Bench Press Frequency: The Ultimate Guide!


How often should you train the bench press? That is a great question!

The world’s strongest powerlifters train the bench press anywhere from once every 2 weeks on the low end to 4 times per week on the high end.

The key is to find the right frequency that works for you!

Introduction

  • Part 1: Bench Pressing Once Per Week
  • Part 2: Bench Pressing Once Every 5 Days
  • Part 3: Bench Pressing Twice Per Week
  • Part 4: High Frequency Bench Press Programs

In this comprehensive guide I will teach you how to build a world-class bench press using high, medium and low-frequency training programs.

Most of the world’s strongest powerlifters train the bench press 1-2 times per week. This is the favorite frequency of James Strickland, Eric Spoto and many other world record holders.

Some powerlifters like Dan Greene and Konstantin Konstantinovs get their best results training the bench press 3-4 times per week! Dan Greene says that higher-frequency programs are ideal for building muscular hypertrophy and perfecting your bench press technique.

Other powerlifters like Julius Maddox and Stan Efferding get better results training the bench press once every 10-14 days! These guys are so strong that they need more time to recover in between their workouts.

Here is Julius Maddox breaking the all-time world record with a 782 pound bench press:

Julius Maddox 782 Pound Bench Press

What an unbelievable lift!

Julius Maddox was training then bench press once every 10 days when he broke the all-time world record. In between his heavy bench press workouts he had an assistance day where he focused on push ups and other upper body assistance exercises.

So why do people get great results with such wildly different training frequencies?

The strength coach Charles Poliquin might have the answer. He says that your best training frequency is mostly determined by your genetics. Check it out:

“Of all the loading parameters, I think training frequency is the one that is most influenced by individual genetic differences.”

This explains why some people get great results with ultra-high frequency programs and others get great results with ultra-low frequency programs.

If you want to build a world-class bench press then you will probably get your best results using one of these 4 bench press training frequencies:

Optimal Bench Press Training Frequency

  • Option #1: Bench Press Once Per Week
  • Option #2: Bench Press Once Every Five Days
  • Option #3: Bench Press Twice Per Week
  • Option #4: Bench Press 3-4 Times Per Week

The first option is to train the bench press once per week.

Some guys like James Strickland like to perform a heavy bench press work every week. Other guys like Stan Efferding like to rotate a bench press workout one week and a heavy assistance day the next week.

For example here is Stan Efferding performing his heavy bench press assistance day:

Stan Efferding’s Bench Press Assistance Workout

The second option is to train the bench press once every 5 days. Once again you can perform a heavy bench press workout every time or you can rotate between a heavy bench workout and a heavy assistance day.

Training the bench once every 5 days sounds weird but it works like magic for Julius Maddox and many other powerlifters.

The third option is to train the bench press twice per week. Many powerlifting teams including the Westside Barbell powerlifting team perform one heavy workout and one speed workout per week.

Eric Spoto also trained this way when he set his 722 pound world-record bench press. Check it out:

Eric Spoto’s World Record 722 Pound Bench Press

Finally you can also use a high-frequency program with 3-4 bench press workouts per week. Many legendary powerlifters like Ed Coan and Konstantin Konstantinovs prefer this approach.

I’m not here to tell you what to do. I’m here to show you how the world’s strongest powerlifters use these different strategies to set world records in the bench press.

Remember, success leaves clues. The programs in this article are a shortcut to a world-class bench press. I recommend you experiment and find the frequency that works best for you.

When you find the right program your bench press will shoot up faster than Doge Coin during a bull market run!

Note: if you have trouble reading the training routines in this article then check out this guide on how to read a training program. Now let’s get down to business…

Part 1: Bench Pressing Once Per Week

Many of the world’s strongest powerlifters train the bench press once per week.

I know there are a lot of “high-frequency gurus” who say that you have to train each exercise at least 2-3 times per week but the truth is many powerlifters get their best results with a low-frequency approach.

 

This the exact strategy that the powerlifter Peter Edgette used when he became the youngest man to bench press 600 pounds raw at 22 years old. Check it out:

Peter Edgette 600 Pound Bench Press

The powerlifting coach Josh Bryant says that low-frequency programs work great for people who have a large percentage of fast-twitch muscle fibers.

These guys make very deep inroads into their recovery ability and need more rest in between their workouts to make optimal progress.

There are two ways to use a once per week bench press training frequency

Two Ways To Bench Press Once Per Week

  • Option #1: Train The Bench Press Each Week
  • Option #2: Train The Bench Press Every Other Week 

Let’s take a closer look at both of these options.

Option #1: Train The Bench Press Each Week

This strategy is very simple: you train the bench press once per week on the same day. All of your assistance work for your chest, shoulders and triceps is also performed on this day.

Josh Bryant sometimes likes to use this option with guys like Peter Edgette who have a large percentage of fast-twitch muscle fibers.

Here is how Josh designs his bench press workouts:

The Josh Bryant Bench Press Workout

  • Phase #1: Perform a heavy set of 1-3 reps on the bench press
  • Phase #2: Perform 3-10 speed sets of 2-4 reps on the bench press
  • Phase #3: Perform 1-2 bench press supplementary exercises
  • Phase #4: Perform 3-5 bench press accessory exercises

Josh likes to break up his bench press workouts into 4 different phases.

