What It Is

A hellacious bench-press challenge—created by Jim Smith, C.P.P.S., owner of Diesel Strength and Conditioning—that tests your upper-body strength and endurance.

How It Works

“The challenge is to bench-press your body weight for as many reps as possible in five minutes,” says Smith. “You can set the weight down whenever you need to during the time. My only advice: Keep one or two reps in the tank each time you go for a set, or you’ll burn out.”

When to Do It

“If you bench-press twice a week, then do this challenge in place of one of your main bench workouts,” Smith advises. “If you bench once per week, make it your only session that week. Don’t attempt this challenge more often than every four to eight weeks.”

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Take the Challenge

Before you attempt this, Smith advises warming up your shoulders with lots of volume and foam-rolling your lats, triceps, back, chest, and delts. Also, perform exercise-specific movements like pushups and empty-bar bench presses. Then load up the bar with the equivalent of your body weight. (Or round off the number accordingly, depending on your body weight. For example: If you’re 207 pounds, just bench 205.) Set a timer for five minutes, and accumulate as many reps as possible, resting as needed.

The Bench Progression to Help You Ace the Challenge

Directions: As the reps lessen each week, increase the weight slightly. After three weeks, retest your results.

  • Week 1*: 3 sets of 8
  • Week 2*: 5 sets of 5
  • Week 3*: 8 sets of 3

Week 4 (retest): 5 min. AMRAP

*After your last set, rest 90 seconds. Then drop the weight of the last set by 10% and do AMRAP for a burnout set.

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