’ll do shoulder work and tricep work before they do bench work because the attitude is, if your shoulders and your triceps are weak, then your pecs have to do all the work.  But again, you’ve got to make a decision.  Are you in there to build a big bench or are you in there to build what looks like a body that can perform a big bench?

MW:                Right, and those things even go hand-in-hand sometimes.  If you look at some of the old-school powerlifters and Olympic weight lifters and Strongmen from back in the day, these guys were lifting heavy weights and they were huge.  Training for strength can build size too.  It’s not like you’re just going to get strong without developing your muscles.  You may not read about it in a text book but I have first hand experience with using heavy compound lifts to build size.

CL:                  And that’s a good point, because there is a school out there that thinks that muscle growth and muscle strength are two very, very different things, and you have to make a decision on which one you want to go after.  But, the truth is, through super-compensation, which is what the body does every time you lift heavier and heavier weight, the body super-compensates so the next time it doesn’t get challenged to the same degree and that’s obviously strength occurring.

MW:                And you can even get the best of both worlds. For example if you’re training chest you can begin your workout with a big compound exercise/ primary mover like the bench press using heavier weight and low reps and follow up that exercise with some higher reps on a few isolation or assistance exercises.  This way you can work on strength, make your weak links stronger and put on some muscle in the process.

CL:                  The next item that you had on your list is self-doubt.  This is a big one for me, personally, actually.

MW:                I think it’s huge.  It goes so much further than just working out.  It can effect everything in your life.

CL:                  Well, I mean, but especially…the bench press is unique in that…  Look, the deadlift, you can drop the bar.  The squat, you can even let the bar roll of your back.  I mean, the truth is.  But, the bench press, it’s like the freakin’ guillotine over your head.

MW:                Yeah..haha.

CL:                  And, you know, I don’t train with partners.  Not because I’m anti-social, but it just doesn’t work out.  I like to train when I want to train and I don’t want to make a commitment to somebody because my schedule changes up and I can’t be there.  So, I train by myself and I have to resort to dumbbells all the time.  And the dumbbells in my gym only go up to 140.

MW:                Right, well that’s better than a lot of places.

CL:                  So, I mean, getting under a bar scares the crap out of me, personally.

MW:                Yeah, that’s understandable.  Without a training partner, you definitely have to back off a little.  Instead of going 110%, you maybe have to go 90% and that’s just for your own safety.  Unless you can get access to a power rack or something like that.

I’ve worked as a personal trainer and hearing the way clients and people in the gym talk to themselves sometimes is awful.  Some dude will come up to me at the gym and ask for a spot but follow it up with a disclaimer, saying, “Hey, I’m not sure if  I’m going to get this,” or “I don’t know how many reps I’m going to do, but I’ll give it a shot.”  Or, something like that, something negative, and that’s just what I’m trying to point out, don’t be negative about the lift.  You’ve got to have a good attitude going into the workout and the lift.  .  Now lets talk about the subconscious mind for a minute.

The things that you say out loud and the things that you think, that’s what your brain hears, and then that’s what your body winds up doing.  So, if you’re affecting how your body performs by the way you think, why not program it with positive thoughts?  Visualize yourself doing really well on the bench press, or if you can’t do that, at least don’t say negative things.  Don’t talk about how you’re not going to be able to do it.  I’d rather you don’t say anything than say something like that.  Don’t plant a negative seed in your mind right before you’re about to perform.

You wouldn’t say anything like that to yourself anywhere else would you?  Right before a big presentation at work you wouldn’t tell yourself that you’re probably going to mess up bad and blow the deal wold you?  Of course not!

CL:                  That’s what I was going to say.  You’re leaving yourself a way out because you are afraid that you can’t complete your goal, so you’re kind of giving yourself a back door, so to speak.

