A Review of Critical Bench, the Customized Bench Program
Increase your bench press by 50 lbs or more
by Marc DavidBuy Critical Bench, the Customized Bench Program Now
As much as I enjoyed Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle by Tom Venuto, I enjoyed this 31 page e-book by Mike Westerdal called Critical Bench, the customized bench press program. Reading it was a breeze as nearly 10 of the pages are an actual week by week customized program. Once you tell the service at Critical Bench your previous benching experience (how much you've done and how many reps) they were able to figure out my theoretical maximum and design a program that would have me increase my pressing by as much as 50 lbs.
My first impression was.. and I'll be honest.. WOW! Simply because the personalization of this program really hit home. Not everybody eats the same. Not everybody has the same genetics. By tailoring it just a little bit to me, it was obvious this wasn't some generic program. It was my Critical Bench press program. It was how I could increase my bench press.
There's six sections. The first section goes over the training, the need for variety, and some very simple workout terms. It's a primer for what's to come. Planning exactly what you are going to do, where you are, how you get there is essential.
This would be a very vague goal, because you weren’t specific in giving yourself a deadline or an amount of weight you wanted to add to your bench. Another example would be a captain of a ship saying he wanted to sail north. He would start of going north but would eventually get lost at sea without knowing exactly where he wanted to go. This is not going to happen to you.
This was a key point. Here's your 31 page book. No hype. No B.S. much like Tom's book. It takes these 6 sections and then at the end.. Gives YOU EXACT routines, exercises and in terms of benching... the weight and reps you should strive for on each workout. It doesn't get any more customized then that unless you hire a personal trainer to take you thru this program. -Critical Bench page 1
Following the program and the exercises in the order listed is imperative. Why? For example, it would be a really bad idea to fatigue and workout your triceps before your chest day. This is a program for benching. In order to bench, you need to be recovered and have all the muscle groups ready to support the chest. No pre-exhausting the triceps when they are a very important secondary muscle group involved in this exercise. So this is just another example of the exercises will be listed for you and what exercises you do, what day in what order. Not vague generalizations but EXACT details.
Mike moves on with a couple of choices for picking your split days.. Whatever works for you. Even with my crappy schedule, I was able to pick one that will work for me. There are only about 3 but... They are pretty standard and pretty flexible.
An obvious section covers the "how to do the exercise" and where the bar goes, how low, and some definitions and explanations of lower 1/2 reps and why they are useful. A good section on stretching and warming up... again... specifics... not "warm up" and be ready. Even the speed at which to do the exercises is discussed.
“Whatever you lift today, you must lift more tomorrow.” And so at the end of the book is your training log... where you will record this... but there's more.
Training partners. If you are serious about this program... you are going to need a partner or somebody in the gym you can trust. Why? Because if you are doing negatives, or a max set... you NEED to have somebody there, ready, who is alert and capable of helping you. This isn't a program for smith machines. This isn't a program for machines. This is a free weight barbell (where you'll need spots) and dumbbell (probably not) kind of program. So if you CANNOT, no way, ask for help or get a training partner, then you will not get 100% out of this program. You can get a lot out of it... but you will not be the most efficient if you can't find some quality help. Even if you don't have a partner, can you honestly say... I know nobody at my gym, even the staff that I trust that can help me. If you answer that... true... well then. But I'd say most of us who are serious know people or can find somebody. And that's really important when you are going for your new max and are pushing yourself to an intense level.
The bench press is a very mental lift. Big numbers can be intimidating, and so can three, four, or five plates on each side of the bar. Some people can do 310 lbs but can’t get 315 lbs. Some people can get 395 lbs but not 400 lbs, because 400 lbs sounds so much heavier. Or they can lift 400 lbs but not 405 lbs because the four plates on each side of the bar psyches them out. The most important thing we can tell you is: “Never Plant A Seed Of Doubt In Your Mind!”
Enough said... mental attitude is a big part of this. And I have to agree 100%. If I was going to increase my bench press, I needed to have the right attitude.
I didn't believe it would be this detailed but Critical Bench even tells you the three steps you need to do before and the day of your bench days. Very basic... no secrets but that is how detailed it gets. This is about your benching.. 100% devoted to maximizing your lifts.
There's a supplement section... much like those of you who have read Max-OT the Workout there's that section. But Mike is honest. "If you use stuff you like, stick with it, but we offer a line as well." Fine. Up front and honest. Very good section regardless on what Mike considers to be a basic supplement regimen. Have to say, I take about 90% of what's recommended.
Moving on, Critical Bench gives a nice overview.. maybe 2 paragraphs on eating for power. How much protein, how many carbohydrates and how much fat per day. It's not about cutting. It's about feeding yourself optimally for a 100% lift.
There's a Tips and Tricks section. Nothing fancy. Just a few things to consider to help you out (chalk on the hands if you can, gloves that have wrist support... etc).
There's a Critical Support Group that will help you out if you have specific questions about this program once you are on it. And you can always e-mail Mike as he gives his full e-mail address along with a secondary. When he contacted me and I wrote back, he's been responsive.
By week 11 you are maxing out!
And the following 10 pages are the actual training log... step by step, how much weight, how many reps to do for the 12 weeks. It was my personalized plan to increase my bench press by 50 lbs.
If you want to maximize your bench. If you want EXACT guidelines and a training log setup for you on how to do this (reps, weight, exercises, rest periods) then Critical Bench meets the needs. There's a full body workout and no body parts are excluded but this book is about your bench. And everything related to it. Eating, sleeping and supplementing. I was truly amazed and it's level of personalization in the training log. At first I didn't get it. The note said, this wouldn't work for anybody else. And then I looked and I saw numbers for benching that made sense.. for me. And then it hit me. It's MY program.
Overall, I was impressed. The principles are sound. The exercises are heavy basics which we in Freedomfly agree on using anyway. And there's a good focus on avoiding overtraining which is important. I found the level of specifics to be better then expected. Nothing worse then buying a book on how to do it and when you are done you wonder how to do it. You won't have that feeling after this.
- With the purchase of this program you get over $175 worth of bonus materials (Killer Abs by Shawn LeBrun; Strength Training Tips and Tricks by TrulyHuge; etc.)
- A free issue of Monster Muscle sent to you in the mail
- Mike is personally available via e-mail to answer questions if the need arises. I've had an A+ experience when communicating via e-mail with Mike at Critical Bench. Very responsive and answers the questions directly. No marketing stuff. He's real.
Does it work?
Follow my own personal experience with Critical Bench while I try and maximize and increase my bench press in the Discussbodybuilding forum. >>>Follow Me
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