Jeremy Hoornstra Interview
As told to Critical Bench by Ben Tatar
Jeremy Hoornstra is one of the most dominant bench pressers of all time. One could say that Jeremy Hoornstra is to bench pressing as Usain Bolt is to sprinting.
Back in 1977 Mike MacDonald set a World Record in the bench press that nobody thought would be beaten, 522 @ 181, 562 @ 198, 582 @ 220, and 603.5 @ 242. Almost thirty years later Hoornstra came onto the scene and not only beat MacDonald’s record but crushed it.
Now Jeremy Hoornstra is breaking his own bench press World Records and has done so repeatedly! He just benched 661.4 at 242! I was fortunate enough to talk to Jeremy about what it’s like to be the great bench presser he is today.
CB: Jeremy tell us about breaking Mike MacDonald’s near 30 year bench press world record! Then tell us what it was like shattering your own world record by over 50lbs?
JH: Well, the 242 lb weight class was 603, held by Mike McDonald for 29 years. I broke that with 605 and then 615 in 2006. After that, I got injured, life got in the way it seemed but I got back on track. I started training with Josh Bryant and increased it to 617 in November. However, the last meet I did in April I benched 622, then 639, then ended with 661.4 (an even 300 kilos). I thought that was really cool because at one time that was the highest bench ever set by Bill Kazmaier, ten days before I was born.
*Editor’s note* Jeremy Hoornstra competes in the 242lbs weight class in the bench press and he not only increased his own bench press world record, but beat Bill Kazmaier’s World Record from the 275lbs weight class that lasted a total of 22 years! That just shows how crazy strong Jeremy’s bench press ability is. He not only dominates his own weight class, but he has beaten World Record Holders in heavier weight classes.
CB: Jeremy, what are your best lifts on the following exercises?
Dumbbell over head shoulder presses for reps – I’m not sure, but I know I can do the 150’s for around 50 reps for a few sets, but that’s cardio.
You make 150lbs over head shoulder presses cardio? (laughs) How many times can you rep 450lbs on the bench? – I haven’t gone for an all-out rep max, but somewhere in the vicinity of 18.
How much can you shrug? – My bar can fit eleven 45’s which is right at 1,035 and I’ve done sets of 8 with that but lately I’ve been hanging around the 800-850 range for 12-15 reps.
How much weight do you use when you do bent over rows? – I have done sets of 6 with 545, 585, etc. but have been doing strict, head supported or chest supported sets lately. Lats are huge in benching.
Your best incline bench press is – 635
Your best bench press in the gym is – 715
CB: Jeremy, on the bench press how many times can you rep 225, 315, and 405?
JH: I haven’t really repped a whole lot lately but I can say the most I remember repping out 225 was 71, 315 was 42, 405 was 24.
CB: What’s harder doing skull crushers with 315s for 10s or 100lbs dumbbell over head presses for 100 reps? I know you’ve done both.
JH: I’d say the 100 reps because that’s crazy endurance, I can muscle up the 315 for a few seconds of reps but 100 reps is insane.
CB: Jeremy, tell us about your diet and what supplements do you take? Do you eat clean or do you eat anything that doesn’t move?
JH: 99% of the time I eat clean. I eat chicken, potatoes, eggs, steaks, etc. I try to make sure I have no cheat meals the week before a show and that puts me right at my comp weight within a few days. I take MHP’s Up Your Mass, Tbombs, and Dark Rage also.
CB: Eating right is so important. Jeremy, What do you think are the 10 most important factors in increasing one’s bench press?
JH: Diet, sleep, listening to your body, staying balanced, going heavy, deloading when necessary, variety, secondary muscle work, technique, and setting a goal…then getting it.
CB: All of these things count folks! Jeremy, before you bench press a world record, what is going through your mind? Do you get deranged or have really intense thoughts or do you empty your mind? Do you like it when people hit you in the face or get in your face and scream?
