Jeff McDaniel Bench Press Program

Jeff McDaniel Bench Press Program

Jul 30, 2013

“Adapting a routine to fit your needs”

Jeff Presses 418 weighing a mere 196lbs.  Competing in USA Powerlifting and Drug tested.

This year I experimented with some classic routines – most notably Smolov Jr. Bench Routine. If your not familiar it is a 3 week program, where you bench Mon, Wed, Fri, and Saturday.

It is a grueling program if you are not used to that amount of load. Especially the back to back Friday and Saturday bench days. The numbers are generally:

Mon: 6 sets x 6 reps (70%)
Wed: 7 sets x 5 reps (75%)
Fri: 8 sets x 4 reps (80%)
Sat: 10 sets x 3 reps (85%)

Week 2 add 10 lbs.
Week 3 add 15 lbs. from wk 1
For this routine it helps to really work on your form because you are benching so often the muscle memory helps you focus. It can be a grind on the shoulders and elbows.

For me, this routine was good but I’m not a reps guy. I need to work more on explosion for 1 rep and with many reps I seemed to always fail on the last rep.

After going through it I altered the program to meet my needs, my strengths and weaknesses. Because all people are different I think this is a good approach to take. adaption is a key to success.

Here is my new Bench routine. It is a 5 week routine ending on the competition week. It focuses on 1 heavy day with 1 pause rep for each set. This helps to work on form with the pause. Each week you will pause a weight higher than 85%, but not up
to 100% which keeps from burning out. This also allows for building confidence. Wednesday is a nice easy day working on form not weight. Friday working with chains to help on the lockout.

Here is the routine:


90% of 1 RM – 5 sets of 1 pause rep
80% of 1 RM – 3 sets of 3 reps
72% of 1 RM – 3 sets of 5 reps


67% of 1 RM – 4 sets of 7 reps


80% of 1 RM – 3 sets of 5 reps
80% of 1 RM PLUS 35 lbs. of chains – 4 sets of 3 reps
WK2 – add 5 lbs.
WK3 – add 10 lbs. on top of week 2
WK4 – add 5 lbs. on top of week 3
WK5 – add 5 lbs. on top of week 4

WK5 is the week of the competition. You’ll do the Monday and Wednesday bench day, but Wednesday is your last gym day you’ll take off Thurs and Fri, and possibly Sunday if competition is on a Sunday.

You’ll also want to add in shoulders and tri’s on some of your bench days. Wednesday is a perfect day for a big shoulders workout with the light chest load. Make sure to include Back, Bi’s, and traps as well on non bench days.
I dedicated Saturday to legs and core workouts and always took Sunday as a day of rest. I wanted to go into Monday’s bench day as fresh as possible.

This is an example of how you can take a classic bench or powerlifting routine and adjust it fit your needs. Don’t get too worried about going by the numbers for every day when following a classic routine like Smolov for the
first or second time. Go with what is working for you. Make adjustments. Adapt. Make progress.




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One comment

  1. Brad Lego /

    Thanks for posting this! I took your Mon and Wed routines and tweeked them slightly and I’m working it into bench, deadlifts and squats. Week one kicked my @$$, but starting week two I’m feeling great. Thanks a lot!

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