Following his advanced deadlift program and advanced squat program, Jonnie Candito’s advanced bench press program is a bench-focused program for athletes looking to bust through stubborn plateaus. The program is explained in great detail in this PDF. I have pulled out some of the most important parts in the below overview, but if you wish the run the program I strongly recommend reading the PDF. It includes much more detail and explains the methodology behind accessory selection, which is omitted here in the interest of brevity.
There is also a nifty combination of this bench program along with the squat and deadlift programming from Jonnie’s popular 6 Week Strength Program, which is here: Candito 6 Week Program + Advanced Bench Hybrid Program
Of course, if you enjoyed the program, please consider donating to Jonnie (PayPal link on site).
Candito Advanced Bench Press Program Spreadsheet
2/20/20 Update: An all-star Lift Vault reader edited the spreadsheet to fix the kg function and fixed the week 6 day 1 pin press weight calculation. Thank you, L.Y.!
Candito Advanced Bench Press Program Overview
These are excerpts from the program description PDF on Jonnie’s site (link).
Goal and Context of Program
This program is built primarily for an advanced lifter looking to set aside a period of time to focus on overloading the bench press with high frequency, volume, and specificity. Also this is executed while varying the approach from normal training outside of this specialized program as well as within the cycle (dramatic difference between first 3 weeks vs the rest). This is intentional because after a certain point, even with smart training, you tend to run into a wall especially as a natural lifter.
First 3 weeks Maximum Fatigue Phase
5x a week, goal is fatigue + accumulating high weekly volume with emphasis on accessories. Skill in bench press developed very well too but bar speed kept fast as effort on competition lift is low. Goal is simply working so hard that your body has no choice but to react to the collective stimulus. On week 3 a range is given it is intentional to allow for autoregulation based on the day. I recommend hitting the max end of that range at least once during the week. Also, the reason behind building up to 90% by week 3 is to essentially have a minipeak within the cycle when fatigued. It will help you get a good judgement on how realistic your goal max is which is useful since most of the cycle is so deep into being submaximal.
Weeks 4 High Volume W/ Specificity And Full Recovery Phase
2x a week, goal is as much volume per session on the bench itself while being able to keep intensity gradually climbing. Expect great deal of soreness but near full recovery in between sessions.
Week 5 High Intensity Peak Set Phase
Goal is to hit some rep PRs but intentionally keeping it to a conservative 3 rep peak set followed by the next workout being a true 5 rep max at the end with backoff sets to keep volume up. The philosophy on this program is valuing volume with an extremely short and minor taper off on the bench press compared to what I recommend on the squat/deadlift.
Week 6 Max Out Phase
What Is An “Advanced Lifter”?
This question is similar to what constitutes an elite powerlifter in that there is no universally agreed upon answer, but it sounds official so we all just roll with it. So the real question is what is my personal definition of an advanced lifter? That entirely based on one aspect and one aspect alone. Rate of progress.
It is entirely irrelevant if you bench press 225 pounds or 500 pounds for a 1 rep max. If you are unable to make consistent, testable (ie not under the minimum increments in your gym) progress each month then you are advanced by my definition. Percentages already handle accommodating different strength levels easily. Deciding duration of the training cycle and approach to projected strength increase is the tricky part requiring more division based on advancement. There are other perfectly valid definitions that shorten the time table to weekly progress for an intermediate and trackable progress straight from the previous workout to the next for novice. But since the gap between novice vs intermediate is already so short in comparison to intermediate vs advanced with my approach, I don’t like to use a version which splits hairs even more between those groups while expanding the already ambiguous advanced group.
Novice = Progress weekly
Intermediate = Progress monthly
Advanced = Everything else