The Westside Barbell Bench Press Program!


The Westside Barbell training program is one of the best ways to train for a huge bench press. Louie Simmons has trained countless 600+ pound raw bench pressers using Westside Barbell training principles.

If you want to build a world class bench press then this article is for you!

Introduction

  • Part 1: The Dynamic Effort Bench Press
  • Part 2: The Max Effort Bench Press
  • Part 3: Bench Press Accessory Work
  • Part 4: Build A Huge Raw Bench Press
  • Part 5: A Sample 16-week Training Cycle

In this comprehensive guide I will teach you everything you need to know about building a world-class bench press using the Westside Barbell training program. 

The Westside Barbell training program was invented by the powerlifter Louie Simmons in the 1980s. Louie is one of the best powerlifting coaches in the world and an incredible athlete in his own right.

Here is a great video of Louie Simmons bench pressing 600 pounds at 52 years old:

Talk about an incredible lift! I don’t know about you but I don’t know too many men in their 50’s who can pull that off. 

The Westside Barbell training program uses a system called “conjugate periodization.” Louie Simmons wants you to train to get bigger, stronger and faster all at the same time.

With the Westside Barbell training program there is no “powerlifting offseason” or phase where you do higher-rep hypertrophy work. Louie wants you training at 100% capacity year-round.

In order to do this he has you perform 2 completely different bench press workouts each week. Check it out:

The Westside Barbell Training Split

  • Sunday: Dynamic effort bench press
  • Wednesday: Max effort bench press

Louie has you perform a “dynamic effort” bench press workout early in the week and a “max effort” bench press later in the week.

There are actually 3 different training methods that Louie Simmons uses in his Westside Barbell training program:

The 3 Westside Barbell Training Methods

  • The max effort method
  • The dynamic effort method
  • The repetition effort method

Every bench press workout starts with the max effort or dynamic effort method.

For the max effort bench press workouts you are going to work up to a 1-rep max on some type of “special exercise” for the bench press. This is an exercise that is slightly different from the regular raw bench press.

Some great choices include floor presses, incline presses or bench presses with chains or bands.

After your max effort bench press exercise you will perform some accessory work for the key bench press muscles like the triceps, upper back and shoulders. For example:

Max Effort Bench Press Workout Template

  • Max effort bench press
  • Triceps accessory exercise(s)
  • Upper back accessory exercise(s)
  • Shoulder accessory exercise(s)

For the accessory exercises you are going to perform multiple sets of 5-20 reps. Louie Simmons calls this the “repetition effort method” and he uses it to build muscle mass and strengthen weak muscle groups.

The dynamic effort bench press workouts look and feel completely different from the max effort workouts.

Louie Simmons uses the dynamic effort method to build explosive strength and improve your technique.

Louie Simmons wants you to perform 8-10 sets of 3 reps on the bench press with about 50-60% of your 1-rep max. Your job is to lift the weight as explosively as possible on every rep.

Even though you are lifting a relatively light weight you can produce maximum force by accelerating the weight as hard as possible on every rep.

After the dynamic effort bench press you perform some bodybuilding style exercises for your triceps, upper back and shoulders using the repetition effort method. Check it out:

Dynamic Effort Bench Press Template

  • Dynamic effort bench press
  • Triceps accessory exercise(s)
  • Upper back accessory exercise(s)
  • Shoulder accessory exercise(s)

Louie Simmons constantly changes the accessory exercises to attack your weak points. As soon as an exercise stops working he finds a new exercise to attack and strengthen your weak muscle groups.

I must warn you: the Westside Barbell bench press program is very demanding. It is hard on your body but it is also hard on your mind.

Louie Simmons uses many unique training methods like bands, chains, partial range of motion exercises and extremely high rep sets to failure to help you build a world class bench.

You must have an open mind before you attempt this program. There is no other way.

Here is Louie Simmons driving this point home in his usual blunt style:

“The hardest thing for a human being to do is to change. You have to be willing to change. Dinosaurs didn’t change and they are gone. If the athlete doesn’t change or adjust he is gone.”

If you have an open mind and you want to build a world-class bench press then keep reading! That bench press PR is right around the corner…

Part 1: The Dynamic Effort Bench Press

The Westside Barbell powerlifting team performs a dynamic effort bench press workout every Sunday. You can perform this workout any day of the week as long as it is 3 days before your max effort bench press workout. 

The dynamic effort method is all about lifting submaximal weights as explosively as possible.

Research shows that you can produce maximum force on the bench press as long as you are accelerating the weight as fast as possible on every rep.

Here is a great video of the Westside Barbell crew performing the dynamic effort bench press:

As you can see the powerlifters are moving the barbell extremely fast on every rep. This is the key!

Louie Simmons has his athletes perform up to 10 sets of 3 reps on the bench press with 1 minute rest between sets. This is the protocol that Louie Simmons found to work best after many years of trial and error.

Louie wants you to perform 3 reps because this mimics the amount of time it takes to perform 1 heavy single on the bench press. 

In the video the powerlifters are bench pressing with bands and chains on the bar.

Louie Simmons likes to use these tools during the dynamic effort bench press workouts because they teach you to lift explosively. The bands and chains make the exercise lighter in the bottom position and heavier in the top position.

You have to explode the weight all the way to lockout or the bands and chains will pull the bar back down to your chest.

