Sample Bench Press Workouts
Chest Exercises and Chest Workouts

This page has a few sample bench press workouts. You can substitute other chest exercises to create additional chest workouts.

Pyramid training is a very popular way to construct upper body workouts.

You can do an ascending pyramid workout, a descending pyramid workout, or both an ascending and descending pyramid workout.

There are many ways to create a chest workout using the bench press and here are just a few.

Chest Workout with the Bench Press #1:
Ascending Pyramid

The Ascending Pyramid refers to a workout structure that increases the weight with each additional set.

This is a popular bench press workout technique. It begins with 1-2 warm up sets, followed by 3-6 working sets.

Here's an example of what a typical ascending pyramid chest workout would look like.

Warm-up Set #1: 135 pounds 10 reps
Warm-up Set #2: 155 pounds 10 reps

Working Set #1: 185 pounds 10 reps
Working Set #2: 195 pounds 8 reps
Working Set #3: 205 pounds 6 reps
Working Set #4: 215 pounds 4 reps
Working Set #5: 225 pounds 2 reps

Of course, you should adjust the starting and finishing weights to fit your current strength level.

Workout Tip: Initially, in the ascending pyramid aim for 10 reps on each set. If you can easily do 10 reps for each weight you choose, you know that you can increase the weights during the next workout.

Workout Tip: It is not advised that you lift heavier than your 6 rep maximum without a spotter.

Rest 2-3 minutes between sets.

Chest Workout with the Bench Press #2:
Descending Pyramid

The Descending Pyramid is the opposite workout technique of the ascending pyramid. In the descending pyramid, you still perform 1-2 warm up sets followed by 3-6 working sets, but the big difference is that after your warm up sets you would start with your heaviest weight and then work your way down.

Here's a sample bench press workout using the descending pyramid workout structure.

Warm-up Set #1: 135 pounds 10 reps
Warm-up Set #2: 155 pounds 10 reps

Working Set #1: 225 pounds 10 reps
Working Set #2: 215 pounds 10 reps
Working Set #3: 205 pounds 10 reps
Working Set #4: 195 pounds 10 reps
Working Set #5: 185 pounds 10 reps

One advantage of the descending pyramid is that you lift your heaviest weight when your chest is still relatively fresh.

Another advantage is that you will generally have higher volume during the descending pyramid because you should be able to complete 10 reps at every weight level.

With the descending pyramid you can better control the rep range for your workout by adjusting the weights down so that you fatigue in the desired repetition range.

Remember each repetition range has a different adaptation-- Read my article on Weight Training Principles.

Chest Workout with the Bench Press #3:
Ascending and Descending Pyramid

By now, I'm guessing you've figured out what this 3rd chest workout will look like.

The ascending and descending pyramid chest workout simply goes up in weight and then down in weight.

Here's a sample ascending and descending pyramid for the bench press.

Warm-up Set #1: 135 pounds 10 reps
Warm-up Set #2: 155 pounds 10 reps

Ascending
Working Set #1: 185 pounds 6-10 reps
Working Set #2: 205 pounds 6-10 reps
Working Set #3: 225 pounds 6-10 reps

Descending
Working Set #4: 205 pounds 6-10 reps
Working Set #5: 185 pounds 6-10 reps

In this workout, you simply increase the weight to get to the top of the pyramid and then work your way back down to the starting weight of your first working set.

This is one of the best bench press workouts because you can get a variety of intensities, a variety of repetition ranges, and a variety of adaptations.

Summary

The above are just sample bench press workouts. My advice is to always listen to your body and customize your chest workouts to fit your specific goals and abilities.

Adjust the weights and sets based on your current fitness level. If you're a beginner, aim for 2-3 working sets, and if you're an advanced lifter who has a high level of conditioning then it's okay to stretch your bench press routine up to 6 working sets.

You can also use the above workout techniques with other chest exercises.

Yours in Health,
Dr. Charles PT/PT

Return to Weight Lifting Routines from Bench Press Workouts

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