First he works up to a heavy set of 1-3 reps on the bench press. Next he performs 3-10 speed sets on the bench press to build explosive strength and practice his technique. Finally Josh performs different supplementary and assistance exercises for the bench press.

This type of high-volume workout works perfectly when you are training your chest, shoulders and triceps once per week.

Here is a Josh Bryant style bench press workout that Jonathon Irizarry performed while training for a 550 pound bench press. Check it out:

Jonathan Irizarry Functional Isometrics Bench Press Workout

Step #1: Heavy Set

  • A1: Bench press (competition grip), 1 set of 2 reps, 120 seconds rest

Step #2: Speed Sets

  • B1: Speed bench press (competition grip), 6 sets of 3 reps, 10 seconds rest
  • B2: 30 degree incline chest supported DB row, 6 sets of 6 reps, 120 seconds rest

Step #3: Supplementary Exercises

  • C1: Bench press with bands (competition grip), 2 sets of 1 reps, 120 seconds rest
  • C2: Bench press full-range functional isometrics (competition grip)**, 2 sets of 5 reps, 120 seconds rest

Step #4: Accessory Exercises

  • D1: V-bar dips (forward leaning torso), 2 sets of 15 reps, 120 seconds rest
  • E1: DB floor fly, 3 sets of 8-12 reps, 60 seconds rest
  • F1: Unilateral cable pushdown (underhand grip), 3 sets of 8-12 reps, 60 seconds rest

**On your last rep perform a 6-8 second overcoming isometric contraction against the top pins.

Here is the training video for this workout:

Talk about a high-volume workout! Jonathan performs 8 separate exercises for his upper body in this workout. This is a ton of volume but this kind of workout can work extremely well when you are only training your bench press muscles once per week.

You may find that you need a deload week once every 3-5 weeks to help you recover when you train this way. Check it out:

How To Deload Like Josh Bryant

  • Week #1: Heavy
  • Week #2: Heavy
  • Week #3: Heavy
  • Week #4: Deload

Deloading once every 4 weeks is a classic strategy for getting stronger on the bench press. Many powerlifting coaches like Louie Simmons and Jim Wendler also perform a deload workout about once every 4 weeks.

There are many different ways to structure a deload workout. You could decrease the number of exercises you perform, the number of sets per exercise or even the amount of weight used on each exercise. Josh Bryant sometimes does all three in the same workout!

Here is one of James Strickland’s typical bench press deload workouts. Check it out:

James Strickland Deload Bench Press Workout

  • Exercise #1: Bench press (competition grip), 3 sets of 3 reps**
  • Exercise #2: V-bar dips (forward leaning torso), 2 sets of 6 reps***
  • Exercise #3: Lat pulldown (wide / overhand grip), 3 sets of 10 reps***
  • Exercise #4: DB floor flys (neutral grip), 3 sets of 10 reps***
  • Exercise #5: Standing rope cable pushdown, 3 sets of 10*** 

**Performed at 65% of your projected 1-rep max

***Performed with 70% of the weights you would use on a regular heavy week

Here is the training video for this workout:

For this workout James performs 3 sets of 3 reps on the bench press with 455 pounds.

James can bench press almost 700 pounds so this was extremely light for him. He also used lighter weights on all of his accessory exercises.

If you are going to perform high-volume bench press  workouts once per week then you may want to perform a deload workout every 3-5 weeks. This deload will help you recover so you can continue making progress week after week.

Option #2: Train The Bench Press Every Other Week 

The world class powerlifter Eric Lilliebridge trains the bench press once per week but he only goes heavy every other week. Eric called his program “The Lilliebridge Method” and many of the world’s strongest powerlifters train this way today.

Here is how Eric Lilliebridge organizes his powerlifting workouts:

The Lilliebridge Method

Week #1: 

  • Wednesday: Heavy Bench Press
  • Saturday: Heavy Squat

Week #2: 

  • Wednesday: Light Press Assistance 
  • Saturday: Heavy Deadlift

Yes, you read that right: Eric only trained twice per week when he set the all-time powerlifting world record!

Eric says that this training split gave him the extra rest he needed to recover between workouts. Many other powerlifters like Stan Efferding have also used The Lilliebridge Method to break powerlifting world records.

Stan says that performing a heavy bench press workout every other week was the key to his success.

He says that light days and speed days are a waste of time. Instead you should train hard, go home and come back once you are recovered. Check it out:  

“It’s about recovery. I didn’t do any “light” days, waste of time. I have no idea what’s suppose to be accomplished by doing a few reps with 60% of your max. What about “Speed work?” What about it? Waste of time!!

With the Lilliebridge Method you have two types of bench press workouts. You have your heavy bench press workout and your bench press assistance workout.

During the heavy bench press workout Eric wants you to work up to a heavy set of 1-5 reps on the bench press and perform some heavy assistance work like board presses, bench press with bands, heavy dumbbell presses and so on.

Here is one of Eric’s typical heavy bench press workouts. Check it out:

Eric Lilliebridge Bench Press Workout

  • Exercise #1: Bench press (competition grip), 1 set of 4 reps
  • Exercise #2: Slingshot bench press (competition grip), 2 sets of 1-2 reps
  • Exercise #3: Bench press (close grip), 2 sets of 7-8 reps

Here is the training video for this workout:

Eric normally performs lots of upper body assistance work after his heavy bench press work – it just wasn’t included in this video.

