T Nation

Alex's 8 Weeks to a Record Bench

Hey guys so this will be my first ever log here so I will go ahead and give you some of my lifting information.

Height: 6’3
Weight: 205-210

Bench: 245x1
Squat: 315x6
Military: 145x4
Deadlift: 405x4

Just to fill you in I recently had my wisdom teeth removed and have lost about 20 pounds and have managed to put back on about 8 since then. My bench was at 255x1 before the surgery. I have been stuck benching this amount for about 10 months now, so I have decided to give Christian Thibaudeau’s 8 weeks to a record bench program a try.

I am hoping to at least get my bench up to 275x1. (Any kind of increase would be great at this point). I will be starting this program on Sunday and I am very much looking forward to it. I will post again on Sunday once I have completed the first 3 workouts of the program.

So long for now,


Good luck. For me, the bench and the military have been the 2 sticking points. Hard to get the numbers up. In addition to CT’s program you might want to head over to www.elitefts.com and sign-up for The Vault. It’s a great books with some great advise for improving your lifts.




Thank you for your input. You are deffinitly right about Bench and Military being the hardest lifts to increase. By comparison the Squat and Deadlift for me go up practically overnight. I have only been squating and deadlifting for about 6 months and I have already added roughly 100 pounds to both lifts. I will deffinitly have to check out that book you recomended.

Finally sunday has arrived! Here is what mini-session 1 looked like:

Cluster set: 220x10

Decline close grip bench press: 95x5, 135x5, 185x5, 195x5, 195x5

The cluster set went well. I completed all 10 reps easily and I used the ice pack strategy, as well as drank a monster energy drink to wake myself up. Since I have never done decline close grip before I started off light with the first 2 sets to get used to the movement. Once I realized I could easily handle more weight I bumped it up to 185. All in all a great workout and I am looking forward to the second one. Now I’m off to go get some lunch.

Mini-session 2:

5 cluster sets: 220x5

DB shoulder press: 50x6, 55x5, 65x4, 65x4, 50x6

I was able to get all 5 reps on all the first 4 sets even with a shorter rest period between reps. After the 4th set when I was about to re-chalk my hands I noticed my left hand was bleeding. Got some paper towels and wrapped my hand up. Did the 5th set and still got all reps. I decided to take it easy on the shoulder press since I rememember other people saying that they have had problems with their shoulders after the first week of this program. I will deffinitly up the weight 5 pounds next week for the the first two sessions. Feeling a bit tired now but I’m pretty sure I can still make it through the third session without difficulty. Will post again in a few hours.

I was unable to post the third mini-session from last night so here it is now:

Drop set bench press
Set 1: 235x1, 220x1, 205x1, 195x1
Set 2: 235x1, (a bit of a grinder),220x miss, 205x1 (very difficult), 195x1
Set 3: 230x1, 215x1, 205x1, 195x1

Ez bar tricep ext. 3x6 with 70lbs (gym was closing had to cut out the last 2 sets)

I was unable to rest at least 2 hours between the 2nd and 3rd session and it deffinitly showed in my workout since I had difficulty with the second set. I dropped 5 lbs off of the first 2 reps and that seemedd to help for the 3rd set. After completing the final drop set, I noticed now my other hand was bleeding as well. My callices are going to have to thiken up more, but until then I will have to look into getting some kind of gloves or hand grips for bench press on this day, since there is no way I would bench without chalk (they put lots of WD-40 on the bars every day which helps a lot on heavy sets lol). This is by far the most insane workout day I have ever had and Im not sure that “insane” fully describes it.

In regards to today, I am quite sore from yesterdays sessions. It will be interesting to see how I recover over the next few days. I will post again tommorow after I have completed the starting strength workout.

