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How to improve your Bench Press

By World Bench Press Champion Mike Joseph

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By: Mike Joseph, UK, European and World Bench Press Champion

If you, like many others have been training for many years you will no doubt have experienced the dreaded plateau, that time when your bench press seems to have reached its maximum and no matter what you do you still cant improve on it, this doesn't have to be the case and gains can still be made on a regular basis.
The answer to the above problem lies in the training routine, firstly most be train too heavy, too often and end up either injured, burning their body out or both (it is only recommended that you train to within 80-85 % or your single rep max and only go for a maximum single maybe 3 times per year.

A rigid training program is the ideal way to keep yourself fresh and motivating whilst also preventing you from breaking the above rules trying to inflate your ego by attempting maximum single lifts.

This routine when followed exactly should ensure that you continue to make gains:-

Warning DO NOT USE this routine unless you want a huge chest and a big bench to go with it!!!

Mike Joseph Breaking World RecordI use this routine 9 weeks before a competition and the aim is to reach your current standard by week 5, giving you 3 weeks to make big, steady gains and one weeks rest before the comp.

In order to adjust the table for your own weight you need to look at week 5 set 5 and the weight used here should be your current maximum achievable for 6 reps then work back to week 1 to give you your starting weight. My single rep maximum is 195Kg and as you can see I never do singles or go above about 90% of my single max.

The warm up plus first 3 sets never changes, even if I feel stronger, but from set 4 I begin my main workout, I don't over work myself before reaching my maximum weight in order that I don't exhaust myself to early and keep the reps fairly low until I have reached my peak (set 4) after which time I start to really work my chest with fairly high weight and sets of 10 reps. If at anytime you feel weaker or stronger try and stick with your exact routine as this consistency will pay off over the course of the cycle.

Warm Up Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Set 4 Set 5 Set 6 Set 7
Week 1 Bar * 20 60*10 100 * 8 140 * 6 160*3(x3sets) 140 * 10 130 * 10 110 * 10
Week 2 Bar * 20 60*10 100 * 8 140 * 6 160*3(x3) 145 * 10 130 * 10 110 * 10
Week 3 Bar * 20 60*10 100 * 8 140 * 6 162.5*3(x3) 150 *10 135 * 10 115 * 10
Week 4 Bar * 20 60*10 100 * 8 140 * 6 165*3(x3) 155 * 10 140 * 10 120 * 10
Week 5 Bar * 20 60*10 100 * 8 140 * 6 167.5*3(x3) 160 * 6 145 * 10 125 * 10
Week 6 Bar * 20 60*10 100 * 8 140 * 6 170*3(x3) 160 * 8 145 * 10 125 * 10
Week 7 Bar * 20 60*10 100 * 8 140 * 6 172.5*3(x3) 160 * 10 150 * 10 130 * 10
Week 8 Bar * 20 60*10 100 * 8 140 * 6 175*3 (x3) 165 * 5 150 * 10 130 * 10


Bench Press World ChampionshipsAfter doing the above flat bench I do 3 sets of incline bench at about 70, 75 and 80% of the weight lifted in set 4 above, followed by 3 light sets of flye's.

The second important tip is to make sure that you do plenty of assistance work as a big bench press can only be achieved by having strong front delts and triceps. For these I recommend seated shoulder press (front delts) and close grip pressing (triceps) as being the best assistance exercises to promote strength and power.

Don't forget to make sure that you have a good diet and take plenty of decent supplements to prevent injuries, fatigue and to aid your strength and muscle growth.

Whilst doing this 8 week training cycle I would recommend that you try a good quality protein supplement such as LA Whey which I have found extremely effective and also use a 100% pure creatine, for example Explosive Creatine I am sure you will find the results very beneficial.

If you would like any help and advise or would like me to put together an individually tailored routine please email me: bigmike@bigmike.screaming.net

Good luck

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