They also make it easier to explode the weight to lockout without worrying about hyperextending your elbows or having the bar fly out of your hands.

Louie Simmons uses bands, chains and regular “straight weight” in his dynamic effort bench press workouts. However, he always changes his training percentages using a 3-week pendulum wave.

For example here is what a 3-week dynamic effort bench press wave might look like using straight weight:

  • Week 1: 10 sets of 3 reps @ 60% of your 1-rep max
  • Week 2: 10 sets of 3 reps @ 65% of your 1-rep max
  • Week 3: 10 sets of 3 reps @ 70% of your 1-rep max

Here is what a 3-week wave might look like using chains:

  • Week 1: 10 sets of 3 reps @ 55% of your 1-rep max
  • Week 2: 10 sets of 3 reps @ 60% of your 1-rep max
  • Week 3: 10 sets of 3 reps @ 65% of your 1-rep max

And here is what a 3-week wave might look like using bands:

  • Week 1: 10 sets of 3 reps @ 50% of your 1-rep max
  • Week 2: 10 sets of 3 reps @ 55% of your 1-rep max
  • Week 3: 10 sets of 3 reps @ 60% of your 1-rep max

The 3-week wave helps to prevent training plateaus because your body is always adapting to a slightly different training stimulus. It’s just like Louie Simmons always says:

“Just when your body has all the answers, you have to change the questions.”

Here is one more video of the dynamic effort bench press for good measure:

“Drive! Drive! Drive!”

Louie Simmons changes the training percentages for the dynamic effort bench press using a 3-week pendulum wave. However, he also likes to change the type of accommodating resistance every 3 weeks.

Here is how Louie Simmons might vary the type of resistance used on the dynamic effort bench press for an advanced powerlifter:

Dynamic effort bench press training schedule

  • Weeks 1-3: Bands
  • Weeks 4-6: Chains
  • Weeks 7-9: Bands and chains
  • Weeks 10-12: Bands
  • Weeks 13-15: Chains
  • Weeks 16-18: Bands and chains

As you can see the type of accommodating resistance is cycled to help prevent accommodation.

If you do not have access to bands and chains you can use regular “straight weight” instead. You will still get excellent results even without these training tools.

After you perform your 8-10 sets of dynamic effort bench presses you will perform accessory exercises for the triceps, upper back and shoulders. For example:

Dynamic Effort Bench Press Template

  • Dynamic effort bench press
  • Triceps accessory exercise(s)
  • Upper back accessory exercise(s)
  • Shoulder accessory exercise(s)

I will cover how to perform the accessory exercises in part 3 of this article. The accessory exercises are very similar for both your dynamic effort bench press day and your max effort bench press day.

But first we have to cover the max effort method.

Part 2: The Max Effort Bench Press

The max effort method is the heart and soul of the Westside Barbell training program.

Every week you are going to work up to a 1-rep max on some type of “special exercise” for the bench press. These special exercises are variations of the bench press. If you maxed out on the bench press every week then you would quickly hit a training plateau.

By changing the max effort exercise every week you can make progress year-round and continuously get stronger.

Many of Louie Simmons’ powerlifters hit PRs on some type of special exercise 52 weeks out of the year!

Here are some of Louie Simmons’ favorite max effort bench press exercises:

Max Effort Bench Press Exercises:

All of these exercises can be performed with a close, medium or wide grip.

It is also possible to use chains, bands, reverse bands or weight releasers with most of these exercises. As you can see you have an almost endless number of exercises to choose from!

Too much choice can be overwhelming so let’s look at some of Louie Simmons’ all-time favorite max effort bench press exercises. Check it out:

Max Effort Exercise #1: The Floor Press With Chains

The floor press is one of the most popular max effort bench press exercises. You lower the weight until your elbows hit the ground and then explode back up as fast as possible.

This exercise uses a shorter range of motion which gives your shoulders a break from full range of motion pressing and overloads the lockout portion of the lift.

The extra chains further overload the lockout part of the lift and add a ton of instability to the exercise.

Max Effort Exercise #2: The Band Bench Press

The band bench press is another Louie Simmons favorite. You just double up a mini band, monster mini-band or light band to the bar and perform the bench press.

Here are some rough estimates for band tension at bottom and top of this exercise:

Mini Bands:

  • 40 pounds at the bottom
  • 85 pounds at the top

Monster Mini Bands: 

  • 60 pounds at the bottom
  • 120 pounds at the top

Light Bands:

  • 100 pounds at the bottom
  • 200 pounds at the top

Which band should you use? The answer is all of them! You can easily set records with all three bands and rotate them in and out of your training program.

Don’t worry too much about how much band tension is on the bar when you are performing your workouts. Just say that you bench pressed “200 pounds plus monster-mini bands” last time so your goal for the next workout is “205-210 pounds plus monster-mini bands.”

As long as the total weight is going up then you are getting stronger!

Max Effort Exercise #3: The Reverse Band Bench Press

The reverse band bench press is kind of a crazy exercise. You are going to anchor a pair of resistance bands against the top of your power rack or squat rack. Then you loop the bands around either side of the barbell. The bands are literally helping you lift the weight up to lockout!

The feel of reverse bands is completely different from regular bands. The weight feels like it is floating in your hands even when the weight is very heavy and moves slow.

The reverse band bench press is also extremely easy on your shoulders.

This exercise is a favorite of Andy Bolton, one of the strongest powerlifters in the world and the first man to deadlift 1,000 pounds.