Eric likes to use a linear periodization program leading up to his meets. He starts his training cycle performing heavy sets of 3-5 reps on the bench press about 10-12 weeks out from his meet. Every week he increases the weight until he is performing heavy singles 1-3 weeks out from his competition.

Many powerlifters like Ed Coan have also gotten great results using old-school linear periodization.

With the Lilliebridge Method you are performing a heavy bench press workout once every 2 weeks. In between these heavy bench press workouts you should perform a bench press assistance workout.

There are 2 different ways you can structure these assistance workouts:

The Lilliebridge Method Bench Press Assistance Day

  • Option #1: Perform an AMRAP set on the bench press with 70% of your 1-rep max
  • Option #2: Train balls-to-the-walls on 2-3 heavy compound accessory exercises

Eric Lilliebridge liked to perform 1 high-rep set to failure on the bench press. He would take 70% of his 1-rep max and rep it out for 10-12 reps. Then he would perform his lighter assistance work.

Stan Efferding used a completely different approach: he picked 2-3 big compound exercises and trained as heavy as possible on them for sets of 5-10 reps.

Here is Stan describing his bench press assistance days:

“If I don’t bench heavy on a Monday night then I sure as hell don’t do some really fast light reps or a bunch of push ups.

I load up the incline press with 500 pounds or grab the 200-pound dumbbells and knock out as many reps as I can or behind the neck press 315 for reps.

I try to take my body somewhere it has not been before so it will adapt and grow when I eat and sleep.”

Both of these options work but I really like the way Stan approaches his assistance days. Here is one of Stan Efferding’s bench press assistance workouts. Check it out:

Stan Efferding Bench Press Accessory Work

  • Exercise #1: 30 degree incline bench press, 1 set of 2 reps
  • Exercise #2: 30 degree incline dumbbell press, 1 set of 7 reps
  • Exercise #3: V-bar dips with chains around neck, 1 set of 10 reps

Here is Stan Efferding’s training video for this workout:

Stan Efferding wasn’t kidding! He picks 3 big assistance exercises and performs 1 all-out set per exercise. For Stan that means 500 pounds on the incline bench press and 200 pound dumbbells on the incline dumbbell press!

It’s easy to see why Stan needed so much rest and recovery between his bench press workouts. Stan is a human forklift!

The bottom line is you can make excellent progress training the bench press once per week. This is the exact strategy that many of the world’s strongest powerlifters like Eric Lilliebridge, Stan Efferding and Andy Bolton use in their training.

There are two ways to train the bench press once per week:

  • Option #1: Train The Bench Press Every Week
  • Option #2: Train The Bench Press Every Other Week

With the first option you just perform a heavy bench press workout once every 7 days. With the second option you perform a heavy bench press workout one week and a heavy bench press assistance workout the next week.

There are many ways to structure your assistance workout – you can perform an AMRAP set on the bench press like Eric Lilliebridge or you can train balls-to-the-walls on 2-3 bench press assistance exercises like Stan Efferding. The choice is up to you.

Part 2: Bench Pressing Once Every 5 Days

Bench pressing… once every 5 days? What kind of sorcery is this!?

Most people would never consider training the bench press once every 5 days. That is a shame because this is an incredible way to train.

In fact Julius Maddox trained the bench press once every 5 days when he was getting ready for his 800 pound bench press world record attempt. Check it out:

Julius Maddox 800 Bench Press

Julius Maddox barely missed this lift but I have no doubt he will break the 800 pound barrier in the near future. Josh Bryant often has his world-class powerlifters train the bench press once every 5 days.

Josh uses this training frequency because the only thing he cares about is results. Check it out:

“I’ve heard people say the idea frequency is X amount of times per week but there’s no way that’s going to be true for everyone. I just do what works for the individual. I’m a whore for results!”

There are two ways to set up a bench press program where you are training once every 5 days. Check it out:

Two Ways To Bench Press Once Every 5 Days

  • Option #1: Train The Bench Press Every Other Workout 
  • Option #2: Train The Bench Press Every Workout

Let’s take a closer look at both of these options.

Option #1: Train The Bench Press Every Other Workout

This is the exact strategy that Julius Maddox used when he was training for his 800 pound bench press attempt. Julius would train his chest, shoulders and triceps once every 5 days.

However, instead of training the bench press every single workout he would alternate between a heavy bench press workout and a bench press assistance workout. Check it out:

The Julius Maddox Bench Press Program

  • Day 1: Heavy Bench Press Workout
  • Day 6: Assistance Day
  • Day 11: Heavy Bench Press Workout
  • Day 16: Assistance Day
  • Day 21: Heavy Bench Press Workout (Delaod!)
  • Day 26: Assistance Day (Deload!)
  • Day 31: Repeat!

This is how Josh Bryant set up Julius Maddox’s training program when he broke the all-time bench press world record with 782 pounds.

Here is Josh describing the evolution of Julius’ bench program:

“We went initially from bench pressing twice per week to now bench pressing once every 10 days. On his second accessory day he does push ups.”

If you are only going to train the bench press workout once every 10 days then you really need to go all-out in your workouts. Otherwise you will never make any progress.

