Mike Macdonald’s Bench Press Secret

Mike Macdonald was in the late 70s the bench-press superstar. He had incredible strong tendons and great fast muscle fibers. When he made his 603lb/273kg bench press, he had an 18inch/45cm arm. In this article I will present you Mike MacDonalds Training Secrets.

In Iron Man Magazine (early 70s) Mike cites that a mistake many new beginners make is to always be looking for short cuts. According to Mike there are no short cuts – just a lot of hard work for many years with careful attention to diet, rest and good living habits.

Mike used to train very strict. It was very important for him to develop strong tendons and ligament. This will help you to avoid injuries. Mike said that rapid progress in developing muscle strength at the expense of tendon strength is a serious mistake.

(1) Training Routine From Iron Man Magazine (End of 70s)

In this period of time Mike trained the bench on every third day (while lifting in 198lb class).

Warm Up
135×8 and 135×8

Work Set
225 for 5 reps 
325 for one
425 for one
500 for one
575 for one

He used to rest about 5 minutes. He then did paused repetitions. He pressed the weight just below his sticking point and hold there for a few seconds. He did this with 485 1 rep and after a rest another time with the same poundage

He used for the bench a regular bar. Then he used the special cambered bar. This was invented by him and allowed to him to lower his arms and stretch the pectoral much farther than usual. He did 2 sets of 3 reps with this bar. He lowered the bar to the chest and held it there for 3 to 5 seconds or until he felt a burning sensation in his chest.

He also used to do dips between two chairs to stretch his chest. Mike claimed that pushups and presses with the cambered bar was very important for his success. Because this helped him to stretch the chest and blast off the weight. 

He even stated that most of his success came from his stretch training philosophy, long period of training, good food and medication. Mike made reference to Pat Casey’s training with dumbells. He said that Pat used dumbells to go deeper than regular bars allowed. Thus he was able to use more stretch and Mike used this princip for his own with the cambered bar.

(2) Eight Week Beginner Bench Routine developed by Mike MacDonald (From PL USA 1977)

In this period of time Mike Macdonald added hammer curls to his training. The suggestion came from Bill Kazmaier.It should help building up the “stabilizer muscle” and make the descent more controllable.
This is an eight week bench pressing cycle for intermediate-beginner lifters, based on a personal max single of 250 pounds starting the cycle. This cycle promised to add 40 – 60lb to your bench press. It is very important to concentrate on the right technique.

Rep Sheme Week One, Two and Three

Mike MacDonald Training Routine

Week One
Monday : Bench Press, Bench with 2 Second pause, EZ Curl Bar Bench Press, Narrow Grip: max weight possible for 4 sets of 5

Wednesday: Same as Monday

Saturday: Benchpress, Bench with 2 seconds pause, EZ Curl Bar Bench Press, Narrow Grip: max weight possible for 4 sets of 5

Week Two
Bench, EZ curl bar bench presses max weight 4 sets of 5 reps. Hammer curls (thumbs up) 4 sets 5 with light weight

Same as Monday

Bench, EZ curl bar bench presses, narrow grip max weight. Hammer curls(thumbs up) 6 sets of 5 add weight if possible

Week Three
Now bench press twice per week

Bench, EZ curl bar benches, narrow grip, max weight 5 sets of 5 reps. Hammer curls (thumbs up) 6 sets of 8 and (add weight only if possible)

Bench, EZ curl bar bench and hammer curls (same as above)

Bench Press Rep/Set Sheme; Week four – Week Eight

Mike Macdonald Training 8 week

Assistance work: Keep same EZ curl bar routine and hammer curls except add weight if possible.

Editor’s note: Use the tag system and click the button “benchpress” for more articles! – Mr. Berg

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