PR Rx: Todd Brock’s Bench Routine

TAGS: powerlifting, Elitefts Info Pages, barbell, bench press, training

I have been training with Todd Brock for over 12 years now. I first met Todd during my 2 hour road trips to Westside Barbell. Todd trained with us in the morning crew for many years. After a few years it became harder for Todd to make it to the gym because of a heavy work schedule. Then a few years ago Todd was hit with a job change that put even more demands on his time. Todd could not find a way to squeeze in training while working 12 hour shifts and decided that it was time for him to walk away from the sport. He tried his best but with the long work hours and living 45 minutes from the gym, he could not get it done. This was also about the same time I moved the business from my home to the location we are in now. Part of my relocation involved moving some of the equipment I had in my garage to a sectioned off area of our facility. Because of the demands being made on my time I found the only way I was able to get in my training was to begin doing speed bench sessions early Sunday morning in my facility. This lasted about 4 weeks and then I had to ask Todd (we live in the same neighborhood) to come in a spot for me. At the time Todd had lost about 40 pounds and had no desire to come back into the sport. It did not take long and he began to feel the competitive spirit and decided to enter a bench meet. Before he left the sport Todd had posted a 545 bench press in the 275 pound weight class. His work schedule was still very heavy and the only day he could train was on Sunday morning. Within a year of training he was back to a 550 bench.

About 5 months ago Todd decided he needed to come up with a new plan to achieve his goal of 600 pounds. Because of work he would still only be able to train 1 time per week. This article will detail what Todd did over the past 10 weeks to achieve a 70 pound Pr bench of 620. All the percentages listed are based on his max weight FOR THAT EXERCISE.

Week 1

  • Raw Board Press – 3 board 3x3 at 85%, 5 board 3x3 at 92%
  • Over Head Press – 90% of max for 4 sets of 5
  • Dips – 5 sets 8-10 reps
  • Bent Over Rear Delt Raises – 3 sets 10-12
  • Barbell Rows – 5 sets 6-10 reps

Week 2

  • Raw Board Press – 2 board 3x3 at 80%, 4 board press 3x3 at 87%
  • Over Head Press – 90% of max for 4 sets of 5
  • Dips – 5 sets 8-10 reps
  • Bent Over Rear Delt Raises – 3 sets 10-12
  • Barbell Rows – 5 sets 6-10 reps

Week 3

  • Raw Ultra Wide bench Press – 75% for 3 sets of 5
  • Raw Pin Press at 5 inch lockout – 3 reps with 4 work sets adding weight each set
  • Dips – 5 sets 8-10 reps
  • Bent Over Rear Delt Raises – 3 sets 10-12
  • Barbell Rows – 5 sets 6-10 reps

Week 4

  • Raw Ultra Wide bench Press – 80% for 3 sets of 5
  • Raw Pin Press at 5 inch lockout – 3 reps with 4 work sets adding weight each set

Week 5

  • Speed Bench Press – 43% for 8 sets 3 reps (This was a de-load week)

Week 6

  • Raw Board Press – 3 board 3x3 at 90%, 5 board 3x3 at 97%
  • Bench Work with shirt – 3x3 to chest (work up to what will touch)
  • Over Head Press – 95% of max for 4 sets of 5
  • Dips – 5 sets 8-10 reps
  • Bent Over Rear Delt Raises – 3 sets 10-12
  • Barbell Rows – 5 sets 6-10 reps - add 5% to all training weights from week 1 to movements 2-5

Week 7

  • Raw Board Press – 2 board 3x3 at 85%, 4 board press 3x3 at 92%
  • Bench Work with shirt – 3x3 to chest (work up to what will touch)
  • Over Head Press – 95% of max for 4 sets of 5
  • Dips – 5 sets 8-10 reps
  • Bent Over Rear Delt Raises – 3 sets 10-12
  • Barbell Rows – 5 sets 6-10 reps - add 5% to all training weights from week 2 to movements 2-5

Week 8

  • Raw Board Press – 3 board 3x3 at 90%, 5 board 3x3 at 97%
  • Bench Work with shirt off low pin (at chest level) – 3x3 to chest (work up to what will touch)
  • Over Head Press – 95% of max for 4 sets of 5
  • Dips – 5 sets 8-10 reps
  • Bent Over Rear Delt Raises – 3 sets 10-12
  • Barbell Rows – 5 sets 6-10 reps - add 5% to all training weights from week 1 to movements 2-5

Week 9

  • Raw Board Press – 2 board 3x3 at 85%, 4 board press 3x3 at 92%
  • Bench Work with shirt off low pin (at chest level) – 3x3 to chest (work up to what will touch)
  • Over Head Press – 95% of max for 4 sets of 5
  • Dips – 5 sets 8-10 reps
  • Bent Over Rear Delt Raises – 3 sets 10-12
  • Barbell Rows – 5 sets 6-10 reps - add 5% to all training weights from week 2 to movements 2-5

Week 10

  • Speed Bench Press – 43% for 8 sets 3 reps (This was a de-load week)

Week 11

  • Meet Day

When speaking with Todd about this program there were a few comments he made in regards to what he felt worked and what may help it work better. Here they are in no specific order:

    1. Low Pin Press with shirt – He really thought this helped him with touching weights. He would set the pin up so the bar was right on his chest while he was in a flat back position. This would mean when he set him self up on the bench that it would be harder to touch the pins then his chest. He felt this thought him how to tweak his body position when the weights got stuck right off his chest. By tweaking his body he was speaking of tucking elbows and where to bring the bar.
    2. The deload weeks – This was a way for him to keep in some speed training as well as giving his body a rest from the heavy loading. The reason for the lack of speed training was not due to him not believing in speed training. Actually, it is quit the opposite. One comment he made to be is that he feels this would have worked better had he been able to train speed work once a week.
    3. Raw Board Work – Todd felt the higher intensity and increased work on the boards helped to bring up his lockout. It also provided a way for him to get in heavy tricep training that he can’t get any other ways.
    4. Shirt Work – Over the past year Todd has spent a great deal of time doing shirt work off boards. While this did help with his lockout it did not transfer over into a higher competitive max. This time around more time was spent on raw strength development and shirt work being done to the chest.
    5. One day per week training – It seems that this did not effect his strength development but the only reason for this was his 60 plus hour work week. He is just not able to make it in the gym during the week at this time. He has a 45 minute commute to work and works from 7:00am to many nights 10:00pm. He also has a very heavy traveling schedule with many weeks of the year spent in Japan. The only real time he can count on to train is Sunday mornings. Todd is also very quick to point out that he would love to be able to train one more day per week (Wednesday) if time allowed. As stated above, this day would be devoted to speed bench and accessory training.
    6. Final Note – The last thing Todd told me is that while this worked for him this time around that it would not work for the long term. He is going to expand this cycle for a few more weeks to hit one more bench meet and then change the training to a higher volume for the off-season.

There you have it. It may not be the most optimal program but it worked for Todd. Given the circumstances he took what he had to deal with, delt with it, and found a way to make it work.

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