The ridiculous thing about the training program in this post, is that it came about from stumbling across something by accident – and turned out to be the best training decision I’ve ever made.

It’s going to be a sore 8 weeks for you, but I promise that if you stick to the program, your results will speak for themselves.

1. The Backstory

A couple of years ago, I was working long hours in a busy office job, and my upper body strength and size was plateauing hard. My rep performance started to drop off during sessions, and I was actually regressing. Coming into the gym week-in, week-out only to get weaker is just a tad demoralising… I felt like this sedentary job would be the final nail in the coffin to lifetime progress.

So – long hours during the day, and my evenings were filled with prep for my med school applications. I didn’t have the time or energy to be wasting hours in the gym with endless isolation exercises or doing 2-a-days, especially not long-term. But at the same time, I knew the reality is that minor tweaks won’t suffice to bust through a plateau.

If your upper body progress is stagnating, then continuing to do the same thing and hoping you’ll get a different outcome is literally the definition of insanity.

We’re all gulty of this. We push on, hoping that eventually, by sheer attrition, we’ll be repping 3 plates on the bench press and have a tasty V-taper. I present to you exhibit A: you. Look back on the last 6 months of your progress.. are things already headed in that direction? If not, and your progress has been stagnant, then an intervention may be required.

There is a military concept of ‘overwhelming force’: the idea that to conquer a task, undercommitting your resources could cost you MORE time and energy in the long run. The stubbornest target need activation energy: an overwhelming force. Dive in head first and you’ll squash all resistance.

What happens to the martial artist that meekly toes the wooden block? He looks like a belson with a broken toe.

‘Do it, you fanny’

A friend of mine came to visit during this lull, who happened to be doing the Armstrong pull-up program at the time. He suggested that I try it out.

Me: ‘Pfft. I’m above that. I only do weighted pull-ups now.. and 3 sets of pushups in the morning? That’s cute. Do you even lift?’

He berated me and wrote out the program on a scrap of paper… ‘do it, you fanny’.

You know what? Fuck you, I’ll do your little program.

2. Results: Week 1 →Week 8:

I did the program as written. The result was adding 25kg to my bench press in 8 weeks, over an inch to my upper back & chest, and 125 reps on my pushups.

If you had told me that this was possible, (despite not even benching for 4 of those weeks) by doing pushups and pullups… I’d say you were living in lala land. Here’s what happened:

Pics or it didn’t happen:

Lats on tour: End of Armstrong Program

I held on to a lot more size in my subsequent diet as a result:

But it wasn’t all lollipops and rainbows. Looking back, there were some hitches that needed ironing out if one were to do the program exactly as written, which I would not recommend. I was niggly, tight and had no plan for transitioning out of it.

Armstrong can be done straight out of the box if the goal is just to increase your pull-up numbers for an army test. However, without considering the context of your training, it’s unlikely to produce results, or worse, cause injury. The progress I made was a result of fitting Amstrong into an appropriate training and diet setup.

This begged the question: How can we safely and predictably replicate these results with clients?

Turbo boost

Over the following couple of years Jonny and I looked at refining the process to create a ‘turbo-boost‘ button for anyone experiencing a slump in their upper body progress. It needed to: complement a hypertrophy-focused training program, while keeping you injury-free, and provide a smooth transition back to regular training.

 

The refined program is now reliably doing the following:

  • Producing a persistent surge in peoples bench press and pull-up numbers. Typically 15-20kg to clients bench press 1RM.
  • Adding slabs of muscle to the upper body, fast. Typically 2 inches to the chest and back circumference.
  • Allowing you to hold on to those gains after the program is done
  • Keeping your shoulders healthy and pain-free

Your turn:

What if you had the blueprint to break through plateaus while keeping your shoulders healthy, and accelerate your size and strength progress more in 8 weeks than in your previous year? What if you could then maintain those gains when you return to your normal training?

Set a date in your calendar 8 weeks from today: what if you were 2 inches bigger around the chest & back and 25kg stronger on the bench by that date?

