By Chris Wilson, Head Strength Coach
Let’s get right to it!
There is a lift LOTS of guys struggle with improving at the gym that can be extremely frustrating and defeating…
The Bench Press
These guys work as hard as any of the other guys in the gym but feel so inferior, especially when one of them asks, “So how much can you bench?” They embarrassingly mumble “My max is 205 pounds.”
If they weigh 225 pounds but struggle to rep out their own body weight, it’s as if they can hear people chuckling throughout the gym at them.
This ‘strength technique’ I’m about to share with you is for the guys who are getting sick and tired of justifying their weakness in the bench press and being the laughing stock of the gym.
With this training technique, you will have a shot at increasing your bench in only 6 weeks!
So you SUCK BIG TIME when it comes to bench press…
Don’t feel like you are alone as I can relate to you (as well as many other guys) with regard to a having a weak bench press at some point in our training.
Back in the day, I could do full barbell back squats with 315 pounds for 15 reps without much of a warm-up easier than I could bench press 225 pounds for ten reps.
Basically I could easily rep out my body weight PLUS 100 lbs on squats but only hit my body weight for like 10 reps. Compared to other guys with big benches, I felt like a failure.
I just wanted to feel the same kind of confidence while lying under the bar that I felt while standing under it.
If there is a positive to my bench press weakness it is that I have researched nearly every bench press routine known to mankind over the years. I know what works and what is monkey crap when it comes to bench press routines.
Here is a 6-week bench press routine, which will give you the most amount of gain factor in the least amount of training time.
It is called ‘Flashpoint Bench Pressing’.
This training technique uses a fixed poundage percentage of a maximum un-fatigued single-effort. The percentages of maximum and corresponding poundage increases only once every seven days, over the next six weeks. Here is an outline of the six progression training levels that many bodybuilders in both the amateur and pro ranks will use in their quest for upping bench press power.
Do this workout on Monday and Friday or…Tuesday and Saturday
The point is to have 3 days off in the middle of your bench days.
Level One (Week #1)
After a couple of light specific warm-up sets perform 5 sets of ten reps with 65% of current un-fatigued maximum single effort (MSE).
Level Two (Week #2)
5 sets x 8 reps with 72% MSE
Level Three (Week #3)
5 sets x 6 power reps with 79% MSE
Level Four (Week #4)
5 sets x 4 power reps with 86% MSE
Level Five (Week #5)
4 sets x 3 power reps with 93% MSE
Level Six (Week #6)
1 set x 2 power reps with 100% MSE
NOTE: Always be sure to do a couple of light specific warm-up sets at each level of training.
By Chris Wilson, RKC, CPT, CSN
Not any one training schedule works for all lifters. That’s a FACT.
Some guys have super busy schedules and have limited time to devote to working out while others can easily adjust their schedule to meet their training needs.
Below you will see 13 different training frequency options. Look them over carefully, study them for a moment and then decide for yourself which one makes sense in your life.
Options 1-10 are based on body part split routines (more bodybuilding) and options 11-13 are based on total body workouts (more powerlifting/powerbuilding). In order for these options to make sense in your life, you must first decide what type of training routine meets your needs.
How to Choose the ‘Right’ Training Option
Choose a training frequency option (for example 2-On/1-Off, 1-On/1-Off repeat frequency) which best accommodates:
- Your current daily lifestyle,
- Recovery ability tolerances (localized muscle and central nervous system),
- Major and minor muscle grouping preferences (body part splits), and
- Number of training sessions dedicated to select muscle groups.
If you may want to focus extra time and attention on a particular lift like the bench press or squat in order to make faster progress with that lift, you will want to immediately focus on options 11-13.
Options 11-13 are broken up into 3’s – Workout A, Workout B and Workout C. To make this simpler, you will see WOA, WOB & WOC in the charts. Remember, it is up to you to decide what specific exercises you want in each workout. This is simply a template to help you stay on track with your training and is based on a schedule that works best for you.
Lastly, for options that don’t show all 7 days of the week (options 1, 2 & 4), it is assumed that you then REPEAT the cycle. So, for example, Option 1 has Day 1-4 listed, on Day 5 you would then repeat the cycle with the Day 1 workout.
So let’s dive right in…
13-Dynamic Training Frequency Options
OPTIONS 11-12-13: Abbreviations: WOA, WOB, WOC symbolizes muscle group(s): WORKOUTS A, B, and C
10 Keys to a World Record Bench Press
By Ben Tatar
During the past 15 years, I have interviewed thousands of the best bench pressers in the world. I also have locked out 755 lbs in the bench press. How would you like to bench press well over 1000 lbs?
Whether your goal is to set consistent personal records in the bench press or world records, follow these 10 tips for the biggest bench press possible.
If you want to hold a world record in the bench press, you can’t be bench pressing flat on your back like a gym rat. For example, when you bench press, squeeze your shoulder blades together.
That diminishes the stroke 3 inches. If you fill yourself with air which shortens the stroke, you’ll bench more weight.
Arching your back while keeping your butt on the bench and squeezing your thighs into the bench shortens the distance the bar must travel. Use leg drive, and push off the floor to activate the legs.
Widen your grip. Tuck your elbows in, bench to your lower chest and press the bar up in a straight line.
You’re then benching an insane weight less than 6 inches. If you want to bench press a world record, you’re going to want to move the weight as few inches as possible.
2) TRAINING FOR PERSONAL RECORDS
If the bencher wants a personal or a world record, the bencher shouldn’t look for a bench shirt right away. The bencher should do 1-2 heavy bench sets with low reps on chest day instead of 10-20 sets with average intensity. The bencher should get their back, triceps, shoulders, traps and everything else scary strong first.
This means have a chest/triceps day, a legs day, a speed bench and shoulders day and a back and traps day. Also, stop doing casual assistance bench exercises like regular dips with body weight and start doing drop set dips with 4, 25 lbs plates on your lap.
Do this exercise between 2 benches (with good form,) as a spotter removes the weight each time you fail. (More and heavier plates can be applied when strength increases.) The bencher should have everything strong to avoid injury before even thinking about using a bench press shirt.
3) THE SLINGSHOT
Before getting a bench shirt, get the SLINGSHOT by Mark Bell. It lets people get their first taste of simple gear, and anybody can easily use it.
4) BENCH PRESS SHIRT
The heaviest weights ever benched were with a bench press shirt. Most advanced lifters would advise the bencher to have a solid foundation of strength and have their technique down before using a shirt. If you’re just starting with a shirt, you should get the Rage from Inzer.
You will see fast gains immediately when using proper technique. Another shirt option for the beginner would be a single ply shirt from OVERKILL. The more advanced bencher, who has a great arch and benches off their abs in a shirt, should get the Rage X from Inzer, the F6 from Titan or either the double ply or triple ply shirt from OVERKILL.
