Beef Up Your Bench Press 10x3 Workout Program

10x3 Bench Press Workout Program
Bring up your bench press with this intense 10 set x 3 rep bench press specialization workout plan from top powerlifter Steve Shaw

Workout Summary

Increase Strength
Barbell, Bodyweight, Dumbbells, Machines

Workout Description

This is a bench press specialization program for intermediate lifters who want to bring up a lagging bench press as quickly as possible. I do not recommend running this if your current max is below 185 pounds.

Bench Press Sets

For the bench press, start with a weight that is 65% of your one rep max. If you are unsure of your current max, use the bench press calculator to help you guestimate.

Start with a weight that is 65% of your one rep max.

During week one, you will perform 10 sets of 3 reps with your starting weight. Rest between sets will be 90 to 120 seconds; no longer or shorter. When you start dropping sets (missing triples), keep all rest periods at 120 seconds, or longer if need be.

Each subsequent week you add another 5 pounds to the bar, trying to complete the full 10 sets x 3 reps. When you are unable to hit 3 reps with a given set(s), you drop those sets the following week. (Still adding another 5 pounds to the bar)

You continue this pattern of adding a weekly 5 pounds, and dropping sets until you can perform only one set of 3 reps. At this point, you re-calculate your one rep max using he bench press calculator, and start all over again using 65% of your one rep max.

It is not necessary to train sets to failure. With that said, training to failure might happen occasionally. Stop each set when you feel like your form is slipping, or you feel like you might fail on the next rep.

10 Sets x 3 Reps Example

For this example, we will use a lifter with a 200 pound bench press max. 65% of this max yields a starting weight of 130 pounds, which we shall round up to 135 pounds for this example.

  • Week One - 135 pounds x 3/3/3/3/3/3/3/3/3/3

Our lifter is able to hit 10 sets for 3 reps during week one, so he does not drop any sets.

  • Week Two - 140 pounds x 3/3/3/3/3/3/3/3/3/3
  • Week Three - 145 pounds x 3/3/3/3/3/3/3/3/2/1
  • Week Four - 150 pounds x 3/3/3/3/3/3/3/2

​Week two was another successful effort, as out lifter was able to complete all 10 sets. On the other hand, week three was a struggle. Our lifter failed to complete 3 reps on the last 2 sets, so those sets were dropped during week four. During week four our lifter was unable to complete 3 reps on his 8th set, so that will be dropped on week five.

  • Week Five - 155 pounds x 3/3/3/3/3/3/3
  • Week Six - 160 pounds x 3/3/3/3/3/3/3
  • Week Seven - 165 pounds x 3/3/3/3/3/3/3
  • Week Eight - 170 pounds x 3/3/3/3/3/3/1
  • Week Nine - 175 pounds x 3/3/3/3/3/3
  • Week Ten - 180 pounds x 3/3/3/3/3/3/2
  • Week Eleven - 185 pounds x 3/3/3/3/1
  • Week Twelve - 190 pounds x 3/3/3/3
  • Week Thirteen - 195 pounds x 3/3/3/2
  • Week Fourteen - 200 pounds x 3/3/3
  • Week Fifteen - 205 pounds x 3/3/1
  • Week Sixteen - 210 pounds x 3/2
  • Week Seventeen - 215 pounds x 3

Our lifter ended with a 215 x 3 triple, which is an approximate bench press max of 235 pounds. This is a 35 pound increase in 4 months.

10x3 Sets Summary

So, in conclusion. For the 10 x 3 sets you:

  1. Add 5 pounds every week.
  2. Drop a set when you fail to reach 3 reps.
  3. Stop the cycle when you down to one triple, or fewer reps.

Training Split

  • Monday - Bench Press day with 10x3 sets.
  • Wednesday - Misc. strength training work.
  • Friday - Bench Press moderate day.
10x3 Bench Press Day
Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press - 10 sets x 3 reps work Varies Varies
Bench Press Shrug 3 5
Barbell Row 3 5-10
Seated Arnold Press 3 8-12
EZ Bar Skullcrusher 3 8-12
Dumbbell Curl 3 10
Strength Day
Exercise Sets Reps
Deadlift - Ramped 3 5
Squat 3 6-12
Pull Up or Rack Chins 3 AMAP
Seated Calf Raise 3 12-20
Leg Curl 3 10-15
Power Shrug 3 5-10
Bench Press Moderate Day
Exercise Sets Reps
Military Press Variation - Standing or Seated 3 6-12
Close Grip Bench Press 5 3
Dumbbell Row 3 8-12
Dumbbell Bench Press 3 8-12
Face Pull 3 10
Hammer Curl 3 10
Training Notes

Bench Press Shrug - Do not perform this exercise without spotters. Load the bar with 110% of your one rep bench press max. Unrack the bar and hold at arm's length. Now, instead of lowering the bar, and then pressing the weight, you're going to be doing shrugs. Shrug your shoulders upwards, and then back down, keeping your arms locked. Make sure you are utilizing your lats to drive your shoulders and the bar upwards.