Max Effort Exercise #4: The Incline Bench Press

The incline bench press is another fantastic max effort exercise.

Louie Simmons often uses this exercise to boost his athletes’ strength off the chest. It works the shoulders harder than a regular flat bench press and is a great addition to your training program.

The powerlifting legend Vincent Dizenzo used to use the incline bench press as one of his core max effort bench press exercises when he trained with conjugate periodization.

All of these max effort exercises work. Just don’t get too caught up on your one favorite exercise. Louie Simmons is constantly changing the max effort exercise to keep his athletes off balance.

You also want to pick exercises that attack your individual weak points.

If you are weak near lockout then board presses, high pin presses and band presses would be a good choice. If you are weak off your chest then paused floor presses, incline presses or low pin presses would be better options.

I recommend you pick a new exercise each week based on your weaknesses and shoot for a small 5-10 pound PR over your old record.

In an ideal world you would keep a journal with all of your old records so you have something to shoot for each week. Louie Simmons has all of his athletes’ PRs memorized but we don’t all have Louie Simmons’ photographic memory!

Part 3: Bench Press Accessory Work

The accessory work is an absolutely critical part of the Westside Barbell bench press program. In fact Louie Simmons says that the accessory work makes up 80% of your overall training volume.

The accessory exercises do several things:

  • They build muscular hypertrophy
  • They strengthen weak points
  • They improve work capacity

If you skip the accessory work or don’t put in enough effort into these exercises then you will pay the price!

Here is how Louie organizes his bench press workouts:

Westside Barbell Bench Press Workout Template

  • DE / ME bench press
  • Triceps accessory exercises
  • Upper back accessory exercises
  • Shoulder accessory exercises

Louie Simmons always starts off his bench press workouts with the max effort or dynamic effort bench press. Of course you already know how to perform them.

After the max effort or dynamic effort bench press you are going to perform accessory exercises for the triceps, shoulders and upper back. Louie Simmons believes the triceps are the single most important muscle group for a big bench press so they are performed first.

After the triceps you train the upper back and shoulders. Let’s take a closer look at the best exercises for each of these muscle groups.

Westside Barbell Triceps Accessory Exercises

Louie Simmons believes the triceps are the single most important muscle group for a big bench press. No, I’m not kidding: Louie believes the triceps are more important than the chest or triceps!

A strong pair of triceps will take the pressure off your pecs and shoulders and will increase your longevity in the sport of powerlifting. They will also help you bench press huge weights with proper technique! 

Here are some of the best Westside Barbell triceps exercises:

Almost all of these exercises can be performed with bands or chains to make them even more effective. 

As you can see Louie Simmons uses a combination of compound and isolation exercises to train the triceps.

If you are using a compound exercise like the 4-board press then you should perform it immediately after your max effort or dynamic effort bench presses for sets of 5-6 reps. If you are using isolation exercises then you can use sets of 8-12 reps or whatever works best for you.

Louie Simmons believes that lying triceps extensions are the most important triceps exercise you can do. He does skull crushers with dumbbells, an ez-curl bar, the bamboo bar, bands, chains, you name it!

Many of Louie Simmons’ top bench pressers will perform 3 different types of lying triceps extensions for 3 sets each in a single workout. Other Westside benchers will superset lying triceps extensions with high-rep cable pushdowns.

Louie Simmons even has some of his athletes perform 100 reps of banded triceps pushdowns on their rest days to further develop the triceps.

Many of the Westside Barbell athletes have improved their bench press by 50+ pounds in 6 months by performing 3 sets of 33 reps of banded tricep pushdowns on their off days. To do this you take a band and loop it over a door in your home and perform banded pushdowns.

The bottom line is Louie Simmons says the triceps are the most important muscle group for a big bench press. After your max effort or dynamic effort bench presses you MUST train the triceps hard!

Westside Upper Back Accessory Exercises

Louie Simmons says that the upper back is the second most important muscle group for a big bench press. Louie has his athletes train the upper back with a variety of exercises at least 2 days per week.

Many Westside Barbell athletes will train the upper back 4 times per week on their upper body days AND on their lower body days! This is a strategy that many top powerlifting coaches like Josh Bryant have used a lot of success.

Here are some of Louie Simmons’ favorite upper back exercises:

  • Lat pulldowns
  • Machine assisted pull ups
  • Cable face pulls
  • Seated cable rows
  • Barbell bent over rows
  • Chest supported rows
  • Machine rows

Most Westside Barbell athletes avoid really heavy barbell rows or t-bar rows in their training.

They are already squatting / deadlifting twice per week on their lower body days. The last thing they want to do is overload their lower back again on their upper body days.

Most Westside Barbell athletes perform 1-2 upper back exercises per upper body workout. This is a very good rule of thumb for your workouts.

Westside Shoulder Accessory Exercises

Louie Simmons says that you should finish your upper body workouts with some type of shoulder isolation exercise.

Here are some of Louie’s favorite shoulder exercises for a big bench press:

  • Plate front raises
  • Dumbbell front raises
  • Dumbbell lateral raises
  • Reverse pec dec
  • Rotator cuff isolation exercises

Louie Simmons usually has his athletes pick one shoulder isolation exercise and perform 3-4 sets of 8-15 reps at the end of their upper body workouts.