Double ply is more forgiving for staying in the groove of the shirt. You will bench more with a triple ply if you can keep flawless technique (hard to do without years of practice.) Ryan Kennelly has the biggest world record bench press to date, and he used a Phenom shirt.
Rage shirt can be purchased- http://www.inzernet.com/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=rage
Advanced Rage X shirt can be purchased: http://www.inzernet.com/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=ragex
Phenom Shirts can be purchased: http://www.inzernet.com/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=05_PHENOM<
5) TRAINING FOR WORLD RECORDS
Bench press world record holders do exercises like: bench presses off boards, bench press lockouts inside a power rack, benching with bands or chains and bench pressing off the floor. The bench press world record holders spend hours doing heavy low rep work with such exercises.
Boards can be bought:
Bands can be bought:
6) USE ASSISTANCE BENCH PRESS EXERCISES BEYOND THE WORLD RECORD
Back in 2006, I was talking to bench press world record holder, Jay Fry. I said, “Jay you benched 650, would you try stepping under 900 lbs?” Jay replied, “I might get killed.” I suggested he try the bands, boards and a bench press shirt at the same time. Jay was brave enough to try my suggestion.
He benched 935 lbs with the shirt/bands/and boards. His confidence went through the roof, and when he tried 710 lbs at his body weight 181, it no longer felt heavy. He set a bench press world record.
Then in 2009, he continued to practice my suggestion. He then benched 750 lbs at 181 lbs. Nobody has even come close to benching his world record.
If you want to be a bench press world record holder, make sure you are bench pressing with a shirt, board and bands hooked to the top of a squat rack to achieve extra overload. Everything will then feel light when it’s actually time to set the world record.
7) PEAKING AND DELOADING
The top world record bench pressers (with and without a shirt,) will spend 3 straight weeks training pedal to the metal, then they will make the 4th week easy. This is to avoid overtraining and plateaus. Finally, make sure you train your shoulders with active stretching, light band work and different rotator cuff movements throughout the week for shoulder maintenance work.
8) SPEED DAYS
During shoulder days, bench a weight 40% of your bench max for 8 sets of 2-3 reps fast. Use 30 second rests between sets. If a bencher can move the light and middle weights fast, he/she will have the explosion to blast through much heavier weights.
9) TEAM MATES/ENVIRONMENT
If you want to get on the fast track to a powerful bench press, you need to go to a bench press seminar or train with the best. The best bench pressers love helping others. If you need help finding hardcore gyms or the best lifters, email me at moc.liamgnull@retsnoMrataT
10) GETTING THE WORLD RECORD
If you want a world record, you’re going to need as much attitude and diligence as possible to get through the most menacing workouts. Getting a bench press world record is going to take time, so always keep a warrior mindset of no limits, but be patient and play it smart.
The world record holders are consistently attacking the weight and their goals with fury. The path to the ultimate bench press has been paved. How far you go now is all in your bench press warrior mind.
Interview with World Record Holder Tiny Meeker (First man to bench press over 1,100lbs.)
Interviewed by CB reporter Ben Tatar
Tiny Meeker is the first and only man to bench press 1,100lbs. Tiny benched an astounding 11,02lbs and he gave 1,135lbs a ride. Tiny is also the World Record Holder for repping 600 lbs. for 14 reps. He benched 700 lbs. for 8 reps and 800 lbs. for 4 reps which is the most ever. Let’s meet the man with the biggest.
CB: Tiny you have set all kinds of bench press records. Which 5 were your favorite in order and why?
Tiny Meeker: My five favorites were as follows:
1) 1,102, I am finally satisfied with a lift. I will put my next top 5, but this meant the most to me. I am the first and only one to hit 1100.
2) Was benching 800 and 900 in a single. Man, I was battling Bill Gillespie to be the first to bench 800. I was really worried he would get the 800 first. He would do a Meet and miss it. Then I would do one and miss. And then finally I got it.
3) 1077, I cannot lie. I cried! I was going to do 1100 there, but I was too overwhelmed, so I passed.
4) This one is kind of funny. Gus Rethwisch asked me after my second WABDL World Meet what my goal was in powerlifting. I told him I wanted to bench 700. He told me that I would never do it, because I only benched 606 in the last two years at Worlds. Man, did that make me mad. I actually had the flu the year he said that.
I didn’t even take my training serious back then. The next year I hit 657 and broke Ryan Kennelly’s record by two pounds. I then missed 700. The next two years I missed 700, but the next time I lifted in the WABDL, I hit 843!!! I told Gus, he was right. I never benched 700. I did 843!!
5) My first 600 and 700, not in the WABDL. My first 6 was 606 and I did it in the APA. What made it special was that I also did it in front of The Great Anthony Clark. It was also my first real World Record. It put my name in as a serious lifter. My first 700 was 705 in the APF.
Another special moment was with my training partner was Bill Lobins. Bill had to move away to take care of his mother who was ill. I promised him that I would bench 700 before he moved away. I opened with 683 good, then missed, 705. On my third lift I hit it. I had tears going down my face halfway up, because I knew I had it.
I jumped up on the bench and hugged Bill and told him, I told you I would do it!!! He said, you sure did!!!
CB: What are your future goals?
Tiny Meeker: I have some much unfinished business in the single-ply. I need to nail 1000!!! Right now I know I can do 1140 in a Multi-ply. I know 1100 was the ultimate goal, but I do believe I can bench 1200 very soon.
After that, I want to lose about 40 to 50 pounds and stay at 280 for sometime. Not sure if I want to drop down to 275, but time will tell.
CB: Back when you were in college did you always believe you would be a world record bench press holder?
Tiny Meeker: I love these questions, NO, during my first year I was working in Night clubs and living the night life. I also was playing lots of basketball.
I was always in the weight room, but I had no idea that powerlifting existed after high school. I lifted in high school my sophomore and junior year, but my school dropped it my senior year.
I always loved to bench, but I was never really serious about my lifting until much later. When I was 22, I was benching 600 raw. I actually did it the first time in my old high school gym during the summer. At 28 I met a man named Bob Garza. He saw me benching over 500 in a Bally’s gym one day. He asked me if I wanted to powerlift.
The techniques I learned were way better when it comes to to bench. I used to flare my elbows, but not anymore. My benched dropped at first. A few months later I lifted in my first USPF Texas Meet. I took second. And that is when it all started again.
CB: How does it feel to have the biggest bench press ever?
Tiny Meeker: Very relieved. In 2010 I suffered a very bad shoulder injury. Thank GOD for GLC2000. Last December I was riding around in Vegas with my friend Hunter Hernandez. I was telling him 1047 was not a bad number. I really felt that I would never bench 1000 again.
I was good for 900, which is not a bad bench at all, but I didn’t think my shoulder would heal. After the WABDL Worlds I took a few weeks off and doubled up the dosage of my GLC2000. Within weeks the pain just stopped. A few months after that I benched 1077 in Corpus at the SPF Texas State.
