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18 Week Bench Press Peaking Cycle

Unsatisfied with your bench press numbers? This effective peaking cycle ramps up the intensity week in and week out, providing you with plenty of bench-building volume.

Workout Summary

Increase Strength
Single Muscle Group
Intermediate
1
Barbell, Cables, Dumbbells, EZ Bar
Male & Female

Workout Description

This peaking cycle will be performed one day per week. You must know your max (or approximate max) before starting. If you are unsure, run a test day and then take a complete week away from bench press training before starting this program.

Here is your weekly bench press work:

  • Week 1 - 8 sets x 8 reps @ 55% of your one rep max (1RM)
  • Week 2 - 5 sets @ 80% of 1RM...5, 5, 5, 5, 5 reps
  • Week 3 - 7 sets x 7 reps @ 60% of your 1RM
  • Week 4 - 5 sets @ 82.5% of 1RM...4, 5, 5, 5, 5 reps
  • Week 5 - 6 sets x 6 reps @ 65% of your 1RM
  • Week 6 - 5 sets @ 85% of 1RM...3, 4, 5, 5, 5 reps
  • Week 7 - 5 sets x 5 reps @ 70 of your 1RM
  • Week 8 - 5 sets @ 87.5% of 1RM...2, 3, 4, 5, 5 reps
  • Week 9 - 5 sets x max reps @ 75% of your 1RM
  • Week 10 - 5 sets @ 90% of 1RM...1, 2, 3, 4, 5 reps
  • Week 11 - 5 sets x max reps @ 80% of your 1RM
  • Week 12 - 4 sets @ 92.5%of 1RM...1, 2, 3, 4 reps
  • Week 13 - 4 sets x max reps @ 85% of your 1RM
  • Week 14 - 4 sets @ 95% of 1RM...1, 2, 3, 4 reps
  • Week 15 - 4 sets x max reps @ 90% of your 1RM
  • Week 16 - 3 sets @ 97.5% of 1RM...1, 2, 3 reps
  • Week 17 - 3 sets x max reps @ 90% of your 1RM
  • Week 18 - Test your new one rep max

If you can't perform all the reps per set, don't sweat it. Do your best, and perform as many as possible. Missing a rep here or there doesn't mean the program isn't working.

Bench Press Workout
Peaking Cycle
Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press   See above
Dumbbell Bench Press 3 10
Close Grip Incline Bench Press 4 6-8
Skullcrushers 4 8-12
Rope Cable Tricep Extensions 4 10-15

15 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Wed, 06/22/2016 - 11:08
Jonathan

I have made it through my third 18-week cycle. Weighing at 170lb. Each cycle I have gone up 10lb in my max and now max at 285. My last 18-week max attempt I failed at 290lb still weighing roughly 170lb. Any suggestions on how to approach my next 18 week cycle?

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Posted Tue, 06/16/2015 - 06:47
Ilia

Hey man , I'm at week 6 and have gotten a little confused over the reps.
Does 3, 4, 5, 5, 5 reps mean first set 3 reps, second set 4 reps?...

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 06/16/2015 - 09:20
MikeWines

Ilia,
Yep that's correct.

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Posted Mon, 02/16/2015 - 17:29
pb

This seems high rep specific for 18 weeks. Shouldnt you factor in another day of lower rep higher set in between to get more strength than size?

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Posted Mon, 12/15/2014 - 12:20
Jonathan

Hey Steve, what rest time would you recommend for this routine?

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Posted Mon, 12/15/2014 - 12:19
Jonathan

Hey Steve
How much rest time would you recommend for this routine?

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Posted Tue, 07/29/2014 - 16:39
Tim

Does 1,2,3,4 mean first set one rep, second set two reps?...

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Posted Sun, 07/06/2014 - 02:32
Curtis

Is it okay to do normal incline bench instead of close grip? I don't need to work my triceps as much as my chest.

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Posted Wed, 07/02/2014 - 09:10
Matt

Steve, with the peaking cycle, would it be more effective if a) the same percentages of 1 rep max are used on other bench press exercises such as incline/decline or b) would it be effective to use it on all of the exercises listed? (However week 1 for example would do the set numbers listed underneath not 8)

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Posted Wed, 06/25/2014 - 11:27
dunk

steve could I use this template for my squats

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 06/25/2014 - 11:43
Steven

Absolutely.

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Posted Mon, 06/23/2014 - 13:32
Colton

How many pounds do you estimate I can reasonably add to my bench press over these 18 weeks?

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Posted Thu, 06/19/2014 - 17:40
Jake

Hey Steve,
I have been running your Power, Muscle Burn for quite a while, probably too long , and have not been seeing gains for a while. what is a good routine to switch to to start my gains again?

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Posted Wed, 06/18/2014 - 18:20
Joe

what kind of intensity do you recommend for the assistance stuff?

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 06/19/2014 - 08:09
Steven

Hi Joe,

I like to use as much weight as I can for a specific rep range.

Push a set for as many reps as possible, stopping that set when you feel like you might fail on the next rep, or when your form starts to severely deteriorate. Try to improve a bit each workout, and add weight when it makes sense.