These exercises are performed as bodybuilding-style exercises so the amount of weight you lift is not very important. The most important thing is to feel your shoulders contracting against the weight.

Putting It All Together!

So far we’ve covered some of the best Westside Barbell accessory exercises for your triceps, upper back and delts.

Now let’s look at some sample Westside Barbell bench press workouts to see how all of the pieces of the puzzle fit together.

Here is a lower-volume dynamic effort bench press workout that you could try. Check it out:

Low-Volume Westside Barbell DE Bench Press Workout

  • A1: Dynamic effort bench press with chains (3 different grips)**, 9 x 3, 1/0/X/0, 1 minute rest
  • B1: Rolling DB extension, 3 x 8-12, 1/0/X/0, 1 minute rest
  • C1: Lat pulldown (wide / overhand grip), 3 x 8-12, 1/0/X/0, 1 minute rest
  • D1: Front plate raise, 3 x 12-15, 2/0/1/0, 1 minute rest

**Perform 3 sets with a shoulder-width grip, 3 sets with a medium grip and 3 sets with your competition grip

For this workout you perform 9 sets of the dynamic effort bench press followed by 1 accessory exercise for the triceps, lats and delts.

This is a great way to structure a bench press workout if you are new to the Westside Barbell training program. It also works great if you respond well to lower volume workouts.

Now let’s look at a high volume max effort bench press workout. Check it out:

High-Volume Westside Barbell ME Bench Press Workout

  • A1: Band bench press (competition grip), 3 x 1, 1/0/X/0, 3 minutes rest
  • B1: 4-board press (shoulder width grip), 3 x 5, 1/1/X/0, 2 minutes rest
  • C1: Ez-bar skull crushers (to forehead), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • D1: Tate press, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • E1: Overhead rope cable extensions (low pulley), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • F1: Band pushdown, 1 x 50-100, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • G1: Chest supported row, 3 x 10-12, 1/0/X/0, 1 minute rest
  • H1: Barbell bent over row, 3 x 10-12, 1/0/X/0, 1 minute rest
  • I1: Standing DB lateral raise, 3 x 10-12, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest

This is an extreme high-volume bench press workout. Only people with superior recovery ability should perform this many exercises in a single workout!

You are performing the max effort bench press, 1 supplementary bench press exercises, 4 triceps accessory exercises, 2 upper back accessory exercises and 1 shoulder accessory exercise.

Many of Louie Simmons bench press specialists have trained this way.

I am not recommending that you copy this exact workout template. I am just trying to show you the upper limit for the number of exercises that you could perform in a Westside Barbell bench press workout.

Part 4: Build A Huge Raw Bench Press

For many years the Westside Barbell powerlifting team dominated the sport of powerlifting. Louie Simmons and his athletes competed in competitions where you could wear bench press shirts, squat suits and other supportive equipment.

In 2012 the powerlifter Stan Efferding started breaking world records without supportive equipment and “raw powerlifting” exploded in popularity.

You can still use the Westside Barbell program to improve your raw bench press. You just have to be a little smarter with your accessory exercises. 

Here are 3 of Louie Simmons’ favorite strategies for improving the raw bench press:

  • Use the hanging band method
  • Perform high-rep dumbbell presses to failure
  • Perform more direct shoulder work

This is a very important topic so let’s take a closer look at each of these strategies.

Raw Bench Press Strategy #1: Use The Hanging Band Method!

The hanging band method is an advanced training method popularized by Louie Simmons and many other powerlifting coaches.

The basic idea is to hang weights on either side of a barbell using resistance bands. For example:

This is Louie Simmons demonstrating the hanging band bench press.

As you can see the hanging weights are flying all over the place as he performs the bench press! This creates a chaotic environment where your pressing muscles and rotator cuff musculature has to work MUCH harder than normal to stabilize the weight.

Many powerlifters find that the hanging band method dramatically increases their strength off their chest because their shoulders are so much more stable.

Louie Simmons says that he bench pressed 300 pounds 1 month after having shoulder replacement surgery using the hanging band method! This is crazy because his doctor said he wouldn’t be able to bench press for 6 months!

There are two specialty bars that you can use for this exercise:

  • The bamboo bar
  • The earthquake bar

Both of these bars are AWESOME for improving your raw bench press. I recommend you perform 2-3 sets of 10-30 reps as a core supplementary exercise.

If you do not have access to these bars then you can perform the hanging band bench press using a regular 45 pound barbell.

Don’t worry, you will still get awesome results even if you cannot use these 2 bars.

Raw Bench Press Strategy #2: Perform High-Rep Dumbbell Presses To Failure!

This is one of the best strategies for improving your raw bench press with the Westside Barbell training program.

Louie Simmons figured out many years ago that you can improve your raw bench press strength by performing high-rep sets of dumbbell presses to failure.

Louie has 2 ways he uses them:

  • To replace the max effort exercise every 3-4 weeks
  • As a core supplementary bench press exercise

The first option is to perform high-rep dumbbell presses instead of your max effort bench press exercise once every 3-4 weeks.

Louie Simmons likes to use this as a deloading strategy. You would pick a pair of moderately heavy dumbbells and perform 3 sets to failure with 2-3 minutes rest in between sets.

For example an intermediate level powerlifter might train to failure with the 100 pound dumbbells and get 24 reps on the first set, 20 reps on the second set and 16 reps on the third set.

