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10RM BP Comp, Critique My Plan


Alright, here's the deal. Me and this guy have a Bench Competition. We're both really weak. It's a 10 rep max competition [ya i know, dumb]. Presently, I can do 9 reps of 135 lbs., and my intelligence gathering suggests that he can do 10 reps of 155 lbs. Which is maddening since he weighs ~165 and I weigh ~180 [but he doesn't train his legs!*] The competition is to be held in two months. I have up until this point be doing a TBT variation 3 times a week. However, desperate times call for desperate measures [I WILL NOT LOSE!] and I'm starting a new program. Please critique.

Day 1

Flat Bench: Pick a weight 5 lbs. heavier than my best 10 RM max. Try to get a new 10 RM max. Do sets at this weight with 2 minutes rest, stopping short of failure until can only do 3 reps. Take 20 lbs off the bar, repeat.

Incline Bench: Same Deal

Dips: 4 sets [reps usually look like 10-8-6-6]

Close Grip Bench Press: 4 sets [again, reps look like 10-8-6-6]

Cable Crossovers: 4 sets

Unilateral Tricep Extensions: Reps to failure at at 20 lbs. Fail at 15 lbs. Fail at 12 lbs.

Day 2

Power Cleans
Horizontal Cable Row
Weighted Crunches

Day 3

Same as Day 1

Day 4

Upright Rows
Lat Pull downs at 45 degrees
Biceps Curls
Weighted Crunches

Day 5

same as Day 1

Day 6

same as Day 2

Day 7

Same as Day 1

I'm a total newbie at thinking about strength, I guess I've been 'bodybuilding' for one year before this point.

Oh and for PWO nutrition I'm getting a Double Big Mac Meal and a 2 scoops of Grow!. Otherwise I eat pretty clean and am just trying to ramp up total cals.


IMO you'll over train in about 2 weeks and won't recover from the very first workout in time for you're next bench day. why don't you have a strength day (1-6 reps) and a repition day (10+ reps w/ short rest). forget the cable crossovers. cut down the volume


You won't add much to your ten rep bench with this. Way to much volume.

I'd hit a 10RM for the day then do sets until that 10RM gives you only 7 reps. Repeat 4 days later. Do this every four days for 4 days then the fifth day do a three rep max, reduce the weight by ten pounds and do sets of three until you hit failure. This will ensure that you get used to pushing to failure and that you don't overtrain or undertrain, and that you get enough strength stimulation.

What ever you decide to do, kick ass and learn from your experience!



OK, Holy Shit amirando, I just got back from my Day 2 workout and you were more right than you know. After the Power Cleans and squats, I did one set of Cable Rows and realized I had to leave utterly drained and unmotivated [not that I wasn't motivated but like, I knew I could do more but couldn't bring myself to do it even though I wanted to, a strange kind of feeling that I think I will chalk it up to some kind of neural fatigue.]

I know Cable Crossovers are a "gay bodybuilding exercise" as a friend says, but my thinking was that once I can't bench anymore, it might be due to my triceps having reached failure, and that there is no way to make sure that my chest has been maximally stimulated without them. What would you say to this line of thinking? [The same reasoning applies to the tricep extensions.]

"I'd hit a 10RM for the day then do sets until that 10RM gives you only 7 reps."

I see advice like this given all the time, but I wonder if I might be a special case. You see, I get rep fatigue very quickly [like much worse than most people I know.] After doing my 10 rep max for 10, I'm lucky to squeeze out 6-7 on my second set. 3rd might be 5-6 and fourth is often 3. So in terms of the number of sets done, you might be assuming about the same number? [4-5] Does this change your advice?

"do a three rep max, reduce the weight by ten pounds and do sets of three until you hit failure. This will ensure that you get used to pushing to failure and that you don't overtrain or undertrain, and that you get enough strength stimulation."

This seems like really good advice, I will definetly add such a day.

So far I've done one day 1. I guess I'll at least try doing it again on Day 3 to see how fatigued I am to proprerly gauge over training.

"What ever you decide to do, kick ass and learn from your experience!"

Thanks a lot. Its really cool doing something like this. On the way to the gym yesterdsay I furiously visualized myself bench pressing 135 for 10 [had been doing 115] and lo and behold it worked. I don't think asthetic bodybuilding gives you the chance to focus on such concrete goals.


The idea of doing sets until you hit failure at 8 reps comes DB Hammer's Auto Regulation. This technique addresses the individual needs rather than a blanket prescription. The fact that you cannot do many sets indicates that you shouldn't do many sets. If you want more sets, you could drop weight by about 10 pounds and do your sets until you hit failure at 10 reps.

The idea is to do what is best for strength increases, and most here will agree, more is not better. Your body has a finite ability to adapt, doing just enough sets to cause the most adaptation is the goal, any more will just cause you to need more time to recover and cost you gains long term.

Don't get me wrong, doing more will cause a greater adaptation, but you may get 1% more adaptation and it will take you twice as long to recover and get stronger. So optimum gives you the most adaptation as often as possible. If you get 99% of the results twice as often, you do better.