CB: What is unique about your training partners and the equipment you use?
Tiny Meeker: They show up every Sunday!!!! Actually, they all want to be better and they are all great guys. I am truly blessed to have a great group of lifters such as Steven Kaufman, Mike Thomas, Keithyon Gunter, David Smith, Greg Brown, Harjit Kumar, Fateh Sihota, Bobby Leitz, and Chris Eason.
This is my team. We are all different in ages and weight classes, but we all want to be the best and help each other. As far as equipment goes, I have a very big hardcore gym which is about 13,000 sq ft. I have the best bars and benches you can use which includes a kilo set, bands, chains, and much much more.
CB: How do you want to be remembered?
Tiny Meeker: I just want to be remembered as a lifter that had no fear. And a lifter that never thought he was better than anyone else. I never wanted to be treated different from anyone else and a lifter that loved to help others reach their goals.
I just wish there was one day that everyone would see me lift or watch my video and say that was good. I wish!!
CB: What shirt did you use to bench the 1102?
Tiny Meeker: Inzer Advance Designs SDP. The Phenom is the most incredible shirt ever made. I can touch 600 in the same shirt I bench 1102 in. Yes, it was a 3ply
CB: One might wonder why the best bench pressers use shirts. Any explanation?
Tiny Meeker: Safety! The number one reason we wear equipment. I have much respect for Spoto and Mendy, but lifting raw is the only way I ever suffered a injury lifting. I want to lift for a very long time. That might not happen, if I get hurt again. I will take my chances wearing equipment.
CB: So far in your bench journey, list us a FAVORITE MOMENT, FUNNY MOMENT, and a MOMENT that changed you the most.
Tiny Meeker: Favorite, lifting in Russia. The people were so good. I really felt like a RockStar.
Funny, when I benched 1047 at the Biggest Bench On The River, I jumped up and asked the spotter why wouldn’t you grab the weight. We were all laughing, because no one could hear the call. I then stopped and said, was the lift good and they said yes and we all cheered.
Okay, maybe that was corny, but I got a good laugh. Another one, was at the FIT EXPO. I hit my opener 887 and everyone back stage went running to change shirts.
Changed the most? Super-lifting! Made me a much better lifter. Taught me to hold big weight longer and move much faster.
Another major change for me was when my sponsor Randy Risher bought me my first 1000 pound weight set and supplied me with my first gym. My sponsor Brian Welker designing and making my first ever custom bench with me.
CB: What is your advice for a young lifter who would one day like to be benching 1000+
Tiny Meeker: Be patient. It took me 30 years. Learn perfect, yes perfect form first. That means everything is perfect. From the warm-up to the max out. Nothing changes. Put yourself around good people who all want to be there. And will always be honest to you as a lifter.
You will never do this on your own. Don’t be afraid to fail. Always be humble. Help others, because you are going to need help too.
CB: Tiny it was great interviewing you today. In closing is there anything else that you would like to say or anyone who you would like to thank?
Tiny Meeker: Last please let me thank, GOD my Lord Jesus Christ. My sponsors John Inzer and everyone at Inzer Advance Designs, Shawn Madere and GLC2000, Power Sugar, Dr. Nerenberg, My team, My Monster Gym team, Tony Saraceni for giving me the means to go after my ultimate dream.
My brother Jason Meeker, Bert Brocker and the Texan Live Team. Dr. Hillborn and Bob Garrett for fixing my body regularly. And any training partners I have had over all these years and anyone who ever helped put a shirt on me or liftoff for me. Also, a big thank you to Lifewave and Labrada Nutrition.
And finally, thank you Critical Bench for the interview.
as told to CriticalBench.com by Ben Tatar
CB: Will, welcome to Critical Bench. Tell Critical Bench readers about yourself.
I am a very happy and easy going person. My number one priority in this life will always be my loving family. Family is what drives me to be the best at what I do, and what I do best is bench press.
CB: What Federations do you compete in? What is your best bench press?
I have only been competing for a couple of years and competed in the UPA, IPA, and APA. My best bench press is 830lbs.
CB: Will, were you always strong? How did you get started in the bench press?
Well like some kids when they are younger, I was picked on and bullied when growing up. I didn’t realize how strong I was compared to others until I joined football. I was pushing right through guys much bigger than me. When I started going to the school gym to workout, I pretty much walked in pushing and pulling more than the other guys that had been training for a while. That’s when I realized I had a freakish natural strength.
CB: Will, tell us about the most memorable moment thus far in your bench press career…
So I was six days out from one of the most important competitions of my powerlifting career, a competition that I was going to bench 800lbs, on the books. Usually the week before a competition, I take a break from the gym to let everything heal. So, that Sunday before the competition, I was heading down my stairs to help my wife bring up dinner and when I got to the top step on the porch, I slipped off and fell all the way down.
Keep in mind I did not hit anything on the way down to slow my descend. It was just a straight free fall. When I hit the ground, I fell with all my body weight onto my left wrist. Now because I could not afford to get an MRI, and I had spent a long time training for the meet, I decided to do the lift against doctor recommendation. When I arrived at the competition and began to warm up, I had all I could do to hold 135lbs in my hand without excruciating pain. As the warm ups went on, I grew more and more unconfident in me being able to put up any serious weight.
I then noticed a man in the competition who suffered from some sort of paralysis and despite his condition, he was getting himself strapped up onto the bench and putting up a good amount of weight without complaints. That’s when I realized that I had nothing to complain about, and that I should just suck it up and do what I came there to do. That will always be the most memorable lift I ever did. Thanks to that person I was able to overcome and bench 805lbs.
CB: Wow, Will that is an amazing story! Definitely a story that will stand out to readers around the world! Do you have any funny stories that you would like to share?
I have not really had too many funny moments of my own. However, a good friend of mine and I went to Montreal to compete. Before I got to the meet, my buddy had gotten a chemical burn on his back from his girlfriend putting nair on his back. After the long ride and hearing how bad his back hurt, we got in late to the hotel and as I laid there trying to get some sleep, all I could hear coming from his side of the room was painful moaning.
At the time it was not funny but when we look back on the situation we can laugh about him running into the shower to try to cool off the burn, which just made it worse, or even better, watching him try to bench in the meet.
CB: You have definitely had many intense moments in your bench press journey thus far! What are your future goals in the bench press?
Honestly, I am never happy with my lifts, no matter how impressive people tell me they are. Not as long as there is somebody ahead of me. I guess for now my goal is to bench 900 in the 275 class.
CB: What are your best bench press assistance exercises?
Like I said, I haven’t been doing this for very long. I am still figuring out my position and groove in the shirt. When I put the shirt on for the first time, about 2 years ago, I hit 600lbs. A couple months later I was putting up in the 700’s. Then a short time after that I was playing in the 800’s. I haven’t done any assistance exercises in the shirt because I really don’t even know where my max is.