I recommend you shoot for around 20-25 reps on your first set and go from there.

The other option is to use high-rep dumbbell presses as a core supplementary exercise. You could perform 2 sets of high-rep dumbbell presses to failure after your max effort or dynamic effort sets. You can also use this method with different barbell exercises.

Here is the Westside guru Matt Wenning performing a set of 40+ reps to failure on the bench press with bands and chains:

Louie Simmons often has his athletes perform 1 set to failure with a close grip and 1 set to failure with a wide grip.

Just make sure your reps are high! You want to fail between 20-40 reps for these sets.

Louie found through trial and error that this is a great way to improve your raw bench press.

Raw Bench Press Strategy #3: Perform More Direct Shoulder Work!

The last “raw” bench press strategy is to include more direct shoulder work. And yes, that means performing more overhead pressing exercises into your routine.

One option is to perform some type of overhead press as a max effort exercise. This is something that the Westside Barbell crew occasionally does. Check it out:

Another option is to use some type of overhead press as a core supplementary exercise. This is something that Jim Wendler did around 2004-2006 when he was training at the Westside Barbell club.

Jim often worked up to 275 x 3 on the overhead press and had a raw 500 pound bench press because of it.

Another option is to perform overhead presses with the hanging band method. This is a favorite strategy of Julius Maddox, the strongest bench presser in the world. Check it out:

The weights wobble around as you perform the exercise. This forces your body to recruit more muscle fibers as you lift and lower the weight.

If you do not have access to a bamboo bar or an earthquake bar then you can use a regular 45 pound barbell.

The bottom line is there are many different ways to tweak the Westside Barbell training program to work better for raw lifters.

I recommend you experiment with different supplementary bench press exercises like the hanging band bench press, high-rep dumbbell presses to failure and different types of overhead presses.

I am confident that at least one of these strategies will work awesome for you!

Part 5: A Sample 13-Week Training Cycle

Here is a 13-week peaking program that you can use to destroy your old personal record on the bench press.

I wrote this program myself using everything I’ve learned from Louie Simmons and the Westside Barbell training program.

Here are some important details about this program:

  • The max effort exercises are rotated each week
  • Deloads are performed every 3 weeks for the max effort workout
  • The dynamic effort workouts use a 3-week pendulum wave
  • The dynamic effort exercise is changed after 3 workouts
  • The accessory exercises are changed after 3 workouts
  • A deload is performed on week 13 to peak your strength for your testing day

The Westside Barbell training program is all about finding your weak points and strengthening them with specific exercises. I do not know what your weaknesses are so I designed this as a “middle-of-the-road” program that will help you strengthen as many weak points as possible.

I hope this program helps you set a massive PR on the bench press and gets you thinking about how to design more effective strength training programs. Enjoy!

Week #1: Sunday DE Bench Press Workout

  • A1: Dynamic effort bench press against chains**, 9 x 3, 1/0/X/0, 1 minute rest
  • B1: 4-board press against bands (shoulder-width grip), 2 x 5-6, 1/1/X/0, 3 minutes rest
  • C1: Dead stop skull crushers, 3 x 8-12, 2/1/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • D1: Band pushdown, 3 x 20-25, 1/0/1/0, 30 seconds rest
  • E1: Machine row (close / neutral grip), 4 x 8-12, 2/0/1/1, 1 minute rest
  • F1: Reverse pec dec, 3 x 12-15, 2/0/1/1, 1 minute rest

**Performed with 50% of your 1-rep max. Perform 3 sets with a close grip, 3 sets with a medium grip and 3 sets with a wide grip.

Week #1: Wednesday ME Bench Press Workout

  • A1: Reverse band bench press (competition grip), 2-3 x 1**, 1/0/X/0, 3 minutes rest
  • B1: Bamboo bar bench press (competition grip), 2 x 20-25***, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • C1: Decline DB extension, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 1 minute rest
  • D1: Lat pulldown (wide / pronated grip), 3 x 8-12, 1/0/X/0, 1 minute rest
  • E1: Band face pulls, 5 x 8-12, 1/0/1/1, 30 seconds rest

**Perform your 1st set at about 90% of your estimated 1-rep max for that day, then perform your 2nd set near 100% of your estimated 1-rep max for that day. If you are feeling good then go for an even heavier 3rd single but stop after that.

***Perform 2 sets just shy of failure.

Week #2: Sunday DE Bench Press Workout

  • A1: Dynamic effort bench press against chains**, 9 x 3, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: 4-board press against bands (shoulder-width grip), 2 x 5-6, 1/1/X/0, 3 minutes rest
  • C1: Dead stop skull crushers, 3 x 8-12, 2/1/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • D1: Band pushdown, 3 x 20-25, 1/0/1/0, 30 seconds rest
  • E1: Machine row (close / neutral grip), 4 x 8-12, 2/0/1/1, 1 minute rest
  • F1: Reverse pec dec, 3 x 12-15, 2/0/1/1, 1 minute rest

**Performed with 55% of your 1-rep max. Perform 3 sets with a close grip, 3 sets with a medium grip and 3 sets with a wide grip.