Here is one example of how Julius sets up his workouts. Check it out:

Julius Maddox 727.5 Bench Press Workout

  • Exercise #1: Bench press (competition grip), 1 set of 2 reps
  • Exercise #2: Speed bench press (competition grip), 5 sets of 4 reps
  • Exercise #3: Spoto press (shoulder-width grip), 2 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Exercise #4: Seated cable row (wide / neutral grip), 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #5: Straight arm cable pulldown, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #6: Band pushdown, 3 sets of 20-30 reps

Here is the training video for this workout:

For this workout Julius Maddox bench presses 727 pounds for 2 reps! After that he performs some speed reps on the bench press, some Spoto presses and a few upper body assistance exercises.

Julius is so incredibly strong that he has to be careful with how heavy he trains on his assistance day.

Julius prefers to use JM push ups and other unusual exercises on his upper body assistance day to keep his shoulders healthy. Check it out:

Julius Maddox Bench Press Accessory Workout

  • Exercise #1: JM push ups, 2 sets of 20-50 reps
  • Exercise #2: One-arm landmine press, 4 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Exercise #3: Seated barbell front raises, 1 sets of 5 reps
  • Exercise #4: Jm push ups, 6 sets of 20-50 reps
  • Exercise #5: Reverse pec dec, 2 sets of 10 reps
  • Exercise #6: Cable pushdown (pronated grip), 2 sets of 20 reps
  • Exercise #7: JM push ups, 2 sets of 20-50 reps

Here is the training video for this workout:

Julius says that JM push ups are his #1 bench press assistance exercise. This exercise lets him accumulate more training volume in his chest, shoulders and triceps without burning himself out.

Chad Wesley Smith is another world-class powerlifter who likes to train the bench press about once every 5 days.

Chad likes to alternate between a heavy bench press day where he uses his competition grip and a heavy bench press assistance day where he uses exercises like the close grip bench press, the overhead press and the decline close grip bench press.

Here is Chad’s favorite powerlifting training split:

Chad Wesley Smith’s 9 Day Work Week

  • Day 1: Deadlift Day
  • Day 2: Off 
  • Day 3: Bench Press Day
  • Day 4: Off
  • Day 5: Squat Day
  • Day 6: Upper Back Day
  • Day 7: Off
  • Day 8: Bench Press Assistance Day
  • Day 9: Off

Chad Wesley Smith calls this split his “9 day work week.” The main advantage of this split over a regular 4-day upper / lower split is that you have slightly more rest between your heavy squat, deadlift and bench press workouts.

For some people this extra rest makes all the difference in the world.

Chad Wesley Smith trains much heavier on his bench press assistance day than someone like Julius Maddox. Check it out:

Chad Wesley Smith Bench Press Accessory Day

  • Exercise #1: Bench press (close grip), 2 sets of 8 reps
  • Exercise #2: Seated military press (shoulder-width grip, to top of head), 2 sets of 8 reps
  • Exercise #3: Decline bench press (shoulder-width grip), 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Exercise #4: Seated DB external rotations, 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Exercise #5: DB front raises, 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Exercise #6: DB lateral raises, 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Exercise #7: Flat DB extension, 3 sets of 10-12 reps

**Performed at 61% of his projected 1-rep max

***Performed at 50% of his projected 1-rep max

****Performed at 58% of his projected 1-rep max

For this workout Chad performs some heavy sets in the 8-12 rep range. As he got closer to his powerlifting meet Chad even performed heavy sets in the 1-3 rep range on his bench press assistance day!

If you are going to alternate between a heavy bench press workout and a bench press assistance workout like Julius Maddox or Chad Wesley Smith then it is very important for you to figure out how heavy to train on your assistance day.

Some people can perform heavy pressing movements on this day while others need to stick with lighter isolation exercises for their shoulders and triceps in order to recover. 

Option #2: Train The Bench Press Every Workout

It is also possible to perform a heavy bench press workout every 5 days without rotating through different workouts.

The Canadian strength coach Charles Poliquin was a huge fan of this approach. In fact he trained almost 70% of his athletes with a “once every 5 days” training frequency. Check it out:

“For most individuals a training frequency of once every 5 days works best. I train 70% of my athletes this way with appreciable results.”

Charles believed the best strategy for most individuals was to train hard, rest and come back to the gym once they were stronger. Charles found that his world-class athletes were able to build strength faster if they trained each body part or exercise once every 5 days.

Here was Charles Poliquin’s all-time favorite training split:

The Charles Poliquin Training Split

  • Day 1: Chest / Back
  • Day 2: Legs
  • Day 3: Off
  • Day 4: Arms / Rotator Cuff
  • Day 5: Off
  • Day 6: Repeat!

Charles trained many world-class powerlifters using this exact training split. In fact Charles says that his client Adam Nelson added 140 pounds to his incline bench press in just 6 months training the lift once every 5 days!

Here is a bench press peaking program that Charles wrote for an online magazine many years ago.

Charles says that you should perform each chest / back workout once every 5 days. You should perform the phase 1 routine for workouts 1-6, the phase 2 routine for workouts 7-12 and the phase 3 routine for workouts 13-18.

