How to Increase Your Bench Press with Ed Coan’s Bench Press Routine

One of the most common questions strong-looking individuals get asked is, “How much can you bench?” The bench press is one of those exercises that has become the standard for gauging strength (and, some may argue, coolness) despite the fact that there’s so much more to weightlifting. And more specific than weightlifting in general, is powerlifting, which is comprised of the bench press, the squat, and the dead lift.

One of the most famous powerlifters of our time is Ed Coan. Coan set 71 records in his powerlifting career, which is an incredible feat. He is renowned as a legend in his sport, and his numbers prove it, with these single best lifts:

  • Squat: 981 lbs
  • Bench Press: 584 lbs
  • Dead Lift: 901 lbs

Suffice to say, he is a guy who knows what he’s talking about, and he has mentored numerous young lifters coming into the sport. Granted, he has failed drug tests in the past and been suspended and subsequently banned for life from the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF), but his training techniques are tried-and-true. My dad and I were fortunate enough to meet Ed Coan at the Arnold Classic in Columbus, OH in 2009.

My Dad and I with Ed Coan (middle)

I want to share with you Ed’s bench press training routine. It’s a 12-week cycle that consists of regular bench presses, narrow-grip bench presses, and incline presses. Simply download this spreadsheet and type in cell D1 your current one-rep max bench press (in lbs). The spreadsheet will do the rest and calculate the weight, number of reps, and number of sets you should be striving for across the three aforementioned pressing exercises.

If you find that you are not able to meet the goal for any of the exercises on a given week, lower your number in D1 accordingly and continue following the plan. This is a great routine for anyone looking to increase their bench press, so stick to it and be safe!

At The Arnold Classic, I Bench Pressed My Body Weight 25 Times

I graduated from college the first time in May 2006. I moved back home to Utica and lived with my parents for the next month while I interviewed for jobs. Interestingly enough, my first offer was for a company that also was in the Utica area. I took the opportunity to extend my stay with my parents and save some money (which was really helpful–thanks, Mom and Dad!). Aside from the financial benefit of living with my parents, I would be remiss not to mention the extensive gym my Dad had built in his garage over a couple of decades. And I don’t mean just bought equipment into a room. He actually designed and upholstered a lot of the benches and machines himself (well, ok, with the help of my Mom too). It was a really great setup.

My Dad had been working out for around four decades, and I knew he wouldn’t mind showing his son the ropes. Well over the next three years, my Dad and I turned into really great workout buddies. We knew the drill–get in the gym every other day, work out hard, get out of the gym and rest. Rinse and repeat. If nothing else we were disciplined. by 2009, I was in the best shape of my life. I had benched over 300lbs the prior year, my arms, shoulders, and chest had all grown in size. Even though my Dad was a little bit older than me, he grew quite a bit too. We worked well together.

In March 2009, we decided to go to the Arnold Sports Festival, put on by none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger. During the Expo, MHP Strong held a contest to see who could bench press their weight 25x. That’s 25 reps of your body weight, not 25x body weight ;-). My Dad encouraged me to try it. I thought, “Why not!?”

So here I am, at the ripe age of 24, weighing in at 173lbs and benching my body weight 25 times.

Mike Scalise Benching His Body Weight 25 Times