I have an offering for you: the result of the years of testing and redrafting: your V-taper Manual. Now I’ll tell you what’s great: this is an 8 week sprint. It’s the secret weapon that you can bust out when progress slows down. It doesn’t impose permanent and ever-increasing volume requirements on you. You can blast and cruise. Unlike a program like Smolov Squat Cycle, which is designed for peaking (and ‘chemically assisted’ lifters), where the progress fades quickly, instead your gains will be locked in.

Banked!

We’ll also provide you with some aftercare guidance too for returning to normality (normal-lat-titty).

Get the V-taper Manual: Pre-release discount: Click here

If this has produced such extraordinary results, why isn’t the approach more well known?

The fitness industry likes quick-fixes – but only the ones that can sell a pricey supplement, or something that doesn’t require hard work. I won’t beat around the bush – yes, this is a turbo boost, but it is tough, and needs solid consistency for 8 weeks. There’s no magic here – this is just the sensible application of progressive overload and high-frequency bodyweight training, harnessed and directed to exploding your upper body.

3.1 – Equipment

You will need:

  • A chin up bar
  • Paralettes (optional)
  • Resistance band: Light-medium, i.e. 10-30kg
  • Gym membership

The chin-up bar is a must. Since you’ll be doing these every day, you must have constant access to one, or at least something to do chin-ups on at home. It’s not feasible to go to the gym every day just for pull ups. If you’re renting, you can buy one of these cheaply to hook into your door frame and avoid upsetting your landlord:


I advise that you do pushups using pushup-bars/paralettes. They’re not essential, but they will help you to achieve a greater range of motion (which translates into more muscle growth) and spare your wrists from a battering:

I got these because they were pretty and cheap. Mistake. They’re not stable, and can flip over if you apply any lateral pressure. Don’t try to buy a piece of modern art like I did: use normal parallettes.

3. The Program

You’re still reading – I assume that you’re maybe going through a similar lull and are ready to take your upper body to the next level.

It’s time to get swelly. This is an 8 week upper body hypertrophy program, focused around rapidly building your V-taper. The program has three components:

  • The bodyweight component
  • The stretching + soft tissue component
  • Weight training & shoulder health component

What’s included:

  • The full training guide: Find out how I and all of our tester clients added 15-25kg to their bench press in 8 weeks, while keeping their shoulders healthier than ever/
  • Nutrition plan: Everything you need to gain slabs of muscle over the next 8 weeks
  • Consistency & habit building hacks
  • Goals 101 guide & worksheet: £47 value
  • 8 weeks of programming and tracking tools
  • Bedroom wall chart
  • FAQs: Commonly asked questions
  • Transition phase: How to LOCK IN your gains for life
  • Principles and Applications of Hypertrophy Seminar

I don’t want you to go through the same frustrations as me of banging your head against the wall. Stop fishing for the next supplement or little change that will get you out of this rut – use overwhelming force for 8 weeks.

All is laid out for you so you can start today, and mark a point 8 weeks in the future to step into a significantly more jacked version of yourself.

The evidence-based principles and the constant real-world results with clients make me so confident in the results of this program that I’ll personally refund you if you get anything less than stellar results from following it as written.

One more thing: a hidden benefit is the new sense of empowerment from completing something like this. You’ll build not only your lats, delts, chest and arms, but your consistency muscle, that radiates into all other facets of your life. Many come out the other side with a newfound meditation/productivity habit, and having made concrete steps towards their career goals.

So I’d like to help you along the way with that too, and bundle in our Goals 101 system, worth £47, building crystal clarity and carrying you towards your goals while leaving nothing to chance.

If all this program did was put you back in the drivers seat with your progress, giving you that secret weapon to never experience a plateau again, wouldn’t that be worth it?

Working with us one-on-one is over £200/month, with a waiting list. We can’t work with everyone we want to, so I’m giving you this for a fraction of the investment.

You can access all of the above’s £247 value for a launch discount of £9.95.

FAQs

What if I can’t do pull-ups?

You will be able to by the end of the program! In the meantime, if you can do less than 3 pull ups, try one of the following options as a preparatory phase. You can then transition into doing the full program.

The first option, from Major Armstrong himself:

“Ladies will find this program adapts well to the flexed-arm hang. Training sets are simply translated into hang time.”