I put 900lbs on a few months ago and brought it down, but got out of my groove at the bottom, so I yelled for them to take it off. When I am doing raw work, I love to do bands, floor presses, and using the Mad Dog Sling Shot.
CB: What are your 10 tips for a bigger bench press?
3. Lower stress
4. Proper training such as training other muscle groups like shoulders, back, biceps, ect. All these other muscles play a big role in control and stabilization.
5. Always remember to switch up your routines, don’t get stuck on one routine because you like it. You can never progress if your body becomes used to what you are doing. When it comes to Muscle memorization, beat it.. don’ fall into its trap.
6. Absorb as much advice from other as possible, as long as it works for you. You will be surprised what you can learn just by asking.
7. To get under a weight that can seriously hurt you, possibly kill you, is a very hard mental challenge. My suggestion to help with that is to have confidence in the people who are spotting you. Find good spotters, not just anybody walking around the gym for social hour.
8. In all my years of training, no matter what type of training it was, I always found it helpful to have a training partner that was stronger or of equal strength. It’s good to have a little healthy competition when training. It makes you push harder.
9. Make sure you do not over-train. Same thing goes with your nutrition, too much of one thing can be harmful to your body. For example, too much protein absorbed can actually poison the muscles. Don’t always think that more is better.
10. Last but not least, try to utilize ice, heat, and massage therapy to help stimulate muscle recovery. Everybody knows that after training we build up lactic acid in the muscles, it’s important that we try to move that out and bring in fresh blood flow to the area.
CB: Being so huge and monstrous while being the strongest man most people will ever meet, how do most people respond to you?
Honestly, I started training because I wanted people to be scared of me and just leave me alone. Now I am so far from that. People still come to me and are shocked at how big I am, always asking for advice on how to gain weight. If I can give someone advice to reach their goals and make a friend in the process, well then I consider that a pretty good day.
CB: What is your advice for someone who wants to gain weight? How should one eat to get Big Beyond Belief?
Usually when I am trying to bulk up for competition, I will force feed myself about every 2-3 hours. I eat a lot of dairy products such a cheese, yogurt and my personal favorite milk. I will drink about a gallon of milk a day. I like to eat a good pasta meal the night before a big bench. I think it’s important to include with my pasta a green vegetable, whether it is in it or on the side. I also like to have chicken and shrimp in the pasta so I can get more protein and the good fats from the shrimp.
A few years back, I met a person who I worked with, who was very knowledgeable in powerlifting. I explained to him that I was stuck for years at the same body weight and my bench had hit a plateau. I switched up my training just enough to shock my system and he taught me about force feeding myself. I explained to him that I only ate 2-3 times a day. He told me to eat every 2-3 hours and even if I wasn’t hungry to force the food down. I also learned from another person about how beneficial eating a slow digesting protein before bed could be for muscle growth.
Another rule I live by is that some people find themselves without food during the day and some people are on strict diets and can’t eat something bad. Well I feel that eating something is better than starving yourself for hours on end. So, if it’s your time to eat, feed your muscle, they are hungry and want to grow.
CB: What are your messages for the 135lbs, 225lbs, 315lbs, 405lbs, 500lbs, 600lbs, 700lbs, and 800lbs bench presser?
The 135lbs and 225lbs bench pressers – don’t be afraid to lift with others because you think they are going to laugh at what you are lifting. We all had to start somewhere. For the people that are lifting 315lbs or better, never pick on someone because they are struggling with what you warm up with. A true lifter always encourages and inspires.
CB: How should the 225lbs bencher train to get to 315? How should the 315lbs bencher train to get to the 405lbs bench mark? How should the 405lbs bencher train to 500lbs? Then talk about the 600lbs, 700lbs, and 800lbs bencher…
It’s very important that no matter what weight you are pressing you set goals for yourself. One of the biggest reasons that people do not reach these goals for years or ever is because they lose track of their progress or get stuck in what they are doing and don’t realize how long they actually have been stuck there. I will tell you that a big key to my success lately is a rating system called Personal Training Solution. The program was designed by 8 time world record holder Sam Luciano. The system is based on time and tension.
By planning and entering your lift data into the program, you will be given a rating on your progress for the day and you will be graphed month by month, showing you where you have hit a plateau, gained, or lost. That is very important to know because nobody wants to lose or plateau for months at a time, giving you the opportunity to change up your routine or find your weak points. So for anybody looking to get to the next plate on the bar, I would strongly recommend PersonalTrainingSolutions.us
CB: What are the 5 main reasons why most bench pressers never hit their true bench press potential?
1. They become too complacent and lose sight of their goals.
2. Improper rest
4. Improper nutrition
5. Injury and stress
CB: What are your 5 favorite things about bench pressing?
1. Good exercise to develop your whole upper body.
2. It has a large variety of different training methods that can be used. For example, bands, boards, chains, etc.
3. It’s a routine that allows large muscle groups, to move great volumes of weights.
4. It’s a highly respected routine in competition.
5. There’s a network of high quality, high honored bench pressers across the world. Many have become friends and can’t wait to compete with them.
CB: Will, you’re only 28 as we are doing this interview. Did you ever know back when you were 20 that you would be putting up the weights that you are putting up today?
No, not really. Back then I was just about lifting to look good. I still was putting up a lot of weight on the bench. I had no concept of what I was doing in comparison with other because I knew nothing about powerlifting. I was more concerned about being the best in the gym that I was lifting at.
CB: Will, what bench press shirt do you use? What bench shirts have you used in the past? Do you think you will use a different one in the future?
As of now, I use and multi-ply OverKill shirt. I started in a denim inzer shirt which I purchased from someone. It was very big on me so I got really no support out of it. I started training with Bill Crawford and he had offered me one of his OverKill shirts. That’s what I have been using since. I would love to get a shirt that was actually made for me. I don’t really know who has the best shirt out there. If I could afford every single one to try I would. So, yes there is chance that one day I may switch.
CB: Will, tell us about the grooves of the different bench press shirts that you have used.
I’ve really only trained in 1 shirt. My groove is really not the same as most that are lifting what I do. I have 2 herniated discs in my lower back along with 3 bulged, so a good arch is out of the question. I also don’t like to bring the bar low on my belly. I try to force my arms out more on the descend to give more support and to keep me from dumping on to my belly. It makes me have to come down farther but it gives me more spring back up.
CB: Before you smash let’s say 900lbs on the bench press, what is going through your head?
I am a very calm lifter, I have been told. I like to take deep breaths and just think of the weight going up. One thing my coach from high school said to me was to repeat the saying as light as a feather. I have been using that ever since.
CB: Do you sleep a lot?
I work the night shift at a distribution center so it can be hard getting good sleep.
CB: What exercises do you usually like to do? Do you record the exercises that you do?
