7 weeks out, bench press experiment pt 2

After last week's interesting experience with negatives as activation reps, I decided that I'd try it again this week to try to learn more about how to include them in my program moving forward.  In addition, I decided to wear my belt for all heavy reps to see if some added support would reduce the strain I've been feeling in my lower back after heavy bench sessions.  It's something that has lingered ever since I tweaked my back in May preparing for a competition last June.

My plan was to work up to a single at 325, do two negative reps with 375 and then give a go with 345. Everything went well up to the negative reps.  While only 10 lbs heavier than the weight I used last week, the 375 felt significantly heavier.  After two negative reps, I felt significant fatigue even though I wasn't trying to exaggerate the lowering process.  In reality, the weight was too heavy as I could only slow the bar on the descent.  I didn't have enough control to stop the weight at any point.

Because I knew I had overshot my weight with the negative activation reps, I decided to try 340 instead.  Like last week's 335, it felt light in the hands and came down with plenty of control.  Unlike some max attempts where you know as soon as the bar touches your chest, that you're pinned, I didn't feel that with this weight.  Instead, when I tried to push it back up, it moved about two inches and then stopped dead.  After that miss, I loaded 275 and did 5 sets of 3 reps.

My takeaways from part 2 of my bench press negative reps experiment are, it's a good tool but not magic and the negative reps need to be heavier than my current 1 RM but not too heavy to be taxing.  On the positive side, I was able to handle the 325 pretty comfortably.  Not easy enough that I could've doubled it but easy enough that I can count on it as a second attempt if my meet were next week.

As for wearing a belt during bench pressing, I've only ever done it before when using a bench shirt and only to secure the shirt.  I did find it seemed to lessen the stress somewhat on my lower back and I could use my leg drive better as a result.  It also contributed to an overall 'tighter' feeling on set up.  It's pretty goofy but I think I'm going to keep wearing it on heavy work sets.

After the bench pressing was done, I was able to do 3 sets of 10 reps in the bar dip.  A nice increase in volume over previous weeks.

Bench press:  135x10, 185x10, 225x3, 255x3, add wrist wraps and belt, 285x1, 305x1, 325x1
Negative Reps:  375x1, 375x1, 340x1 (tried to push it but failed)
Bench Press work sets:  275x3x5 sets

Bar Dips:  10,10,10

Powerlifting USA July 1986, Roy Mason cover
the first issue of Powerlifting USA I ever bought with Roy Mason on the cover


  1. appreciating your experiences w this tech craig!

    haven't used it myself yet but last week I successfully used it to bump a client over a long-time plateau and hit a 250 bench.

    i was impressed especially because it went like this:

    180, 210, 230, 240x1 very hard grind, semi-misgroove

    then 270xneg, 280xneg

    rested well

    then 240x1 much faster,
    and 250x1 pr

    anyways, very neat trick, def adding it to the toolbox and looking forward to employing myself closer to provincials.


    1. That's amazing! I'd be really curious to see how it works with a deadlift. Benni and Vince Anello have been known to deadlift from a start position using help to move the pins in the rack after the pick up.


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