One of the classic techniques to increasing your bench press is by working up to heavy 1 rep singles. The simplest way to chart this is by using a bench press max chart. This functional tool helps keep track of progress as you work through training cycles which will in turn help you continually increase your bench press.
Intrigued? You should be. Using a bench press max chart is by far one of the best ways to help work on continual strength gains.
Old School Style
Doing heavy 1 rep max singles is certainly old school training. Many classic bodybuilders had roots in powerlifting. Powerlifters had the obvious focus of increasing their poundage on core lifts continually and needed to track their progressions, so they used a chart method.
So what does the chart do?
The idea is to give people a base chart to help determine what their single rep weight should be. The chart is designed with a row across the top with numbers (usually 2 to 12) which represent repetitions. Then there is a column down the side with weights (usually ranging from 135 to 700).
Let say you just cranked out a set with 200 pounds and completed 7 reps before failing on the 8th rep. Using the chart you would go down to 200 and across to 7 and then see that you 1 rep max is 247.2. The purpose for the chart is to estimate where you will be when you attempt to lift that heavy 1 rep single and not use too little or too much weight. The bench press max chart is a predication tool.
Now you can utilize the chart as a way to find out what you should be aiming for with a 1 rep max. This can be useful for the occasional power test or as part of a power training cycle.
True powerlifting methodology involves using training cycles where you start with volume training, such as 5 sets of 10 reps, and slowly cycle down over a period of 12-18 weeks to low sets and reps like 2 sets of max singles.
Having a bench press max chart allows you to target where you should be at the beginning of the cycle to establish your goal and then it is a tool to chart your progress. For the prior example, with you 1 rep max of 247.2, you might have a goal of increasing your max to 275 (pretty big jump but hey, why not). As you work up in weights over the weeks you can do the occasional max out on a set. For example, in week 8 you might only be doing a set of 5 reps at 80% intensity, but you might push that set all the way out and then use the bench press chart to see where your 1 rep max has moved to.
This is a nice psychological boost because sometimes during cycles you wonder if you are actually making headway towards your goal.