Until then,


Day 2 workout:

Dead stop bench: 6x3 at 185

Iso-relaxation bench: 8x3 at 125

pull ups: 5x5 with bodyweight 10

Barbell curl: 5x5 with 85

rear delt raises: 3x10 with 20’s

Well…my chest hurt extremely bad on this day and im almost certain that it robbed me of using more weight on the dead stop bench press. Even warming up was difficult because on the first two sets I could’nt even bring the bar to my chest all the way. Once I stretched out a bit and did a few more warm ups I could touch my chest again and began the exercise. I had to fight through every set since each rep caused a great deal of pain in my chest triceps and shoulders. I wasn’t about to let that stop me though. I pushed through the rest of the workout and did alright. I will deffinitly be kicking up the amount of restorative techniques that I do throughout the week. Hopefully I will not be sore when it comes time to do negatives on thursday or else im in for a lot of pain on that day as well.

Until thursday,


Day 3:

Negative only bench press: 4x4 at 245

High pin press: had to mess around with these to find the optimal height for the pins. I eventually did a few sets of 3 with 245

Squats (no belt): 275x6, 295x4, 305x3, 315x2 (My strength is starting to come back on these finally)

RDL: 4x6 at 195

Well my pressing muscles felt fine when I went to the gym, but once I started warming up I felt some pain in my chest once more. After I did my first set of negatives the pain seemed to have gone away. (heavy weight must have stretched out my chest lol). I had to spend some time messing with the power rack to figure out the optimal weight and height to use for the lockouts. Everything else went fine and I am looking forward to another intense sunday workout!

Week 2:

Well mini-session 1 went well and mini-session 2…well you will see.

Mini-session 1:

1 Cluster set: 225x10
Decline close grip: 4X5 w/ 185

Drank my post workout drink and had lunch a little bit later. Went back to the gym thinking I was good to go…

Mini-session 2:

5x5 cluster sets:
225x4 (missed the 5th)
225x3 (got help on 4 and 5)
225x2 (dropped weight to 215 and got the other 3)
225x0 (dropped to 215 and did 3 then dropped to 205 for the other 2)
205x5 (this is just embarassing)

Military press: 3x6 w/ 115
Rolling DB extention: 3x8 w/ 35’s

As you can tell the second session sucked. The weight didnt feel heavy to me at all. The problem was that as I pressed the weight of my chest it would get to halfway and my muscles just stopped, like they didnt have the energy to finish the contraction. Since this second session went so poorly I decided that I will not be returning later today for the third session. If I cant get 225 off of my chest, I certainly cant press 240 for the drop sets. I now realize the difference between waiting 3 hours between workouts and waiting 2 hours. Last week I waited 3 hours in between and I did fine on the sencond session. Today I only rested 2 hours because my training partner needed to be done a bit earlier today. It may not seem like much, but that extra hour makes all the difference in the world. If anyone reading this is considering doing this program make sure you rest AT LEAST 3 HOURS between these mini-sessions and eat a good sized meal as well. Any less than this and your muscles will not have replenished the energy that was used from the first session, and you will struggle with weights that you should be blasting off of your chest with ease. If anyone has questions regarding this program, feel free to ask.


Well my chest and shoulders are not sore at all from yesterdays sessions which is a good sign that my body is adapting to the high volume of the program. Either that or not doing the drop sets this time kept me from being sore. Either way, I will be able to put more of an effort in on the tuesday workout since Im not as sore as I was last week. I have even been considering adding in the drop set workout that I missed yesterday to either my tuesday or thursday workout. Does anyone have any opinions on this???

Workout Day #2

Drop sets: 235x miss 220x miss

Dead stop bench press: 185 4x3, 195 2x3

Iso-relaxation speed bench: 135 8x3

Alright so I decided to give the drop sets a try today. I warmed up and hit 225 for an easy single. Then when I went to do the first set I missed 2 reps in a row. I could not believe that I missed 235 when 225 felt so easy only a few minutes before. I knew something was wrong when I also missed 220 after that. Both reps flew off my chest and just died a little more than halfway through my range of motion. I figured that this was most likely because my triceps are not recovered yet. They dont really hurt but there is a little pinch when I flex them. I wisely stopped there and went on to do the dead stop benches. These by comparison to last week were a breeze. 185 flew off of my chest to lockout with ease so I decided to go up in weight for the last 2 sets. I figured that it was so easy because my nervous system was stimulated by my attempts at the drop sets earlier. Speed bench also went well and I have no complaints. I will have to go back to the gym later to finish the rest of the workout since my training partner needed to go to football practice. All in all this was a great workout despite the my rough start. I will post the rest of this workout later.


