Interview with Powerlifters Bruce Swanson & Son by Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com
Bruce Swanson Jr. has set a world record in the bench press benching an
amazing 365lbs @ 181 pounds at the young age of 14! What can the average 14 year
old bench? Personally back when I was only 14, I would take my 14 year old athletic friends down in my basement and we would all have bench press competitions down there and I don't think any of us benched more than 75lbs. Bruce Jr. on the other hand is at least 5 times stronger than most boys his age and 5 times stronger than we were! And guess what, Bruce Swanson Jr's arms measure nearly 17 inches, which is bigger than many pro athletes! Bruce Swanson Jr's success goes beyond the gym and being big. This kid is literally dangerous!! On the football field he just takes players out of the game one by one! Everyone is scared of the young monster!
Bruce Junior's mentor is his father Bruce. Bruce is quite the monster himself,
they don't call him freight train for nothing. Bruce Swanson has cruised
past a 500lbs bench with ease! Not only is Bruce becoming a stronger beast everyday, but Bruce Swanson is one of the men in charge of NY powerlifting. He is as cool as they get. Let's get up close and
personal and see what these father and son bench press gorilla have to say!
1) Critical Bench: Bruce Senior and Jr, it's an honor to have you both with us. This is the first Critical Bench interview of two people at once and I couldn't have two better people to interview together. So, Bruce Senior and Jr. Can you introduce both of yourselves to Critical Bench?
SENIOR: I am 37 years old, married with 2 kids: Bruce Jr(14)also a
competitive bencher, Victoria(6)a dance enthusiast, and we are expecting our 3rd child
in Oct 03. We live in New York. I have been an accountant for over 13 years.
Aside from powerlifting, I enjoy spending time with my family, carpentry,
plumbing, landscaping, football, fishing, four-wheeling, and watching the
World's strongest man on espn.
JUNIOR: I am an average 14 year old. I am very active and enjoy sports and
I love a good physical and mental challenge. I am currently a purple belt
(2 ranks away from black) in Neisi Goju Ryu and have been taking the style
for about 5 years.
2) Critical Bench: Bruce what are your best lifts and what are yours Bruce Junior?
SENIOR: I benched 490@ 181 Dec-01 527@198 March 1, 2003 440 raw bench@ 196.
The 490 & 527 are New York Usapl Records and the 440 is an ADAU American Raw record. I also hold the Wnpf Submaster American record with a 500 bench @ 196.
JUNIOR: I benched 365@181 at the age of 14!
3) Critical Bench: 365@ 181 at the age of 14 is NUTS!!!!!!!! Most 20 year old 265lbs
bodybuilders can't bench that much nor do most college football players.
You're amazing, how did you do it?
JUNIOR: I keep a strict routine and never miss any workouts. I also train
4) Critical Bench: What's it like being only 14 and being able to out bench most of the
adult men that train and pro athletes?
JUNIOR: It's great and I am blessed that I have good genetics and good
5) Critical Bench: Bruce Junior, I also was informed that you not only beat your opponents on the football field, but you HURT them!! So what comes first to you lifting or football?
JUNIOR: At this time lifting comes first to me, but football is one thing
that I will always enjoy and love.
6) Critical Bench: Let me switch over to Bruce Senior now. So your son has made some UNBELIEVABLE accomplishments! Incredible story….
SENIOR: I know, he took out the QB in the football game! You have had to of
7) Critical Bench: I'm glad I'm not that QB, hahaha. Bruce we truly might be witnessing the next big thing in the NFL. But obviously you have to mean a lot to your son. Were you also a genetic freak?
SENIOR: I have been lifting weights since I was 10 yrs old. My bench was
always good. I started competing in 1992. At that time my best bench was 340@ 175
lbs. At my first meet I did a 330 bench @ 181 to take 3rd place in the
novice division at the adfpa(now usapl) New York State Bench/Deadlift Champs.
8) Critical Bench: Bruce Junior, have you always been super strong?! Did you perform any insane feats of strength before your teenage years?
JUNIOR: I have been amazed by weights and football since I was just a little
kid of 5 or 6 and have been physically active since then. I did 90-100
pushups at the age of 7 and started lifting weights seriously at the age of
10. I started to compete because I wanted to be like my father!
9) Critical Bench: Bruce Jr, What are your future goals?
JUNIOR: I would like to hit a triple body weight bench press and be world
10) Critical Bench: Bruce Jr, was your favorite accomplishment with benching and football so far?
JUNIOR: For powerlifting it was when I benched 132.25 at the weight 132. It
was the beginning of my career and I was very excited. For football it was
my last game of my 6th grade season.... II had a season total of 116 tackles
and 17 sacks in just a 7 game season. None of those were assisted.
11) Critical Bench: Bruce Jr and Senior, what are your favorite bench press assistance exercises?
SENIOR: Boards. It has to be boards, double, triple, quadruple board
presses. I love
em!!! I also like heavy dumbbell work up to 150's+
JUNIOR: My favorite assistance exercise is definitely the wide grip push
12) Critical Bench: Bruce Sr. What was your favorite powerlifting
SENIOR: Benching 480 @ 181 at the Iron Island Gym in Oceanside, NY. I had
been stuck at a plateau for about a year and was really wondering if I had
anything left in me in the 181 lb division. The 480 was a solid strong lift
on a 4th attempt at the AAPF/APF Halloween Classic Bench/Dead. It was a
great motivator for me..
13) Critical Bench: Bruce JR.. What was your favorite powerlifting and football moment?