The reason you don't get many sets out to get to 7 reps is possibly do to all the extra exercises you do for your chest, shoulders and triceps. I'd drop all of them except bench for this contest. Your body needs to get good at benching; the goal is performance, not fatigue.



Rolo is giving you advice on regulating volume pretty much straight out of the AREG handbook. IMO, it's by far the best way to regulate volume. To expand on his point, this is how I would do it:

Perform these workouts in revolving format, meaning 1 set of 1 exercise, rest, 1 set of the next exercise, rest and start over.

A. Flat Bench
Work up to a 10RM for the day. For future sets, take 10# off the bar. Continue until to do sets of 10 until you can no longer get 10.
-rest 3 minutes-
B. Chest Fly
Use a weight that is difficult, but not maximal for 10 reps. Keep that weight the same for the duration of the workout.
-rest 3 minutes and repeat until you can't get a set of 10 on bench-

A. Squat/Deadlift
Do a heavy 5 x 5, but make sure you don't hit failure. That's it for this day.

A. Supramax Eccentrics
Take the heaviest weight you can lower in 9 seconds. Do 1 rep.
-rest 3 minutes-
B. Paused Bench
Do a set of 3 of bench press. Lower the weight normally, pause it for 3 full seconds on your chest, then explode it off. Do heavy, but not maximal, sets of 3 for this.
-rest 3 minutes and repeat until you can no longer do the supramex eccentrics in 7 seconds-

It may seem like nothing, but I'd be willing to be you can consistantly add 5-10 pounds per week on your 10RM.


My advice is simpler, his is better.


Wow, thanks a lot for all of this jtrinsey. I have just a couple of questions though. Don't I need to train triceps? [I think Dave Tate stressed this in his bp article] and what do you mean "work up" to my 10 RM on monday? Usually I do it as soon as I arrive.

I think your advice is superb. But I'm struggling with the question of my bodybuilding goals and whether I Want to basically ignore all my other muscles for 2 months for the sake of this contest. . .

I'm thinking about it,



The other thing that I would recommend in not telling your mate about this site until the competition is over.


jtrinsey and I are of similar schools of thought so I'll take a stab at your question.

As for tricep training, the bench press wil work your triceps way harder than you may think. Don't worry about it, you'll lose nothing and can go back to direct work after the competition.

As for just benching, you aren't advanced enough yet to worry here either. The time line isn't long enough to cause concern and it will work just fine.

As for working up to a ten-rep max, it means warming up just enough to get the nervous system primed assuming that the body's actual temperature is warm.

For a ten rep attempt, first pick about 50% of your goal and do 5 reps, rest a bit, add 10 pounds (given your strength levels) and do 5 or 3 reps. Add ten more and do 3 or 2 reps, do this again until you are ten or so pounds away from your goal. Rest a good 3 minutes or so and go for it. If you find that on rep 7 you feel strong, stop and rest and go for more weight. When you are at the right weight you should be feeling strained a bit on the 7th rep. Ideally you'll know very closely what weight to use so as to not do too many attempts and you'll get better at doing less warmups as you get more experience with it.

To add to the previously posted advice, I'd still do the 3 rep stuff every 4 or so workouts.



I see that no one's addressed your diet, so I'll take a go at it. Unless you can't afford Surge (which seems unlikely if you can afford Grow!), buy it. Now. Also, Power Drive and Spike would both be ideal supplements, especially before the final day. As for the rest of your diet, if you don't mind gaining a little fat, ramp up your calories, as it's a given that strength goes up when eating alot. Stick to JB's 7 nutritional tips (or whatever they're called, the point is they're the 7 commandments of nutrition), and really try to cram in the calories (and for the love of God, drop the Big Macs!). If Surge (or another hydrolized whey) is not an option, then get some gatorade from Costco and some whey & BCAAs high in Leucine from GNC and use that.




For a beginner at your level looking at a 10rm you could take a gtg approach. Do not go to failure!

I.e. bench 5-6 days a week. Do say 2 x 10 working sets each day with perfect form. Try to add weight 3 days in a row, day off, go back a weight add for 2 days etc, before the test do 1 light day and one day off. (use smallest weight increments)

There a mutitude of programs that could work but this is the least likely to not work I feel. Anything you do in addition to this would likely detract from the result.


Do Poliquin's 4/5% solution with rep range being:
week 1, 8 reps
week 2, 7
week 3, 6
week 4, 8 reps using week 7 weight
week 5, 7 reps using week 8 weight
week 6, 6 reps


Wow, so I ended up doing jtrinseys program, and holy cow. In 3 and a half weeks I've gone from 9 reps at 135 lbs to 10 reps at 157. And it wasn't like I was a rank beginner. I'd been lifting for a year and had plateaud at 135 lbs. for 4 months.

Also my chest has exploded way more than it ever did on a bodybuilding style workout! Plus, I feel energized by these workouts rather than exhausted.

I've been so encouraged by these results that I set up another challenge. This time a 1RM deadlift with a friend who does 335 lbs. I'm currently at 305 lbs. So once the bp challenge is over I'll definetly come back here for tips on a 1 RM dl routine.