MW:                But, do you really need the backdoor?  Because, if you don’t get this bench press, who cares?  I mean, you don’t fail.  It’s just working out.  You’re just training.  So, whether you get it or you don’t get it, you’re still putting the time in, you’re still getting the work as you’re working out.  I mean, it doesn’t really matter.  You’re not a failure as long as you keep trying and you keep getting stronger.  So, don’t be afraid of failure, that goes together with it, because you’re not a failure until you quit.

CL:                  Okay.  So, you have to be positive about it, regardless of what the outcome is, you have to be positive.  Get under the bar, don’t say anything negative, don’t leave yourself a backdoor, just do the lift.  That’s it.

MW:                Exactly.

CL:                  Okay.  All right.

The next thing on your list is lack of goals.  Now, don’t we all have goals?  We get in the gym, we want to lift 350-pounds.

MW:                Yeah, I mean, if you have an exact number and an exact goal and an exact plan of how to get it, that is a goal.  But, you’d be surprised how many people just show up to the gym and they haven’t even decided what kind of workout they’re going to do yet, or they get there and see what everybody else is doing and just kind of hop in.  I always ask my clients what their goals are and the majority of people reply with something very vague like gaining muscle, losing fat, increasing their bench or getting stronger.

CL:                  Right.

MW:                You’ve got to decide EXACTLY what you want and then you’ve got to make a plan on how to achieve it.  With any goal, you’ve got to have a specific goal in mind.  I want to know how much you want to increase your bench press by, and I want to know how long you’re going to take to do this.  It’s got to be something you can track, so week-by-week you can see if you’re on target or not.

CL:                  That’s a good point, because even in large corporations, there’s an old saying, if it can’t be measured, it’s can’t be managed.  So, that’s very critical.  And I think everyone really knows this, but again, I kind of feel like this goes back to self doubt.  If I make this commitment to myself, that I’m going to…  Because, goals have to be…  You know the old saying, how do you eat an elephant?  One bite at t time.  It’s a big, insurmountable thing, but how do you do it?  Well, you do it one piece at a time.  So, in other words, if your goal is to bench press 400-pounds, and you’re stuck at 255, then you have to do it in increments.  You’ve got to say, well, my most immediate goal is getting to 265 or 275, and chunk it up like that.

MW:                And that’s setting a realistic goal.  Short-term goals leading to a long term goal.  So, you don’t want to, say if you bench 200 now, that in two months you’re going to bench press 450.  That’s unrealistic.  It’s not a goal that can be accomplished in that time frame.

CL:                  Right, right.

MW:                When you set a goal, another thing you’re supposed to do is write this goal down on paper so you can materialize it and you post this everywhere you can.  You hang it on your refrigerator, you put it on a post-it near your computer, and you tell your friends about it.  People are supposed to know what your goal is, and that’s so you don’t have that backdoor, so you can’t just quit, because now ten people are going to harass you about if if you give up and the last thing we want is to lose face.

CL:                  Yeah, I like that one, because…  You know what, when I…back in ’98 when I set out to lose weight, I told as many people as I could, because I had read that in a book about setting goals, that you can’t erase it.  Once you start telling people…  if you keep it to yourself, it’s like you can rewrite it as you go along, but if you tell people about it, it’s almost like you’ve made this commitment.

MW:                Yeah, exactly.  It’s a commitment.  People are going to ask you how it’s going.

CL:                  Yeah, exactly.  So, that’s a really important one as well.

Now, the next topic of discussion is one that perplexes me as well, and what I’d like to do is go ahead and take the break here and continue with Part 2 tomorrow.   The next topic is rep ranges and we’re going to need some time to talk about that..  I think there’s so many different schools of thought out there on rep ranges, and what people should be doing with rep ranges and so on and so forth.  And I think it gets confusing.

MW:                Good call.  Stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon!  If you have any questions post them below :)

Leave A Reply (54 comments So Far)


  1. chris

    thanks for the article… i am 56 years old wt.195…bench 240..would like to bench 315 having a hard time…best bench ever 305..i will keep trying thanks

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  2. WALKER RYAN

    You have the best and most informed information about bodybuilding on the web.Thanks for all the emails! Kind regards, Walker Ryan.

