Bench Every Day: The First 7 Days

For me, benching every day means 5 days in a row.

I don’t have access to a gym that I can bench every calendar day, so I’ve had to settle for every working day. I have a job that has 10+ hour shifts on both weekend days, so if I could bench I might have to deliberately deload those days to something ridiculous just to say I benched.

I am not someone who starts something new at a convenient time, however. I decided I would bench every day on a Wednesday night, the first time I’d have an opportunity to bench would be Thursday.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

I was coming hot off the heels of my previous “One Workout” strategy which saw me doing the same exact workout scheme on linear progression across three days per week.

Feeling the itch to continue squatting, I tried out some low bar back squats for the first time. One set of high bar because my low bar felt wrong. Then I got to the benching.

This was the whole workout for Thursday. I like squatting, and I thought maybe once I’ve adapted to full-week benching frequency I’d try to incorporate squatting to that.

Low Bar Squat
  1. 45×5
  2. 45×5
  3. 65×3
  4. 95×3
  5. 95×3
  6. 135×3 (tweaky feeling in my back, test terminated)
High Bar Squat
  • 165×2
Bench Press (first time!)
  1. 45×5
  2. 55×5
  3. 65×5
  4. 95×3 – deliberately left two in the tank.
  5. 105×2 – left one in the tank.

I decided on this first day that leaving one in the tank is like an insurance policy. If I don’t have one in the tank, I don’t have one tomorrow.

Friday, July 27

This looks more like how I expected a “bench focused” workout to look. I probably did too much volume, but for a Friday workout it seemed fine to do that to take advantage of the rest days.

Pendlay Row
  1. 65×5
  2. 75×3
  3. 85×1
  4. 95×1
  5. 110×1

Taking the “strongman” notion of balancing pulling and pushes, this Row test felt prescriptive of what my work set would look like today.

Bench Press
  1. 45×5
  2. 65×5
  3. 75×3
  4. 85×1
  5. 95×1
  6. 110×1
Military Press
  1. 65×6
  2. 55×4

wanted to incline dumbbell press straightaway, but the gym was far too busy. No benches available.

Incline Dumbbell Press
  1. 40×12
  2. 30×15
  3. 25×12

I didn’t intend to do drop sets but I thought doing fewer than 12 reps would mean the weight was too heavy. I just want some upper-pec hypertrophy. I locked out inconsistently– was knocking the dumbbells together too much. I decided not to lock out given the chest focus but also desiring some similarity to benching compared to just doing flys.

Face Pull
  1. 12.5×12
  2. 12.5×12
  3. 12.5×12
  4. 12.5×21

Same idea with keeping the reps high to avoid leaking into my rows, but also because this is a move I want to do incredibly strictly for my shoulder health anyway. If I only do three moves: pendlay row, bench press, face pull.

Having not done them for a while, I just wanted to get a good volume in on them. I think the pump I got on these helped me recover from benching over the weekend.

Monday, July 30

The first workout where I tracked the Reps in Reserve alongside the work sets, rather than relying on memory or reviewing footage later.

Pendlay Row
  1. 65×5
  2. 75×3
  3. 85×1
  4. 95×1
  5. 115×1@3RIR

Again, prescriptive of the bench.

Bench Press
  1. 45×5
  2. 65×3
  3. 75×3
  4. 95×1
  5. 115×1@1RIR

I didn’t record my attempt to learn to Power Clean today, but it was a huge part of screwing up my recovery.

Tuesday, July 31

My back didn’t feel recovered enough for Pendlay Rows, which should have been a sign to me to take it easy on the benching. I tried to make up the volume in other ways.

Lying T-Bar Row
  1. 45×5
  2. 55×4
  3. 70×2
  4. 80×1

Never did these before, seemed like the way to compensate for the supportive discomfort I was feeling.

Lat Pulldown
  1. 35×5
  2. 50×3
  3. 70×0

Didn’t grind the attempt at 70lbs, I was just working up to find a top set because I barely ever use this. My lower back wiggles less here than it would even an assisted pull-up though, so I again thought it would be a good way to spare my spine for the arching I’d need to do.

Bench Press
  1. 45×5
  2. 65×3
  3. 95×2
  4. 120×1@0RIR
  5. 95×5@3RIR

I did the drop set despite the top set failure because I thought I’d miss my Wednesday workout due to a date that ended up getting canceled anyway.

Squat

For future reference, I’ll use “squat” to refer to high bar back squatting. It’s what I’m most comfortable with.

  1. 45×5
  2. 95×3
  3. 135×13

Today was the last day of the month, and July was a 20-rep squat challenge I was participating in.

Incline DB Press
  1. 50×5@1RIR
  2. 30×15@3RIR

Again, thinking I’m going to have an additional day of recovery.

Face Pull
  1. 15×20@3RIR
  2. 15×20@1RIR

Felt good, no noticeable issues. Not sure if I want to increase from here or not yet.