JH: I try not to think a lot about anything, the less the better. I just focus on staying loose and ready to hit something big. I’m not the type that likes to scream, get slapped in the face, and then hit the weights. I just sit down, lay back and bench it, knowing that my training before the meet will ensure a good lift.
CB: Jeremy, noone thought Mike MacDonald’s records would be broken. They lasted for almost 30 years, until you came on the scene! Now you’re also out benching Bill Kazmaier, who weighed 320lbs, at 242lbs. That is amazing. How did you celebrate after setting the bench press world record once again?
JH: Honestly, we didn’t really do too much, I was already hitting that in the gym and knew that’s what I was going to be benching around. When I got home, my wife and the guys at the fire station cooked me a “congrats” dinner but other than that it was back to the normal routine. I’ll celebrate when I break Scott’s 715…that record was just a stepping stone.
CB: Well, good luck on your next big goal, very few people become the best bench presser in the world.
What is your advice for the following: the 225lbs bencher, 315lbs bencher, 405lbs bencher, and the 500+ bencher who wants to go extreme.. What really makes the difference between an average lifter and a top lifter?
JH: Well, for all of them, I’d say stick with it. As important as diet, training, the “next and newest exercise” can be, none of it factors in as much as consistency. Rome wasn’t built overnight. You have to stay with it when you feel great and strong and ready to tear it up but also when you just don’t feel like going in at all. That’s the difference between an average lifter and a top lifter.
CB: What are your future goals?
JH: Next goal I have set is I want 730 at 242.
CB: Jeremy, a lot of people criticize you for staying 242lbs and not gaining weight as they feel it might give you an edge. What are your thoughts?
JH: I get a lot of people saying “I wonder what he’d get if he gained a few lbs and went up a weight class or two”. In my opinion, all I’d get would be fat. I feel way better where I am and honestly feel that I will get 730. I’m getting close now.
CB: Do you do any type of periodization for your bench press routine? If you do, how does your training change from the start of a cycle to the finish? How long are they?
JH: Well, right now I’m done with my post show training which is a little more conditioning. I’m headed into pre-show training which is a lot more volume and weight, the reps start to diminish off. Josh Bryant writes my workouts out and have made huge gains in less than a year with him.
CB: Do you train hardcore every session? Give us more detail about how Josh is training you.
JH: Josh has me on a four day split, days off I do cardio usually while at work by pushing an ambulance across the parking lot. Three weeks are heavy, hardcore sessions, the fourth week is a deload.
CB: Sounds much like how Kennelly trained for a shirt record. Very interesting how two of the very best in different bench press venues have conjugate like periodization tactics. So far in your bench journey, what has been your favorite moment?
JH: My favorite moment was when I did the 661. I knew that I had hit just over 700 in the gym. Then injuries have always made it where I wasn’t really even close to that by the time the competitions came. However, this past show I was able to increase the record I set with 617 a few months prior to 622, then 639, and then ending at the 661. I felt pretty good about that…but I’m definitely not done with the 242 class yet.
CB: What motivates you to stick with it? Are you as motivated to stick with things other than bench pressing?
JH: Ben, I’ve always been very motivated to finish things I’ve started, almost to the point where it keeps me up at times during the night. For example, if I know I have to work on my house or truck, it will irritate me if I can’t do it and finish it right then. I’m not done with my record, I want it higher, I want the highest and will do what I need to, put in the time I need to, to finish that goal.
CB: Well, Jeremy what a bench press record breaking machine you have become! We can’t wait to see what you have in store for us next. In closing who would you like to thank?
I’d like to thank a few, first my family for their support, my wife and son. They’re behind me the whole time, even when I have to leave them to go to the gym, etc. The rest of my family, my workout partners for not only giving me a good lift, but at times coming in when they’ve already lifted just to give me a lift, Josh Bryant for the training program that has me not only on track but aiming at the future, and my Sponsors MHP and Monsta Clothing.