It may take several weeks to get used to performing this exercise properly. Start with a moderate weight and work your way up as you feel comfortable.

Close Grip Bench Press - Start with 70% of your one rep bench press max. On the fifth set, instead of doing only 3 reps, try to get as many as possible, stopping shy of failure. If you are able to perform 5 or more reps, add weight to this lift the following week.

Deadlifts - You will perform 3 total sets, with your last set being the heaviest. When starting your last set should be something you can easily hit 5 reps with. On that last set, perform as many reps as possible, stopping a set when your form deteriorates or you feel like you may fail on the next rep. If you are able to perform more than 5 reps on the final set, add weight the next time you deadlift.

  • Set 1 - 60% of your final set weight x 5 reps.
  • Set 2 - 80% of your final set weight x 5 reps.
  • Set 3 - Final set - perform for max safe reps.

​Pull Ups - AMAP stands for as many reps as possible. If you are unable to perform pull ups, use rack chins or lat pull downs.

Power Shrugs - These are explosive shrugs. Do not baby or mind muscle the weight up.

Assistance Exercises - Perform 3 sets using the same weight. When you are able to reach the high end of the rep range (or more) with your first set, add weight the next time you perform this exercise.

Diet and Supplementation Suggestions

This bench press program should NOT be performed while cutting/trying to lose fat. To maximize gains, you should also maximize your time at the dinner table. This is an aggressive problem that should be accompanied by plenty of food and rest. My minimum suggestions are:

  • Calories - 3500 per day, or more if you are underweight.
  • Protein - 200 grams per day. 
  • Fats - At least 25-30% of your daily calorie intake.

If you have a hard time eating this many calories, a little bit of the following foods will go a long way:

  • Whole milk
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Cheese
  • Cream cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Almonds and nuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Avocados
  • Bananas


To maximize recovery and performance, the following supplement choices may be beneficial:

10x3 Bench Press Program FAQ

I can't eat 3500 calories per day. Will I still get the same results?

Maybe, maybe not. My best strength gains have always come during times of aggressive eating. This program is designed to help you increase your bench press. For optimal results, eat more food.

Can I run this program two, three or more times in a row?

Sure, I don't see why not. If you are getting the results you want, and your body feels good, then keep using this program. It might not hurt to take a complete week off from bench pressing after every cycle.

Can I mess around with strength day, changing exercises?

Yes. Monday and Wednesday are your bread and butter days. I do recommend training legs, as leg drive is an important part of benching.

Any other tips?

Improve your form. Most intermediate lifters can squeeze out another 5-10% just by working on their bench press form.

Can I do cardio when running this program?

Certainly. Just make sure you feel 100% when you hit the gym to lift.

Can I add in more arm work?

No, don't add in any more arm work. Trust the program.

Can I add in abs work?

Yes, on any day AFTER your lifting sessions are done.

What results can I expect?

The bench press can be a very stubborn mover for many lifters. The more you bench press, the less you can expect out of a program like this in the short term. A 20-30 pound increase in 4 months would be a solid bump. I would hope that you add at least 15 pounds to your bench press each time you run this program.

For those of you that have a very hard time adding weight on bench, a 10 pound gain might be good progress. On the other hand, some of you may be able to use this program and run your bench press from 185 to over 300 in a year's time.

Please take time to let me know your results, and if I can help in any way.

About The Author
Muscle & Strength's Content Team is a group of fitness industry experts dedicated to publishing the highest quality articles, workouts and guides on the M&S Website.

151 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Tue, 04/14/2015 - 06:45

Did the program
My starting stats:
BW 94 kg BF: 12%
1RM: 105 kg

After 6 weeks I did a max attempt and was able to do 1 * 110 kg
I ended the program with 3 * 112,5 kg
My BW at the end was 99 kg, BF unknown but I geuss arround 14%

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Posted Wed, 02/25/2015 - 08:41
Jason Clark

Hi. Just wanted to let you know I love this program. As an intermediate lifter trying to find to programs to get stronger, could this same program work for my squats as well ? Thanks again.

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Posted Tue, 01/27/2015 - 22:17
Raminderpal Cha...

