Monster Bench

Ryan Kennelly and Sean Katterle

Unlocking the Riddle of Bench Steel Part 2: From a 315 Max to Reppin’ 405 in One Year!

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We hope you got a chance to read Part 1 of this series last month. If you didn’t and you can’t find someone who has a copy, the article is available online at HardcorePowerlifting.com (thanks to IRON MAN’s permission to reprint). The first year of this training mega cycle was for lifters who could max-bench 225 pounds but had yet to break the 315-pound barrier. This installment is for those who now have a max bench press of 315 pounds and want to break through the daunting 405 barrier. (Note: A max bench press is what you can bring down to a dead stop on your chest, pause and then drive to lockout with your butt on the bench throughout the entire lift.)

For the second phase of this bench-training odyssey, you’re going to be training twice per week, as opposed to once a week, which was the protocol during the initial 48-week 225-to-315-pound mega cycle. Your training sessions will gradually increase in per-set intensity, and your individual workouts will decrease in duration and volume as you progress through this cycle—but never to the point that you will become unconditioned. This will continue to be a power-building program with mass-building potential, so never fear that your physique will suffer from following our guidelines.

At this point in the program we’re going to set your one-rep max (without a bench shirt) at 315 pounds. Here’s the breakdown of the complete cycle into rounds of training intensity.

Week 1, Day 1

  • Bench presses: bar x 20, 85 x 20, 135 x 12, 160 x 10 x 10

On the work sets you use roughly 50 percent of your one-rep max for 10 sets of 10 reps each. This week should be kind of a break for your muscles and joints, so to speak, so enjoy the light lifting and focus on your technique and on getting motivated to train heavy.

  • 5-board presses: 160 x 5, 185 x 5, 205 x 5, 225 x 5 x 2

This will seem really easy and pointless, but the goal is to concentrate on getting used to using the boards and pausing the bar on the boards for a second without relaxing your muscles.

 Week 1, Day 2

  • 5-board presses: bar x 20, 135 x 12, 185 x 12, 205 x 5, 225 x 5 x 5

Pause each rep for a second or two on the boards, but keep your muscles flexed throughout the lift.

 Week 2, Day 1

  • Bench presses: bar x 20, 85 x 20, 135 x 12, 175 (roughly 55% of 1RM) x 9 x 9
  • 5-board presses: 175 x 5, 185 x 5, 205 x 5, 225 x 5 x 2

 Week 2, Day 2

  • 5-board presses: bar x 20, 135 x 12, 185 x 12, 205 x 5, 225 x 5 x 5
  • Rack Lockouts (with the pins set at halfway between where the bar touches your chest and lockout): 225 x 5 x 5
  • Pushdowns (using various handle attachments): 6 x 12-20

The last few reps of each set should really burn!

 Week 3, Day 1

  • Bench presses: bar x 20, 85 x 20, 135 x 12, 165 x 8, 190 x 8 x 8
  • 5-board presses: 190 x 5, 205 x 5, 225 x 5, 245 x 5 x 2

 Week 3, Day 2

  • 5-board presses: bar x 20, 135 x 12, 185 x 5, 205 x 5, 225 x 5, 245 x 5 x 5
  • Rack lockouts (with the pins set at halfway between where the bar touches your chest and lockout): 225 x 5, 245 x 5 x 4
  • Pushdowns (using various handle attachments): 6 x 12-20.

The last few reps of each set should really burn!

 Week 4, Day 1

  • Bench presses: bar x 20, 85 x 20, 135 x 12, 185 x 7, 205 x 7 x 7
  • Feel free to take more time for your rest periods between sets if your schedule allows for it.
  • 4-board presses: 205 x 5, 225 x 5, 245 x 5
  • 5-board presses: 265 x 5, 285 x 5

 Week 4, Day 2

  • 4-board presses: bar x 20, 85 x 12, 135 x 12, 185 x 5, 225 x 5, 245 x 5
  • 5-board presses: 265 x 5, 285 x 5
  • Rack lockouts (with the pins set at halfway between where the bar touches your chest and lockout): 225 x 5, 245 x 5, 265 x 5, 285 x 5 x 2
  • Pushdowns (using various handle attachments): 6 x 12-20

The last few reps of each set should really burn!

Week 5, Day 1

  • Bench presses: bar x 20, 85 x 20, 135 x 12, 185 x 6, 205 x 6, 220 (roughly 70% of 1RM) x 6 x 6
  • 4-board presses: 225 x 5, 245 x 5, 265 x 5
  • 5-board presses: 285 x 5, 305 x 5

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