Week #2: Wednesday ME Bench Press Workout

  • A1: Floor press with chains (wide grip), 2-3 x 1**, 1/0/X/0, 3 minutes rest
  • B1: Bamboo bar bench press (competition grip), 2 x 20-25***, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • C1: Decline DB extension, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 1 minute rest
  • D1: Lat pulldown (wide / pronated grip), 3 x 8-12, 1/0/X/0, 1 minute rest
  • E1: Band face pulls, 5 x 8-12, 1/0/1/1, 30 seconds rest

**Perform your 1st set at about 90% of your estimated 1-rep max for that day, then perform your 2nd set near 100% of your estimated 1-rep max for that day. If you are feeling good then go for an even heavier 3rd single but stop after that.

Week #3: Sunday DE Bench Press Workout

  • A1: Dynamic effort bench press against chains**, 9 x 3, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: 4-board press against bands (shoulder-width grip), 2 x 5-6, 1/1/X/0, 3 minutes rest
  • C1: Dead stop skull crushers, 3 x 8-12, 2/1/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • D1: Band pushdown, 3 x 20-25, 1/0/1/0, 30 seconds rest
  • E1: Machine row (close / neutral grip), 4 x 8-12, 2/0/1/1, 1 minute rest
  • F1: Reverse pec dec, 3 x 12-15, 2/0/1/1, 1 minute rest

**Performed with 60% of your 1-rep max. Perform 3 sets with a close grip, 3 sets with a medium grip and 3 sets with a wide grip.

Week #3: Wednesday ME Bench Press Workout

  • A1: Flat DB press, 3 x 15-25**, 1/0/X/0, 2 minutes rest
  • B1: Decline DB extension, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 1 minute rest
  • C1: Lat pulldown (wide / pronated grip), 3 x 8-12, 1/0/X/0, 1 minute rest
  • D1: Band face pulls, 5 x 8-12, 1/0/1/1, 30 seconds rest

**Perform 3 sets to failure using the same dumbbells for each set.

Week #4: Sunday DE Bench Press Workout

  • A1: Dynamic effort bench press against bands**, 9 x 3, 1/0/X/0, 1 minute rest
  • B1: Reverse band JM press, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • C1: Rolling DB extension with bands, 8 x 8, 1/0/X/0, 30 seconds rest
  • D1: Lat pulldown (medium / neutral grip), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • E1: Seated cable row (v-handle), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • F1: Front plate raise, 3 x 10-20, 30 seconds rest

**Performed with 40% of your 1-rep max. Perform 3 sets with a close grip, 3 sets with a medium grip and 3 sets with a wide grip.

Week #4: Wednesday ME Bench Press Workout

  • A1: Flat pin press (2 inches above chest), 2-3 x 1**, 1/0/X/0, 3 minutes rest
  • B1: Lying ez-bar extension (lower bar behind head), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • C1: T-bar row, 3 x 12-15, 2/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • D1: 1-arm DB row, 3 x 12-15, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • E1: Bent-over rear delt DB fly, 3 x 12-15, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest

**Perform your 1st set at about 90% of your estimated 1-rep max for that day, then perform your 2nd set near 100% of your estimated 1-rep max for that day. If you are feeling good then go for an even heavier 3rd single but stop after that.

Week #5: Sunday DE Bench Press Workout

  • A1: Dynamic effort bench press against bands**, 9 x 3, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: Reverse band JM press, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • C1: Rolling DB extension with bands, 8 x 8, 1/0/X/0, 30 seconds rest
  • D1: Lat pulldown (medium / neutral grip), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • E1: Seated cable row (v-handle), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • F1: Front plate raise, 3 x 10-20, 30 seconds rest

**Performed with 45% of your 1-rep max. Perform 3 sets with a close grip, 3 sets with a medium grip and 3 sets with a wide grip.

Week #5: Wednesday ME Bench Press Workout

  • A1: Band bench press (competition grip), 2-3 x 1**, 1/0/X/0, 3 minutes rest
  • B1: Lying ez-bar extension (lower bar behind head), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • C1: T-bar row, 3 x 12-15, 2/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • D1: 1-arm DB row, 3 x 12-15, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • E1: Bent-over rear delt DB fly, 3 x 12-15, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest

**Perform your 1st set at about 90% of your estimated 1-rep max for that day, then perform your 2nd set near 100% of your estimated 1-rep max for that day. If you are feeling good then go for an even heavier 3rd single but stop after that.

Week #6: Sunday DE Bench Press Workout

  • A1: Dynamic effort bench press against bands**, 9 x 3, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: Reverse band JM press, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • C1: Rolling DB extension with bands, 8 x 8, 1/0/X/0, 30 seconds rest
  • D1: Lat pulldown (medium / neutral grip), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • E1: Seated cable row (v-handle), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • F1: Front plate raise, 3 x 10-20, 30 seconds rest

**Perform 3 sets to failure using the same dumbbells for each set.

Week #6: Wednesday ME Bench Press Workout

  • A1: 30 degree incline DB press, 3 x 15-25**, 1/0/X/0, 2 minutes rest
  • B1: Lying ez-bar extension (lower bar behind head), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • C1: T-bar row, 3 x 12-15, 2/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • D1: 1-arm DB row, 3 x 12-15, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • E1: Bent-over rear delt DB fly, 3 x 12-15, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest

**Perform your 1st set at about 90% of your estimated 1-rep max for that day, then perform your 2nd set near 100% of your estimated 1-rep max for that day. If you are feeling good then go for an even heavier 3rd single but stop after that.