  • Alternatively, switch pull-ups for inverted rows on a bar, or a TRX. The more horizontal your body, the more difficult the movement:

Why does this program work so well?

The Bodyweight Engine smashes you with volume and builds your work capacity, allowing you to ultimately train with more volume long term, which is one of the primary drivers of muscle growth. The supporting weight-training program is designed with the best evidence-based progression and periodisation models for maximum hypertrophy.

– Increased appetite, driving more progress

– Higher frequency training is associated with improved muscle and strength gain, even in volume matched comparator groups:

‘Greasing the groove’: Strength is a skill, and by training a movement frequently in submaximal conditions, we are ingraining the motor pattern.

How were you personally training the bench press during your initial trial?

As you can see on my dusty old training log on the forum, I was using a reverse pyramid rep scheme before and during Armstrong. I didn’t change my bench training during the period, so we can attribute the additional high-frequency work in the Armstrong program to the gains.

Would you do it again?

I wouldn’t do the initial trial again as written, but I would absolutely do the new modified V-taper program. The big lesson from this is not to poo-poo bodyweight movements, and to take specialisation cycles as **dedicated assault.

What improvements can I expect to see?

If you’re eating to gain 100g+ bodyweight per week and following the program as written, you should see a major improvement across all of your performance indicators that you track: physique progress in your photos, strength, max reps of chins/pressups, chest/back measurement and bench press. The average gain I’ve seen is 1-2 inches around the chest and back, doubling the pull-up max reps, and adding 15kg+ to the bench press.

Does this program mean that bodyweight is better than free weights or machines?

This ‘argument’ is often thrown around in fitness, and its a bit of a strawman. We have a number of tools for gains available at our disposal on this beautiful earth, why not make use of them all? Bodyweight movements allow us to benefit from full body stabilisation and intermuscular coordination to develop our synergistic muscles, helping us use our body as a unit for athleticism while preventing injury. They’re also low on recovery demands. Free weights are great for system stress, and machines are great for annihilating a specific muscle. They all have their purpose in a training program.

Remember – click here to get your PRE-RELEASE discount for the full bundle here before May 1st.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.

The Next Step

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26 responses to “How to add 25kg to your Bench Press in 8 weeks

  1. Fred said:
    Sweet. Will be interesting if you gainz are maintained.

    True, hopefully not smolov syndrome going on here. I think if you do this, you should probably sustain some form of bodyweight movements, even if it’s not as aggressive as the program – both for strength maintenance and just because they’re great

  2. sweet write up.

    I did something similar a while ago but just for pull ups: Starting with 10, add one pull up everyday for one month, doing the first set every day to technical failure.

    Lats grew, but i developed a bit of pain in my right elbow, which is now flaring up when i squat… Just goes to reinforce what Yusef was saying: do your soft tissue work!
    In this case i would advocate stretching your wrist flexors out after the pull ups.

  3. very interesting. I was already doing some chins / pull up at home but without any schedule. I will give it a try to add some volume without spending more time in the gym.

  4. HuMont said:
    sweet write up.

    I did something similar a while ago but just for pull ups: Starting with 10, add one pull up everyday for one month, doing the first set every day to technical failure.

    Lats grew, but i developed a bit of pain in my right elbow, which is now flaring up when i squat… Just goes to reinforce what Yusef was saying: do your soft tissue work!
    In this case i would advocate stretching your wrist flexors out after the pull ups.

    Good thinking on the wrist flexors, always so satisfying to stretch them as well.

    I assume that was the chad waterbury thing you were doing?

    very interesting. I was already doing some chins / pull up at home but without any schedule. I will give it a try to add some volume without spending more time in the gym.

    Do it man! Lap up the bench gainz

  5. Hey Yusef, it’s Mo from the gym.

    Don’t mean to be negative but I’m a bit skeptical. A few queries:

    1. How is this not considered overtraining as you are literally working out your pecs and lats every day consecutively. Surely your muscles haven’t recovered from the previous sessions. Also push-ups work your lats to a small extent aswell as pull-ups working chest – so technically, you are working your chest and lats twice a day.