    [Reply]


  3. Dan

    Mike,
    You stated that you can work on gaining muscle and strength in the same workout by doing heavy benching in the beginning of the workout and then doing lighter higher rep moves at the end. However, is it possible that strength gains in the bench press will be affected if way too much high rep work for the chest is performed later in the work out?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Depends on how much you do. It would be pretty hard to overdo it, but it’s possible. After the bench follow up with 2 more chest exercises and do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps. That’s what has worked for me.

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    bigiron Reply:

    EXACTLY–smash the heavy compounds FIRST then do flyes,dips,etc..a few sets of 8-12-best o’ both worlds!! As Mike says too–just save heavy compounds for once a week-study Vince Gironda’s lifetime work on nutrition and building–He is IMMORTAL–the quintessential ironman!!

    [Reply]


  4. Ian

    Wow man, always thought to start up the bench with your start up and then progressively get to your max, dude, this changes everything! Thanks Mike, keep up the great work, God bless!

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    I’ve got an article on the way sharing how to warm up for a max attempt. Check your inbox in the next few days.

    [Reply]


  5. Paul

    Are you endomorph Mike?Because I am ectomorph-if I want to increase strength I don’t have to eat that much but if I want to put on weight and size it doesn’t happen until I it like 25 calories per pound of BW.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    You know for most of my life I was an ectomorph but I’d say after turning 35 I’m kind of an endomorph now….if that’s possible :) It is possible to gain strength without size if you’re not trying to put on weight.

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  6. Tor Holmberg

    Hello Mike,
    Thanks for a very interesting report, cant wait for the follow up.
    I am 52 and desperately trying to get a stronger bench, I have been training off and on for 20 years and loving it.
    At the moment I am following Doberman Dans hypermass program but I am following your critical bench website and emails closely also,

    Thanks again for keeping me inspired.

    Tor Holmberg

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Doberman Dan Rules! And Thank you.

    [Reply]


  7. Mike

    Question——how does age play into training?I am 66 years old and can’t wait to get to the gym.Is it realistic to think gains can be made at my age?I look forward to hearing from you—–Mike

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Gains can be made at any age. Not sure about you specifically but as we get wiser/older it’s not a bad idea to look into methods of naturally boosting testosterone.

    [Reply]


  8. Matt Maxwell

    I think MW, has some great insight. I always train with specific goals, in mind. With some of my injuries, it gets difficult to always acheive them, but I keep plugging away at it.

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  9. As always, very helpful advice from Mike W. I train with more of a bodybuilding style method but I also want to get stronger…kind of want to mix the two together. My bench press has always suffered. Lately I’ve been hitting chest twice a week; the 1st workout starts out heavy with bench press or incline barbell press and I’ll go heavy on dumbbell press but then I hit more reps for the following exercises after the heavy work. The 2nd chest day is minimal volume, 2-3 exercises with more of a pump workout. I’m wondering if I should make that 2nd chest day a heavy bench day only.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    How’s it been working out for you? If you’re gonna bench twice a week a lot of people have a max effort or heavy day and one speed day with 50-60% of their max to work on explosion.

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    Jason Stallworth Reply:

    Well, for muscle growth I’ve found that training each muscle group every 5-6 days works best for me (as opposed to every 7 days, and this is a little more rest time than a strict 2x a week). Right now I’m doing Day 1: Back and Traps, Day 2: Chest and Delts, Day 3: Arms, Day 4: Legs. After that I start the routine over again, however, the 2nd time around I change up the exercises a little. I take rest days as needed, but rest every Sunday. This plan, which I just went back to this week, has worked better for me; I took a break from it last month and went back to a more traditional routine but started back with it this week.

    Like you said above, I do need to implement some explosive reps in there, perhaps every other chest day.