I m a boxer I want to increase my bench
Can i benefit from this routine while doing a lot of sparring And cardio

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Posted Tue, 01/27/2015 - 21:46

my only question is on the bench 10x3 is that just for flat bench or do you have to do incline and decline to?

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Posted Mon, 11/24/2014 - 01:39

Great dynamic program. Ran in 2 months before fatigue plateau. If you de-load this could be run longer. I tweaked the accessory lifts a little to suit my preference but the core worked great. Now I've got the confidence to work a traditional powerlifting periodization program like 5/3/1, Candito's 6 week, etc.

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Posted Sat, 10/18/2014 - 14:34
Jack Travels

Hey, Steve im doing this program over again and i was wondering if changing the shoulder press to the misc strength day and putting heavy squats on friday would be good. Im trying to get a better squat max since i havent squatted in a while. Thanks.

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Posted Tue, 09/23/2014 - 20:22
Jack Travels

Just finished the program today. Before I started my last successful bench press was 275 with various attempts at 280 and 285 but failing at them. I started the program off with a 270 bench to stay on the safe side. At the end of about 4 months, on my last set of the program I did 275 x 4 instead of going for the 3 reps. I used the bench press calculator on this side and that rounds up to about 310. So a 40 pound increase in bench over 4 months. I didn't gain that much weight either maybe 2lbs at the most. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, Steve.

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Posted Tue, 08/19/2014 - 08:55

Why drop the number of sets the following week and not just do as many sets of three as you can? Last week, I completed 8 sets of 300 but yesterday completed 10 sets of 305. I plan to do 10 set of 310 next week.

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Posted Mon, 08/04/2014 - 12:51
Matt Steinruck

I am currently in my 7th week of this program, and I have been doing 3 second pauses at my sticky point for all my reps. I still have yet to drop any sets, and I wondering if this is a waste if time. I've always had great lockout strength. So I subbed out close grip with slingshot presses. Should I quit doing the three second pauses?

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Posted Wed, 07/30/2014 - 00:18

Hmm I've done 4 weeks no problem and started out about 5 lbs higher than my 65% and I havnt dropped off yet like the example has. Would it be to much to maybe start doing Monday 10x3 bench ,Wednesday 3x3 Close Grip, Friday 10x3 bench , Monday 3x3 close , Wednesday 10x3 and so on. Or maybe 10x3 every Monday, Friday and close on Wednesday. I just finished smolov jr for benchpress where you benched 4x a week for 3 weeks and the body adapts fairly well to frequency. Not for an extended amount of time though however. Looks like a good workout Steve. Thanks for all you do for the fitness community.

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Posted Tue, 07/29/2014 - 05:08

Can I do the 10x3, but also add flys, and incline on the same day?

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Posted Thu, 06/12/2014 - 12:49

Just finished 5 months on this program and went from 235 starting to 275 that I just one-rep'd today. Lifetime best right there (and I was pretty sure I could have done 280). Thanks for the great workout. I will change it up for about 6 weeks, then hit it again so I can clear 300 by end of year.

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Posted Mon, 05/26/2014 - 10:58

I've been powerlifting for a a few years, and I'm stuck at a 250-255 bench for a while now.
I have a bench only meet coming up in about 7 weeks , so about 6 weeks of training, What do you suggest to ramp up in a shorter period . Do I start heavier or take bigger increases , or both?

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Posted Sun, 05/25/2014 - 06:30

Great looking program, although I found the starting point too light (my 65% is 117.5kg which I knew would be too easy for triples so just bashed out 10 sets of 3 at 140kg).
Bring on the gainz!! :)

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Posted Wed, 05/21/2014 - 04:59
old dave

I've followed your articles for some time(not always following them as I do what I do) but this routine is really well put together and thought out, well done I'm going to use this

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Posted Tue, 05/06/2014 - 12:17

I am 56, weigh in around 188#'s and it have done 315#'s raw for a one rep max. I am attempting to drop weight to compete at 181. I have done the typical blast your bench and ladder routines that have worked well for me but with every few pounds I drop, I seem to be losing a rep. Will this stabilize my strength? I have a competition in July where I hope to blow away the Illinois masters record and come close to matching or beating the American record.

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Posted Fri, 04/11/2014 - 17:59
John m

Hey Steve,
I've been doing the 10x3 sets for flat bench but also for incline and decline all on the same day for my whole workout... Is this too much or is it ok for me to do this?

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Posted Tue, 03/11/2014 - 03:03

I loved this workout! My bench press max went from 240 to 285 in about four and a half months, thanks Steve!