All in all this program should take you 3 months to complete. Check it out:

Charles Poliquin Phase 1 Bench Press Program

  • A1: Seated DB overhead press, 4 x 6-8, 4/0/1/0, 90 seconds rest
  • A2: Subscapularis pull up, 4 x 6-8, 4/0/1/0, 90 seconds rest
  • B1: Flat DB unrolling fly, 3 x 8-10, 2/1/2/0, 75 seconds rest
  • B2: One-arm elbow out DB row, 3 x 8-10, 2/0/1/2, 75 seconds rest
  • C1: Seated DB external rotation, 3 x 10-12, 3/0/2/0, 60 seconds rest
  • C2: Prone trap 3 raise, 3 x 10-12, 3/0/1/2, 60 seconds rest

Here are the training videos: exercise A1, exercise A2, exercise B1, exercise B2, exercise C1, exercise C2.

Charles Poliquin Phase 2 Bench Press Program

  • A1: 45 degree incline bench press with chains, 6 x (7/7/5/5/3/3), 3/1/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • A2: Sternum chin up, 6 x 5-7, 3/0/X/1, 120 seconds rest
  • B1: Seated cable face pull, 4 x 6-8, 2/0/1/1, 90 seconds rest
  • C1: One-arm cable external rotation (low pulley), 3 x 8-10, 5/0/1/0, 75 seconds rest 
  • C2: DB powell raise, 3 x 8-10, 3/0/3/0, 75 seconds rest

Here are the training videos: exercise A1, exercise A2, exercise B1, exercise C1, exercise C2.

Charles Poliquin Phase 3 Bench Press Program

  • A1: Flat bench press with bands**, 6 x 2-4, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • A2: Chin ups (narrow / neutral grip), 6 x 2-4, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • B1: V-bar dips (forward leaning torso), 6 x 2-4, 3/2/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • B2: One-arm arcing DB row, 6 x 2-4, 3/0/1/2, 120 seconds rest

Here are the training videos: exercise A1, exercise A2, exercise B1, exercise B2

**Use bands every other workout only. Bands are an extreme training method and may result in overtraining if overused.

If you are interested in training the bench press once every 5 days then I highly recommend you read up on Charles Poliquin’s training theories. He made a living out of training each body part once every 5 days!

Here are some great articles to get you started:

The bottom line is training the bench press once every 5 days is an awesome way to train. Many of the world’s strongest bench pressers like Julius Maddox have made a living out of training this way!

You can train the bench press every 5 days or you can alternate a heavy bench press workout with a bench press assistance workout every 5 days. The choice is up to you.

Part 3: Bench Pressing Twice Per Week

Training the bench press twice per week is an extremely popular training strategy.

Many of the strongest powerlifting gyms in the world use this bench press training frequency. In fact this is a favorite strategy of Louie Simmons and the Westside Barbell powerlifting gym.

There are two main ways to train the bench press twice per week: you can have 2 heavy bench press workouts or 1 heavy workout and 1 light workout. Check it out:

The 2 Ways To Bench Press Twice Per Week

  • Option #1: Perform 2 heavy bench press workouts per week
  • Option #2: Perform 1 heavy and 1 light bench press workout per week 

Both of these options work for building a world-class bench press. It all depends on your recovery ability and which option gives you better results.

Remember, optimal training frequency varies a lot from one person to the next and is mostly determined by your genetics. If you want to build a world-class bench press then you have to figure out what works for you!

Now let’s take a closer look at both of these options.

Option #1: Perform 2 Heavy Bench Press Workouts Per Week

Your first option is to have 2 heavy bench press workouts per week. You don’t have any fancy heavy days or light days. You keep things simple and go heavy twice per week.

The world-class powerlifter Jim Wendler calls this the “going heavy” approach. Check it out:

“My own results have verified that Going Heavy is a pretty good way to train if absolute strength is your goal. I have tried other means of training and all have fallen.”

Many of the world’s best powerlifting teams like to go heavy twice per week. This is the exact strategy that the Metal Militia powerlifting team uses.

The Metal Militia team likes to perform one bench press workout to build their strength off the chest and one bench press workout to build their lockout strength.

Here is what their first weekly bench press workout looks like:

Metal Militia Raw Bench Press Workout

  • Exercise #1: Heavy bench press, up to a 3-rep max
  • Exercise #2: Decline bench press, up to a 5-rep max
  • Exercise #3: 4/3/2/1 board press, up to a 3-rep max on each
  • Exercise #4: Incline bench press, up to a 1-5 rep max
  • Exercise #5: Rope triceps extensions, 2 sets of 20-40 reps
  • Exercise #6: Pulldowns, 4 sets of 10 reps
  • Exercise #7: Shrugs, 4 sets of 10 reps

Talk about a high-volume bench press workout! That is an insane amount of training volume but it works like magic for the Metal Militia powerlifting team.

Please keep in mind that these guys are bench press specialists. They keep their squat / deadlift workouts relatively light so they have more energy for their bench press workouts.

Now let’s look at their lockout strength workout. Check it out:

Metal Militia Equipped Bench Press Workout

  • Exercise #1: Close grip bench press, up to a near 3-rep max
  • Exercise #2: 6/5/4 board press, up to a 1-rep max on each
  • Exercise #3: Shirted bench press, 5-10 heavy sets of 1-3 reps
  • Exercise #4: Rack lockouts, up to a 3-rep max 
  • Exercise #5: Tricep pushdowns, 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Exercise #6: Rope cable extensions, sets of 20-40 reps
  • Exercise #7: Pulldowns, 4 sets of 10 reps
  • Exercise #8: Shrugs, 4 sets of 10 reps

Once again this is an insane amount of volume! In fact I can’t think of any other powerlifting team that uses this much training volume in their bench press workouts.

