Stan Efferding is easily one of my favourite coaches in the fitness industry. How many other people have competed at the highest levels in both bodybuilding AND powerlifting? I don’t know about you but I can’t think of anyone besides Stan!
Stan Efferding had an unbelievably strong upper body. He bench pressed over 600 pounds in competition and is famous for throwing around the 200 pound dumbbells like a pair of water bottles on chest day.
Just look at Stan bench press 500 pounds for 7 reps in the following video:
Talk about a huge bench press!
Stan Efferding used a modified version of “The Lilliebridge Method” when he trained for his powerlifting competitions. He trained the bench press once per week on Monday night. Actually Stan only trained twice per week leading up to his powerlifting meets.
Here was Stan’s exact powerlifting training split:
Stan Efferding’s Powerlifting Training Split
- Monday: Bench Press
- Saturday: Squat / Deadlift
Stan had two different bench press workouts that he rotated through. He had a “heavy” day and a “light” day. For example:
Stan’s Bench Press Training Schedule
- Week 1: Heavy Bench Press
- Week 2: Light Bench Press
- Week 3: Heavy Bench Press
- Week 4: Light Bench Press
Stan started his heavy bench press days by working up to 1-3 sets of singles, doubles or triples on the bench press with his competition grip. He followed this up with 1-2 heavy assistance exercises like rack lockouts or dips.
Stan’s “light” bench press day was similar: he picked 2-3 movements and trained as heavy as possible in the 5-10 rep range. Exercises like incline bench presses, incline dumbbell presses and overhead presses were on the menu.
When Stan was training for a big bench press he avoided wimpy exercises like cable crossovers and tricep pushdowns. He considered fluffy isolation exercises to be a waste of time!
OK, now let’s talk about how Stan Efferding peaked for his bench press competitions.
Stan used a 10-12 week training cycle just like Eric Lilliebridge recommends in his Lilliebridge Method training program. Stan started his training cycle with some moderately heavy triples and gradually bumped up the weight from there. Two weeks before his competition he would perform some really heavy singles to prepare his body for the meet.
Here are some sample training percentages that Stan might have used during his powerlifting meet prep cycles:
Stan’s Bench Press Peaking Cycle
- Week 1: 85% x 3
- Week 3: 88% x 3
- Week 5: 91% x 2
- Week 7: 94% x 2
- Week 9: 97% x 1
- Week 11: 100% x 1 (Competition Week!)
**All percentages based on Stan Efferding’s projected 1-rep max in competition.
On weeks 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 Stan skipped the flat bench press and focused on heavy assistance exercises. This actually looks very similar to the programming that Josh Bryant uses with his world-class athletes like Julius Maddox. I guess great minds really do think alike!
Now let’s look at some sample bench press workouts that Stan Efferding used in his prime. Check it out:
Stan Efferding Heavy Bench Press Workout
- A1: Bench press (competition grip), 2 x (1, 3), 1/0/X/0, 240 seconds rest)
- B1: Rack lockouts (4 inch ROM), 2 x 6, 1/1/X/1, 120 seconds rest
- C1: V-bar dips (forward leaning torso), 2 x 8, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
Here is Stan performing a heavy single in training:
I know some of you are probably thinking “there’s no way that’s enough work. Stan must be sneaking in some other exercises into that workout.”
If you think Stan’s workout doesn’t have enough volume then you have NO IDEA how hard Stan is working during these sets! If you are bench pressing nearly 600 pounds in training then you will need all the rest you can get.
Here is Stan explaining his training philosophy for his heavy bench press days:
“Work up to two or three sets of doubles or triples on flat bench then follow that up with a heavy set or two of rack lockouts or dips and go home.”
“Don’t follow up a couple sets of 400 pound bench presses with cable crossovers and don’t do five reps of 500lb rack lockouts for triceps then try to follow that with some cable push downs, it’s a monumental waste of time!!”
I couldn’t have said it any better myself! Now let’s look at one of Stan’s bench press assistance days that he performs every other week. Check it out:
Stan Efferding Light Bench Press Workout
- A1: 30 degree incline bench press (wide grip), 2 x 5, 1/0/X/0, 240 seconds rest
- B1: Flat DB press, 2 x 8-10, 1/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
- C1: Standing barbell overhead press (shoulder-width grip), 2 x 8-10, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
Here is a video of Stan repping out 495 pounds on the incline bench press:
If you are lifting these kinds of weights in training then you don’t need a lot of training volume or a bunch of fu-fu exercises. Here is Stan explaining his training philosophy for his lighter bench press workouts:
“Do one or two Max effort sets of a couple multi-joint mass building exercises and go home”
“What about ‘Speed work?’ What about it? Waste of time!! If I don’t bench heavy on a Monday night then 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’m not going to sit here and tell you that speed work is useless. However, Stan makes some good points.
If you want a big bench press or a strong upper body then you have to bust your ass on the big, compound movements. No amount of isolation work will ever replace exercises like incline bench presses and dips.
Stan Efferding rightfully earned the title of “The World’s Strongest Bodybuilder.” He had an unbelievably strong upper body and a world-class bench press.
If you are looking for a new bench press program to take you to the next level then I highly recommend you give the Stan Efferding bench press program a shot.
It isn’t a magic solution. However, if you are an intermediate to advanced lifter and are ready to bust your ass on the big compound movements then it may be just what you need to hit your next PR.
I will leave you with one final Stan Efferding quote:
“The only reason to lift weights is to stimulate a growth response. Lifting half what you’re capable of isn’t going to stimulate anything!”
Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck on your strength training journey!
The push / pull / legs split is one of the most popular training splits in the world. Many of the world’s biggest and strongest athletes including Ronnie Coleman and Andy Bolton use this...
DC Training is one of the most popular bodybuilding training programs in the world. It was invented by Dante Trudel to help bodybuilders add muscle mass as fast as humanly possible. One of the...