Week #7: Sunday DE Bench Press Workout

  • A1: Dynamic effort bench press against chains**, 9 x 3, 1/0/X/0, 1 minute rest
  • B1: Seated overhead pin press (shoulder-width grip)***, 2 x 5-6, 1/1/X/1, 2 minutes rest
  • C1: Bamboo bar skull crusher (to chin), 3 x 8-12, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • D1: Overhead rope cable extension (high pulley), 3 x 8-12, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • E1: Straight bar cable pushdown with bands (overhand grip)****, 1 x 50-100
  • F1: Dead stop barbell row, 3 x 8-12, 1/1/X/0, 1 minute rest
  • G1: Seated cable rope face pull, 3 x 8-12, 1/1/X/0, 1 minute rest

**Performed with 50% of your 1-rep max. Perform 3 sets with a close grip, 3 sets with a medium grip and 3 sets with a wide grip.

***start with the bar just above head height. Flare your elbows sideways throughout the entire movement.

****Wrap a band around the back of your neck / upper back and hold it in both hands as you perform the exercise. See the video below for more details.

Week #7: Wednesday ME Bench Press Workout

  • A1: 30 degree incline bench press (wide grip), 2-3 x 1**, 1/0/X/0, 3 minutes rest
  • B1: 30 degree incline bench press (shoulder-width grip), 2 x 20-25***, 1/0/1/0, 2 minutes rest
  • C1: V-bar cable pushdown with bands, 3 x 8-12, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • D1: Machine assisted pull ups (wide / pronated grip), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • E1: One-arm machine row, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/1, 1 minute rest
  • F1: Plate raise, 3 x 12-15, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest

**Perform your 1st set at about 90% of your estimated 1-rep max for that day, then perform your 2nd set near 100% of your estimated 1-rep max for that day. If you are feeling good then go for an even heavier 3rd single but stop after that.

***Perform 2 sets just shy of failure.

Week #8: Sunday DE Bench Press Workout

  • A1: Dynamic effort bench press against chains**, 9 x 3, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: Seated overhead pin press (shoulder-width grip)***, 2 x 5-6, 1/1/X/1, 2 minutes rest
  • C1: Bamboo bar skull crusher (to chin), 3 x 8-12, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • D1: Overhead rope cable extension (high pulley), 3 x 8-12, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • E1: Straight bar cable pushdown with bands (overhand grip)****, 1 x 50-100
  • F1: Dead stop barbell row, 3 x 8-12, 1/1/X/0, 1 minute rest
  • G1: Seated cable rope face pull, 3 x 8-12, 1/1/X/0, 1 minute rest

**Performed with 50% of your 1-rep max. Perform 3 sets with a close grip, 3 sets with a medium grip and 3 sets with a wide grip.

***start with the bar just above head height. Flare your elbows sideways throughout the entire movement.

****Wrap a band around the back of your neck / upper back and hold it in both hands as you perform the exercise. See the video below for more details.

Week #8: Wednesday ME Bench Press Workout

  • A1: 3-board bench press (competition grip), 2-3 x 1**, 1/0/X/0, 3 minutes rest
  • B1: 30 degree incline bench press (shoulder-width grip), 2 x 20-25***, 1/0/1/0, 2 minutes rest
  • C1: V-bar cable pushdown with bands, 3 x 8-12, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • D1: Machine assisted pull ups (wide / pronated grip), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • E1: One-arm machine row, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/1, 1 minute rest
  • F1: Plate raise, 3 x 12-15, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest

**Perform your 1st set at about 90% of your estimated 1-rep max for that day, then perform your 2nd set near 100% of your estimated 1-rep max for that day. If you are feeling good then go for an even heavier 3rd single but stop after that.

***Perform 2 sets just shy of failure.

Week #9: Sunday DE Bench Press Workout

  • A1: Dynamic effort bench press against chains**, 9 x 3, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: Seated overhead pin press (shoulder-width grip)***, 2 x 5-6, 1/1/X/1, 2 minutes rest
  • C1: Bamboo bar skull crusher (to chin), 3 x 8-12, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • D1: Overhead rope cable extension (high pulley), 3 x 8-12, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • E1: Straight bar cable pushdown with bands (overhand grip)****, 1 x 50-100
  • F1: Dead stop barbell row, 3 x 8-12, 1/1/X/0, 1 minute rest
  • G1: Seated cable rope face pull, 3 x 8-12, 1/1/X/0, 1 minute rest

**Performed with 50% of your 1-rep max. Perform 3 sets with a close grip, 3 sets with a medium grip and 3 sets with a wide grip.

***start with the bar just above head height. Flare your elbows sideways throughout the entire movement.

****Wrap a band around the back of your neck / upper back and hold it in both hands as you perform the exercise. See the video below for more details.

Week #9: Wednesday ME Bench Press Workout

  • A1: Flat DB press, 3 x 15-25**, 1/0/X/0, 2 minutes rest
  • B1: V-bar cable pushdown with bands, 3 x 8-12, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • C1: Machine assisted pull ups (wide / pronated grip), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • D1: One-arm machine row, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/1, 1 minute rest
  • E1: Plate raise, 3 x 12-15, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest

**Perform 3 sets to failure using the same dumbbells for each set.

Week #10: Sunday DE Bench Press Workout

  • A1: Dynamic effort bench press against bands**, 9 x 3, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: 3-board press (wide grip), 2 x 5-6, 2/1/X/0, 2 minutes rest
  • C1: Rope cable pushdown with bands, 3 x 8-12, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • D1: 30 degree incline skull crusher (to forehead), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • E1: Chest supported row (wide / overhand grip), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/2, 1 minute rest
  • F1: Cable upright row, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 1 minute rest

**Performed with 40% of your 1-rep max. Perform 3 sets with a close grip, 3 sets with a medium grip and 3 sets with a wide grip.

