If you’re looking to get in shape and build muscle, weight training is one of the best ways to do it. Pushing your muscles to the limit maximizes muscle growth through the healing and repair process repairing and replacing microtears in the muscle fibers. While you might be tempted to just hit the weights and start getting ripped, weight lifting can be extremely dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. One guide that can help you learn how to properly use weights is Critical Bench.

About the Author

Critical Bench was created by Mike Westerdal, a sports expert. He earned his BS from Central CT State University where he played football for four years, as well as gained experience in coaching. From there he went on to training and coaching football in Europe where he received his personal training certifications with the American Council of Exercise. He also went on to compete in several professional weight lifting tournaments in the APA and APF federations. With all of this training and experience behind him, it’s safe to say that Mike Westerdal knows what he’s talking about when it comes to strength training and building muscle.

What Comes With The Guide?

The Critical Bench Program comes with quite a lot of material. The most critical piece of the bundle is the Critical Bench Program 2.0. This is the meat of the program, which explains the theory behind the program, outlines the exercises you’ll be performing, training parameters, and even tips on staying motivated. This gives you everything you need to get going and start building muscle.

You’ll also get customized training logs. These include over 80 workout charts which come in 5lb increments. They also give you the exact targets you’ll be wanting to reach each week for optimal growth and progression. This will make setting your goals and tracking your progress super easy, giving you everything you need to plot your course towards muscle growth and breaking your limits.

Lastly, you’ll get the Bench Press Fundamentals Online DVD. This presentation demonstrates how to properly bench, outlining the proper form, positioning, and movements to safely get the most out of your bench presses. It also goes into detail on what not to do and how incorrect form can not only diminish your results, but be potentially dangerous.

Program Breakdown

So what exactly will you learn in the Critical Bench 2.0 program? The guide is very comprehensive, and many of the lessons can be applied to any kind of workout, not just bench presses. The program is broken down into sections which explain the theory behind what you are doing, and then explains how to put them into practice. Some of these points include:

-The Importance of Exercise:

If you’re not dedicated and ready to commit to a workout routine, this section will either inspire you to start taking things seriously, or make you realize you’re not committed enough to get the results you want. When it comes to exercise, the routine is important. It teaches you how best to organize your workout routines and how to alternate your target workouts. It also offers suggestions for work arounds for if you have difficulties with certain exercises. For example, if you cant complete a full bench press workout before prepping your chest muscles, it recommends you don’t do rigorous workouts the day before or the day of your bench press day. This gives your muscles time to prepare and ensures they aren’t overworked and unable to properly perform when it comes to the heavy lifting involved with benching.

-The Importance of Rest:

The biggest mistake people make when starting a training routine is that they over-train their muscles and burn out. What most people don’t realize is that the strength training is just a means to an end, it’s what leads to stronger and larger muscles but your muscles aren’t growing during the workout. Essentially, pushing your muscles to the limit with strength training causes microtears in the muscle fibers. After your workout during the rest and recovery period, these microtears heal, and your body compensates for the increased strain by building more contractile units (or sarcomeres) within the muscle fibers. The more contractile units a muscle has, the more it’s able to lift. This is why rest is such an essential part of your workout routine. Without rest, you’re not actually building any muscle, and just wearing your muscles down more and more. This is also why it’s important to alternate muscle groups when training. One group of muscles gets to recover while you work another.

-Benching is About More Than Just Your Body:

Benching is a very strenuous exercise that requires more than just going through some motions with your arms and chest. Properly benching requires concentration, focus, and a mental fortitude and mindset to be able to psyche yourself up for the heavy workout ahead of you and keep in that mindset. Being able to visualize your success is important to keep you motivated and able to push your body to the limit with every single workout.

-The Importance of Good Form:

When it comes to bench presses, good form is a critical part of making sure it works. Improper form can not only lead to not getting the most out of your bench press, but can also be dangerous and put unnecessary strain on your muscles and joints. This guide will teach you the perfect form and how to get the most out of every single rep you do.

