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Using The Layer System For The Bench Press

Hello Mr.Thibaudeau

I could need your advice. I want to get a stronger bench press and I thought that using the layer system would be the best strategy.
Back in 2013 you outlined several layers for maximum strength however I would like to know how your current recommendations look like.
I will train 4 days per week, maybe 2 layer sessions 1 for my normal bench press and the other for the inline bench. 1 day for the squat and deadlift and 1 workout only for back.

What’s your opinion on achieving maximum bench strength ? Do you think my idea will give me good results ?

( the old recommendations were for example

  1. Ramp to 1 RM
  2. 10 singles with 90% of the ramp
  3. 20 reps with 80% of the ramp as fast as possible


Ramp to a 3 RM
90 % cluster set
Ramp to a 2 RM
90% cluster sets
Ramp to 1 RM
90% Ckuster Set )

Thanks in advance !

Maybe, maybe not. The best strategy is to first fix your weakest link. So you have to find out which part of the range of motion is weaker and/or what muscle is lagging. If you don’t fix that you will always be limited by how much strength you can gain on the bench press regardless of what program you use.


Both will work IF you have balanced strength in all your pressing muscle and upper back. If you have a weak link there your bench press progress will be small.

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Thank you for your response Mr.Thibaudeau

I tend to believe my muscularity that is used for the bench press is fairly balanced at the moment. I tried to fix various different “weak links” in the past year however with no success. I did lots of upper back, tricep, shoulders, incline, dumbells, dips however nothing really helped. That’s why I want to go back to the thing that made my bench “strong” in the first place.

I normally fail around mid range, not direct over the chest but also not at lockout. According to some articles this means I have weak shoulders and should do incline bench press, however for example when I could bench 150kg I could bench 140kg on the incline.

Back when my maximum was 120-140kg I had 2 full layer sessions per week on the normal bench press ( looking back not optimal :P) and my bench just “felt” strong, especially on the eccentric…

I think I will use some “old” layer variant for bench and another for the incline bench and see how it goes.