If you want to train the bench press heavy twice per week then a great strategy is to train like the Metal Militia powerlifting team. You have one workout to build your strength off your chest and another to build your lockout strength.

Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program is another good example of a program where you train the bench press heavy twice per week.

Here is what the 5/3/1 training schedule looks like. Check it out:

Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 Training Schedule

  • Day 1: Bench Press
  • Day 2: Squat
  • Day 3: Overhead Press
  • Day 4: Deadlift

Technically you are performing 1 heavy bench press workout and 1 heavy overhead press workout per week. However, you are still performing a heavy pressing workout twice per week so I will cover it here.

Jim says that 5/3/1 is the simplest and most effective training program ever invented. Jim says that all these fancy tools like bands, chains and speed sets are just a distraction.

If you want to get freaky strong then all you need is a simple program focused on lifting heavier weights over time. Check it out:

“You can show me textbooks, studies, graphs, pie charts and attach fancy names to some fancy workout. It won’t change the inevitable. If you want to be stronger than most, you have to lift heavy weights.”

Here is what Jim Wendler’s heavy bench press workouts might look like. Check it out:

Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 Bench Press Workout

  • Exercise #1: Bench press, 3 sets of 1-10 reps
  • Exercise #2: Incline bench press, 3-5 sets of 5-20 reps
  • Exercise #3: One-arm DB rows, 3-5 sets of 5-20 reps

Here is a great video of Jim lifting 370 pounds for 7 reps on the bench press:

Jim Wendler normally likes to keep his 5/3/1 workouts very simple with just 2 accessory exercises. If you wanted to perform more accessory exercises like the Westside Barbell powerlifting team then that is certainly an option as well.

Here is what Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 overhead press day looks like. Check it out:

Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 Overhead press Workout

  • Exercise #1: Overhead press, 3 sets of 1-10 reps
  • Exercise #2: Dips, 3-5 sets of 5-20 reps
  • Exercise #3: Pull ups, 3-5 sets of 5-20 reps

Here is the training video:

Once again Jim performs 3 heavy sets on the overhead press followed by some assistance work for his upper body.

If you like the idea of performing 2 heavy pressing workouts per week then I highly recommend you give Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program a shot. You can read the following article to learn more:

Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 Program: The Ultimate Guide!

Thousands of lifters all over the world have hit some incredible numbers using Jim Wendler’s simple strength training program.

If you are tired of spinning your wheels in the gym then you have to give his program a shot.

Option #2: Perform 1 Heavy And 1 Light Bench Press Workout Per Week 

Another GREAT option for training the bench press twice per week is to perform 1 heavy bench press workout and 1 light bench press workout per week.

I know Stan Efferding thinks light days are a waste of time but the truth is many of the world’s best powerlifters get their best results training this way.

The Westside Barbell powerlifting team trains this way and they seem to be getting pretty good results! Here is how the Westside team organizes their bench press workouts. Check it out:

The Westside Barbell Training Split

  • Sunday: Dynamic Effort Bench Press
  • Wednesday: Max Effort Bench Press

The Westside Barbell powerlifting team performs 2 types of bench press workouts each week. They have a dynamic effort bench press workout where they perform speed sets to build explosive strength and a max effort workout where they build absolute strength.

Louie says that alternating back and forth between these 2 types of workouts prevents your body from adapting to your routine and allows for continuous progress. Check it out:

“You have 2 bench press workouts per week: one dynamic effort workout and one max effort workout. This is the conjugate system.”

Louie Simmons uses a high-frequency bench press program but most of his volume comes from accessory exercises. In fact Louie Simmons says that 80% of your overall training volume should come in the form of accessory exercises.

Here is how Louie likes to organize his dynamic effort and max effort workouts. Check it out:

Westside Barbell Bench Press Workout Template

  • Exercise #1: Max effort OR dynamic effort bench press
  • Exercise #2: Chest accessory exercise
  • Exercise #3: Triceps accessory exercise
  • Exercise #4: Back accessory exercise
  • Exercise #5: Shoulder accessory exercise

You start each workout with the max effort or dynamic effort method. Then you perform accessory lifts for your chest, triceps, back and shoulders.

For the max effort exercise you work up to a 1-rep max for some type of special exercise for the bench press. This can be a floor press, a bench press with bands or any other exercise you can think of.

For the dynamic effort exercise you perform 8-10 speed sets on the bench press for 3 reps. You can use bands, chains or even bands plus chains at the same time to make the exercise more challenging.

Here is a sample Westside Barbell upper body workout. Check it out:

A Typical Max Effort Bench Press Workout

  • Exercise #1: Bench press with bands, 2-3 sets of 1 rep
  • Exercise #2: Flat DB press, 3-4 sets of 8-15 rps
  • Exercise #3: 30 degree incline Tate press, 3-4 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #4: Rope cable pushdowns, 3-4 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #5: Reverse pec dec, 3-4 sets of 8-15 reps

Here is the training video:

For this workout the Westside team maxes out on the bench press with bands. Then they perform various accessory exercises for their chest, triceps and shoulders.

