As you may know, I am a  better coach than a lifter.


Yes, I know I am a little self-depreciating when it comes to my own lifting, and Vincent likes to remind me of it as well.
You may also recall that I chronicled my return to the platform in the 44 and Broken series almost 5 years ago.


Murph 44 & Broken, My Quest for a 315 Bench Press
Things didn’t go as I had hoped. You can, and maybe should read it on this site for some valuable insight for older (and younger) lifters.


I decided to wrap up my gear and retire from all aspects of competition with the primary goal of not being broken anymore.
I believe I achieved the goal. I feel much better now than I have in years and I am not in bad “shape” either. I am not strong  by any sense of the word (except mentally), but I am not focused on that.

Rather, my focus has been on being healthy, not having a stroke, and letting all of the injuries I have accrued heal up.
I also had a goal of being able to do things with my son. That was more important to me than anything else. For a while, I could do almost nothing with him. No tossing a ball around, no playing outside, only sitting around the house with ice all over me.

My Quest for a 315 Bench Press 2 Murph
Those days are gone.

The only real injury I have is my knee, and my hip.
The knee is as good as it is going to get, and the hip is getting better, sometimes.
I’ve got an X-ray scheduled for this week to see if it needs to be replaced. My doctor and my PT think it does.
I don’t.
We’ll see.
Even though I have the goal of being healthy, training hasn’t been fun or as productive as I had liked for a long time. Without having a meet or a Strongman show to train for, it lacks direction.

I am not going to do what Dave did and get as ripped as possible when he couldn’t compete anymore.
Sure, it would be great to be shredded, but I have no desire to do that.

So what can I do?

Well, a few months ago, I decided to set a goal and go for it.
I wanted to touch 315 in the shirt and see if my hip didn’t explode.

You see, benching bothered my hip more than anything, except squatting.

I haven’t squatted in months and that is helping the hip a lot.
I was always a feet tucked back bencher and that jacked up my hip so I stopped benching.

About 6 months ago, I decided to start benching again and not caring about the weight on the bar, I was learning to bench with my feet out in front of me. It seemed that any weight over 225 would affect if pretty bad.

I came up with a plan to get to 315 in the shirt, and if it didn’t hurt, I’d re-think the training cycle and adjust the numbers to get to 365 with no pain.

Yes this is a less than impressive number but it was fine for me.

It was a goal.
Something to train for.

I decided to use the shirt as opposed to raw because I love geared lifting.


So, here are the details on my Quest for a 315 Bench



I sat down and devised a plan that I felt would get me there.
I would alternate between shirt work and floor presses weekly. The idea was that the week of floor pressing would take the load off my hip and build strength.

My gear was:

jackbench400, My Quest for a 315 Bench Press

I used the 62 Jack for a few reasons, it was big and didn’t give much pop or help, and the looseness would allow me to touch without a ton of effort.

Vincent gave me some great advice many years ago:
Learn to touch a light weight.
He was, and is right. If Vincent gives you advice on the bench, take it. He is better at it that you, or me, or most.

The cycle was set up like this (with 315 being the shirt weight for working sets):



  • Week 1: 4 Board
  • Week 2: Floor Press
  • Week 3: 3 Board
  • Week 4: Floor Press
  • Week 5: 2 Board
  • Week 6: Floor Press
  • Week 7: 1 Board
  • Week 8: Floor Press
  • Week 9: Touch

On the Floor Press weeks, I used various reps schemes between 5-1 and lots of chain, up to 5 per side.
On the shirt weeks, I warmed up raw and put the shirt on at 275 and took it to  the board that was called for that day.

Warmups raw: bar x 5, 95 x 5, 135 x 1, 185 x 1, 225 x 1, add 62 Jack shirt, go to 275 to the board for the day.
Then go to 315 and do work sets ranging from triples to singles depending on the schedule.

I did triceps 3 days a week using various exercises like:


  • Skullcrushers with tons of chain
  • Band pushdowns
  • Safety Bar JM Presses
  • Close Grip Inclines
  • Cable Pushdowns
  • Rolling Tricep Extensions on the floor
  • Occasionally Tate Presses light for high reps, as these shred my elbows.

I also did a lot of pec work such as:


  • Dumbell benches
  • Flyes
  • Small Circle Flyes
  • Pushups/TRX Pushups
  • Dips

Lat work was:


  • Pullups between sets of accessory work for 1-5 reps, lower reps had added weight up to 25 pounds
  • Chain rows
  • Dumbell rows
  • Lots of standing cable rows with various attachments
  • And Reverse Band Bench Rows.

I’ll try to get a video of these up soon. I got this from Coach Candace Puopolo here at TPS (who has taken over my programming). Candace trained with Laura Phelps-Sweatt at the Sweatt Shop before she worked here and came back with tons of awesome exercise variations.

The Reverse Band Bench Row is effing hard and miserable.
You basically set up a bar with reverse bands and no weight and set up as if you were going to bench.
You don’t bench though.
You ROW the weight down and meet the bar hard each rep and NEVER collapse.
I did these for sets of 20 today and felt like I was going to die.


So, how did my Quest for a 315 Bench go?

Well, today was the final day of the 9 week bench cycle.
I went through my warm up sets and felt good.


My Quest for a 315 Bench Press  Murph


The hip felt ok. I was concerned with this as the high boards do not seem to bother the hip and you don’t really have to drive too much, but the lower the boards get, the more you have to fire the hips.

First set at 315, FAIL.

I was a huge pussy and didn’t touch.
I missed by about a ½ inch. I was anticipating pain in my hip and pressed before I touched.

After a little counsel from Russ Smith, I took it again.
This time, I brought it down fast but under solid control, paused, waited for a press command and it flew up like 95 pounds.

Just to be sure, I did another set.
Same result.
Flew up.
I did my board work, and accessory work and called it a day.


My Quest for a 315 bench was a success.



Now, Candace and I will go back to the drawing board and work to a 365 touch with no pain.

I anticipate that the next block will be similar as the alternating weeks of floor presses and benching seems to be the trick to keeping my hip happy.

I’ve never benched over 500 in a meet. 490 was my best. I have a case of high ass when the weight got over 500 and always got red lighted for it coming up. It was usually only about ¼” but up is up.

I was always gassed by my third attempt at a meet too.
Who knows where this is going but maybe I’ll bench over 500 in the near future.

The 315 felt light and easy and fast. I am not concerned with smashing PR’s in the gym now, but making sure my ass stays down and making the weight move fast and under control.
Since I have no plans of competing ever again, I can take my time and own the weight every time.

This gives me a goal to train for and I like it.
I’ll keep you updated if you’re interested on my progress.


Oh and what's the point here?


  • Never give up.
  • Set goals, even small ones.
  • Stay in the game.
  • Never give up, ever.

Thanks for reading!

Two reminders:

1. We have a few spots left for the Sheiko System Explained; Approved by Boris Sheiko and approved for 8 ISSA CEUs this weekend. Google my site and go to the seminars page for info.
2. Go to my Contest page and sign up for the Malden’s Strongest Strongman show July 29th with 100% of the profit going to charity.

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Vincere vel mori