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  10. Steve

    I also want to know how age affect training? I am 60 years old. I love lifting heavy weight. My present bench is 235 lbs. My goal is 300+ lbs. I’m positive this is an attainable goal….steve

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  11. Michael

    hello I’m 16 and I’m getting a knee operation tomorrow any advice on recovery ( btw mike i recently got the critical bench program for birthday it was definitely an epiphany and spectacular)

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Rehab hard it will be worth it later on. Don’t let it sit too stiff for too long without moving it. Good luck…I had ACL surgery in 2001 and my knee is better than ever!

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  12. johnny

    awesome interview!

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  13. Dylan

    Hey great article so far. I’m 16 with a 190 bench press at 140 pounds looking to exceed 225+ at below 150 pounds.
    I started speed training 60% 8×3 once a week and then I’ll do 5×2 about 3-4 days later at about 85-95%. Let me know what you think.
    Thanks

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Sounds pretty good, how’s it working out for you? Similar to a westside approach.

    [Reply]


  14. Pastor Dan

    Mike,

    You are truly an inpiration to the likes of us weightlifters trying everybit of applying knowledge to gaining musle and strength. I preferably train for strength but throw in a little lighter weights and high reps to avoid a plat and get stagged in progress. I’m 5’6 and 230# at 46yrs old. At 220# I performed a 5 plate bench at 4 different sessions which was one of my personal goals and felt totally awesome! My joint began to get sore so I started training lighter keeping myself within the 315-350 and one in a while bang a 405 on the bench. and also performed 120# dumbell hammer curls for 4 reps. This was all about a year and a half ago. I since moved and set up my gym and bak training again after a 3 month lay-off. Im still hitting it strong but not as I used to. My strength levels are still in the running but I sure miss that 5 plate sessions and going heavy. My longtime friend share with me about the mind causing the body to react. and I have forgotten that. I just want to thank you for your postings and reminding me about the positive thinking and positive speaking. I often preach it but at times in my gym I too like many forget what is preached. I am moving forward in keeping it locked down in a positive thought and speach and looking to bang out the 5 plate and this time I’m going beyond my bench and every area of increasing my training. Thank you Bro. The Lords blessing be upon you and your family. YOU BANG! MIKE, YOU BANG! Take care and stay strong… PD’

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    You are the inspiration! God Bless.

    [Reply]

  15. Good interview, when I teach martial arts these are the concepts we teach, whether for breaking boards or sparring or in the cage but especially for real combat. Know your goal talk yourself through it and formalize a plan of attack, but accept no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy so be flexible. I look forward to the next installment and starting my own lifting program after a 2 year lay off.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Very interesting, thanks for sharing and glad to hear you’re ready to start up lifting again.

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  16. garry

    thnx for this article…really need help with my bench…have a good squat and deadlift…but have been struggling with the bench for years…

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  17. lee

    Luvv this interview . .lot of valuable info. . . . Learning alot. . .

    [Reply]


  18. Dylan

    Thanks for the article so far. I’m 16 140 pounds with a bench press of 190 and would like to reach 225+ with a weight of less then 150. Right now I’m doing speed training 8×3 at 60% of max once a week and about 3-4 days later a strength day working with 5×2 at 85-95%.

    Please let me know what you think

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    That’s a westside variation can’t argue with that. …how’s it working out for you?

    [Reply]


  19. Joe

    Hey thanks for the info im just starting at this strength conditioning programs but im a bit confused I`ve been training 2 years in a row in a specific training conditioning for MMA and I feel great is so true what you say about following a specific program with specific goal before i got a proper plan i was just wondering at the gym with not much success but with a plan all got better

    but now I got this question should I combine strength programs with my current one I mean I feel good in the one im doing but I have spot few weak links like my chest for example it absolutely sucks and with the loads im doing i got some stamina and endurance at it but i dont feel strong so i was thinking to follow my program and every couple weeks stop that and just focus in the weak links with heavy loads and few reps just like you are talking about then next work out go back to normal weight and reps does that makes sense? what should I do? thanks a lot guys appreciated!!!