Week #10: Wednesday ME Bench Press Workout

  • A1: Football bar bench press (medium grip), 2-3 x 1**, 1/0/X/0, 3 minutes rest
  • B1: Machine pec dec, 2 x 20-25***, 2/0/1/0, 2 minutes rest
  • C1: Bamboo bar skull crusher (to nose), 3 x 8-12, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • D1: Barbell bent over row, 3 x 8-12, 1/0/X/0, 1 minute rest

**Perform your 1st set at about 90% of your estimated 1-rep max for that day, then perform your 2nd set near 100% of your estimated 1-rep max for that day. If you are feeling good then go for an even heavier 3rd single but stop after that.

***Perform 2 sets just shy of failure.

Week #11: Sunday DE Bench Press Workout

  • A1: Dynamic effort bench press against bands**, 9 x 3, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: 3-board press (wide grip), 2 x 5-6, 2/1/X/0, 2 minutes rest
  • C1: Rope cable pushdown with bands, 3 x 8-12, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • D1: 30 degree incline skull crusher (to forehead), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • E1: Chest supported row (wide / overhand grip), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/2, 1 minute rest
  • F1: Cable upright row, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 1 minute rest

**Performed with 45% of your 1-rep max. Perform 3 sets with a close grip, 3 sets with a medium grip and 3 sets with a wide grip.

Week #11: Wednesday ME Bench Press Workout

  • A1: Banded pin press (medium grip / 4 inches above chest), 2-3 x 1**, 1/0/X/0, 3 minutes rest
  • B1: Machine pec dec, 2 x 20-25***, 2/0/1/0, 2 minutes rest
  • C1: Bamboo bar skull crusher (to nose), 3 x 8-12, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • D1: Barbell bent over row, 3 x 8-12, 1/0/X/0, 1 minute rest

**Perform your 1st set at about 90% of your estimated 1-rep max for that day, then perform your 2nd set near 100% of your estimated 1-rep max for that day. If you are feeling good then go for an even heavier 3rd single but stop after that.

Week #12: Sunday DE Bench Press Workout

  • A1: Dynamic effort bench press against bands**, 9 x 3, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: 3-board press (wide grip), 2 x 5-6, 2/1/X/0, 2 minutes rest
  • C1: Rope cable pushdown with bands, 3 x 8-12, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • D1: 30 degree incline skull crusher (to forehead), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • E1: Chest supported row (wide / overhand grip), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/2, 1 minute rest
  • F1: Cable upright row, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 1 minute rest

**Performed with 50% of your 1-rep max. Perform 3 sets with a close grip, 3 sets with a medium grip and 3 sets with a wide grip.

Week #12: Wednesday ME Bench Press Workout

  • A1: 30 degree incline DB press, 3 x 15-25**, 1/0/X/0, 2 minutes rest
  • B1: Bamboo bar skull crusher (to nose), 3 x 8-12, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • C1: Barbell bent over row, 3 x 8-12, 1/0/X/0, 1 minute rest

**Perform 3 sets to failure using the same dumbbells for each set.

Week #13: Sunday DE Bench Press Workout

  • A1: Dynamic effort bench press**, 9 x 3, 1/0/X/0, 1 minute rest
  • B1: Band pushdown, 2 x 15-20, 2/0/1/1, 1 minute rest
  • C1: Seated rope cable row, 2 x 12-15, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • D1: 30 degree prone chest supported DB row, 2 x 12-15, 2/0/1/1, 1 minute rest

**Performed with 55% of your 1-rep max. Perform 3 sets with a close grip, 3 sets with a medium grip and 3 sets with a wide grip.

Week #13: Wednesday ME Bench Press Workout

  • A1: Flat DB bench press, 2 x 20**, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • B1: Straight bar cable pushdown, 2 x 20**, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • C1: Lat pulldown (narrow / neutral grip), 2 x 20**, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest
  • D1: Machine row (narrow / neutral grip), 2 x 20**, 1/0/1/0, 1 minute rest

**Performed with 50% of your normal 20-rep max.

Week 13: Saturday’s Bench Press Meet

  • Break your old 1-rep max!

Conclusion

The Westside Barbell training program is one of the best ways to train for a huge bench press. If you want to get as strong as possible on the bench press then I highly recommend you give this program a shot.

Even if you do not train with the Westside Barbell training program there is so much you can learn from Louie Simmons about building a big bench press.

The thing I admire most about Louie Simmons is his willingness to change. He revolutionized the world of powerlifting with tools like bands and chains.

Louie Simmons continues to run experiments in his gym to see what works and what doesn’t. If you want to build a massive bench press then you must also be willing to change over time.

It’s just like Dave Tate once said: the program that helped you bench press 300 pounds won’t help you bench press 400 pounds.

You must keep an open mind and continue to evolve or you will never move beyond your mental and physical limits.

Here is one more quote by Louie Simmons to drive this point home even more: 

“Don’t be afraid to fail or look like a fool. These are necessary milestones on your way to the top.”

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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