I use a variety including boards, bands, and lockouts. All of these are recorded. Someone told me once, if you can measure it, you can manage it. That’s why Personal Training Solutions is so important to my success. I can plan my routines, document them, and have them analyzed. Who wouldn’t love to see their success broke right down in front of them through and awesome rating system. You would be foolish not to.
CB: That’s very interesting! Will, what was your reaction when you beat Mark Bells bench record of 830? How did you celebrate?
I was actually very surprised because I had just come off a pec injury and only had a couple of training sessions to get ready. I really didn’t even plan on hitting anything in the 800’s but when my opener went up easy, my trainer, Ron Daly, said that I could hit 830 to break the record. Well he was right. I almost lost control of it at the top because it went up faster than expected. I stopped at 830lbs and never took a third lift because I didn’t want to push my luck with an injured pec. I celebrated by taking the night off from work.
CB: What a bench press moment! How does your family feel about your bench press success?
My family will always be behind me no matter what. Every time I bench a new weight, my whole family knows about it instantly. My kids love when daddy comes home with a new trophy. My wife knows everything about me and realizes that my power is pretty much limitless. I think one of the most impressive things I ever done in a gym was the first time I ever grabbed a hold of a deadlift bar. I pulled over 500lbs. I know that might not sound like much to some but realize I had never done that exercise before. That just shows what kind of horse power I can bring to the platform at anytime.
CB: What do you like doing when you’re not smashing scary weights in the gym with your super human brute strength?
When I’m not at the gym, I am just spending time with my lovely wife and 2 beautiful kids. I also like to hunt, fish, and go boating as much as possible. My whole family has been very proud of my success. My wife comes to all my meets and is behind me 100%.
CB: How do you want to be remembered?
As a man that never gave up, no matter what and made his family and friends proud. As a person that people could come to for advice. Maybe one day be the king of the bench.
CB: Do you have a message for the bench press world?
Yes, don’t put my name on the back burner. I will be a force to be reckoned with.
CB: Will, what a bench press journey you are having. Keep killing it. In closing who would you like to thank?
Well, if it wasn’t for my wife being behind me, I wouldn’t be doing this. I also would like to thank everybody I train with. You all have helped me grow and have taught me so much.
Maryana Naumova Interview
Interviewed By Ben Tatar
Maryana Naumova has done something that no other girl has done. At the age of 13, Maryana has bench pressed 240lbs while weighing in at only 130lbs. There has never been a a girl younger than 15 years old, in any weight class, who has bench pressed what little 13 year old Maryna has benched. Let’s get to know her in this interview.
CRITICAL BENCH: Maryana, tell us about yourself.
Hi! My name is Maryana. I’m 13 years old. I’m from the Russia, Moscow region. I was raised in the small city of Khimki, a suburb of Moscow. My height’s 173 cm 5’8. My weight is 64 kg, 140lbs. Last year, in May, my heightwas 164 cm which means that in less than 1 year I have grown about 9 centimeters.
My best RAW bench press is 110 (kg./240 lb.). I was doing a bench press with a board height of 7 cm with a weight of 287lbs. for 2 reps.
Many call me “Red Princess of Barbell” or “Red Bench Monster.” I like it.
CRITICAL BENCH: Maryana, at 13 you benched 240lbs RAW as a female. This is INSANE. (hahaha.) How do people respond to your insane bench pressing ability? How do younger people respond? What about females? What about males who are your age? what about males over 20?
Everyone gives an absolutely different reaction.
I have a lot of fans and people supporting me who write and tell me kind words. They tell me how they see me as an example and that I motivate them.
However, there are a lot of haters who are envious.
CRITICAL BENCH: What do the haters say to you?
They write nasty things about me such as I use steroids, that my parents force me to do the bench press and I that I’m hurting myself. These are bad people.
CRITICAL BENCH: Do you have any gym stories involving haters? Do the haters bother you?
I notice that when I come to train, the guys who bench less than me, get frustrated and they leave the gym. They completely stop training.
It’s cool.) This motivates me to lift more weight.
CRITICAL BENCH: Maryana, you need to help some of the guys out it looks like, haha. What are your top 10 tips to a bigger bench press?
I do not have Top 10 Tips))))).
I recently read a book by Arnold Schwarzenegger and I realized that I’m doing everything the way he advises.
The most important tip is to have a goal and achieve it by any means necessary. You also have to believe in yourself. You have to believe that anything is possible. This goes for any goal you want to achieve.
If your goal is to bench press more than others, you have to understand that you need a good coach and a gym that has everything you need. You need to eat adequate food and get good sleep & rest.
CRITICAL BENCH: What are the 5 reasons why lots of people aren’t hitting their full potential on the bench press?
There are several reasons for which people do not achieve success in the bench press.
- improper training.
- too frequent changes in the training program. People read too much on the Internet, are constantly changing training plans as they think that would be better. And as a result, they do not progress with their goal. Any training program requires time.
- poor nutrition.
- too much training and not enough recovery.
- bad warm up – this leads to injuries.
This are things that are necessary to avoid.
CRITICAL BENCH: When did you discover you were so strong? What got you started in bench pressing?
My father is an athlete. His friends are also athletes and champions whom all got me started. I have known them since childhood and I liked them. I watched films with Arnold Schwarzenegger, he is my idol.)
My father competed in the bench press competition. He took me with him when I was 10. I wanted to try it and that is how it all started.
CRITICAL BENCH: What are your future goals?
I do not want to be the strongest woman. The sport of female powerlifiting will require that you take performance enhancing drugs which I do not want to do.
Perhaps when I am 18, I will not set a bench press record.
I want to try body fitness. I have many girl friends who compete in this sport. I want be an example to their peers, not only in Russia, but all over the world.
I fought a lot on TV, I go to schools, meeting with children and I propagandize a power sport. It’s cool!
CRITICAL BENCH: Maryana, do you have a favorite bench presser?
I have a big dream – to get acquainted with Ryan Kennelly. I am familiar with all of the coolest benchers. I still want to meet him).
CRITICAL BENCH: Hopefully, you and Kennelly can one day meet. What do you enjoy doing away from weight training?
I study at school. I enjoy doing photography, and I have pets. I have rabbits that I love and a younger sister.
CRITICAL BENCH: Do you have any crazy stories that you would like to share?
I have a story about my classmate who I gave some of my protein chocolate bars to.
He ate it and then his parents promised to take my parents to court. His parents believed that the boy will have health problems, and they are blaming sports nutrition. Now I will not give protein chocolate bars to classmates. I eat them myself.)))))
CRITICAL BENCH: What a story. Maryana, way to make history in the iron world while being so young! It has been a pleasure getting to talk to you today. In Closing is there anyone who you would like to thank?
Yes, I have recourse to the iron world.
I want to thank my parents, they help me a lot. I also want to thank my coach Vyacheslav Solovyov. Without him I would have failed. He – a great coach!
