Cody is a member of Union Fitness who came to us from a powerlifting gym across town. Interestingly enough, he used to train with Dave Kirschen before moving to Pittsburgh. I have a ton of respect for Dave, although I don't know if I'd ever say that to his face. When Cody approached me for training, after his first year or so at UF, I was foaming at the mouth because...

RELATED: Union Fitness: Pittsburgh's Community Gym

  • He wanted a Westside/Conjugate training approach.
  • He had a bad experience with his previous gym, and I wanted to be the trusted coach and advisor that he was looking for.
  • He had a lot of experience and plenty of potential. I prefer working with experienced lifters because it's easier for me in terms of communication, and sometimes they’re a tougher puzzle to crack. Not that I mind working with beginners, but I'd prefer they use resources like elitefts to learn from on their own before getting a coach because it's the trendy thing to do in powerlifting.

Cody's best bench was 424 going into this cycle, and at the Iron City Open last week, he hit a solid 434 (and even went on to pull 650 for a 10-pound PR). Without further ado, what you'll see here is the weekly max effort breakdown, the dynamic effort breakdown, and finally, at the bottom, all of the assistance work we used. I'll also leave my notes between each section. Enjoy!

casey williams 10 lbs bench ME upper


  • We rotated floor press, incline, and pause bench.
  • After getting a baseline in the first three weeks of max effort triples, we pushed the accommodating resistance up while moving to doubles and then singles.
  • At six weeks out, we moved away from variations and stuck with pause bench, eventually removing accommodating resistance (specificity). I wanted him to go balls to the wall Week 6 knowing he was traveling the next week. Coming back for Week 4 I wanted him to hit a heavy single, but not a grinder. 405 moved really well, and 420 was good but slower, so that was the number for that day. For Weeks 4, 3, and 2, the main assistance movement was heavy board press, up to about 445 (what I had projected his max to be based off of training numbers).
  • Keep in mind Cody is an experienced lifter, so he had the latitude on max effort days to push the intensity as he saw fit. He did a great job of managing that workload and keeping it within his ability level on any given training day. This is where feedback is invaluable — I need to know not only what it looked like, but how it felt and what was going on in his head during each session. Lifters tend to approach training sessions with expectations, which is what gets them into trouble, and Cody and I were able to work together to manage those expectations.

casey williams 10 lbs bench DE upper


  • This is a fairly standard dynamic effort cycle, but it took us some feeling out in the first six weeks. It wasn't optimal. In a perfect world, I'd like to see consistently adding 10 pounds each week or more volume, but it worked.
  • For our next training cycle, I'll have a better starting point for him and be able to manipulate this a little better.
  • Lesson: As long as you're moving the weight with some speed, it's hard to totally fuck it up.

And then the whole kitchen sink...

15 Weeks Out

casey williams 10 lbs bench 15 weeks out

14 Weeks Out

casey williams 10 lbs bench 14 weeks out

13 Weeks Out

casey williams 10 lbs bench 13 weeks out

12 Weeks Out

casey williams 10 lbs bench 12 weeks out

11 Weeks Out

casey williams 10 lbs bench 11 weeks out

10 Weeks Out

casey williams 10 lbs bench 10 weeks out

9 Weeks Out

casey williams 10 lbs bench 9 weeks out

8 Weeks Out

casey williams 10 lbs bench 8 weeks out

7 Weeks Out

casey williams 10 lbs bench 7 weeks out

6 Weeks Out

casey williams 10 lbs bench 6 weeks out

5 Weeks Out: Deload/Travel

4 Weeks Out

casey williams 10 lbs bench 4 weeks out

3 Weeks Out

casey williams 10 lbs bench 3 weeks out

2 Weeks Out

casey williams 10 lbs bench 2 weeks out

Meet Week

casey williams 10 lbs bench meet week