I recently did a bench press to test my 1RM. Wow, I was impressed how heavy I could lift. It was right in the neighborhood of 350lbs, which is very impressive. The problem is my bench press is not very stable. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great. I’d love to have a press that is stable and strong.
Many lifters are intimidated by the big bench press. They can’t do it, or at least they can’t do it for a few weeks. They watch YouTube videos and read blog articles, but they don’t seem to find anything that works. If you are a bench press newbie, it’s okay. I’m going to share with you some of the basics of bench press technique that I’ve learned through trial and error.
In this blog post we examine three wave loading routines to help you increase your bench press. In the last post we discussed the benefits of using a bench shirt, and some ways to use the bench shirt to your advantage in your training. A wave bench shirt, or a 3 wave bench shirt, is a type of bench shirt that has three separate compartments. Each compartment is designed to stimulate different muscle groups within your bench pressing routine.
Wave loading is one of the best training methods to get a great bench press. A bench press wave is a series of three sets performed with a decreasing number of repetitions. For example, a 7/5/3 wave protocol provides. For example, a bench press with 7 reps in the first set, 5 reps in the second set and 3 reps in the third set. These three sequences are considered as one wave. Most wave workouts use 2-4 waves for bench press or other basic exercises. For example, here’s what a full 7/5/3 wave charging protocol looks like:
- Set 1: Bench press x 7 repetitions
- Sentence #2: Bench press x 5 reps
- Movement No. 3: Bench press x 3 reps
- Movement No. 4: Bench press x 7 repetitions
- Movement No. 5: Bench press x 5 reps
- Movement No. 6: Bench press x 3 reps
The wave load uses the principle of post-tanic exponentiation. This is a decent way of saying that the different sequences of repetitions stimulate your central nervous system and teach it to activate your fast-twitch muscle fibers more efficiently. When you perform the first set of 3 reps, you are teaching your body to make extremely strong muscle contractions. As you do the next set of 7 reps, the weight in your arms gets lighter and your strength increases. Most people find that they are stronger in the second wave than in the first. That’s the power of exposure to waves to activate your central nervous system! In this guide, I’ll teach you the 3 most effective wave loading strategies to build a huge bench press:
- 7/5/3 Axle load
- 5/3/2 Axle load
- 3/2/1 Axle load
For each of these wave loading strategies, I’ll give you the exact training portions you can use, as well as a sample bench press program you can start today. Message: Part 1: 7/5/3 Axle load The 7/5/3 wave charging protocol is one of the most popular wave charging methods ever invented. The basic idea is to perform sets of 7 reps, 5 reps and 3 reps in a wavy pattern. This training protocol is excellent because it allows you to reinforce the same exercise in higher and lower repetition ranges. This is a great way to train for a combination of strength gains and functional hypertrophy. One of the interesting features of the 7/5/3 wave protocol is that you will be stronger in the second wave than in the first. Here are some examples of training percentages: 7/5/3 Percentage of shaft loading during bench press
- Set 1: 7 repetitions at 80% of your maximum strength in 1 repetition
- Set 2: 5 repetitions at 84% of maximum power in 1 repetition
- Set 3: 3 repetitions at 89% of maximum power in 1 repetition
- Set 4: 7 repetitions at 81% of your maximum strength in 1 repetition
- Movement 5: 5 repetitions at 85% of maximum power in 1 repetition
- Movement n° 6 : 3 repetitions at 90% of your maximum power in 1 repetition
As you can see, the percentages increase slightly from one series to the next. Here’s an example of a 7/5/3 wave-loaded bench press workout you can try. Look at this: 7/5/3 Bench press with axle load
- A1: Bench press (Medium Grip), 6 x 7/5/3**, 4/0/X/0, 100 second rest
- A2: Ring pull-ups, 6 x 7/5/3**, 4/0/X/0, 100 second rest
- B1: V-bar squats (forward torso squats), 4 x 6-8, 3/0/2/0, 60 seconds rest
- B2: One-armed rowing machine with DB (elbow out), 4 x 6-8, 2/0/1/2, 60 seconds rest
