Ted Arcidi’s Bench Press Routine

Here’s a good test for how old you are, try and answer the following question…

Who is the strongest pro wrestler of all time? If you’re under 40 you’ll probably answer “Mark Henry”, which is a fair answer. Henry has one of the biggest deadlifts and squats in the world, and his nickname is “World’s Strongest Man”. However, older wrestling fans will most likely answer “Ted Arcidi”.

Arcidi weighed 285lb and is only 5 ft 11 and held multiple records for the heaviest bench press. Mark Henry’s heaviest bench ever was between 585-600lbs (nobody has reached a consensus on which), while Arcidi bench pressed over 700lbs before.

In this article we’ll be taking a look at “Terrible” Ted Arcidi’s bench press routine, which should last you twelve weeks, and involves you steadily lowering the reps and increasing the weight over time.

Ted Arcidi’s Bench Press Routine Structure

The first 3 weeks will have you lifting 3 sets of 6 reps. Weeks 4-6 will have you lifting 3 sets of 5 rep. Weeks 7-9 lifting 3 sets of 3 reps. Weeks 10 and 11 – 3 sets of 2 reps

Following this week twelve would be when you had a meet (if you are powerlifting), but can be used for testing one rep maxes instead.

One decision you’ll have to make for yourself is which form of bench press you’ll be using. As a powerlifter, Arcidi would be using the traditional arched-back powerlifter stance. This shortens the range of motion and allows you to lift more weight. If you are looking for big bench press records this is the way to go.

However, if you’re looking for maximum muscle development you’ll want to lower the weight slightly and perform a full range of motion bench press. This will recruit more muscle fibers and help you build bigger muscles. Either bench press will suit this program perfectly, it’s just a matter of personal preference.

You should also decide whether you’re going to use dumbbells or a barbell, there are benefits to both. Dumbbells are more difficult to lift, but can create a better range of motion, thus are preferred by bodybuilders. While barbells require a smaller range of motion so you can lift heavier weights, which is why they’re used for powerlifting.

Ted Arcidi’s Bench Press Routine.

This is a 12 week cycle.

  • Weeks 1-3: 3 sets x 6 reps
  • Weeks 4-6: 3 sets x 5 reps
  • Weeks 7-9: 3 sets x 3 reps
  • Weeks 10-11: combine sets of 3 and two reps
  • Week 12: meet day; open with a bench that you have done for at least four reps


  • Bench Press 3*5/405-420
  • Behind-the-Neck Press 3*5/260-300
  • Lying Tricep Extension to the nose 2*6/340-350
  • Standing Barbell Curls 3*6/160-195
  • Lat Pulldowns 3-4*10/240

Ted Arcidi’s Bench Press RoutineThursday

  • Bench Press follow 12-week cycle
  • Behind-the-Neck Press 3*6/225
  • Lying Tricep Extension to the nose 2*6/340-350
  • Standing Barbell Curls 3*6/160-195
  • Lat Pulldowns 3-4*10/240


  • Squats your choice of sets and reps
  • Deadlifts your choice of sets and reps
  • Behind-the-neck Press 2*3/335-365

On Thursday, do all heavy bench press sets with maximum poundages. Occasionally, do some forced reps. Rest for 5-6 minutes between bench press sets and 2 to 3 minutes between assistance work sets. Perform the last heavy workout ten days before the scheduled meet. Peak for only one or two competitions a year.

Final Thoughts

There you have it, a twelve week bench press program from the legend himself. We can’t promise you that you’ll be benching 700lbs by the end of it, but you should have seen a marked increase in your one rep max. Which is all that anyone can ask for!

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Steve Shaw

Steve Shaw is the original founder of Muscle and Brawn, an experienced powerlifter with over 31 years experience pumping iron. During competition he’s recorded a 602.5lb squat, 672.5lb deadlift and a 382.5lb bench press.

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