Periodization To Increase The Bench Press

Beyond technical proficiency, when trying to improve your Bench Press, it's important to account for limiting factors in the trainee's musculature. For example, weak stabilizers of the shoulders and/or poor triceps development can negatively impact your rate of progress on the Bench Press.

A well rounded program with exercises for the rotator cuff, scapular retractors and triceps will go a long way in driving up your Bench Press score.

A favorable training split for this purpose would be:

Monday: Upper Body 1

Tuesday: Lower Body 1

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Upper Body 2

Friday: Lower Body 2

Saturday: Off

Sunday: Off

Here is how upper body sessions could be set up:

Upper Body 1

A1 Primary Pressing Exercise

A2 Chin-Up Variation

B1 Assistance Pressing Exercise

B2 Rowing Variation

C1 Triceps Exercise

C2 Biceps Exercise

Upper Body 2

A1 Primary Pressing Exercise

A2 Chin-Up Variation

B1 Assistance Pressing Exercise

B2 Rowing Variation

C1 Rotator Cuff Exercise

C2 Scapular Retractor Exercise

In order to reach your RM (repetition maximum) goal, you have to ensure that the training cycle is carefully planned. The first step is selecting the rep schemes. 

Here is an example of a periodized plan for a cycle geared at improving the Bench Press:

Accumulation 1 (week 1-3)

11,9,7,5 

Intensification 1 (week 4-6)

5 x 3-5

Accumulation 2 (week 7-9)

6,6,6,8,8

Intensification 2 (week 10-12)

5,4,3,5,4,3 

Here is an example of the upper body training programs for the Intensification 1 phase:

Upper Body 1

A1 Inertia Bench Press from Bottom Position 5 x 3-5 22X0 120 

A2 Medium Neutral Grip Chin-Up 5 x 3-5 40X0 120

B1 Seated DB Press 4 x 6-8 3010 90

B2 Wide Pronated Grip Seated Row 4 x 6-8 3010 90

C1 Decline DB Triceps Extension 3 x 8-10 3010 75 

C2 Incline Supinated Grip DB Curl 3 x 8-10 3010 75

Upper Body 2

A1 Seated BB Overhead Press 5 x 3-5 40X0 120 

A2 Medium Supinated Grip Chin-Up 5 x 3-5 40X0 120

B1 Flat DB Press 1 1/4 Rep 4 x 6-8 3010 90

B2 Close Neutral Grip Seated Row 4 x 6-8 3010 90

C1 Seated DB External Rotation Arm in Front 3 x 8-10 4010 45

C2 35-Degree Incline One-Arm Trap-3 Raise 3 x 8-10 3011 45

In this program, the Bench Press is performed during the first upper body session of the week after two days of rest and recovery. 

The inertia from the bottom position technique is used to develop strength in the weakest part of the lift by diminishing the effect of elastic energy coming from the eccentric contraction. A complete stop of 2 seconds on the pins is very important. The initial force exerted through the barbell must be applied explosively and with maximal intent to get full advantage of this training method.  

Stephane CazeaultComment