Workout day #3:

High Pin press, 9 holes showing: 245x3(easy), 265x3, 265x3

High pin press, 8 holes showing: 255x3, 265x0(didnt get off of the pins)

Negatives: 255 4x4

Squats (no belt): 275x5, 295x3, 275x5, 275x5

RDL: 195 4x5

Great workout today. I decided to do the pin presses first in the workout since last week my triceps were fried from doing the negatives first. I think this was deffinitly a good switch because I felt like I had more control when doing the negatives (especially in the bottom portion where it is the hardest!). I believe that this was because my nervous system was already primed and ready for big weights since I did the pin press first. Squats were great today because I could feel my quad muscles ripping lol (thats how I know when im going parallel lol). And just wanted to say the RDL’s made my legs wobbly as always. They never disapoint me :slight_smile:

Week 3

Mini session #1:

Single cluster bench: 235x10

Mini session #2:

Drop sets:
Set 1: 235x1, 220x1, 205x1, 195x1
Set 2: 240x1, 225x1, 210x1, 200x1
Set 3: 245x1, 230x1, 215x1, 205x1

Mini session #3:

5x5 cluster bench:
Set 1: 225x5
Set 2: 225x5
Set 3: 225x5
Set 4: 230x5
Set 5: 230x5

As you may have noticed I did not do any of the assistance exercises today. The reason for this is simple…I felt that the reason why my performance had decreased in the later workouts was because I expended too much energy too early in the day on the assistance exercises. I had planned on doing them all at the end of the 3rd workout but I was unable to do them since they were closing the gym. Another change I made was that I switched the second and third workouts around so that I did the drop sets before the 5x5 cluster so I had more energy for them. This was deffinitly a good switch since I was actually able to hit all of the prescribed reps on both exercises this time. This was deffinitly the best day of the program so far. When I pressed 245 for the first set on the drop sets, I felt like I could have easily done a good ten pounds more which means that my max should be back where it was prior to my surgery. Im planning on doing 245 for the single cluster next week and possibly moving up the weight on the drop sets as well. Hopefully this wont leave me too sore for the workout on tuesday. If you want to make any comments or ask questions, please feel free to do so.


Just a few things that I wanted to mention as a side note:

My training partner is also doing this program and I think it may be beneficial if I keep you updated on his progress as well.

His stats are:

Height: 6’3
Weight: 200-203
Bench: 265x4, 285x1
Squat: 365x1
Military: 165x4
Deadlift: 445x1

(He is hoping to get his bench press max to 315.)

Also, I will do my best to post some videos of our workouts and include a video at the end of this log with our new maxes.

Day 2, Week 3:

Dead stop bench:

Speed bench with pause: 145 8x3

This was a great session today. I will be going back to the gym later to finish the rest of the accessory lifts. My performance on the dead stop sets has improved greatly since week 1.

Week 3, day 3:

High pin press (9 holes showing):
High pin press (8 holes showing):


This was another great session today. I think doing the pin press before the negatives was a great decision. I set some new PR’s on the pins, so im very happy about that. I felt like I had total control on all sets of negatives so I tried 275 and to my surprise it didnt even feel heavy. In fact on the first rep I actually pressed it about 2 inches off of my chest before Austin (training partner) began helping me lift it. I feel like if I was fresh I just might have been able to put up a good fight against it lol (maybe get it to halfway and get stuck lol). We are going back to do squats later in the day. In the mean time I think I will go take some pictures since im feeling pumped right now lol.

Me at about 193, one year ago.

Me today at 216 right now, 212 this morning.

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