I want thank the company ProMeraSports and my friends – James Stoppani, Dan Onishuk and Mike Bridges. These are very good people, they helped me a lot in the U.S., the Arnold Classic. I’m very grateful! I would like to thank Critical Bench for the interview and I also would like to thank the company http://www.onetwotrip.com, which helps me with air tickets.
As told to criticalbench.com by Ben Tatar.
Critical Bench: Tell us about yourself.
Doug “Smash” Yurovich: I am a retired Marine Colonel, 55 years young. I’ve flown F4 Phantoms and F/A-18 Hornets most of my career and I’m a graduate of The Ohio State University.
I was a test pilot, and on 1 October, 1992, I ejected from an F/A-18 Hornet that was experiencing hardware and software difficulties. I left the airplane, inverted at 380 feet above the ground, obtained about 80% of my parachute. The ride was swift, the stop hitting the ground a little more sudden and violent. I incurred a broken leg, six cracked discs, displaced my left rib cage, with shoulder and hip impact injuries.
The doctors felt my upper body strength kept me from sustaining more injuries. After October 1992, I flew combat operations over Bosnia in 1994, 1995, and 1996 and over Iraq in 1995, 1999, 2000 and 2005. I retired from the Corps in 2006. I now train and compete in the Arnold Pump and Run, as a way to “stay in the game.”
CB: What a story and what a strong person you are. I’m glad to have you with us today. Doug, you compete in the 5K Pump and Run. Tell us what exactly that is? How does it work and what are the rules?
DSY: The Pump and Run according to Arnold, “Is a true test of one’s fitness as it combines both strength and endurance.” Before the runners start their run they spend the morning weighing in and bench pressing to reduce their running times. The weigh in starts at 0700, and the benching lasts from 0700 to 0930 or so. The 5K started at 1030 AM.
The lifting rules are: Men 39 and under bench press 100% of their body weight, (you have to be 18 to enter), men 40 – 49 bench 90% of their weight, men 50 and over bench 80% of their weight, men 60-69 do 70% and men 70 and over lift 60%. Women 39 and under bench press 70% of their weight, women 40 – 49 bench 60% of their weight, women 50-59 bench 50% of their weight and women 60 and over lift 40%. For each lift a runner’s time is reduced by 30 seconds up to a maximum of 30 reps.
CB: What are the average winning scores in the different age groups/genders?
Here are the stats from the Arnold Pump and Run 2013. These event finishes are taken from an email sent by Matt McGowan from ten.eenull@oihonur, Co-Race Director.
Fifteen of the top sixteen men benched the maximum 30 reps. Waverly’s Zach Holbert (26) lifted his body weight 30 times and ran the fastest time (16:15) of the day to defend his title and win men’s gold with 1:15. New Jersey’s Joseph Norton (28) lifted his weight 30 times and ran 16:18 to move up a spot from 2012 to capture the men’s silver in 1:18. Wisconsin’s Vaughan O’Brien (37) lifted his weight 30 times and ran 16:46 to move up a spot from last year and take home the men’s bronze in 1:46. Westerville’s Nathan Aichele (31) lifted his weight 30 times and ran 17:16 to move up three spots from last year to place fourth in 2:16. Chesapeake’s Eddie Neal (29) lifted his weight 30 times and ran 17:36 to place fifth in 2:36.
Cincinnati’s Robert Messmer (37) lifted his weight 29 times and ran 17:15 to move down one spot from 2012 as he placed sixth in 2:35. Galloway’s Joey Enright (31) lifted his weight 30 times and ran 18:25 to place seventh in 3:25. Columbus’ Blaize O’Brien (42) lifted ninety percent of his weight thirty times and ran 18:30 to repeat as the eighth place finisher. Lyndhurst’s Sean Joseph (28) lifted his weight 30 times and ran 18:32 to finish ninth. Michigan’s Tony Ketchmark (50) lifted 80 percent of this weight 30 times and ran 18:40 to place tenth in 3:32.
Ten of the top fifteen women bench their required weight 30 times this year. Columbus’ Tina Husted (40) benched 60 percent of her weight 30 times and ran the fastest women’s time (18:30) to win the women’s gold with 3:30 and placed eighth overall. Six time winner Lisa Veneziano (48) formerly from Dublin, now living in Michigan, ran the second fastest women’s time of the day (19:05) and lifted 60 percent of her weight 30 times to take home the women’s silver with 4:05. Cincinnati’s Meghan Ward (30) lifted 70 percent of her weight 29 times and ran 19:55 to take home the women’s bronze with 5:25. Columbus’ Cookie O’Neal (60) lifted 40 percent of her weight 30 times and ran 21:00 to move up three spots from last year to place fourth with 6:00. Athens’ Janalee Stock (58) lifted 50 percent of her weight 30 times and ran 21:16 to place fifth with 6:16. Hillsboro’s Tara Beery (40) lifted 60 percent of the her weight 30 times and ran 22:06 to move up two spots from last year to finish sixth with 7:06. Columbus’ Kathryn Kelley (44) lifted 60 percent of her weight 30 times and ran 22:16 to place seventh with 7:16. New York’s Rachel Gregg (32) lifted 70 percent of her weight 26 times and ran 20:35 to place eight with 7:35. Worthington’s Mary McHugh (52) lifted 50 percent of her weight 28 times and ran 22:20 to finish ninth with 8:20. Columbus’ Molly Disabato (48) lifted 60 percent of her weight 30 times and ran 23:31 to round out the top ten with 8:31.
CB: Let’s consider two athletes; let’s say the first guy can easily bench press his body weight for 30 reps. He then runs a 35 minute 5k. The second guy benches his body weight 3 times and runs a 20 minute 5K. Who wins? What is the difference in their score? Maybe create some examples of your own.
DSY: Guy 1’s score is 20:00 minutes, since you subtract 15 minutes (30 reps) from his time of 35:00. Guy 2’s score is 18:30 since he gets a 90 second reduction of his run time for the three reps. In this case Guy 2 beats Guy 1, but as you can see from the 2013 results, a competitor must do well in both events to be in the top 50, top 10, or even win the event.
CB: How do you sign up for the 5k Pump and Run ? Is there drug testing and how does that work? Does it cost money to enter?
DSY: With 850 athletes registered for the Arnold 5K Pump and Run from thirty-two States, Washington D.C. and Canada, this event is the largest of its kind in the world. Register on-line starting the first of November. You have to get in early since there is a limit of 850 athletes. Last time that limit was reached in just under twenty hours. I registered at 4 AM on the first of November. There is no drug testing, and the registration costs $60.
CB: What do participants get for competing?
DSY: Upon registration, you get an Arnold Pump and Run t-shirt, size selectable and your number. You get this package when you check in for the event.
Upon completion of the event, you get a medal handed to you right after crossing the finish line, and the opportunity to buy a photo package from the photographer at the event.
CB: What is the 5k part of the Pump and Run like?