    2. Your reps per set are fairly high. Even much higher than for bodybuilding programs, how is it possible that you elicited such strength gains?

    3. Where you also working out at the gym during this period? – training other body parts (e.g. shoulders, triceps) or even chest or lats again on the same day?

    4. Your incline bench increased by the same amount as your flat bench whereas during the 8 weeks, you weren’t targeting your incline pecs – How is this? I can understand that it would certainly increase but it has gone up by just as much as your flat bench.

    Thanks man, hope your lats are okay.

    1. Hi Mo – I would certainly be skeptical too if I had read this article. Good questions.

      1 – We seem to have a higher ability to handle workload for bodyweight movements compared to if you were doing the same daily volume of say, deadlifts. You are sore for the first couple of weeks, but you adapt very quickly. Armstrong claims he added in the pushups to increase blood flow to the chest/lats and alleviate soreness rather than to create a training effect in itself. If a beginner were to do this program, they might not be able to recover, but for an athlete with a moderate amount of training history, they should have developed the recovery capacity to handle this.

      2 – I think the high reps issue is just untapped territory. If you’re used to training within a certain rep range for a long time, then you introduce a new stimulus and get stronger in the 50-100 rep range vs the 2-5 range, you’ll still bump up your top end strength.

      3 – Yep, didn’t change my training template.

      4 – I mixed it up with the pushups a little – sometimes did them with feet elevated, and sometimes flat floor instead of using parallettes. Got to note here that my definition of incline bench is only 1 pin, maximum 15-25 degree incline. Any higher than that targets anterior delts more than clavicular pectoral head

  6. Good article, few questions though…
    1. You said your diet was following the propane protocol during the period, does that mean you did the morning push ups fasted? would that not be counter productive? i am thinking about doing this but curently doing leangains, would this be a problem doing them upon waking, or would waiting till i break my fast be a better idea?

    2. what was your other back training like? did you keep rows in your workouts? or just use the weighted pullups in your routine

    3. Do you think this program would work on a cut? Or would the deficit cause problems?

    1. Hi Scott:

      1 – I did the pushups fasted as soon as I woke up at 7am. It’s not a problem, you won’t go catabolic. I was also doing a similar setup to leangains.

      2 – I kept in some rows, probably did slightly less back assistance work during the period than I would normally, which would usually consist of light cable movements.

      3 – I wouldn’t do it on a cut, simply because it’s a lot of effort – so you want to get the best return on your investment. Strength gains would most likely not be as good either.

      4 – I used a pull up bar similar to the one pictured in the article

  7. I’m starting the program today.

    Actually I had done the pushups in the morning, 1st set when I get out of bed, make some coffee, 2nd set, weighted myself and did the 3rd set just before taking a shower. The morning part is just a chore.

  8. ^ Awesome Javier. Yeah the pushups are the hard part for that reason – 3 sets to failure is not what you want to be doing at 7am.

    Let me know how you get on!

  9. By 7am I’ve been driving for a good 10 minutes, hahah

    First day was actually pretty awful, had some breakfast (which I usually don’t do) with some workmates and then had some stomach issues.

    Later at the gym I did one of the worst sessions ever:
    Foam rolling
    Upper and lower body mobility (throwing some bands here and there)
    Pullups (5xF)
    Squats 4 sets pyraming down

    I just got 4 reps with a weight that I usually smoke doing 3×5, then decided to pyramid down to get some extra reps in and decided to came back home an eat all the calories in the world.

  10. Yusef,

    besides your obvious improvement in the bench press I am much more impressed with the ridiculous increase in your pushup rep count (+125).

    I have also started the program with the end of the first week approaching –> still going pretty strong. The body is incredible at adapting to the workload we throw at it.

    As to the issue of overtraining, people’s definition of overtraining is often very blurry and vague – overtraining is much more systemic and mainly affects the central nervous system and not the muscles. I would bet most athletes (including myself) haven’t experienced REAL overtraining – it happens most often with triathletes and ironman competitors.

    1. Hi Stephan – definitely agree, some people think they’re overtrained when they’re really just tired/underfed/sore.

      The pushups did increase a lot, but I guess because they were so low to begin with, it wasn’t hard to boost the numbers a bit!