Wednesday, August 1 – The First Failure

Review of Confounding Factors
  • still didn’t feel good enough to Pendlay Row today.
  • I didn’t take my Row prescription seriously.
  • I had zero reps in the tank on my last Bench attempt.
  • I did a bunch of unnecessary Squatting. I didn’t feel like I’d get 20 reps at that weight and I didn’t even get close anyway.
  • Incline Pressing too often.
Dual Pulley Row
  1. 25×10
  2. 45×5
  3. 70×4
  4. 85×3@2RIR
  5. 100×3@2RIR
  6. 120×1@1RIR
Bench Press
  1. 65×3
  2. 95×2@4RIR
  3. 105×1@1RIR
  4. 125×0

I don’t think reducing warm-up volume was necessarily wrong here, but I think 105 to 125 was too big of a jump. Throwing in a 110 in there probably should have been what I did.

Assisted Pull Up
  1. 85×5@5RIR
  2. 85×6@4RIR
  3. 85×5@3RIR
  4. 85×5@3RIR
  5. 85×5@2RIR

I don’t know how much I want to be doing this, it was mostly for Power Clean rehab. 3+ minute rests here, kept it calm and focused.

Incline DB Press
  1. 40×12@2RIR
  2. 30×12@1RIR

Again a waste of recovery, I really need to get out of the mindset of “making up” for bench press failure.

Rear Delt Fly Machine
  1. 20×20
  2. 20×20

Cable stations squatted on by yoga thots so I got my delt work done on a machine instead. It felt okay.

Steady State Cardio: Elliptical

Performed for a little over an hour. I forgot to bring my heart rate monitor. I used the built-in on to confirm a <140bpm every five to ten minutes.

Thursday, August 2

Assisted Pull Up
  1. 90×5@4RIR
  2. 90×5@3
  3. 90×5@2
  4. 90×5@1
  5. 90×5@1

Took longer rests after the 2RIR set. Really focused on starting each set with a maximum scapular retraction to help me prepare for benching.

Bench Press
  1. 45×5
  2. 65×5@4
  3. 95×3@3
  4. 95×3@2
  5. 95×3@3
  6. 95×3@4
  7. 95×2@3
  8. 105×3@2
  9. 105×3@1
  10. 100×3@1

Again I was assuming I’d miss a workout. I did leave town after this workout and ate a lot, but this was really just far too much volume without a guarantee of rest. If it were Friday it would probably be better to pile on volume like this.

Dual Pulley Row
  1. 70×5
  2. 55×15
  3. 55×17 – left shoulder made a sick noise, but no pain, rested slightly longer.
  4. 55×21
  5. 55×13 – decided to go for an AMRAP but didn’t rest long enough to prepare for one
Incline DB Press
  1. 30×16

I was just fried at this point, I couldn’t go on without grinding.

Friday, August 3 – Max Purity

Bench Press
  1. 45×5
  2. 65×3
  3. 95×5@3
  4. 95×5@3
  5. 105×3@2
  6. 115×1@2
  7. 125×0

I really should have just stopped at 115lbs. The warmups all felt good. I maybe could have gotten a 120×1@1, basically only improving the reps in reserve rather than performed reps… but I got greedy.

From Thursday, July 26 to Tuesday, July 31, my training max increased by 15lbs.

But I wasn’t thinking about my weekly progress, merely my progress from workout to workout. I was too vengeful about 125×0 that I ended up repeating the mistake.

Things to Keep in Mind for the Week Ahead

  • If you can’t Row it, you can’t Bench it.
    • Pendlay or Dual Pulley are fine, T-Bar is not.
    • You will have more RIR with the rows than the same weight with Bench.
  • Don’t pile a bunch of volume on the day before going for a PR, ya dingus.
  • Reps in Reserve
    • 0 = Stay at this weight.
    • 1 = Beware increasing, watch ramp-ups carefully.
    • 2 = Good to go.
    • 3+ = Stop being a pussy.
  • Alternate Incline Benching with Barbell Press. Probably more press frequency this week, but then try to balance it out.
    • It’s been nearly 2 weeks since my last heavy sets of Press (two 85lbs singles). I’m just going to work up to a triple @2RIR, because those presses were after Squatting, not Benching.
      • Consider 2lbs. jumps. I’m not going to press every day, but 5lbs. jumps every other day was too fast previously.
    • Incline Bench topped out at 50lbs x5 last week:
      • Try a 50×6 set the soonest I can.
      • If it’s easy enough, I’ll try for a 60×5.
      • This will set the weight for the process to building up to 10 reps. 5-10 rep range because of the size of the jumps. I’ll just work on getting 1-2 extra reps each workout.
  • Consider Squatting again soon.
  • Try to incorporate an hour of cardio after lifting. If lifting isn’t happening in the morning, do the cardio then, and allow 4-6 hours of a gap between exercise and training.