There is no doubt that dynamic effort bench press is a very important component of the conjugate training system. There will be times that your body will need a break because things hurt, you want some more variety, or you just competed in a meet. The six cycles in this article are a great way to add variety, cycle out of traditional dynamic effort bench work, or add some needed mass.

Rep Record

This cycle can be done for one to three weeks. To start, choose a weight where more than 24 reps can be done over three sets. You will want to keep track of your single-set and three-set rep records with that weight. The next time you come back to this cycle you will want to try to beat one or both records. Rest should be five minutes between sets. This is great for specialty bars, deloads, or any other time you need a change of pace. You can choose to use accommodating resistance but normally we do not use any during our post-meet cycles.

6x6, 8x8, 10x10 Cycles

These cycles have been talked about by Louie Simmons in the last few years and we have implemented them with success in a few different ways. We have used them long-term over multiple cycles and short-term over three-week waves. We have even used a one-rep range during each deload week during normal training cycles.

6x6, 8x8, 10x10 — Multiple Cycles

For those who need more mass and want to keep dynamic effort out of the mix longer, this is the starting point. Begin with six sets of six reps. Start light enough to leave some reps in the tank but not so light that on week three you will easily get all the reps. I recommend a jump of 10 to 20 pounds per week. After three weeks increase the reps to eight sets of eight and adjust the weight accordingly. After three weeks move on to 10 sets of 10. After the 10x10 week, you can cycle back to six sets of six reps or move onto something different.

6x6, 8x8, 10x10 — Three-Week Cycle

Just like before, you want to choose carefully. Starting with six sets of six reps on week one, increase the reps to eight sets of eight reps on week two, and then 10 sets of 10 reps on week three. You can cycle back to six sets of six reps on the next week or change to something different. Keep track of your records on those rep ranges and try to break them by five pounds each time you come back to them.


6x6, 8x8, 10x10 — Deloads

Every time you deload you will skip dynamic effort and do rep work instead. The first deload will be six sets of six reps, the second will be eight sets of eight, and the third will be 10 sets of 10. Depending on how frequently you need to deload, this should cover you for 12 or more weeks. For more variety use a special exercise that will build your bench.


This is a cycle we use before we get into our normal dynamic effort training. We do not use accommodating resistance but chains would work well. Specialty bar work is a great tool and I recommend the elitefts American Press Bar. If you don’t have a specialty bar a straight bar will work just fine.

This three-week cycle will take you from 27 total reps to 48 total reps over three weeks. The weight may need to decrease slightly each week. Choose appropriate weights so you are not failing halfway through the cluster.  Each cluster (think rounds) has a specific number of sets. You will start with a close grip and move your grip out after each cluster. Each week will increase the number of clusters or the number of sets in each cluster.

To give you a visual of a cluster, here is one written out:

  • 1x3 reps
  • 15 seconds rest
  • 1x3 reps
  • 15 seconds rest
  • 1x3 reps
  • 60 seconds rest
  • Repeat with next grip

Progression of the weeks:

  • Week 1 — Three clusters, three sets per cluster, and three reps per set (nine total sets, 27 total reps)
  • Week 2 — Four clusters, three sets per cluster, and three reps per set (12 total sets, 36 total reps)
  • Week 3 — Four clusters, four sets per cluster, and three reps per set (16 total sets, 48 total reps)

Clusters are another great option for those of you who need to add some mass to your frame while still working on compensatory acceleration. It is a great mix of dynamic effort training and pump work.

Beat-the-Clock Bench Press

If you want specialty bars or special exercises then this cycle is for you. It can be repeated for one to three weeks, used on deloads, or as a stand-alone cycle. You have quite a bit of freedom in which to work. Choose a weight that is between 50% and 75%. Set your clock for 10 minutes and do as many reps as you can during that time. Set a record and then break it the next time you complete this cycle. You can rest as needed.

Choose an exercise that is hard for you. If you have weak shoulders do steep incline. Weak triceps got you down? Try a close grip with a three-board. This is a great way to push up the work on your builder. Get better at what you suck at and watch your bench improve.

I have laid out six cycles for you here, but with specialty bars, accommodating resistance, and some creativity you have many more options in your arsenal. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try out each cycle to find what works best for you.

WATCH: Table Talk — Using Specialty Bars for Dynamic Effort Work