Hail to the dinosaurs!
Here's a question from Keith
Jacobson that highlights an
important issue -- several of
them, in fact.
"I've been using power rack
training to increase my bench
For the last month I've been
setting a PR in bottom position
bench every workout for a triple,
double and single, working the
movement twice a week.
Recently, I hit a 260 lb bottom
bench and since then I've had
two bench workouts where I
couldn't hit 265 and one where
I couldn't hit 260. (The 260 was
a maximal effort when I did get
I have two questions:
1. I was thinking of hitting singles
with 250 and adding a set or two
every workout, and once I got to
five singles, adding weight and
starting over. What do you think
2. Have you ever experienced a point
where you had to start making much
slower progress on a lift?
If you think this is the right
decision let me know.
Thanks in advance,
Keith -- Congrats on your progress --
you've done great on your power rack
Your progress follows the pattern of
many trainees when they switch to a
new workout, a new training method
or even a new exercise. They gain
in leaps and bounds at first --
and everything is GREAT -- but
then they start to slow down --
and often, those great gains turn
into very, very slow gains -- or
no more gains at all.
It happens to everyone -- and yes,
it's happened to me. Still does.
And always will. It's part of the
What happens is this: you make great
progress at first because you're
doing something new and different,
and part of the progress is learning
how to do the exercise effectively.
A bottom position bench press, for
example, feels much different than
a standard bench press -- and it will
take some time to learn how to perform
it properly. During that "learning
period," the gains will be fast and
After the learning period, you need
to settle into some hard work and
extra effort to keep the gains
coming -- and you need to use a
"slow cooking" progression system.
The system you are thinking about
will work fine -- esp on bottom
position bench presses, which lend
themselves well to heavy singles.
Start with 250 x 1.
In the next workout, do 250 x 2 x 1.
In the next workout, 250 x 3 x 1.
And so on, until you are doing 250
x 5 x 1 -- and after that, add five
pounds to the bar and do 255 x 1 --
and repeat the process.
You also can use two different
progression paths. One week, do
singles. The next week, do sets of
5 -- or do 5/3/1 for your working
This is a good reason why no one
training program -- no single set/
rep system -- and no one progression
system -- will work for everyone --
or even work all the time for any
Our bodies are different, our
responses to exercise are different,
and our bodies and our responses to
exercise change over time -- so we
always have to be tinkering with
the dials to keep on going forward.
In this regard, note that some coaches
like to switch things up every three
or four weeks. Not huge changes --
you don't go from a Dino-style heavy
iron abbreviated workout to a bunny
blaster high rep low weight program
(not if you want to keep making
progress) --- but the kind of
changes we covered in this email.
Remember, when I talk about changes,
I mean sensible modifications within
the parameters of hard, heavy
training on the basic exercises.
I'm not giving you a license for
idiocy -- and if that sounds harsh,
it has to be. There is too much
idiocy out there -- and it's very
easy to fall prey to it.
Wow -- that turned out to be a long
email. But as I said at the beginning,
Keith's questions raised lots of
As always, thanks for reading, and
have a great day. If you train today,
make it a good one!
Yours in strength,
P.S. For more detail on progression
systems, specialization workouts,
power rack training, increasing your
bench press and tons of other topics,
grab a copy of Strength, Muscle and
P.S. 2. My other books and courses
are right here:
P.S. 3. Thought for the Day: "Life's not
linear, but don't let it become circular."
-- Brooks Kubik