T Nation

KingKai's 500 lb. Bench Log

So I thought I would start my own training log.

25 years old
6’5", 290 lb.
Chest- 53"
Waist- 49"
Arms- 19.25 ® 19" (L)
Forearms- 15"
Quads- 28"

Bench- 385 lb.
Squat- 335 lb.
Deadlift- 435 lb.

Training History - I spent about 13 years swimming competitively, and lifting played a pivotal role in my training. My junior and senior years of high school, I weighed 220 lb. and was fast. At the time, I could bench 225x3 (not bad for having loose, unstable swimmer shoulders), deadlift 315 lb., clean and jerk 225 lb., and perform 21 strict pull-ups and 33 dips.

Unfortunately, when I went into my freshman year of college, I was extremely depressed - I hurt my shoulder within the first few weeks and couldn’t lift for the entire year. I barely ate for the first six weeks I was at school, and my weight dropped to 188. I was skinny and weak and miserable; as soon as the swim season ended (mid-March), I forced myself back into the gym. Training from mid-March to the first week of May, my bench went from 185x4 to 225x5, my pull-ups from 5 to 18, my dips from 12 to 36, my deadlifts to 315x5, my bodyweight from 192-225, and my arms grew from 15.5" back to 17" (their size in high school).

I trained all through the summer (May-August), but unfortunately, since the gym I lifted in didn’t permit deadlifting, I focused mainly on bench and pull-ups and ignored my legs. Over those 4 months my bench progressed from 225x5 to 275x3. I also put on a lot of fat - by August, I weighed 270 lb.

The program I used to get my bench up was pretty simple - once a week, I would do 3 sets on the bench press, shooting for 6-12 reps per set. On the third set, after reaching failure, i would perform partials to failure in the strong range followed by negatives to failure. I would then drop the weight and repeat all three steps a second time. I’d drop the weight again, and on this third “round” I would simply do repetitions to failure. I would perform this routine for 2 consecutive weeks, followed by a deloading week. This is the program I followed from mid-March to August that helped my bench go from 185x4 to 275x3.

The problem, however, was that I stuck with that program for the next several years. I underemphasized everything except bench press and pull-ups, and my physique suffered for it. My strength did as well - despite my best effort, following the same bench program for FOUR years only upped my bench to 275x8-10 (I usually only increased weight when I could get 12 reps on at least the first set). This program did great stuff for my arm size - 17.5" to 18.75" - but next to nothing for my maximal strength. Last August (2011), I benched 315 lb. for only the second time!

I decided I needed a change, especially after focusing on only bench and chins for so long. Since last August, I have started focusing on lower reps and far more lifts. This log will detail my attempts to get strong while losing body fat. I’ve started emphasizing Squats and deadlifts, and though they aren’t that high yet, they have improved significantly since August.

Summer 2012 Goals
Bench- 385 lb. (7/14)
Squat- 365 lb.
Deadlift- 455 lb.

My ultimate goal is to shoot for a 500 lb. raw bench. I think it’s doable - I could strain out 405 now, but for the sake of my shoulders, I refrain from maxing out except when I KNOW I can lift the weight smoothly.


Here is the log from the last two days (7/13-7/14)


Bench Press
315x2x1 (paused)
345x1 (paused)
365x1 (paused)
385x1 (touch and go)


Circuit 1- Squats and Wide Grip Pullups (75-90 seconds rest between exercises)
Squats- 135x3, 185x3, 225x3, 255x3, 285x4x2
WG Pullups- BW 4x6 on 31X tempo

(NOTE: Before the squats, I took Poliquin’s advice and stretched out my calves on the leg press with extremely heavy weights. My squats were so much deeper and stronger automatically.)