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Posted Mon, 01/13/2014 - 08:35

Can u suggest any workout routine to increase my punching power in boxing ring

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Posted Mon, 01/13/2014 - 08:32

Hi Steve
I am a boxer and I have to do bench 3 times in a week
My body weight is 217pounds
But my one rep max is only 200
Can u help me that how I can increase it up to 300 or more

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Posted Tue, 12/17/2013 - 13:23
jeff winland

Steve, I'm trying everything I can do to get answers. I'm 68, 6'1", 235#. I'm an old power lifter that won't give up. I currently do Zerchers up to 2x300. I still dead lift, with Zercher gm and seated d/l as assistance. However, for the past several years, I've seen a drastic decline in my bench. I compensate with reverse grip up to 185#. I did have a complete avulsion of my left tricep tendon, and followed protocol afterwards. This occurred 4 yrs. ago. I do a lot of arm work( no problems) as well as lat work. I can't seem to get it going with the bench. My max is 5x155, but no pain. ANY suggestion would be welcomed. Thanks.

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Posted Mon, 12/09/2013 - 19:47

I don't what you mean by bench press shrug.
What is it?

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Posted Tue, 11/26/2013 - 20:39

Worked out regularly 4-5 days a week up until a couple years ago when I started my family. Just a couple weeks into lifting again and looking for a routine. Would you suggest starting right away with something like this or do you have any other suggestions on a routine before starting. Thanks

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Posted Fri, 11/08/2013 - 07:49

what about incline bench press?

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Posted Sun, 09/08/2013 - 10:16

will do it

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Posted Mon, 08/19/2013 - 14:06

My name is George and Im training athlets the last 35 years. I have people that in resent past have won olympicworld and europian medals in different sports,rowing,sailing,volleyball,swimming. I was myself a volleyball player and inspite heavy injuries,torn ACL on both knees and achilles on one,I can squat 230,Dead lift 240-250 and bench 160,all in kilos and my weight is around 90-95 kilos now.
I have developed a 4 month program that helps u increase strenght,power in a 4 month period, rapidly,working 5 times per week with out increasing your own weight.
My question, some friends. that I train and me, r looking forward to 200 kilo bench.
3 time per week is not enough to as can u give as an altternative with more working days.
I want a different view on training and we work slow on our moves,different than u suggest. We can climb from 70-80 kilos on 15 repsX3 setsX45'' rest on week one, to 150-155 max bench in 4 weeks,working once a week on bench press.That means 5 training days on a working period,
The tension is very high,like in a game but we r stuck on our efforts and I would like to see if Ill do your program,will I get any changes?

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Posted Thu, 08/01/2013 - 23:17
Matt Griswold

How long should the rest periods be between sets on the 10x3 part roughly? Thanks.

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Posted Mon, 07/15/2013 - 09:16

Are there any replacement exercisizes you would recomend in place of the EZ Skullcrushers?

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Posted Thu, 07/11/2013 - 12:43
nick(aka The Set)

Hi steve

Basically i dont think ur workout is very good.
1. Your training to Many muscle groups each day which is strange.
2. You said 20-30 pound increase in 4 months that is a joke. I get 5-10 pound in crease each week So your method is not rong but not great.
3. What you should be doing is 8 reps down to 3 up the weight each time. Then your go for half reps on more then What u can push thats when the strengst happens tbh i cud be writing on here all day but im not happy with all these people doing your program the 10 sets of three are good but you need to be pushing urself reguarly at a big weight to get big results ive just added 10 sets of 3 to my workout first week 15 pound increase which proves ur way is average my way is the extreme i will be putting my training plan up soon So then people can start gettin string.
4. I am a personal trainer good day

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Posted Tue, 05/20/2014 - 10:37

The fact that you think a 60 to 90 pound gain on the bench press per year is a joke speaks volumes.

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Posted Mon, 07/08/2013 - 15:34

Can this same principle be applied to squat and deadlift?

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Posted Fri, 05/24/2013 - 18:58

Do you recommend using a barbell while doing the military press? Can I use dumbells?

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Posted Mon, 05/20/2013 - 11:02

Hey Steve, I stared your program with a 1 rep max of 240 on a smith machine, I was making good progress then I bought a cage and started using free weights, I have struggled with the weight, should I drop some weight and basicly start over or should I just push forward and keep adding 5# a week, thanks Kevin

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Posted Sun, 05/19/2013 - 23:30

I started the program back in march at 155# I was doing great adding 5# a week, at the begining of may i was up to 185# able to do all sets, actualy doing 9 reps on my 10th set. I had been working on a smith machine since that is what I had. I wanted to switch to free weights, so I bought a cage, so on my first workout I droped the weight to 175# thinking I would be a little weaker with the free weights, a couple of weeks have passed and I am really strugling with the weight, should I deload and work back up? or just keep adding 5# a week and keep moving forward? today at 190# I was only able to do 3 sets of 3 then I just did 6 sets of 2, any help would be appreciated, Thanks, Kevin

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Posted Sat, 05/18/2013 - 14:46

Am 60 kilos and i need to know a routine that will increase my weight about 15 kilos in 2 months using ''russain bear'' or ''series mass'' ?!