A few days later they have their dynamic effort bench press workout. Here is what it might look like: 

A Typical Dynamic Effort Bench Press Workout

  • Exercise #1: Speed bench with chains, 8-10 sets of 3 reps
  • Exercise #2: Standing military press, 3-4 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #3: Rolling DB extensions, 3-4 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #4: Band pushdowns, 3-4 sets of 8-15 reps

Here is the training video:

The Westside Barbell powerlifting team alternates between a heavy bench press workout and a speed bench press workout each week. This heavy / light strategy is a great way to make long-term progress on the bench press.

Some powerlifters find that they get better results using one heavy bench press workout and one bench press assistance workout each week. The bench press specialist James Strickland is a big fan of this approach.

Here is what James’ heavy bench press workout looks like. Check it out:

James Strickland Heavy Bench Press Day

  • Exercise #1: Bench press (competition grip), 1 set of 2 reps
  • Exercise #2: Speed bench press (competition grip), 5 sets of 3 reps
  • Exercise #3: V-bar dips (forward leaning torso), 2 sets of 5 reps
  • Exercise #4: Prone seal row, 3 sets of 5 reps
  • Exercise #5: DB floor flys (neutral grip), 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Exercise #6: Standing rope cable pushdown, 3 sets of 10 reps 

**Performed at 90% of his projected 1-rep max

***Performed at 73% of his projected 1-rep max

Here is the training video for this workout:

This is a very normal looking heavy bench press day for James Strickland.

First he works up to a heavy set of 1-3 reps on the bench press. Then he performs several speed sets on the bench press to build explosive strength. Finally he finishes up with some different assistance exercises for his chest, triceps and upper back.

Later in the week he has a bench press assistance day where he performs a ton of shoulder and upper back exercises.

He does perform some pressing movements but he keeps them relatively light. Check it out:

James Strickland Accessory Bench Press Day

  • Exercise #1: DB front / side / rear raises, 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Exercise #2: Machine rear delt pec dec, 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Exercise #3: Seated cable row (v-handle), 2 sets of 12 reps
  • Exercise #4: Seated HS overhead press, 2 sets of 10 reps**
  • Exercise #5: Prone seal row, 2 sets of 5 reps
  • Exercise #6: Cobra lat pulldown, 2 sets of 10 reps
  • Exercise #7: Rope cable hammer curl, 2 sets of 12 reps
  • Exercise #8: Bilateral preacher curl machine (supinated grip), 2 sets of 15 reps

**Use 50-65% of normal weight

Here is the training video for this workout:

Talk about a high-volume accessory workout! James Strickland is really walking a fine line between training the bench press once per week vs twice per week here.

The only pressing exercise he uses on this workout is the machine overhead press and he is using about 50-65% of his normal 10-rep max.

The bottom line is training the bench press twice per week is an awesome way to train. One option is to have 2 heavy pressing workouts per week.

Jim Wendler has a great program using this system and the Metal Militia powerlifting team also gets great results using 2 heavy bench press workouts.

Your other option is to have 1 heavy bench press workout and 1 lighter bench press workout each week. The Westside Barbell powerlifting team is the best example of this strategy but there are many others.

Part 4: High Frequency Bench Press Programs

It is possible to train the bench press 3-4 times per week. In fact many of the world’s greatest powerlifters like Dan Greene get their best results training this way.

Here is a great interview with Dan Greene where he talks about his high-frequency training program. Check it out:

Dan Greene Powerlifting Interview

Dan says that he gets his best results with 3 bench press workouts per week. He has one heavy day, one light day and one medium day. Check it out:

Dan Greene Training Split

  • Monday: Bench (Heavy)
  • Wednesday: Bench (Light)
  • Friday: Bench (Medium)

Dan says that he still trains hard on the medium and light days. The only difference is he is using higher rep ranges.

Dan likes to perform sets of 1-5 reps on his heavy day, sets of 6-10 reps on his medium day and sets of 11-15 reps on his light day.

Dan thinks that all three of these rep ranges are beneficial for building muscle mass and strength. Check it out:

“I’ve had training programs where I train the bench press 3 times in a week. One day low reps, one day medium reps and one day high reps. I benefit from all the rep ranges.

If I do sets of 2-5 reps heavier, that’s helpful. But if I do sets of 6-8 reps that’s pretty helpful too. And if I do sets of 10+ reps I get a great pump and that goes a long way in building muscle mass and strength.”

Ed Coan, the greatest powerlifter of all time is also a huge fan of high-frequency bench press programs. Ed trained the bench press 3 times per week throughout his entire powerlifting career!

Here was Ed Coan’s exact training split:

Ed Coan Training Split

  • Day 1: Squat
  • Day 2: Off
  • Day 3: Bench Press
  • Day 4: Overhead Press
  • Day 5: Deadlift
  • Day 6: Bench Press (Light)
  • Day 7: Off

Wednesday was Ed Coan’s primary bench press day. He liked to perform 1-2 heavy sets on the bench press, incline bench press and close grip bench press.

On his overhead press day he liked to perform heavy behind the neck presses followed by assistance work for his shoulders.

Finally on his second bench press day he performed some higher-rep sets followed by assistance exercises for his chest and triceps.

Here is what Ed Coan’s primary bench press day looked like:

Ed Coan’s Bench Press Day

  • Exercise #1: Bench press (competition grip), 2 sets of 1-10 reps
  • Exercise #2: 30 degree incline bench press, 2 sets of 1-10 reps
  • Exercise #3: Bench press (shoulder-width grip), 2 sets of 1-10 reps

Here is Ed Coan bench pressing a massive 550 pounds for 2 reps in the gym:

Why did Ed Coan perform 3 heavy pressing workouts per week?