Circuit 2- Close Grip Bench and Barbell Curls (90 seconds rest between exercises - 3rd round of each performed as drop sets)
Close Grip Bench- 255x2x5 on 31X tempo, 255x1x8-dp-225x3-dp-195x4
Barbell Curls- 95x2x5 on 31X tempo, 95x1x7-dp-75x5-dp-65x6

Circuit 3- Kettlebell French Press, Kettlebell Cross-Body Hammer Curls, Hamstring Curls (90 seconds after all three exercises)
Kettlebell French Press- 35x2x12
Kettlebell CBHC- 20x2x12
Hamstring Curls- 250x2x8

[quote]spar4tee wrote:



Visiting my family for the next four weeks, so working out without a spotter at a nearby Gold’s. Had to improvise a little. It was far and away the hottest gym I have ever been in - I was covered in sweat after my first set on bench!

[u[ Circuit - Bench Press Clusters and Neutral Grip Chins [/u] (1:40 rest between exercises)

Bench Press Cluster Sets (10-15 seconds rest between reps, first two reps of each set paused)

Neutral Grip Chins - BW 25 lb.x5x3 on 31X tempo

Omni Grip Chins- Wide Grip Pullups, Medium Grip Chins, Neutral Grip Chins (10 sec. between hand positions, 2 minutes between rounds)

Pinkies up 45 degree Front Raises (for supraspinatus)

Not a bad

[quote]KingKai25 wrote:
NOTE: Before the squats, I took Poliquin’s advice and stretched out my calves on the leg press with extremely heavy weights. My squats were so much deeper and stronger automatically.[/quote]

I’m definitely going to give this a shot. Good luck in attaining your goals!

Away at a wedding since Friday, so I’ve been averaging 4 hours of sleep a night since Thursday. I am exhausted. Nevertheless, I needed to work out, so I stayed with relatively light weights.


Circuit 1- Bench Press (3/2/1 Waves) and Wide Grip Pullups (1:40 between exercises; 1st rep paused each set of Bench Press)

Bench Press

Wide Grip Pullups
BW x 9x3 on 31X tempo

Standing Military Press
95x3x10 (2 minutes rest)

Intercostal has healed up nicely, but I am going to focus on squatting twice a week rather than dead-lifting until I get back to school.


Circuit 1- Close Grip Bench and Dumbbell Curls

CGBench- 255x5x5 on 31X tempo
DCurls- 40x5x5 on 31X tempo

Dumbbell French Presses (1 round with drop sets) - 40x10-35x4-30x4

Barbell Curls (Rest Pause-15 sec.)- 70 lb.x12-7-4-3


Circuit 1- Squats and Neutral Grip Chins to Chest (1:40 rest between exercises


NG Chins
4x3 on 31X
1x5 on 31X

Lying Hamstring Curls (1:30 rest between sets)

Pinky Up Front Raises - 10x2x12
Elbow-on-Knee External Rotation - 25x1x8, 2x6


Circuit 1- Bench 3/2/1 Waves and Neutral Grip Chins (1:40 rest between exercises)

Bench (First rep of every set paused)
335x3, 345x2, 355x1
340x3, 350x2, 360x1
345x3, 355x2, 365x1, 375x1

NG Chins- 9x3 on 31X tempo

That was all I really had time for today. I’m still at home visiting family, so I continuing to train at a nearby Gold’s Gym with no air conditioning in the section with benches and power racks and only one decent bench (the other two are too low to the ground). My dad just went into the hospital for a diabetes-related infection, so I am struggling with a lot of issues right now, but it was nice to have a brief respite from my own thoughts.

I felt VERY good today (aside from some mild bicep soreness). I only asked for a lift off when 365 and 375; otherwise, I unracked the weight myself for all the other sets, which certainly gets tiring after awhile. On the second and third waves, I found myself pausing slightly on subsequent reps after the first as well. 365 felt so good I decided to try for 375, and I was surprised by how good that felt as well; the weights flew up, which really surprised the two guys I asked to spot me. I thought about trying for 385, but after all that work, it didn’t seem wise, so I stopped. Next week I’ll finish my sets at 375, and the week after that (my final week of 3/2/1 before I try to max out), I’ll finish with 385.


