Dr. Damian Fronzaglia’s Bench Press Routine

Dr. Damian Fronzaglia’s Bench Press Routine

Sep 10, 2012

Dr. Damian Fronzaglia’s Bench Press Routine


Throughout my lifting career I’ve used a number of training programs, some of which worked better than others. Although I truly love all three powerlifts, age, time constraints, injury, and life have gotten in the way of my full power training. As a result, I’ve taken to training the bench press consistently year round and preparing my squat and deadlift only at specific times when preparing for a meet. Based on this experience and with the help of my training team, I’ve established a program that consistently develops my bench press. Nevertheless, there is no denying that that training the squat and deadlift does assist in maintaining and strengthening the bench press


The Program

The program is a 15 week bench press specific routine, with lifts done 2 times per week. Allow me to break this down with the basics of the routine first, then delve deeper into detail.


Day 1:

1) Low Intensity Bench

2) Close Grip Board Press Progression

3) Incline Flies

4) Skull Crushers/Dips/Dumbbell Extensions/Tricep push downs (rotated each week)

5) Dumbbell Shrugs

6) Band Rows

7) Lat Pull downs

8) Abs


Day 2:

1) Progression competition bench alternated with ‘flex weeks’

2) Percentage based board press (see details, not every week)

3) DB flat bench/DB Flies

4) Lat. Pull downs (with different grip than Day 1)

5) Military Press

6) Delt raises

7) DB curls

8) Shrugs

9) Abs


Day 1 Details:

1) On the low intensity bench days I keep the weight at 45-60% and do either 3 sets of 10 reps or 2 sets of 15 reps.  This serves to maintain volume, and generally recover for Day 2s’ lift.


2) The close grip board press is done with a board which will allow the upper arm (humerus) to remain parallel to the floor.  I start with a weight with which I can achieve 12-15 reps.  I do 1 set to failure and keep it raw.  In the following weeks I add weight (2.5 to 5%) each week until the end of the 15 weeks when I’ve arrived at a 3 to 5 rep max weight.


3-7) My accessory work is fairly unstructured, however there are some important things to remember.  I ensure I get variation from week to week by varying tricep extension work and I try to keep the volume the same at 3 sets of 10 reps.




Day 2 Details:

1) As outlined above, I alternate each week with a planned percentage progression (week 1) and then a flex week (week 2).  I start week one with 60%.   Every other week I will add an extra 5% to the bench (Week 3 = 65%, Week 5 = 70%, etc.).  For the sets and reps, I use a table based on Prilepin’s Table to determine the optimal and maximum reps for the given percentage.  I generally will run the first set (do as many as I can until failure) and then finish the rest of my repetitions according to the table (see below).


When equipped, put on your shirt for 85% and higher lifts, and adjust the percentage from your raw percentage, to your shirted percentage.  Please note, if you’re using the shirt, you may not be able to go full range at 85%, and therefore you will use the smallest board possible.




Intensity (% of 1RM) Rep Range Total Reps Optimal Total
60-65% 3-6 18-30 24
70-75% 3-6 12-24 18
80-85% 2-4 10-20 15
90-95% 1-2 4-10 7


On week 2, 4, 6 etc. I will have what we refer to as a flex week, where I work on a trouble spot identified in the previous week and adjust as necessary.  Generally I will do speed work on the flex week, 8 sets of 3 reps, with full press commands.  For example, for equipped lifters we will use this day to get into the shirts and hit some board presses in the 2 and 3 rep range.


2) The percentage-based board press is done only on weeks 1 at 90%, week 5 at 100% (determine a max), and week 9 at 90% after the set percentage work is completed.  Again, the board is determined generally based on a point where the upper arm is parallel to the ground.  If the lifter knows he has a particular sticking point, then the board should be used accordingly.  On these weeks, I keep in mind the heavy board work when doing the first percentage based full range bench so that I have a great board press.


3) As mentioned on day one, the same guidelines apply to day two.


Finally, when asking your training partners to edit your workout program, double check the final cut to ensure all shock and awe comments are removed!! Good luck and remember, AJ, no one will ever ask you what you deadlift!!  😉


You assume certain risks inherent in exercise and nutrition programs provided by any of the content found on IronAuthority.com. Iron Authority, INC informational content includes, but isn’t limited to body weight exercises, weight lifting, nutrition and high intensity cardiovascular exercise. You should not begin any exercise program if you are severely obese, or if you have any physical conditions that may make intense exercise or dieting hazardous unless you are medically guided by your physician. If you have physical or psychological issues which make exercise or weight loss dangerous, do not begin to attempt such activities.

Iron Authority, Inc does not have Doctors on staff, and the advice found on IronAuthority.com is not a substitute for medical advice. Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise or nutrition program. STAY SAFE!


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