**Do 6 sets with a 7/5/3 wave load pattern. Here are the training videos: Exercise A1, Exercise A2, Exercise B1, Exercise B2. This workout uses a 7/5/3 wave load pattern in two different exercises: Bench press and pull up on the rings. You actually do supersets of these two exercises with 100 seconds of rest between each set. That means you do 7 reps of bench press, 100 seconds rest, 7 reps of ring pull-ups, 100 seconds rest, 5 reps of bench press, 100 seconds rest, 5 reps of ring pull-ups, and so on. Continue alternating between these two exercises until you have completed all 6 sets of both exercises. These supersets for opposing muscle groups are great for building size and strength. They give you more rest time between sets for the same exercise, increase your strength, muscle endurance and allow you to do more work in less time. Talk about a powerful learning method! I think you’ll be surprised how quickly your strength will improve with this simple wave load 7/5/3 bench press workout. It is suitable for bodybuilders who want to use a routine with fewer reps, as well as powerlifters who need a break from heavy doubles and ankles. Part 2: 5/3/2 Axle load The 5/3/2 wave load is another highly effective way to improve your bench press. The goal is to perform 5 reps in the first set, 3 reps in the second set and 2 reps in the third set. For example: 5/3/2 Bench press protocol with axle load
- Set 1: 5 repetitions at 83% of your maximum strength in 1 repetition
- Set 2: 3 repetitions at 88% of maximum power in 1 repetition
- Movement n°3: 2 repetitions at 90% of your maximum power in 1 repetition
- Movement 4: 5 repetitions at 85% of your maximum strength in 1 repetition
- Movement n°5 : 3 repetitions at 90% of your maximum power in 1 repetition
- Set 2: 2 repetitions at 92% of maximum power in 1 repetition
These are only approximate training percentages. It is important to start just below your maximum of 5, 3 or 2 reps in the first wave, and then increase the weights a bit in the second wave. Again, the 5/3/2 wave loading protocol operates on the principle of post-tanic exponentiation. One set of 2 reps makes all subsequent sets much easier than normal. This is one reason why you can expect your strength to increase, not decrease, in the second wave. Here’s an example of a 5/3/2 bench press workout with variable load that you can try at the gym. Look at this: Bench press training 5/3/2 with axle load
- A1: Chain bench press (broad shoulder grip), 6 x 5/3/2**, 2/1/X/0, rest 180 seconds
- B1: Bench press on 4 planks (wide grip), 2 x 5-6, 1/1/X/0, 120 seconds rest
- C1: Dumbbell Flexion Stretch (forward), 3 x 6-8, 3/0/1/0, 60 seconds rest
- D1: Lateral developments (medium/neutral grip), 3 x 10-12, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
- E1: Banded squat, 3 x 10-12, 2/0/1/2, 60 sec rest
Designed as a 5/3/2 wave charging scheme as described above. Here are the training videos: Exercise A1, Exercise B1, Exercise C1, Exercise D1, Exercise E1. This workout includes exercises for the entire upper body. It is ideal as part of a 3- or 4-day upper and lower body program. Here’s a possible split option you can use for this workout:
- Monday: Upper body
- Wednesday: Lower body
- Friday: Upper body
- Saturday: Lower body
If you don’t have access to a 4-post powerlifting bench press board, you can replace the second exercise with pin presses placed 4 to 6 inches below the attachment. But if you don’t have mini bands to do pull-ups, you need to buy some now! Band pulls are one of the best exercises for developing the rear deltoids. They are also good for improving the overall health of the shoulders. Strength trainer Christian Thibadeau firmly believes in keeping your shoulders healthy. Part 3: 3/2/1 Axle load The 3/2/1 wave loading scheme has a long history in the iron game. It has been used by the world’s strongest athletes, including Olympic weightlifters, powerlifters and strength athletes. If ever there was a wave loading pattern that could improve your bench presses, this is it! Here you can see what a 3/2/1 axle load diagram looks like in practice: Shaft Bench Press #1
- Set 1: 3 repetitions at 82.5% of your maximum strength in 1 repetition
- Set 2: 2 repetitions at 85% of maximum power in 1 repetition
- Set 3: 1 repetition at 87.5% of maximum number of repetitions for 1 repetition
Bench press shaft #2
- Movement 4: 3 repetitions at 85% of your maximum strength in 1 repetition
- Movement n°5: 2 repetitions at 87,5% of your maximum power in 1 repetition
- Step 6: 1 repetition at 90% of maximum in 1 repetition
Bench Press #3
- Exercise n°7 : 3 repetitions at 87,5% of your maximum power in 1 repetition
- Movement n° 8 : 2 repetitions at 90% of your maximum power in 1 repetition
- Step 9: 1 repetition @ 92.5% of your 1 repetition maximum
Bench press shaft #4
- Set 1: 3 repetitions at 90% of your maximum strength in 1 repetition
- Set 2: 2 repetitions at 92.5% of your maximum strength for 1 repetition
- Set 3: 1 repetition @ 95% of your max in 1 repetition
These training percentages are borrowed from weight coach Christian Thibadeau. He’s a real fanatic for the 3/2/1 wave attack! As you can see, you make a total of 4 waves. The first few waves will be relatively easy because you’re lifting submaximal weights. Your job is to accelerate as fast as you can with each repetition and push the bar as hard as you can. This is called compensatory acceleration training, which helps you activate motor units with a higher threshold. In wave 3 and 4, you will lift weights close to your maximum. However, these sets will be lighter than usual and will be performed faster than usual because you’ve already done some strength work in the first two waves. Here’s an example of a 3/2/1 wave bench press workout you can try. Look at this: Bench press Training 3/2/1 with axle load