Circuit 1 - Squats and Wide Grip Pullups (:45 rest between exercises)

Squats- 225x5x3
WG Pullups- 5x3 on 31X

Circuit 2 - Deadlift and Military Press (1:00 rest between exercises)

Deadlift- 225x3x6
Military Press- 95x4x10

HS Isolateral Row - 65 per side x3x12


Circuit 1- Squats and Wide Grip Pullups


Wide Grip Pullups - 5x5

Military Press

Not a good session. Shouldn’t have tried to squat twice this week. I don’t think I fully recovered from last Friday. I also didn’t have much time, so I didn’t warm up anywhere near enough. On the military presses, I just focused on acceleration and stopped when my acceleration started to slow down at all.

What gym do you train at?


[quote]CSEagles1694 wrote:
What gym do you train at?


Right now I am visiting my family and training at a Gold’s Gym, but I also have a membership at my old college’s gym. That gym not only allows the use of chalk; it actually provides it. It’s also really cheap, particularly because I am an alum.


Circuit 1- Bench (3/2/1 Waves) and Neutral Grip Chins

Bench (initial rep of each work set paused)
345x3, 355x2, 365x1
350x3, 360x2, 370x1

Neutral Grip Chins
6 w/ 60 sec. rest, 5 w/ 50, 4 w/40, 3 w/30, 2 w/20, 1 w/10, 1

Supine Dumbbell Presses with Pause
35 lb.x3x8 on 45X tempo

Not the best workout. I went into it tired and didn’t really have much oomph. I think my nervous system wasn’t quite recovered from the previous weeks - not only does 3/2/1 do a number on the CNS, but (I think) pausing the initial rep of each set does too. I also added 10 lb. to the start of each set since last week, so that probably has something to do with it too. In any case, I finished the workout by focusing on chins and an exercise I got from Poliquin for stretching and opening up the pecs.


225x5x6 w/90 sec. rest

HS High Bar Row
70 lb. per side x 3x12 with 90 sec. rest

Dumbbell Curl Drop Sets (1 Round)
40x8, 35x5, 30x4, 25x4

Elbow-On-Knee External Rotation
25x2x8, 1x6 with 2:00 minutes rest

Just a nice, really light session today. Still trying to recuperate from my previous workouts.


Circuit - Squats (5/4/3/2/1) alternated with Wide Grip Pullups with 1:40 between exercises


WG Pullups - 5x6

Really tired again. My dad’s health issues are really taking a toll on my family emotionally; working out certainly helps keep my mind off of things, but I still feel exhausted.


Circuit - Bench (3/2/1 Wave Loading) and Neutral Grip Chins (1:40 rest interval between exercises)

345x3, 355x2, 365x1
350x3, 360x2, 370x1
355x3, 365x1

Close Grip Bench Press (1:30 rest)
255x5, 4, 3 (41X tempo)

NG Chins
6-5-4-3-2-1 (Rest interval reps x 10 seconds each)

Supine Dumbbell Presses with Pause
35 lb.x3x8 on a 44X tempo

Better session than last week. I think my first wave is just too heavy; the fatigue is too great and it’s mitigating the neurological ramping. I’m going to try to start with less weight next time I try this progression. My chest has felt significantly looser since I started doing the dumbbell presses; my pecs were getting really tight from the shorter range of motion that proper bench technique entails.

Next week I am going to test my maxes (deadlifts, bench, squats, pull-ups, and dips). I’m going to lift again on Wednesday, but I have a wedding this weekend, so I’ll be away until next Monday.

that s one hell of a bench work out, keep it up mate

[quote]RobmoriRB wrote:
that s one hell of a bench work out, keep it up mate[/quote]

Thanks Rob! My squat and deadlift suck relative to my bodyweight though, so I’m going to really try to improve them over the next several months.