DSY: The run is outside in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Last time, it started on High Street at the north end of the Greater Columbus Convention Center, ran towards downtown, by the Nationwide Arena, around Goodale Park, through the Short North, North Market area, and the Arena District, and finished behind the Convention Center.
CB: What are the rules for the bench pressing? Does it matter if one benches with their elbows out or in to decrease the stroke? is an arch back acceptable if the butt remains on the bench?
DSY: Arnold 5K Pump and Run Bench Press Rules
- No Bench Press Warm-up will be provided.
- Lift starts with the bar in the extended position.
- Bar must touch the chest and be fully extended on each press or the rep will not count.
- Stopping during a press terminates the lift (You may stop in the lock-out position).
- No bouncing bar off the chest.
- Shoulders and rear must stay in contact with the bench during the lift.
- Feet must remain in contact with the floor during the lift (no hooking bench support with feet/legs).
- If necessary plates may be placed under lifters feet.
- No belts, wraps, gloves or lifting suits.
- Judging by U.S. Marines is final, no exceptions.
Bodyweight will be rounded to the nearest five pound increment. Example: 181-182 round down to 180, 183-184 round up to 185. Weigh-in with running shoes on, shorts on and shirt on.
CB: Do you usually use a wide grip or close grip?
DSY: Over the years, I have brought my grip in from a wide grip, to approximately a shoulder width grip. I use the same grip I train with. I also bring my own chalk to the event.
CB: Do you have a workout routine that has helped you or others prepare for this event?
DSY: Yes, I do. While I workout all year, this year was a bit difficult. I had PRP (platelet rich plasma) injections in my left shoulder for some degeneration and arthritis, and also a L5 disc issue that kept me from some aspects of my training. I train for bench strength until 1 November, then I start working on the rep aspect of the bench press until the competition. This has served me well for the last two Arnold’s. My personal best bench is 365 (a few years ago), but as age has set in, and despite lots of shoulder rehab, the ejection injuries do cause problems, I am happy, though, to be able to complete.
CB: How long have you been doing this event? Is it different every year?
DSY: I have competed in the last two Pump and Runs. This last was the 25th Anniversary and it was special to be there. I now live in Fairfax Station, Virginia; so my wife Donna and I drove back for the weekend and the Expo. The last two have been very similar.
CB: What usually happens before the event starts and what happens after the event finishes?
DSY: The weigh in and the gathering of the athletes is kind of a non-event. You weigh in, get your number and a sheet that tells the judges and spotters what weight they should load for you. You warm up on your own, although no bench pressing, remember.
Then you go to a bench, there were twelve benches I think, and you perform your benching. They tally your score, then you wait for 10:30 and the run.
Post run, you get your medal and take some pictures, then it is over. For those individuals that won, there might be an awards presentation. I have not done that well. Donna and I went to the Columbus Bluejackets hockey game that afternoon.
CB: What are your top 5 pointers for a bigger bench press as far as repping your weight goes?
DSY: A lifter might be strong, but you have to train for reps to get the 30. Last year I got 30, this year, I slid back on the bench and hit the support twice on the 28th rep, and could not recover enough to get that 28th rep, so I got 27. You must train for reps to get to that 30 mark, since it is bench press conditioning.
CB: What are your 5 pointers for a faster 5K time?
DSY: Run, run, run. There are a lot of 5K running plans out there, pick one and stick to it. Also, staying healthy helps.
CB: What is your favorite part about the 5K Pump and Run? Are there any parts that you dislike?
DSY: I enjoy the whole event. I have discussions with a couple marathon runners, who have limited benching abilities, and I kid them that they should just run the 5K and not worry about the bench press. It is an Arnold event after all, there is going to be strength involved.
CB: If you could describe the 5k Pump and Run in one word what word would you pick?
CB: So far in your 5k Pump and Run experience, list for us:
A) your favorite moment:
DSY: Getting 30 reps last year, 2012, and finishing the run after not being able to run for 6 years or so, then getting a picture with my wife, she was there to support me.
B) a crazy moment:
DSY: Not really any, unless you count the number of times on the run you have to dodge the vomit left on the road ahead of you. I guess you don’t have that problem if you are out front.
C) a funny moment:
DSY: In 2012 at the start, Arnold almost got run over by a camera truck, I think. This year, they made sure he was out of the road at the start.
D) a moment that changed you:
DSY: I think just getting back to a physical level where I could compete and complete was a changing moment.
CB: Doug, thanks for taking the time to share useful information about the Pump and Run event during Arnold weekend. What an intense story your life has been. You’re a true warrior and we wish you the best with everything ahead.
More About Douglas:
Colonel Douglas Paul Yurovich USMC entered the Marine Corps through the Platoon Leaders Class program in December 1975. Graduating from The Ohio State University in June 1979, he received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education, with a Secondary Education Teaching Certificate. Commissioned in June 1979, he completed The Basic School in December 1979.
2ndLt Yurovich was assigned to TACP training at Little Creek, Virginia and was ordered to the 1stBn 8th Marine Regiment as a Forward Air Controller. In July 1980, he reported to NAS Pensacola for flight training, and received his wings at NAS Beeville, Texas in September 1981. 1stLt Yurovich reported to VMFAT 101 at MCAS Yuma, Arizona for F-4 Phantom conversion training. In March 1983, 1stLt Yurovich reported to MAG 31 and was assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312. He was promoted to Captain on 1 December 1983. During his three plus years with the “CHECKERBOARDS” he completed two western pacific tours and was a forward air controller for the 3dBn 4th Marine Regiment. Also during this tour, he was designated an Air Combat Tactics Instructor, a Weapons and Tactics Instructor and graduated from the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN).
Colonel to Command a Navy Carrier Air Wing. Colonel Yurovich served as the Deputy Commander, Carrier Air Wing 9 from August 2004 to January 2006. During this tour, Carrier Air Wing 9 deployed to support Operation Iraqi Freedom with the USS Carl Vinson Strike Group. Colonel Yurovich served as the Commander, Carrier Air Wing 9 from January 2006 until June 2006. He retired from active duty on 31 August 2006.
His personal decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, two Legions of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with five strike flight awards; four Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, one with combat V, and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals. He has logged over 4100 hours in 40 different types of aircraft.
January 24, 2013 by Mike Westerdal
Filed under Bench Press, Bodybuilding and Muscle Building, Interviews, Muscle Building, Powerlifter Interviews, Powerlifting, Recent Posts, Strength Training, Training, Uncategorized
Interviewed by Ben Tatar
CB: Ryan, tell Critical Bench readers a little about yourself.
RL: I am Ryan “6 Pack” Lapadat, 33 years old, from Toronto, Ontario. I have been weight lifting since I was 13, and plan on doing it until the day I die.
When I was a little boy I loved superheroes. I suppose most little boys do, but I genuinely believed I was going to grow up to be a superhero. My friends and I would have discussions on what our super power would be if we could only choose one. Some of my friends chose the power of flying, some the power of speed, but I always chose the power of super strength. In class I would day dream of one day growing up to become a real life superhero who used his super strength to help people.
