Review Snapshot

Critical Bench is simple and easy to learn and follow. The program also comes with freebies such as training logs and a bench press DVD.


As a training program, Critical Bench isn't the best way to optimize your strength or muscle-building potential, since it relies on outdated training methods.


If you want to increase your bench press, then Critical Bench is a good, but not excellent, program to follow.

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Annie Oh : I am a 20-something freelance writer who specializes in technology and health re...Member Reputation 124 • 110 active Krits
Critical Bench from Mike Westerdal
Critical Bench Review
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"Critical Bench" by Matt Westerdal - REVIEW

Struggling to increase your bench press? †Instead of continuing to overtrain, personal trainer Mike Westerdal has a different solution: Critical Bench. †With this eBook program, he says you'll learn how to train efficiently, not necessarily more--a common mistake most weightlifting "newbs" make. †But surprisingly enough, his program is not filled with useless gimmicks or endlessly complicated training routines that take weeks or months to learn. †In fact, his program is deceptively easy--but you will still make good gains with your bench press.

What is Critical Bench?

Critical Bench is a bench press program designed by Mike Westerdal, a personal trainer who wanted to develop an effective program to increase his clients' ability to bench press more weight. †Eventually, he settled on a customizable five-day split routine which trained each individual body part once a week. †This, he says, is effective for maxing the bench press, as well as becoming more muscular and lean.

Now here's the big part: You only bench press once a week. †For those who are used to training their chest two to three times a week, this may be jarring--after all, if you're not training your chest more than once a week, won't your bench press decrease? †Unfortunately, this is a big conception newbs have, that somehow training more means training more effectively. †It turns out all you need is just one chest-training session per week with medium to low volume.

Some of the keys Westerdal covers include:
  • Learning how to bench press correctly. †Not using proper form is actually one of the main reasons why people can't lift heavier weights. †Correct your form by placing your elbows in the correct position and arch your back and you'll be able to handle more weights.
  • Warming up correctly. †Most people just run on the treadmill for five minutes as their "warmup," but this doesn't warm up the muscles needed for the bench press. †Focus on stretching and warming up the muscles involved in this lift and your performance will improve.
  • Using assistance exercises. †During chest day, you simply don't do bench presses--you also do "assistance" exercises that increase the strength of the muscles involved in this lift. †For instance, on chest day, you may do bench presses followed by dumbbell flyes and incline bench presses.

All of this information, plus the Critical Bench lifting routine, is all contained in the Critical Bench eBook, which also comes with free bonuses such as training logs, deloading routines, a bench press DVD, and an eBook report on creatine.

Issues with Critical Bench

As a general weightlifting routine, Critical Bench isn't bad--but it's definitely not good either.

Here's why. †Westerdal incorporates a lot of five-day routine that focus on one body part once per week. †Although he says this is an effective way to train, it's actually not, especially if you're new to weightlifting. †Studies show that muscles need a maximum of two days to recover, so by training each muscle group once per week, you're actually training sub-optimally. †To train optimally, you should be hitting these muscles every two days. †Do the math and that should be around three training sessions every week. †

If you train using Westerdal's method, you aren't maximizing your muscle potential, and therefore aren't maximizing your strength potential. †That's not good.††

Aside from this problem, Critical Bench isn't a bad program--chances are you will increase your bench press max. †It's just not the best program out there.


If you simply want to increase your bench press max, then there's a lot to like about this program. †Westerdal has created a simple easy-to-follow program that takes minimum effort on your part to do--simply exercise using proper form and follow his routine. †That's all you need to do. †Keep in mind that if you want to increase your strength or muscle mass, however, his training routine isn't optimal--for optimal strength or muscle gains, I recommend Muscle Gaining Secrets.
Date Reviewed: March 18, 2012, 9:34 am
Reviewed by Annie Oh
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