Thanks guys!



Here is what i would do

Day 1
ME bench- work up to 1RM, then downset of 10 reps

Day 2
bench press- take you 5RM, and do as many sets as you have to to reach 10 reps, with minimal rest. Might look like this, say your 5RM is 185 or something:
185x5, rest only 30 seconds
185x3, rest 30 seconds
185x2, same
185x1, same

Then on week 2, you use 185 again, and it might look like 6,3,2.

Week 3- 8,2,

It wont necisarily look like that but you get my drift. Just take your current 5 RM on day 2 and keep working with it untill you can do 10 reps in 1 set.

And dont forget your downset of 10 on Day 1, this will give you a good idea of where you're at.


Hey that's great man, but I'll be honest with you- you shouldn't see those as exceptional improvments! If you are training the right way, you should be expecting those kind of improvements every cycle! You should now be seeing how important regulating your volume is.

At this point, I would actually make some slight changes to your program and I think you will see some good results with the changes.

One thing that you should probably do at this point is oscillatory isometrics (OI's). They are kind of tricky to explain, but pretty easy once you start doing them. I'll explain how to do OI bench press.

-Hold the weight (start with 30-40% of your 1RM) a little short of lockout.

-Totally relax your muscles and let the bar drop towards your chest.

-As the bar crosses your sticking point (the point where you usually fail at the lift, probably about 6" off your chest) immediately engage full tension in your muscles and snap it back up.

-As the bar crosses the sticking point again relax your muscles and let it fall (don't pull the bar back towards you, just relax your muscles) and repeat.

You should think less of doing reps and more of using the stretch reflex to snap it right up through the sticking point, then allowing your muscles to relax again. When you are doing it right, it should feel effortless, at least in the beginning until fatigue sets in.

As your muscles get more tired you will have to be more efficient in using the reflex to snap the bar back up instead of muscling the lift. It's also important to limit your range of motion to about a foot or so. Don't think of it as speed reps, just think about cycling just over and just below your sticking point as rapidly as possible.

Basically OI's perform two main functions:
1.) They serve as "sticking point theraphy." That is, they improve your strength in a very specific area- the one that you are weakest in, while still maintaining or even improving your reactive ability. In that reactivity sense, they are superior to traditional isometric training.

2.) They are very good for short-term hypertrophy. Putting on mass will definitly help you in this competition and these will help you back on some mass to your triceps and chest.

With that said, think about doing some slight changes to your program. You said you are 3.5 weeks through, so I'm assuming after your complete this week, you will have 4 more weeks to train for this competition? I'm going to assume that's the case and give you a little redesign that you might want to check out.

For the next three weeks, try this:

A. OI Bench Press
Do as many "reps" (or cycles past your sticking point) as you can in 40 seconds.
-rest 3 minutes-

B. OI Decline Chest Flyes (or flat chest flyes if can't get a decline bench)
Do as many "reps" as you can in 40 seconds.
-rest 3 minutes-

Continue repeating this cycle until you can only hit about 90% of your reps in the OI bench. So if you hit 60 reps the first time, keep going through this rotation until you can't get 54. Usually there will be a pretty sharp drop-off on this, so if you get 52 or 53 (using the hypothetical 60-rep benchmark) do another rotation.

Again, do a hard, but not maximal 5x5 on squat or deadlift, but be sure to not hit failure. After this, do a trap/delt superset.
A1. Shrugs or Close-Grip cable rows to your neck.
A2. Front or Lateral Raises.
Do 3 or 4 sets of 8-12 of each of these exercises with 2-3 minutes of rest. This is not that vital, so don't kill yourself on this superset, you just want to add a little bit of strength to your traps and delts.

A. Close-Grip Bench Press
Work up to a 5RM. You'll do your remaining sets with 15-20 pounds less on the bar.
-rest 3 minutes-
B. Standard Iso's
Hold your 10RM at your sticking point for 30 seconds.
-rest 3 minutes and continue until you can no longer get 5 reps on your close-grip with 15-20 pounds less.-
Just makes sure you have a spotter so you don't have to press the bar back up after the iso's.

Over the next 3 weeks really make sure you're really eating plenty of food, 2-3 pounds of extra muscle gain between now and the contest could be the difference!


Your BP numbers are extremely low. Why not just do a westside type approach and concentrate most on getting your 1rm up? Then do some accessory work in the 8-12 rep range. I think this might give you a better 10rm in 8 weeks.


I think all these isometrics and eccentric overload is definately overkill, especially for a beginner. He needs to just lift heavy one day, and do some reps the other day. It's that simple.



Obviously you know a lot about powerlifting (I've read your threads, great job btw) and I definitly agree with some of the things you've said. However, I do maintain that iso's are great, especially for beginners. The biggest problem with iso's are the fact that you can burn yourself out too easily, which is why you auto-regulat the volume. I think they are also great for beginners because they allow them to hold perfect form (hopefully) for a set period of time. I'm sure you can confirm that a lot of missed lifts are due to technique failure (although not as much as lack of strength I'm sure), so that allows you to get better technique at the area you need it most.