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Are you still training for MMA? If so than your max bench press might not be the most important thing in your training, but gaining overall strength will server you well in the cage/octagon/mat.

    If you have MMA practice a few times a week, 3-days of strength and conditioning in the weight room would serve you well. Perhaps one day of heavy lifting and two days of resistance cardio to work on your conditioning and mimick what you face in a fight.

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    Thanks I got It :)

    [Reply]


  20. Scott Cardey

    I like this so far and looking forward to the second half.

    [Reply]

  21. Hello I am 72 an have lifted for a long time I have reached 300 lb 5 times an have done what you are talking about for years I started lifting when i was 6, I saw a movie at the 25 cent movies an it was on! ever since then trying to get big an strong an some weeks i take three days off to recharge an it really works well for me this guy knows what he is talking about

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  22. Awesome interview! The bench press is my weakest lift and I sometimes feel like I will never be able to get it up to where my dead lifts or squats are. I like the advice about making small, realistic goals. I don’t typically set goals in terms of how much I can lift although there are some exceptions to this. I will usually just lift with as much intensity as I can, and if I can perform more reps than my target number of reps, I make a note to increase the weight the next time I train. This works well as a systematic approach to strength training, but perhaps I need to do things a little differently for my bench press.

    Maybe setting a specific set of realistic short-term goals will get me over the hump. I look forward to reading part 2…

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    True, combining progressive overloads with a short term goal can work well.

    [Reply]


  23. Brendan

    Hey Mike, great information! Ive been doing pretty much everything u talked about (start w/ your core exercises, easy on warmups, bench once a wk) for years but im an inconsistent lifter. Between kids and workin late afternoons as a big city policeman there are days i have to push off a workout. Im a fellow class of ’99 small college f-baller so ive been training for years. Besides my inconsistent workouts can u suggest a different routine for a bigger bench press? I usually do a 10rep warm up, 8reps, 6, 4repsx2 @ 275pds. then 2reps of 295. 3 heavy sets of incline d-bell then 1 or 2 lighter auxillary exercises of 10-12 reps. I really just want to get to 315pds. for 4 clean reps. Any suggestions? more close grip? I rarely do decline or dips. Sorry for the ramble, thx.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Funny you should ask Brendan. You noticed this series is called, “Bench Press Explosion”. Well I’ve collected a what I’ve found to be the best 18 bench press routines and have collected them all in one report for us. Stay tuned for more on that, and I’m sure there will be something in there that will fit your schedule and lifestyle. By the way did you see the movie Courageous? Awesome flick.

    [Reply]

    Brendan Reply:

    I just heard about Courageous, its on my list. Sorry about the small school football comment, i didnt realize Central Ct. State was D-1AA. Ive been lookin at your Critical Bench stuff for awhile now. Im going to give that a shot soon also. Thx for the info ill keep an eye out for that article. Take care

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  24. Olan

    Re the 66 year old guy asking if he can improve. I’m 69 years old, and I recently made a personal best on the leg press machine. Back around 1982, I set a personal best of 785 pounds. I moved away shortly thereafter, and it always kind of bothered me that I never made 800#. Well, about a year ago I started at a gym that has a leg press machine that you load plates on. I started back working at 400#, and last month I managed one rep at 800#. BTW, I checked the machine with two different bathroom scales at two different lighter weights, and found it to be accurate. It was exhilirating to finally get that 800# up and fully extended.

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  25. Olan

    BTW, I forgot to mention that I have ridiculously skinny legs.

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  26. Gerald

    Hey great article! I am 46 son to be 47. I start our heavy and I warm up with 225 and work my way up to 290 at 10lbs add on each time. Many people have told me that it too heavy to start out with but I tell them that is what my body has adjusted to. I always tell people that not all bodies are the same and to find out what works for them and then do what works for them in their workout.
    Two weeks ago I did two sets of 8 of 315, but I cannot seem to get past the 315 mark. I have a good mental outlook I believe, but for some reason I can unstick that amount of weight.
    What would you recommend to help me get past the 315 mark. I have been trying for almost a year to do it. I keep telling myself that I want to max out at 405 by the year end and even last year I was not able to.

