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Increasing your bench

I seem to have hit a wall with my bench. I did Poliquin’s “patient lifters” program for 6 weeks, and made some great gains. Then I just stopped gaining. I tried mixing it up by doing a wave program of sets of 8,6,4 reps consisting of 2 waves. I used the flat bench press and the incline press. I just can’t get anywhere. Thanks for any help.

How does 85 lbs. in four months sound? Powerlifter Jason Brice came up with the workout; and I recently gave it to a friend who plays football for Townsend University. He went from 335 to 420 in just 4 months, as did Brice. I’m actually working on a program based on these principles incorporating all 3 powerlifts that I’ll be starting in a weeks time. Looking to add “wheels” to my powerlifts. Here it is:

Start off with 67% of your 1RM. Do only one set of 5 per workout, adding 5 lbs each workout. You'll be benching Mon. - Fri. The schedule is kind of unorthodox, but it works...BIG TIME!

Obviously, you aren't going to be able to keep adding 5 lbs. forever, you'll eventually hit your 5RM; however, this weight will be signifcantly greater than your previous 5RM.

When you hit this point, it's time to switch the program around by utilizing a Russian technique called "ladders." The weight you will use is the 5RM that you just established. A "ladder" is simply doing one rep...resting ten seconds...two reps...resting ten seconds...three reps...

When you can't top the reps of your last mini-set then you start back at one. Your first "ladder" session will probably look like this:

1-2-3-1-2-1, with 10 second rest periods inbetween. It's kind of like one large set. You do this every other day for 2 weeks. This is the portion of the program where I think that a 2 week cycle of Mag-10 could be very beneficial; your ladder reps will probably rise at a much greater rate.

After 2 weeks of ladders, drop 10 lbs from the 5RM you established 2 weeks ago (the same weight you were using for the ladders) and resume the linear cycle: 1 x 5, Mon. - Fri.

When you hit your 5RM again, take 2 days off and test your 1RM.

That cycle takes approximatly 2 months. If you are satisfied with the results, then feel free to repeat it. You won't gain as much during the 2nd cycle, probably about 70% of what you did during the first cycle, but most people feel that it's definately worth it to give it a second go 'round.

I got this program from powerlifter Jason Brice; shared it with a friend who's bench was stuck at 335 for months and here were his results:

October 1: 1RM = 335, 5RM = 285

December 1: 1RM = 385, 5RM = 325

February 1: 1RM = 420, 5RM = 360

Gains will start to get stale after two cycles; therefore, it's probably best to do something else for a while. After increasing your strength to that degree, the gains you would experience while on a bulking cycle would be greatly increased. I'd probably do a Mag-10 cycle right after completing 2 cycles of the program.

One key to this program is to never-ever train to failure. I've seen a few people try to bang out some forced reps while on the ladder portion of the program and they really messed themselves up. Breaking down muscle while on this type of strength cycle will only lead to halted progress. Bottom line, if you aren't going to push the next rep up by yourself, don't attempt it. Of course a spotter is recommended anytime you are working with heavy weight, but they are there for emergency situations, not to help with reps you can't do.

To maximize your results I would stick exactly to the program while incorporating a deadlift/squat 5 x 5 workout once a week. Any additional training of the chest, delts, and triceps will minimize your results. DO NOT DO THIS. If it ain't broke; don't fix it. And it sure as hell ain't broke.

Read Dave Tate’s stuff here at T-mag and at his site. Read Stalely’s articl on Convergent Phase Training. Give them a shot and you’ll get stronger. Also, give more details about yourself when you post so we can give better solutions.

Bud, you’re not going to make steady gains on any one given bodypart forever. Focus on your back for a while, then go back to bench.

Have you tried 12 weeks to super strength by Ian King?

I do two sets of five mon, wed, fri. This is Pavel style. Overall I do very little exersizes, but hard and heavy and I haven’t hit a plateau in several months.

Nutrition is also a factor. I take brewer’s yeast before support and bioplus (supplement that contains caffeine, tryosine and other nervous boosters) before I work out.

Good luck dude!

