Getting a lifetime PR on an old forgotten exercise in your 40’s is nice feeling. Father time is not winning every game just yet.
The bench press is a bro favourite and possibly my least favourite exercise for any push movement due to a few factors, one of which being that I have always been terrible at it. Other reasons being that dumbbell bench just hits my chest better, my shoulders are happier doing the DB version too.
So I had a training partner for about a year and we both trained like mad men and ate like starved wolves for about a year (I always wanted to hit 100kg bodyweight) and he eventually beat me on bench press. That niggled me for years.
That was probably a decade ago now. I have trained the barbell bench a handful of times since then so toward the end of last year I wanted to have a go at bettering my lifetime best at one stone less body weight. I did. It was stupid and purely ego driven.
Having a specific goal makes training life very simple, if you can be single minded enough to just put the work in, over and over. It’s not pretty, fancy or ground breaking.
Day 1 I tested my max. I worked out 70% and 80% of that maximum single repetition.
This was approached as a skill practice every single workout. Avoiding fatigue as much as possible, avoiding failure and avoiding any loss of rep speed.
Three days per week I would “practice” the barbell bench press for a total of 30 reps at speed, all around 70-80% of my tested maximum weight. Warm ups below that percentage were not added toward the 30 rep total.
Each training day I would work up to a daily “max”. Meaning I would keep adding weight until I could no longer accelerate the load, this would vary from workout to workout. I would never allow a grinding rep. As soon as the speed started to slow down that was the maximum weight for the day.
Then the volume comes in with loads around 70-80% of my max, same style. A set was over at the first sign of any loss of rep speed. For the remaining reps needed to reach my 30 rep target.
Each period I ran for a simple four weeks. At the end of four weeks I would re test my maximum. Reset the 70 and 80% numbers and start over for another four weeks. I ran this through twice. I beat my PR of 117.5kg (yes pathetic I know) after eight weeks of very high volume and specific training with a 120kg bench. Perhaps I had a 122.5kg in their or maybe 125kg but 120kg was my goal and it was near as dammit to my maximum on that day weighing in at 93.5kg vs 99.8kg years ago.
I made no measure of hypertrophy so can make no comment on the avoidance of fatigue with regards to growth.
Now I can move away from that hateful exercise where my shoulders are trapped between bench and bar and go back to movements that my shoulders are much happier with such as shoulder presses and dips.
I will be running an A/B style (two workouts alternated) over Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays each week but in a very different programme design where maximum strength will just be a nice by product if it happens. The focus will be on work capacity and power output.
If you want a Personal Trainer in the Epsom, Surrey area then just drop me a line here