JUNIOR: Power lifting: When I was training for a meet on May 18th 03. I had
bought a Titan Fury bench shirt and I could not get 250 to touch so I had to
order an Inzer E.H.P.H.D Blast Shirt on May 12th. It got to me about 3 days
later and I put it on, but 185 on and it blew. the whole shoulder section
tore. That left me with less then 5 days to get a bench shirt so I ordered
the next size it got to me 2 days later and I was ready to go. My favorite
football moment was when I took out Kenta's starting quarter back and
starting fullback by myself at the same time. They were out for the rest of
14) Critical Bench: hahaha.. Even though those players are scared of your son, if they can take his hit then they can take anything!!!! Hahaha
SENIOR: Yup, my son is the man- YEAH!!!
15) Critical Bench: okay, but your son has been blessed to have you as a father who knows how to turn him into a wild strong beast. So, Bruce Senior what does your son do differently than most lifters to become the animal that he has become?
SENIOR: Well most lifters just OVERTRAIN… Doing too much volume work and
lifting too heavy too
JUNIOR: Yes, Doing very low reps and not overtraining is key.
16) Critical Bench: SENIOR, being the veteran you are- What are some of the most important factors for a bigger bench?
SENIOR: I will list some in
order of importance:
3> A Balanced Routine
4> Training instinctively and knowing when to back off or reduce training
17) Critical Bench: I like the tops! Awesome, awesome, awesome-- Bruce Senior, what drives you?
SENIOR: Just the fact that someone else accomplished a particular lift
drives me to
try and beat that lift. I want to leave my mark. I want some young lifter to
look at my numbers and wonder if they can surpass them, but if they do, they
are going to have to sweat for it.
18) Critical Bench: Bruce Senior, What goes through your mind before destroying a big weight? Is it a very crazy thought?
SENIOR: The mind is a very powerful thing. What I see in my head varies from
lift to lift over the years. That dark, cold, barbaric area of my mind where I dwell
during training and competition is a scary place. Let me put it this way,
the majority of times it is not a very pretty sight, it is a good thing that
others cannot see my thoughts before I take the platform. I like to think of
it as "controlled rage"
19) Critical Bench: HAHAHAHA,, What about you Junior?
JUNIOR: I envision victory, VICTORY! VICTORY!
20) Critical Bench: Senior and Jr. What diet and routine do you feel is best for a bigger bench?
SENIOR: Protein has to be cranked up real high-close to 200 grams/day. Not
to get to
complicated, a basic periodization routine will almost always do the trick.
I don't care what routine you look at. IE: If it is compiled with % or not.
The weights should start low with high reps and finish with the weights
high and reps low. That's power lifting in a nutshell. That's all it is.
JUNIOR: My diet could be a lot better but I am still a kid so its harder to
keep a good diet, but before meets (2 weeks) I start to cut out carbs and
don't eat as much junk food.
21) Critical Bench: Bruce Junior- Tell us about your routine-
JUNIOR: My recent routine is similar to this. (These aren't my real
Just add 10 pounds to each set every week and that's basically what I did
this routine not exact though.
22) Critical Bench Thanks, Bruce Jr. Now let's pick at your father's veteran mind for a bit. Bruce Senior what are your future goals?
SENIOR: To hold as many of the NY state records in as many federations &
divisions as I can. I currently hold the Usual 181 & 198 open/lifetime/sub master
slots. I also hold state records with the APA, ADAU, AAPF, I would like to
keep adding to those as I go thru the master divisions. I will grab some
records in the 220 division in the near future.
23) Critical Bench: Bruce Senior, How do you see the future of benching?
SENIOR: I think the future is bright with the likes of Kieran Kidder and Joe
Mukite who are putting big dollars behind powerlifting to help get the
public/television recognition that we need. The only drawback is the watered
down effect that is the result of so many different federations and so many
"world record holders".
24) Critical Bench: What makes the difference between a champion and an average joe?
SENIOR: As far as I am concerned I am the average joe. Give an average Joe
some : Guts, determination & discipline and who knows what they can accomplish. .
In powerlifting, just as in life you have to be committed to the task at
hand. Too many people are inconsistent or give up too easily. In my own
case, I may not have the best height or genetics for benching, but I will
not quit. That's it: NEVER SURRENDER
25) Critical Bench: Very inspirational. What was the craziest thing you have ever seen in powerlifting or at the gym?
SENIOR: I have seen some crazy stuff over the years. Man, it's hard to pick
the best one...In terms of injuries: I have seen 470 fly out of a lifters hands at
the lockout position and break his sternum. Unfortunately, I witnessed in
My a friend of mine tear BOTH quadriceps at a full meet. The all time
craziest stuff took place at an apf meet where this lifter's wife or
girlfriend was slapping the shit out of him before he lifted!
Critical Bench: Guys this has been great. Let's wrap it up, any final words for Critical
SENIOR: Don't lose track of why you started lifting weights in the first
place. Whatever that reason may be. Training & competing is supposed to be a fun
thing. It may get stressful training before a big meet from time to time,
but I always remind myself that I am blessed. God has given me the ability
to pursue the sport that I love. He further graced me with my son and his
interest in the sport. My son holds countless records and I enjoy watching
him progress and win at meets more than my own achievements.
JUNIOR: THANKS DAD!!!... I would like to give a thanks to my father for
helping me with my training. My karate teacher for everything he has taught
me and everyone else that has made an impact on my life.