BENCH EVERY DAY?!

Zach Homol

Prior to jumping into this topic, I want to make it VERY CLEAR that I have run hundreds of programs over the past 12 years of training. I am not biased towards a specific program. I’ve always kept an open mind when it came to training and I truly believe that it has played of one the biggest factors in my success in the gym.

Now let’s talk about training a specific body part and or muscle group DAILY, or MOST DAYS. This type of training has been around for YEARS. Most people around the lifting community have heard of the Bulgarian method. The Bulgarian split is very simple to understand but near “impossible” for the normal human being. Traditionally, the program consisted of a few specific lifts that would be performed from two to three times a day, working up to a 1 rep max numerous times a week. Note, this method was based more specifically on the Olympics lifts (Snatch, Clean & jerk). The accessory work was primarily front squats, power snatches, power cleans, and occasionally back squats. The athletes would max out sometimes up to 12 times a week. Training specificity was HIGH while training volume remained LOW.

This sort of training sparked a lot of interest for me. Looking at it from the outside in, I began to pick apart the program to what I believed would be most practical for my sport (powerlifting).  Without much hesitation, I knew immediately that I would not be maxing out 12 times a week. This would take too much time and wouldn’t fit into a “normal schedule”. It also wouldn’t be practical in my opinion. The more time I spent maxing out the less time I would have to work on the muscle groups that were underdeveloped.  Digging in deeper, I knew that training a movement at a maximal weight continually could lead to improper positioning & bad habits. This could get ugly very quick. Training a muscle group that is already more mature, and neglecting the proper accessory work for the under developed muscles, would leave me in bad positioning and put me at a greater risk of injury.  Also, working up to a maximal weight numerous times a week would be extremely draining both emotionally and neurologically. If I were going to do this and have it work for ME, and potentially the general lifting community, I would have to create a program the worked around the negatives and worked for the positives.

 I started to highlight the many positives to this style of training: Maximizing strength- skill, learning how to perform the movement as efficient as possible, getting comfortable under the bar, the mental toughness of having to perform daily, and the confidence leading into competition. Knowing you have performed a movement the past 485 days in training builds extreme confidence going into competition. Then I began to compare lifting to other sports, hell, just life in general. If a basketball player wants to become a better free throw shooter, he’s going to shoot free throws – EVERY DAY. If you want to become a better writer, do you believe you will become better from writing 1 time a week? Or from writing 7 times a week? Then I started to look at the biggest bench press numbers in and around my weight class, which are currently 550-600lbs bench presses between 181-220lbs body weight. I was only benching 315lb on a good day. Then I began looking at the total volume that athlete moved, compared to ME. Well, if he works up to 550 and I work up to 315 then his work load is approximately 42% more than mine. Just on his main movement, though. Let’s not forget his working sets will be in the high 400’s, where mine would have been in the mid 200’s. His accessory work will be approximately 50% more than mine, his sustainably will be greater due to denser muscle from the heavier work load, and his strength skill is obviously better if he’s able to press 550lbs under 200lbs body weight. We can argue that the individual is a gifted bench presser- built for it per say - but is that truly an excuse for us “normal guys” to not strive to that level? For me there is never “problems”, only “solutions”, and here was my solution for this.

If I wanted to become an elite bench presser in a timely fashion, I would have to PRACTICE! I would have to perfect the movement, become comfortable under the bar, expose my weaknesses, and hammer them during my accessory work. This is when BENCHEVERYDAY was born. The past 3 years I have grown my bench from an ugly 315lb press to a 465lb press. I can now bench 315lb for 24 reps, 405lb for 4 reps, and my best 225lb for reps - 50. During this journey the program has evolved. Filtering in methods from Westside Conjugate, Periodization, Tripahsic, and of course Bulgarian. Not every day is a max out day, I still run my normal bench split which consist of one Maximum Effort day in a given rep range and a dynamic day to build speed through accommodated resistance. On the non-programmed bench days, I program my Bench Every Day splits rotating exercises & based percentages off of a 1 rep max. The program runs in 3 week splits, perfecting 2 to 4 movements each split. Where the Bulgarians used just a few exercises I use hundreds of variations more similar to Westside conjugate. Where the Bulgarians would max out up to 12 times a week my split various from 1 to 3 times a week based off feel. The volume is low, not breaking down the muscle like a body builder workout, rather perfecting the movement through low reps. My goal was to gather the best of each program that gave the most results, bring them together to create a way of everyday training that would create faster results, all while keeping myself and my athletes injury free. The program has continued to evolve and breed results for the hundreds and hundreds of people who have and continue to use the program. Do I believe doing a movement everyday can provide results? If programmed correctly, absolutely!

If you liked this article, check out:

How To Improve Your Bench Press Lockout

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