The truth is some people recover extremely fast from their workouts and get better results using a higher training frequency. You have to experiment and find what works best for you. 

If you want to train the bench press 3-4 times per week then another great option is the Sheiko powerlifting program.

The Sheiko program is named after the Russian powerlifting coach Boris Sheiko. He trains the squat, deadlift and bench press 3-4 times per week using a high-frequency / high-volume training program.

Here is one example of how he organizes his workouts:

Sheiko Bench Press Program Overview

Monday / Friday:

  • Exercise #1: Squat
  • Exercise #2: Bench Press
  • Exercise #3: Squat
  • Exercise #4: Accessory Work

Friday / Saturday:

  • Exercise #1: Bench Press
  • Exercise #2: Deadlift
  • Exercise #3: Bench Press
  • Exercise #4: Accessory Work

Yes, you read that right: Boris Sheiko trains the bench press up to 4 times per day. He sometimes even performs the bench press twice in a single workout!

The key to making progress with this kind of program is using the right training percentages. With Sheiko programming you perform most of your working sets with 65-75% of your 1-rep max. For example you might perform 4 sets of 3 reps @ 70% of your 1-rep max in one of your workouts.

With Sheiko you get stronger because of the high volume and frequency of work. If you want to learn more about Sheiko programming then check out this awesome article by LIft Vault.

The legendary powerlifter Konstantin Konstantinovs also trains the bench press 3-4 times per week using a high-frequency program. Konstantin’s program is almost like a hybrid between Sheiko programs and the Westside Barbell powerlifting program!

Konstantin rotates through 4 different workouts. He says he usually trains 3-4 days per week but it all depends on how he feels. He trains the bench press every single workout along with the rest of his body.

Here is how he organizes his bench press training:

Konstantin Konstantinovs Bench Press Program

Workout A

  • Perform 1 set of 1-10 reps depending on how I feel

Workout B: 

  • Perform 1 heavy set of 3 reps OR 1-2 heavy eccentric-only reps with weight releasers. Then perform 1 back-off set of 8-10 reps.

Workout C: 

  • Perform 1 moderately heavy set of 6-8 reps.

Workout D:

  • Perform 1 heavy set of 3 reps OR 1-2 heavy eccentric-only reps with weight releasers. Then perform 1 back-off set of 8-10 reps.

Here is the training video:

Konstantin almost never performs the bench press first in his workout. Instead he likes to use the bench press as rest in between his heavy sets of squats or deadlifts.

Here is what his heavy deadlift day looks like:

Konstantin Konstantinovs Heavy Deadlift Workout

  • Exercise #1: Light squat, 1 set of 5-10 reps
  • Exercise #2: Block pull, 1 set of 3-10 reps
  • Exercise #3: Bench press, 1 set of 1-10 reps
  • Exercise #4: Deadlift (from floor or deficit), 1-2 sets of 2-8 reps
  • Exercise #5: Box squat with bands, 1 set of 2-3 reps

Finally let’s talk about Charles Poliquin and his high-frequency bench press programs.

Charles Poliquin trains most of his athletes with the following 5-day training split:

The Charles Poliquin Training Split

  • Day 1: Chest / Back
  • Day 2: Legs
  • Day 3: Off
  • Day 4: Arms / Rotator Cuff
  • Day 5: Off
  • Day 6: Repeat!

Most of his Olympic gold medalists including Adam Nelson, Dwight Philips and Helen Maroulis trained using this split.

Charles often had his athletes perform heavy pressing movements on their chest / back day and on their arm day. That means they were performing heavy pressing movements twice every 5 days or about 3 times per week!

If you are looking for a great high-frequency bench press program then I highly recommend you do some more reading on Charles Poliquin’s unique approach to strength training program design.

Conclusion

The best bench press training frequency does not exist!

The truth is there are many different frequencies you can use to build a world-class bench press. Here are the strategies of some of the world’s best bench pressers:

What Is The Best Bench Press Frequency?

  • Stan Efferding: Once every 2 weeks
  • Julius Maddox: Once every 10 days
  • James Strickland: Once per week
  • Adam Nelson: Once every 5 days
  • Louie Simmons: Twice per week
  • Ed Coan: Three times per week

There is no best bench press training frequency. After all, your bench press training frequency is primarily determined by your genetics. The best bench press training frequency is the one that works best for you!

If you are not sure about where to start then I recommend you start by training the bench press anywhere from 1-2 times per week. If you are recording your workouts in a logbook then you will figure out very quickly if you are on the right track.

Here is a great quote by Josh Bryant to drive this point home even more:

“I’ve heard people say the perfect bench press frequency is “X” amount of times per week but there’s no way that’s going to be true for everyone. I just do what works for the individual. I’m a whore for results!”

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck on your strength training journey!

Dr. Mike Jansen, PT, DPT

Thanks for checking out my site! My name is Dr. Mike Jansen and I'm the founder of Revolutionary Program Design. If you want to reach your size and strength goals faster then you've come to the right place. My goal is to make RPD the #1 strength training resource available anywhere in the world. So grab a seat, kick back and relax. There's never been a better time to lift weights or to learn the art and science of strength training program design.

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