Strength and Power Training

How to Add Serious Poundage to Your Bench Press Without Requiring a PhD

Marc Keys is a fantastic strength and conditioning coach who walks the walk as a Commonwealth National Champion Powerlifter. You can follow his training log here (Mongsquat) on the PropaneFitness forum. He takes a simple approach to training, consistently reminding us that lifting weights isn’t rocket science, and that for the most part you should use simple progressions and train hard, even when you think you’re too special.

A few of us have been using his pressing template and getting great results, and thought we just had to share it with you. The progression has brought my incline bench up from 75kg x 2 to 95kg x 7 in about 6 weeks. That was partly because I hadn’t trained this movement before – but regardless, that’s a huge gain.

This is a pressing strength progression and can be incorporated into your weekly full body split. It applies only to the main lift of the day: Bench press and Overhead press, which should be done on separate days. Assistance can be directed to your goal.

The Template:

1) Base Set – Goal: 9-10 Reps
2) +10-20kg: Heavy Set – Goal:  1-3 Reps
3) -10-20kg: Down Set – Goal: 10+ Reps
4) -10kg: Pump Set – Goal: 18+ Reps

The base set is the most important, and should be the big set of the week. Start with a weight you can get 6-7 reps with. When you hit 9 or 10 for the first time, increase the weight of all sets and continue. That’s it.

The rationale here is that it’s easier to add a rep to a set of 8 than it is to add a rep to a double. Can’t really argue with that. As the weeks go on, you’re adding a rep here and there and pushing up your top end strength. The heavy set is just to keep you used to the heavier loads.

Click here for full details on the template and assistance.

Give it a read, and subscribe to his blog. Some of the clearest information you’ll ever find on strength training.


Think you’re too advanced for this template? If it was good enough for Marc’s 202.5kg bench press, then it’s good enough for you.

PS – Subscribe to Marc’s YouTube channel for some inspirational lifting videos, including Ali’s recent 290kg x 3 deadlift. 


4 replies on “How to Add Serious Poundage to Your Bench Press Without Requiring a PhD”

Thank you so much for this!

Bench has always been my worst lift. For the past few weeks I’ve been trying to train it with the ramping method (5 reps then add 10 pounds until rep speed slows) but haven’t made much progress. I decided to give this a try and now I’ve been setting a PR EVERY DAY! I’ll be to to 225 in no time! I suppose I just respond better to more volume. :)

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