The Workhorse

Alex Vigneault

Alex Vigneault is a CrossFit athlete I work with. This year he finished second behind Matt Fraser (who gave Rich Froning a run for his money at the CrossFit Games last year) at the East Regional earning his qualification for the CrossFit Games on only his second year competing.

Alex is a workhorse who seems to not feel any lactic acid. He can pump out rep after rep like a machine. You can't kill this guy!

So I challenged him to test just how much work he can do non-stop on a simple, non-technical movement that most everyone knows how to do: the bench press.

Alex is all chest and lats. I swear that he gained about two bra sizes from this workout! Don't let the weight (or lack of weight) fool you. Very few people will be able to complete it regardless of how strong they are.

The Challenge


Yep, you read that right. The challenge consists of 500 reps with the empty bar on the bench press (a 45 pound bar for guys, a 35 pound bar for girls).

Think that's excessive? All the reps have to be unbroken. This means you can't rack the barbell during the set.

You are allowed to rest during the set, but only with the bar being held at arms length. You can't stop the bar on the chest at all during the challenge.

Why Do It?

Female Bench Press

First to prove that you're tough and can handle the pain. Test your mettle.

It'll also have an effect on muscle mass. Alex and Carol-Ann Reason-Thibeault (who also qualified for the Games) were sore in the chest and triceps for three days after the session.

And while soreness isn't necessarily a sign that the workout was optimal, it indicated that the session had a significant impact on the muscles.

This method will lead to the release of a lot of local growth factors and will have a positive effect on the tendons. It would even be helpful for people with mild nagging shoulder issues.

500 Unbroken Reps in 11 minutes

How did Alex do? He got the 500 unbroken reps in exactly 11 minutes.

Carol-Ann took just a few seconds more. While her bar was lighter, it was only 10 pounds less.

The next question is, how will you do?

Are you tough enough to take on the chest challenge? What kind of workhorse are you?

Let me know on Facebook.

Christian Thibaudeau specializes in building bodies that perform as well as they look. He is one of the most sought-after coaches by the world's top athletes and bodybuilders. Check out the Christian Thibaudeau Coaching Forum.