Since I had a week off to rest up for my Navy PRT (that will get it's own blog post), I restarted week 3. I also decided to experiment with a new way to try and improve my bench press.
1.) It started with this article http://articles.elitefts.com/articles/training-articles/bring-your-bench-press-alive-with-the-dead-bench/
2.) I then decided to test what my dead bench was using singles: 185 was a horrible 1RM (took some body english) and 175 hard but clean with very good form. That's a 40-50 pound difference. So while I may not have enough speed yet out of the bottom to increase my bench, I obviously need more strength at the bottom.
3.) Since I knew that just doing singles would decrease my training volume/density and hurt my overall bench, I thought clusters might help. I found this article snippet from Christian Thibaudeau that hit the spot:
Clustering refers to the rest-pause method: you use a heavy load and do single reps with short rest intervals. This allows you to do a lot of reps with a near maximal load while still having a high training density. I like to use auto-regulatory clusters, meaning that I never have a set number of reps to complete, rather I let the completion of each rep dictate if I continue or not.
I’ll stop a set of cluster reps when I can no longer lift the weight fast enough (or smoothly enough). You can use a stopwatch and have a partner time the overcoming portion of the lift or go by feel; it doesn’t make much of a difference in most cases. This table will give you a time target to shoot for:
Load (Test 1 RM for that particular lift)
Rest between reps
Overcoming time threshold
Target number of total reps
4.) I also didn't want a new sticking point to develop from the bottom end work. If you notice from my last few speed workouts, I've been doing 3x3 with boards after the speed sets. So I'll do this with 2-board benches for a a few weeks since that's usually my transition point from the launch and what I can triple on the two board, I can single on the regular bench.
5.) So yesterday's workout looked like this (all notation: weight x reps x sets). Note that the dead benches are about the same weight as the speed work here, done at 75% of 175. I will add 5% a week to the worksets. During the rest part of the cluster, I take my hands off the bar and take them out of the bottom position to relax so that there is no stretch component:
Dead Benches w/1-pr chains (clustered, 15 seconds between reps): 75x3, 95x3, 115x3, 130x3x5
2-Board Bench Press: 135x3, 160x3, 185x3
Barbell Rows: 45x5, 60x5, 70x5, 85x3, 95x2, 105x5, 115x5, 120x5
Barbell Push Press: 95x10, 8, 6, 5, 4 reps. Had little bottom end as the sets went on.
Barbell Reverse Curls: 45x8x4