Circa-Max Phase for Bench

I was talking with Paul Childress a bit today about how he cycles his DE benching leading into a meet. He mentioned how he does somewhat of a circa-max phase where he adds a mini-band for a few weeks (working up to three per side for the “heaviest” week) while keeping his bar weight about the same. He will de-load with one or no bands for the last couple of weeks leading into his meet. I’ve seen Dave Tate mention how he uses a “circa-max” phase with his speed benching as well.

My question for everyone is this: Have you ever done anything reminiscent of a circa-max phase for your speed benching leading into a meet? What did it look like, and did it seem to work? Just wondering if anyone has any experience with this…

Steve- I have used something very similar to this for 2 week in every dyamic bench cycle I have used forthe past year, but I must tell you and knowing you bench numbers if you use to high of barbell weigth you will actually get a worse bench…I am naturally very slow of the chest and have good lock out strength so speed has become my top priority, so figured if the speed-stength pahse works fo the squat why not the bench??? so what I have done over the past year is experiment with band use and bar weight, to develop a phase that helped me get speed fast…And it has took a while but I fell I got it damn perfect and it helped, one of my training partners take his bench from 325-415 in 6 months and this cycle helped him win the teenage state campionships and set the Indiana stae record for bench, basically his speed went through the roof and now he blast the bar to lock out as fast as any 19 year old I have seen, I has also helped me take my bench up bout 35 pounds in 6 months and this was after 1 year of stailness, Basically what I have done is use weeks 1 and 5 as deload weeks and have a super speed kind of like a circa max phase for weeks 2-3 a strength speed week 4 and then deload aain on week 5 and then repeat on 1 again…Week 1 I use the basic 60% no bands 9x3, Then week 2 what do is take a bar weight of 95 pounds work up to having 3 mini bands on each side do 2 sets take off a mini band do 2sets, take off a mini band do 2 sets, repeat the cycle 2 more times for a total of 18 barbell lifts, the volume of barbell lifts are high but the intensity is waved, and the key here is the band tension is high wich will slow the bar speed down forces you to push faster then is speed up againg with less band tension wich you push dynamically with the same speed as you were pushing with the 3 bands, you will be amazed at how fast the barbell will move on max effort day on these week I am not sure the exact reasoning why but you wll be fast…I repeat this aain for another week and then go to a regualar band cyce with 40% 1 mini 9x3 plus like2-3 heavy singles, then deload basically for 2weeks with streigth weight. Some keys… 2 weeks will work perfectly 3 weeks is over board and i looses its effect, I learned of this from louie’s article training methods, If you use to much bar weight you will destroy and ruin itk, I Bench around 450 with a single ply shirt and I use 95 pouds this allows me to move the bar with speed and is just enough eight to slow the bar down with the 3 bands on there…Give it a try…Big Martin

I also wanted to say why I think this phase wouldnt be great for a mre advance bencher 500-600 pound bencher because they can handle bar weight plus heavy band tension, I think it works great for those between 350-500, And if you really look at Dave Tates Cicra Max bench phase he uses only 165 bar weight and 3 bands with a 605 pound bench That equals about 27-28% of his max, so if your hitting any where between 300-350 raw 27% = 95 pounds almost exactly 27% so you are basically doig the same thing, and if you check his logs he also ends each dynamic set with 2 bands for 2 sets and uses 3 for 3-6 sets, so the program is very close, you will just drop the intensity due to a lower max to introduce speed because 2 mini bands if doubled correctly will still be a lot of tension for a lesser bencher, but with the less bar weight the added 3 mini band 3 (9 sets total) sets will be the actual maximal set. Eve if your shirt max is 400 27% is only 108 pounds so 95 is a good standing base to add in the tension… One reason I think this works good for a beginer is because I have taken a raw bench max with 1 band and I get 74% with 1 mini band so if I used 50% plus 2 mini bands I am actually using closer to 70% because of the addition of the bands, so in actuallity my % needed would be between 35-38 %, so the less barbell weight with bnds would need to be figured and this is how I came up with the standard 27%, or 95 pounds, I guess most of you would say I am overthinking this but I am very proud of this cycle because I have heled a few low 300 benchers hit the low 4’s with this cycle in a matter of months because we mostly have teenage and college kids train with us, because I am college student we started a powerlifting team and train ot of my garage…It kind of my baby,but hey this is why I love this forum because of topics ike this, I actually spent last night talking to my training partner about this last night while sitting in te garage enjoying some cold MGD"S, he wanted to up his barbel weight bcause he recently just hit a 435 pound reverse green band press I told him to leave it at 95 because the results were speaking for themselves…Big Martin

Big Martin- somehow I knew you were gonna have something for me to try…it sounds very interesting, and somewhat similar to what Big Paul was to describing to me as far as the amount of tension; it’s the amount of lifts on the “circa max” weeks that is my only concern. I could see going through the 6 barbell lift wave once, maybe even twice, but three times might be pushing it. I suppose if the bar weight is light enough, it might not be so bad, though. What do you do with your grips? A different grip for each “wave”.

Cool shit, either way, bro. I may just give it a try for these next six weeks leading into my meet…

Steve…you could actually dop the last set with 1 band and end the dynamcic session with the 2 band sets this will knock down the NBL, the reason I think the 18 lifts dont effect you that much is because the intesnity is very low for 6 sets, You could drop the 1 band sets completely but I think the phase then moves to slow…Big Martin

I’m sold…I just need to talk it over with my current training partners to see if they want in.

Steve- I just read your training log and saw you did 135 with 2 minis yesterday how did it fell, I have tried that and the bar moved like max effort sets, …? for you have you ever taken a max with a mini band on the bar?? What is your record? …BIg Martin

Steve-also your ?? about grips I have been using pinky on the rings for all my sets for the last few months really has helped me with some bicep tendonitis…BigMatin


What I did yesterday was with one monster mini band per side, double looped…not two bands per side. Two of them with 135 would definitely be like a max effort set for me. I thought I was using the correct terminology when talking about the bands…maybe I wasn’t? Either way, we should be on the same page now.

I’ve never taken a max with bands on the bar, so I wouldn’t even know. What is yours?

Steve _ buddy I miss read my bad, We awlways double are minis, I got 295 mini band bench with a single ply shirt, how else doyou hook up the minis if you dont double them??

bigmartin- We’ve never hooked them up any other way to bench besides doubling them. I don’t see how you would get any tension otherwise.

By the way, we’re going to give your circa max phase a shot starting Sunday.

When I tried this it worked big time for me!

But I did it Louie’s way.
I used bands and used my normal weight.
I had 2 bands on each side. One band was dubbled and the other was choked then wrapped around the bar twice.
This gives you great tension the last 6-8inches. I did this for 2 weeks then 2 weeks chains then 2 weeks bands then meet.

I wouldn’t try it any other way I just think your asking for a shoulder injury.
If you double both bands.

My 2 cents,


Thanks for the input, Jackass. I’ve never tried choking minis. I guess I’m trying to picture what you mean when you said you choke the minis and then wrap them around the bar twice. I can’t quite picture that.

IF you really are intrested in band training check out Joe Average powerlifting. THose guys never go over 95lbs bar weight (i think its that i might be lower)they use all kinds of crazy ass band tension. And i’m sure they phase into a meet a certain way check it out.

Yeah, dirtydan, I’m not a huge fan of the Joe Average system, though you can’t argue with the results some of those guys have had. Just not my thing right now. You are right with one thing: they do some crazy-ass band tension.