Muscle Sport Magazine

10 to 1, But I’ll Give You Better Odds On a Big Bench

By Michael Kaycheck – BACK IN THE DAY (Whatta fuckin’ has-been thing to say), I had a natural brute strength gym partner. After doing bench with him for some years, I eventually got a 405-pound bench, one rep max. At some point we parted ways, hooked up with mediocre guys and eventually were even benching alone.


Gradually, it went down as I used to go up in intervals of 50 pounds (quarters on each side). I didn’t have a partner standing over me, motivating me. There was no one there on those “iffy” days when the weight just wasn’t going up. I didn’t have a monster standing over me with two fingers on either side of the bar giving me ounces of lift. But that shit works, my friend. You don’t see that spot, you ain’t chancin’ it, you ain’t pushin’ as hard as you should be. So if I did a rep alone and wobbled, I had to hang it up instead of forcing the next one for safety reasons. Therefore, the muscle gets content and you start slipping back. Benching- like squats, military, etc- need a spotter for those big gains. Alone, you’re just not gonna make them. You go alone from 225 to 275 and it’s not a good day, you are in for a rude awakening. So when my pounds plummeted, I came up with a way to bench alone and slowly work the numbers back up with minimum risk. I call it the 10 to 1. Here’s the straight dope:

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I decided that my one rep max at this point was 315 pounds- three plates on each side. So what I did was warm up with a 25 on either end for 20 reps, two sets. Then I swap for a 45-pound plate (135 pounds total). I did 10 perfect reps. Feels a little light. Add a dime-155lbs, do that for nine. Okay, still a little light. Another dime on either side (175) for eight, now take the two dimes off and put on a quarter and a nick (please don’t have a bar loaded with 10’s like doughnuts. You’ll be tying up six dimes when you can use one 25 and one five. You won’t make friends in the gym tying up weight needlessly). Seven reps… See the pattern? What you’re doing is slowly increasing the weight and slowly dropping the rep count so that by the time you are in mass building sets at five reps, the weight is 235X5, then 255 for 4… Until you reach 315 for 1 RM. So it should look like this:

95lbsX20 (warm up)












By adding weight while subtracting reps, you will be able to fairly predict any fatigue that might be around the corner without jumping 50 pounds at a clip and wearin’ a bowtie. Now lets say you’re doing fine up to 235X5. You only get four out of it. And at 255 you get two, 275 for two and 295 for one and you’re shot. Fine. Next chest day, you repeat it and repeat it again until you can go all the way from ‘10 to 1.’ This will build the muscle, reinforce the stabilizers (because if you blow those by adding 25’s at a time training alone, your DONE) and risk minimum injury. You’re going gradually, giving the chest and shoulders a chance to tell you what they can/can’t do. You’ll get about five rep sets out of it and five mass sets out of it.


Okay, you don’t have a three-plate bench; you bench two plates (225). Same warm up, start with one plate (135) and go up by nicks (five pounds either side). The point being, you complete ‘10 to 1’ and arrive at your one rep max at the end. Wanna go up by fives or tens? Up to your body. But increase each set and decrease one rep.


Now you’ve completed the ‘10 to 1’ in order. Next chest day, do it again, same way. Reinforce the pecs and shoulders. Then on your third completed ‘10 to 1’ at your 10-rep starting point, START with an extra five pounds on either side. You will increase every set by 10 pounds, thus increasing the resistance for EVERY rep. THIS is where you’ll start to get the numbers back up. Once you get through ‘10 to 1’ twice on this, trade that added base nick for a dime. This is where your growth will start to stimulate, as your tissue will HAVE TO grow if it’s gonna get stronger to handle the added weight.


Whatever your max is, you get the principal idea; 10 to 1, one less rep every set, X amount of more pounds more every set. Eventually, you’ll need to find a partner but (short of guaranteeing you, as everyone’s physical attributes are different) it’s just about the best way to get into anywhere near deep waters training solo. I’ve turned QUITE a few guys stuck in mid-gear or slipping back onto this routine with VERY positive results… But, hey- what the fuck do I know? I’m just another gym guy working out on the bench next to you.

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  1. Pingback: Lessons from the Underdogs: Five Ways to Stack Your Bench | Muscle Sport Magazine

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