-Why You Need a Training Buddy:

Critical Bench strongly emphasizes the need to have a support system to help keep you in the game through your workouts. Having a trusty partner will help maximize your results, and will be your support system throughout your workout programs. Critical Bench will require to you maximize your free weights workouts at the gym, and having a training partner is critical to being able to do this. Having a training partner to spot you while doing bench presses is also critical, as it can be a safety risk to bench alone.

-Proper Eating Habits:

Not only will the Critical Bench Program teach you about proper weight lifting routines and form, but also teach you about proper eating habits. You’ll learn how to space your meals around your workout schedules, as well as what kind of foods are best for before your workout to give you the energy you need to power through, as well as what foods are best after your workout to help replenish your body and help with the healing and repair process to further maximize your muscle growth. While not necessary, there is also a section on supplements and what kinds of supplements will actually give you the results you’re looking for.

Is This Program For Me?

There are a few questions you need to ask yourself before diving into the Critical Bench Program. The first and most important question you need to ask yourself is do you have the dedication and discipline to make this workout routine a core part of your lifestyle. Sticking to a routine and following the workout plans religiously is a critical part of the program’s effectiveness. If you cant commit, then this program simply won’t work.

If you’re completely new to working out, you might want to get used to working out in general before diving into this program. Critical Bench assumes you already have some experience with training and lifting, and requires an understanding of at least the basics of how to lift and how to properly train. You’ll also need to have a reasonable fitness level in order to perform even some of lower limit exercises in the Critical Bench Program, so being completely out of shape is going to make this program feel near impossible.

If you’re already reasonably fit and comfortable with taking on a rigorous workout routine, this program may be right for you.

The Pros

  • Great for those who are already hitting the gym and looking to up their max lifting potential.
  • The author is highly experienced and has the certifications to back it up.
  • Highly technical knowledge about lifting weights that far beyond the scope of what you’d normally get out of a fitness magazine or other resource.
  • Breaks down the theory and thought processes before even beginning to touch on the mechanics and how to perform the exercises, ensuring a comprehensive understanding on what you’re doing and why it works.
  • Covers weight loss from a variety of angles, including motivation, diet, and having the right mindset going into a heavy lifting session.

The Cons

  • The dieting section is a bit lacking. It offers some tips and suggestions but it is by far the smallest section of the guide.
  • The guide really focuses on primarily how to increase your max lifting potential and that’s about it. The rest of your results such as weight loss and muscle gain are assumed to follow, but if you’re looking for something a bit more well rounded in terms of exercise planning, you aren’t going to find it here.
  • This program requires access to weight training equipment. You can invest in other gear like free weights and training belts, but a gym membership or gym access at minimum is required to be able to even start using the program.
  • This program is not for beginners. You need to be reasonably fit and familiar with general fitness and lifting terminology in order to understand and utilize the program to its fullest.
  • The support forum has been down for the longest time, and is still down. The need for a good support system is crucial for workouts, and the support forum being down could be potentially dangerous if users have questions about how to properly perform exercises detailed in the guide.

Final Thoughts

The Critical Bench Program is a solid program with proven science and theory behind it. If you’re looking to build muscle through increasing your maximum lift potential, then this guide will give you absolutely everything you need. While it covers a wide range of topics that can be applied to your other workout routines, the primary focus is going to be on benching. If you’re looking for a more well rounded workout program or a program that will help get you started with working out and getting you used to basic workout habits, this might not be the product for you.

While it is a great program, it does have its shortcomings, namely its narrow focus in terms of the primary goal as well as not having any kind of customer support at the moment. The Critical Bench program has a very specific target audience, and requires you to be determined, disciplined, and self-sufficient. Critical Bench certainly works, and there’s no issue with the effectiveness or the quality of the guide and training material, but if you’re someone who’s looking for a lot of supplemental resources and outside guidance in addition to what’s included, you might be better off with a more beginner-friendly option.