Massive Bench Press 16 Week Block Training Cycle

Get your bench press moving in the right direction with this 2 phase program. Lifters spend 8 weeks building muscle, and 8 weeks peaking towards a new one rep max.

WORKOUT SUMMARY
  • Main Goal

Increase Strength

  • Workout Type

Split

  • Training Level

Intermediate

  • Program Duration16 weeks
  • Days Per Week

4

  • Time Per Workout30-45 minutes
  • Equipment Required

Barbell, Bodyweight, Dumbbells

  • Target GenderMale & Female
  • Recommended Supps

Pre-Workout (optional)
Whey Protein
Casein Protein (optional)
Fish Oil
Joint Health Supplement (optional)

Workout Description

This is a 16 week bench press-building training system for late beginner to intermediate lifters. It is comprised of 2 distinctly different, but important blocks:

  • Block 1 - 8 weeks of hypertrophy training. The goal during this time is to get your reps in, build more muscle and work on exercise form. You will also be pushing for progression of weight using sets of 5 reps and greater.
  • Block 2 - The 8 week block is a peaking cycle. You will gradually be transitioning your bench press to lower reps and heavier weight. Volume of assistance work will decrease over time. You will test your bench press max during the last week of this cycle.

It should be noted that this block system is not just for increasing your strength. It is a powerbuilding program, meant to maximize your size and strength.

Make sure to eat properly while using this program. It is not meant to be run while trying to cut fat. I recommend a surplus of 300-500 calories per day above maintenance levels, depending on current muscularity. You also should be eating at least 180 grams of protein per day.

If you are skinny or have yet to put on any appreciable amount of muscle mass, aim for 500 calories above maintenance per day. If you are an intermediate lifter with decent size and strength, or if you tend to put on fat rather easily, eat using a more conservative 300 calories per day above maintenance.

Skullcrushers

Block 1 - 8 weeks of muscle building/rep work

I recommend a 4 day upper/lower split during this block. During these 8 weeks you should be pushing each set for as many reps as possible. Stop a set when you feel like you might fail on the next rep, or if your form starts to deteriorate. Train for safe progress, not idiotic punishment.

Reps listed for each set are guidelines. Add weight when possible. Rep ranges themselves are not magic, but progression is.

Here is a sample schedule:

  • Monday - Lower Body Workout A
  • Tuesday - Upper Body Workout A
  • Thursday - Lower Body Workout B
  • Friday - Upper Body Workout B

Lower Body
Workout A
Exercise Sets Reps
Paused Squats 4 8-10
Stiff Leg Deadlift 4 8-10
Hack Squats 4 8-10
Leg Curls 3 10-15
Leg Press Calf Raise 3 15-20
Ab Wheel Roll Out 3 10-15

Lower Body
Workout B
Exercise Sets Reps
Deadlift 4 5
Leg Press 4 15-20
Front Squat 4 8-10
Reverse Hack Squat 3 8-10
Seated Calf Raise 3 10-15
Plank 3 60 secs

Upper Body
Workout A
Exercise Sets Reps
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 5 8-10
Barbell Rows 5 8-10
Seated Overhead Press 5 8-10
Skullcrushers 3 10-12
EZ Bar Curls 3 10-12

Upper Body
Workout B
Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press 5 8-10
Pull Ups 5 AMAP
Seated Arnold Press 5 8-10
Cable Tricep Extensions 3 10-12
Dumbbell Curls 3 10-12

Incline Bench Press

Block 2 - 8 week strength peaking cycle

You will continue to use the same style of 4 day upper/lower split during this training period. Your second benching workout of the week will be heavier weight and lower reps, while your first benching session of the week will focus on close grip benches.

Switch to the following training schedule. It will allow for an extra day of rest before your heavy session.

  • Monday - Lower Body Workout A
  • Tuesday - Upper Body Workout A
  • Thursday - Lower Body Workout B
  • Saturday - Upper Body Workout B (Heavy bench day)

Assistance work on bench press days will be pulled back slowly according to this chart:

  • Weeks 1-4 of Block 2 - 4 sets per assistance exercise.
  • Weeks 5-6 of Block 2 - 3 sets per assistance exercise.
  • Week 7 of Block 2 - 2 sets per assistance exercise.
  • Week 8 of Block 2 - No assistance work. Test your new bench press max.

Here is the heavy peaking cycle you will be using during Block 2. It is based upon your current one rep max.

  • Week 1 - 75.0% x 5 sets x 5 reps
  • Week 2 - 80.0% x 5 sets x 4 reps
  • Week 3 - 85.0% x 5 sets x 3 reps
  • Week 4 - 90.0% x 4 singles, 85.0% x 4 sets x 3 reps
  • Week 5 - 92.5% x 3 singles, 87.5% x 3 sets x 3 reps
  • Week 6 - 95.0% x 2 singles, 90.0% x 2 sets x 3 reps
  • Week 7 - 97.5% x 2 singles, 92.5% x 2 sets x 2 reps
  • Week 8 - Max check, see below for instructions on how to test your new max.
How to test for a new one rep bench press max

Here is the warm up and testing protocol I recommend:

  • Bar x 10-15 reps
  • 40% x 5-8 reps
  • 55% x 3-5 reps
  • 65% x 2-3 reps
  • 75% x 1 rep
  • 85% x 1 rep
  • 95% x 1 rep

…and now for your max attempts guidelines. Only proceed to the next attempt if the previous was successful. Please note that you can adjust these numbers as needed. You simply want to slowly creep up to test a new max.

  • 102.5% x 1 rep
  • 105.0% x 1 rep
  • 107.5% x 1 rep
  • 110.0% x 1 rep

Use the same training schedule and lower body workouts listed above. Your upper body workouts, or bench days, are as follows.

Remember that the number of sets you are doing for everything other than bench press will be reduced as the weeks pass. During week 8 you will be performing no assistance work. This means your workout A below will become a rest day, and workout B will only involve one rep max test.

Upper Body
Workout A
Exercise Sets Reps
Close Grip Bench Press 4 8-10
Barbell Rows 4 8-10
Seated Overhead Press 4 8-10
Skullcrushers 4 10-12
EZ Bar Curls 4 10-12

Upper Body
Workout B
Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press *See above
Pull Ups 4 AMAP
Seated Arnold Press 4 8-10
Cable Tricep Extensions 4 10-12
Dumbbell Curls 4 10-12