- A1: Bench press (Medium Grip), 12 x 3/2/1**, 3/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
- A2: Curl (wide/supine grip), 12 x 3/2/1**, 3/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
- B1: Stand up, one-arm extension with rope, 3-4 x 6-8, 3/2/1/0, 60 seconds rest
- B2: 60 degree turn, 3-4 x 6-8, 2/0/X/1, 60 seconds rest
**A 3/2/1 wave loading scheme was used, as described above. Here are the training videos: Exercise A1, Exercise A2, Exercise B1, Exercise B2. This workout uses antagonistic supersets to overload the chest, triceps and biceps. Antagonistic supersets are a great way to train if your goal is to get as strong as possible. Supplement Shaft load logs are one of the fastest ways to overcome plateaus in the bench press. They work on the principle of post-potentiation, which means that they stimulate your nervous system so that you can produce more power and lift heavier weights during your workout. In my experience, the charging protocol with 7/5/3 waves works for almost everyone. This is a great way to get a good mix of size and strength gains. If you are more interested in overall strength gains, the 5/3/2 shank load protocols and the 3/2/1 shank load protocols are for you. They are incredibly good for bench press development and maximum bench press strength. Make sure you use the compensatory acceleration method and perform each repetition as explosively as possible. This is the key to arousing the nervous system with a wave load and teaching the body to activate high-threshold motor units. So, what are you waiting for? Get back to the gym and start doing a wave load for a better bench press! It is the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once this belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen. Thanks for reading and good luck with your strength training! Dr. Mike Jansen. I am the creator and owner of Revolutionary Program Design. I help advanced athletes take their training to the next level and achieve results they didn’t even know they had.
Link to Dorian Yates’ biceps workout! Dorian Yates’ biceps workout! In this comprehensive guide, I’ll show you how to build big, strong arms with Dorian Yates’ biceps workout. Dorian Yates is one of my favorite bodybuilders. He won the Mr. Olympia contest… Link to Charles Polikin’s favorite workouts for mass gain!Why does it seem like you can’t bench more than 200 pounds with a 80 pound bar and still have a decent bench press? Yes, it’s all in the numbers, but is weight really the problem? It’s likely not. The problem is the way you’re loading the bar. The old way of bench pressing the bar is just not efficient. Below is a program I use to increase the efficiency of your bench press by 30%.. Read more about wave loading for hypertrophy and let us know what you think.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the big 3 lifts?
If you are looking to bench greater numbers of weight, then doing extra work on the bench press is a must. The big 3 lifts are the bench press, the squat and the deadlift. The big 3 lifts are the bench press, the squat and the deadlift. For years you’ve heard about squats, deadlifts, and bench presses. If you’re still in the dark, do yourself a favor and hop over to our site. We’ll quickly explain the big 3 lifts and how they work.
How do you do wave loading?
So, you’ve been training for a while, you’re doing good, and you have been working out to improve your strength and build more muscle mass. But are you following the actual science behind your training? If not, you may be wasting your time. In this post I will show you three of my favorite wave loading routines. They are all effective and simple to implement. All the routines listed here are meant for people who are already strong and know how to build their bench press, but still want to continue increasing their bench press poundage without a great deal of stress on the shoulders.
What is wave loading periodization?
You face a big bench press on your next meet, and you’ve decided to use a wave loading approach. It’s a well-known approach that has been used for years, but still a bit of a mystery to most lifters. Although there are many variations, the basic idea is to perform a set and then take a week-long break from training. Sounds simple enough, right? A couple of problems arise when you try this: First, the initial volume often isn’t high enough to stimulate the most muscle fibers. Second, the second set is often performed on the same day as the first, if not the same day. Third, the third set is often performed too close to meet time to get the most out of it. The The wave loading periodization model is a unique way of planning a workout to maximize strength gains. In this model, we have three different types of workouts, each designed to maximize gains in a certain area of the bench press. The three different workouts are based on the same exact movement pattern of the bench press, but with different loading variables. The three workouts are called “wave loading”, but you can think of them also as “1RM”, “2RM”, and “3RM” workouts.
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