    Any suggestions?

    [Reply]

  27. Mike I have read some of your writings in PowerLifter USA but did not realize I could find you on line until just recently. Since then I have been reading everything you write that I can find on line and have been trying some of your ideas and I have to admit they have given me a fresh out look on working out. Over time I have read Louis Simmons and things by and about Ed Coan and found them to be helpful but I have found your writings easier for me to understand and then put into practice for myself. I would like to send you a big THANK YOU for helping me to get interested in lifting once again and I am now at the age of 67 and back in August I had a quadruple by pass heart surgery but have begin to lift once again, thanks to you and the things you have written!

    Gary Adcock

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  28. Brian Peavey

    I have been lifting for about 3 years now and the one thing that I have yet to be able to increase is my bench.It so happens that when I do my workout that the local high school is in there also and it is very humiliating when my max is 160 to 165 lbs, yet my deadlifts have reached 265lbs and my squats have gone up to 285 in the same amount of time. i have tried other things in trying to increase my bench. From pushups to dumbbells and other various things and it stays the same. I would love to be in that 300 lb range but haven’t figured out how. I almost feel like a failure because of it. Of course I keep going back and try getting more weight up but just can’t

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  29. Dan

    Im 17 years old. My main goal is to put on mass, but I love being strong to. I’ve never maxed out but I easily did 210 for 5 reps a month ago. If I were to win this ebook I would hope to increase my weights in all the major lifts in a strength phase. This would help me put on some dense muscle mass. Then when I decide to go back to a mass building phase (8 -12 reps) I will be able to use higher working weights to achieve more overall mass. Or maybe even learn to put on through your program alone. Also I plan on being a cop so to have that extra strength would be great for the job. Anyways your emails have been very helpful. Thank you very much.

    [Reply]


  30. Greg

    Mike,
    Great stuff!! My question is how does dieting and/or the use of supplements factor into your program? The objective is to get stronger and physically fit. This is more for my wife than for myself. She has MS and as her caregiver, I lift and move her several times a day (She no longer has the use of her legs). I’m 53 years old and I know my ability to care for will become more difficult as I get older. Therefore, I would greatly appreciate a copy of your program.
    Thanks!!

    [Reply]


  31. Brian Weaver

    Mike,
    I spoke with you via e-mail a few years ago. I’m 52 now. Have been clean my entire life, as far as roids are concerned, and also a RAW bencher. I have been messing with some new routines that seem to be helping considerably, considering I have had 6 shoulder surgeries and was told by 2 orthos, about 6 years ago, that I had to quit lifting completely. Not in my plan! My bench is currently back up to a modest 360 and actually am thinking about competing again. It’s sites such as your’s with inspirational and informative e-mails, that have given me the thought process to try again… or I should say, “not give up”.
    Thank you for what you do! I, and I’m sure numerous other lifters, greatly appreciate it!

    Brian Weaver

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  32. Tyler

    I am a wrestler going into 9th grade, besides working on technique and cardio; Strength is another step that will help improve performance for a better season as I will compete against stronger people this coming year. To be competitive and explosive on the mat, I will need strength to compete even if I cannot bench 300lbs at the moment I will be able work on the methods to become stronger and have a better competitive season ahead of me. Thank You.
    Tyler

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  33. leonard

    Hi,
    I have been a keen follow of critical bench press for a feW months and it has really helped me. Befor I had hit a plateau but I have improved so much.
    With the book I think it would be awesome n my chest would really improve a lot.
    Regards,
    Leonard

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  34. Keith

    I have a very weak bench, and it is getting rougher each day. I really could use some guidence to get my bench back on track but do not know where to begin since I am personally training my wife at this time as well and getting her use to the strength/weight training game. I believe this book could help me out as well as hopefully assist my wife with her fear of free weight training.

    [Reply]