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Posted Sat, 05/11/2013 - 18:35

I like the looks of this program. Similar to the program I used years ago that took my bench up(and I'm the worlds worst bench presser)... got my bench to 280 which was a feat for me. You pick a starting workout of 10 sets of 5 reps...let's say 200 lbs x 5 reps for 10 sets. Next workout, you drop a rep and add 5 lbs... so you would do 205 x 4 reps for 10 sets. Next you would go 210 x 3 reps for 10 sets. You THEN go back to your 5 rep routine but add 5 lbs so you would do 205 x 5 reps for 10 sets.... you just keep going from the 5 rep-4 rep-3 rep scheme and adding weight. Its progressive resistance at its finest...and the backbone of all training.

I like this one that Steve has given us. Thank you. Everyone always has criticism online. I think its BS. This is a good routine. thanks

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Posted Thu, 05/09/2013 - 18:04

This seems like a great program to increase overall bench strength. I've had a difficult time increasing my bench above 250lbs. Can't wait to give it a whirl!

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Posted Thu, 05/09/2013 - 07:27

When you say to add 5lbs. Is that to each side or 5lbs total?

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Posted Mon, 07/08/2013 - 15:37

The example shows five pounds total each week.

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Posted Sun, 05/05/2013 - 17:53

Ive been able to do the program as listed for 200 ibs for 2 weeksbut my max ever was 180 will I be able to continue or will it become too challenging

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Posted Wed, 05/01/2013 - 08:39

hey. Can you put up a video on how to bench press shrug

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Posted Mon, 04/29/2013 - 15:12
ya boi

why wouldn't you recommend running this if your current max is below 185 pounds?

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Posted Tue, 04/23/2013 - 21:10

I was wondering what past should I move the bar while performing the bench press?

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Posted Fri, 04/05/2013 - 00:02

I just started this workout and was wondering if it was okay to run, swim, or bike long distances on the days I don't have the workout since I am also an endurance athlete.

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Posted Thu, 04/04/2013 - 22:41

I have just started this workout and was wondering if long distance running, biking, and swimming would be okay to do on the days between the workouts?

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Posted Tue, 04/02/2013 - 04:15

how do i build muscle and gain weight. i'm only 165, but i gain weight real slow and i want to get up to 175. What do i need to do? I'm was lifting 295, now i drop down to 225, because i haven't been working out i've been trying to eat and gain weight. just sitting around the house...

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Posted Sun, 03/24/2013 - 01:20
Rafin K

Hey Steve,

Recently my deadlifts and squats been improving but for the past several weeks my bench just been stuck on 225lbs when my deads are almost 400's and squat 320's...

Have i hit a plateau & this program could improve me by how greatly?

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Posted Sun, 03/17/2013 - 19:01

I just finished my first day of 10x3 using 185 (65% of 280)and after my 10th set i tried doing a Max set with 185 because the 10th set felt just about as difficult as the and got it 15 times. Is 65% if your Max mandatory or should people with more muscular endurance use a little more weight starting off

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Posted Sat, 12/14/2013 - 19:41

This. I have been recently doing a 3 day bench focus workout, day 1, 8 sets working to 3X5, day 2, 11 sets working up to 65% only, day 3, 14 sets, working up to 75% but only at 2 reps, then back down to 50% for 10 reps. When I looked at the 65% start for this workout I noticed the guy failed the 10 sets on week 4, not sure if he was a real example or a theoretical example, but I know I can easily hit week 7 without dropping a set, but from then It will be a fast fade out. To me the 65% seems a little low.

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Posted Fri, 03/08/2013 - 02:00

this bench program is weak. i went from maxing at 235 to maxing at 325 in 4 months sometimes a 10-15 pound gain in 2 weeks. alternating one week in between weights, the next a mix between heavy to light. starting light doing sets of 7 and each set adding 20 pounds. do this until you start feeling mildly weak. almost a 100 lb gain in 4 months is pretty good. dont stick with the same routine. your muscels adapt and results slow down. keep switching weights up every week. trust me. it works