  11. First week of the program almost done, and the feeling is great, I think I’ll take a lot of advantage of the extra upper back work.

    Split:
    Lower + Pullups (5xF)
    Upper + Pullups (Pyramid)
    Rest + Pullups (9xT)
    Lower + Pullups (Max T rep sets)
    Upper + Weighted Chins
    Off
    Off

    Today I’ll do my weighted chins as usual: 3 sets, using a RPT approach.

    For my “T” I started with T = 2, which is quite low but I was expecting to have a hard time on wednesday (9xT), but at the end it was doable. Better start low and build up to higher numbers than start to high and stall on the 3rd week.

    Yusef, I have a question regarding the order of pushups and pullups: I work 3 weeks in the morning and 2 in the evening.
    – 3 weeks -> Morning shift: pushups in the morning, training (+ pullups) in the evening.
    – 2 weeks -> Evening shift (1 of them I’m on-call): I try to train first thing in the morning so I can have as much free time as possible to study before going to work.

    I’m planning to do my pushups in the morning, but will it be beneficial to do them before dinner?

    1. Hey Javier – T+2 is a sensible choice, it gets tough very quickly.

      I think the timing of the pushups isn’t a huge issue as long as they get done at some point. However, you don’t want them to affect your performance for the pull-ups, so you need to have adequate rest before you start the pullups.

      Looking forward to seeing how the rest of your training improves.

  12. Yusef, thanks for the template you emailed me. I’ll send you a copy with my numbers when I finish the program.

    Week 3 is finished, numbers are going up on monday, wednesday and thursday; tuesday not so much, I think i added only a couple of reps.

    I would like to say that you have to take care of your lats foam rolling them like crazy, you should take special care of your hands. If you get a bad callus or a blister, your training will take a hit.

    On wednesday I do the pullups at home, I have a pullup bar in my garage. The feel of this bar in your hands is pretty rough, on my third week I had to do the pullups with gardening shoes (not even trolling) due to a huge ripped callus on one finger in my left hand.

    Stay safe

    Message sponsored by NIvea

  13. Last friday I hitted a PR on weighted chinups, +30kg x 1 rep (@80kg BW). This was after hitting several weighted triples, so being fresh I think I can double it or even hit a +35kg x 1.

    Chins 2013/03/15
    + 25 x 3
    + 20 x 3
    + 15 x 3
    + 10 x 3
    + 5 x 3
    + 30 x 1 (PR)

    My pullups are improving veeeeeeery slow, but some of the staff and bros at the gym commented on how my back literally exploded. This has helped me a lot with stability and tightness on squats, deadlifts and bench.

    I ripped a shirt the other day at the pub, friends were joking about the hulk and shit, good times

  14. Hi – this programme looks quality. Going to start this this week. One quick question, I usually fast until about 2-3pm. If I am doing push ups in the morning would u reccomened that I break my fast earlier, or have some sort of protein/fat shake after the push ups? Cheers.
    Also want to commend you guys on a class website, found some really good articles and viewpoints on here.

    1. Thanks! We’re glad you enjoy the website. There’s no need to break the fast earlier or have a protein and fat meal if you’re just doing pushups. Let us know how you get on with the program!

  15. Guys, did you not just prove that bodyweight exercises “could be” better than weights and machines? I have often wondered after seeing bodies of people who do gymnast and bar type workouts.

    You seem to prove that here?

    1. Hi Mike – ‘Proof’ is a very strong word! This is nothing more than an n=1 case of how adding in a new form of exercise stimulus with a high frequency can have a large carryover to maximal strength. But there’s nothing to say that if I started doing machine pec-deck every day with the same rep range that there wouldn’t also be some good gains.

  16. Wow man that’s what I call progression! Congrats. I am starting the program myself but I have one question. Aren’t you supposed to do the pushups everyday even on weekends? The program says so but in your post you don’t mention it. Did you take those two days as full rest? Thanks in advance and keep the good work!

    1. Thanks for the kind words Manny – hope you make some good progress on this. Weekends are off – no pushups or pull ups.

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