PS: I’m not Machine … I wonder if “Machine” is the same as “the Machine”

Does this strength system lead to much hypertrophy? I totally understand about not going to failure, but it sounds like a great way to increase all kinds of core lifts (I saw someone {you?} recommend it for chins too)

No, the program will not produce a great amount of hypertrophy. In other words, incorporate it into a maintainance or cutting cycle.

Yes, that was me recommending ladders for pullups. That is what they are originally for: pullups.

I am currently putting the finishing touches on a program (based on the bench program) to increase all 3 powerlifts, and really prime the system for a bulking cycle. So yes, I do believe this program can be applied to Deads and Squats also; but I have never seen anyone do this. I'm the guinea pig here; but I honestly can't wait to start.

Joel, if you’re interested in having more than one guinea pig, post it and I’d love to try it, it sounds perfect for powerlifters like me tryin to stay in a weight class. Thanks for the ideas though, I’m workin on coming up with one based on that too, after reading it.

That program sounds pretty good. I have a couple questions though. On the linear portion of the cycle do you bench 5 days a week Mon.-Fri.? Then on the ladder portion do you bench every other day Mon.-Fri., in which you would do a ladder workout 3 days a week? Or is it Mon.-Sun. where you would do a ladder workout 4 times a week? Thanks.

I am the same guy as “The Machine”. I dropped “the” after awhile. I didn’t realize there was another personn with a similar moniker. I got tired of posting under my name “Scott” so I went with a nick. Sorry if I stole your idea.

I will post the entire program as soon as i complete it; including supplementation.

The linear cycle is M-F. The 2-week ladder portion is every other day starting on a M; weekends and all.

Also, I want to take a minute to clear something up about the ladders that might have been a little ambiguous. You start back at one rep after you complete a miniset in which you did not top the reps of your last miniset. Using your first session as an example, if you do 1-2-3 for your first three minisets; you most likely will not be able to get four on the next set; however you have not yet completed a miniset in which you did not top the reps of the previous miniset (i.e. 2 is greater than 1; 3 is greater than 2). You start back at one only after you fail to hit the target amount of reps for a particular miniset. Again, taking your first session as an example. You do 1-2-3; now your next miniset goal is 4 reps; you only get 2. Now you start back at one. Some individuals were thinking that you start back at one after after the 3 rep miniset simply because you knew you weren't going to get 4 on the next one. No, you attempt the next set, do what you can (without attempting a rep you knowingly wont complete. No failure!) and then start back at one. Eventually, you'll be able to do 4 reps on that 4th miniset, but you'll never know when that is until you attempt it.

Now, let me also say this. If on your 3rd miniset you barely got the 3rd rep up, go ahead and start back at one. But if 3 went up with ease, then go ahead and attempt 4; even though you may not get all 4. Hopefully I just cleared this up without confusing everyone too much.

Machine, thanks for clearing things up.

Joel, I really like this system, and I hope it works.

I’ve been trying to increase my reps at certain weight levels, and I now have three systems to try out. Ladders. Multi-sets of 2. And working from the ‘bottom-up’ (ie. 20 reps at a lighter weight and work up).

This has been a real help. I’ll use different techniques for different body parts and we’ll hope to avoid a muscle imbalance.

The complete powerlifting program incorporating all 3 lifts is now posted. I hope this helps anyone with similar goals. Check it out: “What You Have All Been Waiting For”


Somtimes in order to increase your bench it is best to stay away from it for a while. One of the best and most overlooked methods to increasing the bench press is working your rotators and shoulder stability. If you have weak rotators or limited stability your bench can only go so far. Try doing push ups on a stability ball, SB walks, SB walks with a push up. You would be surprised at how much this helps.

Your bench will NOT go up if you stay away from it. I agree on training the smaller and often neglected assistance muscles, such as the rotator cuffs, but you must keep benching. Use variations of the bench press. Check out the exercises on Dave Tate’s for more help.

Well its pretty bold do say that it will “NOT” go up if youve never done it. Im working with two police candidates right now who need to get their bench up. The past couple months they have made great progress with minimal bench work. Bottom line, if your bench is stuck you need a change. Theres really no wrong or right way to do it.


“what you all have been waiting for” where is it? Search here revealed nada. If it is indeed in this forum, please say so and I will continue searching.