By the time I became an adult those dreams had all passed. I was conditioned to accept those dreams as merely the imagination of a young boy who did not understand people’s physical limitations. Until some one close to me got sick, suddenly, and passed away. I had just won the National Championships for Powerlifting. The newspapers were interviewing me about my accomplishment when I proclaimed that I wanted to make a difference with my strength.
I went on a city-to-city tour of cancer camps for kids, pulling 26,500 pound school buses 100 feet. The tour made headlines across the country, raised thousands of dollars for sick kids, and more importantly raised hope for those that needed it most. That tour was followed by several large televised events with me flipping over cars, pulling airplanes, lifting bleachers full of people, and rolling up frying pans with my hands. Guinness World Records in strength were shattered. All these events raised money for sick kids. The largest was my appearance on Canada’s Got Talent, seen by 1.5 million viewers. 6 Pack Lapadat quickly became a symbol that anything is possible, any goal was feasible, and no dream was unrealistic if a boy could grow up to be a superhero.
Ryan Lapadat was a normal man. 6 Pack Lapadat became a real life superhero and symbol of hope. I have done many feats of strength in my day, but my greatest feat is making people believe in miracles again.
CB: Ryan, you recently won the World Drug-Free Powerlifting Federation’s (WDFPF) championship with a dramatic come-from-behind victory with the last deadlift of the competition. It was a huge upset win that capped off an incredible year. Tell us about that.
RL: We were lifting in the 90KG unequipped division. It was a true 90KG weight division, with same day weigh-ins and drug testing.
The leads the American and Ukrainian champions had gained in the Squat and Bench Press events were so great I found myself in third place with only one deadlift attempt left in the competition. It could not be more dramatic. Or could it?
I had promised my girlfriend’s dad I would win the World Championships and propose to his daughter. In my mind it was destiny, and I was going to make that final lift to win it all no matter how much weight it was. I wanted a day that our grand kids would recall in generations to come like a fairytale.
I could have lifted a relatively “safe” 585 lbs. for an assured bronze or risk it all for the Gold. Two months prior I failed at a 600 lbs deadlift in competition. I would need to lift more than that if I was to win.
I summoned the strength to lift a personal best 610.5 pounds. It was more than 3 times my body weight. It was a huge come-from-behind, all-or-nothing, attempt that ended up cementing the biggest upset victory of the World Championships. I won the World Championships, but more importantly I got engaged to the love of my life! My fairytale was complete.
And they both lived happily ever after…
CB: What was it like being on Canada’s Got Talent?
RL: Scary! I am sure every one has seen shows from the ‘Got Talent’ series. Dozens of countries around the world have this TV series, and it is very popular. Canada’s Got Talent booked the Toronto Convention Centre for the Toronto showcase show. As a powerlifter, I am use to performing in front of a crowd. However, this was nothing like a powerlifting meet. The Toronto Convention Centre was packed wall to wall. There were cameras all over the place, even back stage! The show was to be seen by over a million people, and newspapers across the country did write-ups about it.
No pressure eh?
I was going on the show to perform feats of strength. I knew the show was not designed for my talent, so I had to go big and impress early if I was going to be able to advance. The first round, the audition rounds, I pulled an airplane! My audition tape of me towing the plane is here.
The next round I took it a step further and squatted a bleacher full of cheerleaders and kids! I squatted 6 reps in 30 seconds, and every rep was $200 for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. I got a ‘yes’ from all three judges. I told the judges that I was not in it to win the money, I wanted to make a statement. I promised to give away the $100,000 grand prix if I was to win. The video of that round is here and here’s what was said about me.
“Your heart is as great as your strength” – Martin Short, Canada’s Got Talent judge
“To say it was impressive would be an understatement” – TV Guide
I was eventually cut by the judges before the finals, but made it further than I had expected as a strongman. I was proud to represent powerlifting and strongman.
CB: Tell us about your own TV show on OLN and CityTV.
RL: Canada’s Got Talent was my first introduction to major television. I had been networking in the industry and the opportunity to audition for a show called Get Stuffed came up. The show takes four people from four different competitive backgrounds and pits them in competitions where their backgrounds can’t help them.
Two of the four face off each episode. The four cast members stay the same the whole series, but the face-offs change as they rotate which of the four cast members compete. I was proud to represent powerlifting/strongman on the show. It was a lot of fun.
This was my second nationally televised show, but this time I was a permanent cast member. It helped open even more doors for me. It also helped bring more light on the sport of powerlifting. In Canada, as with America, powerlifting athletes never got that much attention.
CB: Tell Critical Bench readers about the Guinness World Records that you set in weight lifting? I see you have two. Also explain the mental process in achieving them.
RL: I have been performing feats of strength for sick kid’s charities for the past 5 years now. It is a cause close to my heart. On July 16th, 2010, I broke two Guinness World Records in one day. I attempted the 1 hour Squat record, and the 1 hour Deadlift record, both in the same day. It was the hardest thing I ever attempted in my life. I literally trained for 4 months straight, every day, I squatted or deadlifted for four hours straight. When I say I deadlifted or squatted for four hours straight, I mean every 30 seconds I had to lift 5-6 reps. The weight would fluctuate.
It was the most brutal training of my life. One day I did 8 hours of deadlifting, with a set being lifted every 30 seconds. It was to test if I would break mentally.
I almost did get to that the point. You hit a wall, and literally almost break down emotionally in the gym. It is a weird feeling. I was deadlifting at 3am, just to make it even more difficult on myself. I wanted to push myself to the limit in training and prove to myself that I could not be broken mentally. There are bigger and stronger men out there, but I’ll be damned if some one is going to be stronger mentally. I’ll let my body fall to pieces and walk through hell before I quit.
At the end of the day, two Guinness World Records were broken for a local sick kid’s hospital. The kids and parents got a powerful message about mind over matter. We humans have will and pride, and those are tough to break, even when our bodies do.
The video produced by FUSION bodybuilding is here.
CB: Tell us about your experience competing in the World Championships of Powerlifting? How did you celebrate after you won?
RL: That was the third World Championships I qualified for. It is a lot of hard work to make it that far in Powerlifting, hours and hours of work in the gym.
The first World Championships I qualified for (82.5 KG, unequipped), I failed to place. I was so far behind the Gold medalist it was as if there was an extra event in his total I hadn’t shown up for, lol.
I didn’t pay it no mind, though. I did my best and stuck to my game plan. I kept at it, and as the years went by I qualified for the Single Lift World Championships in the 90KG weight class (unequipped). That time I was able to place and bring home some medals.
However, it was not the three lift Powerlifting World Championships. I had unfinished business in the 3 lift. This last World Championships was for the three lift World title, and it was my third World Championships. I felt I was ready. I refused to be denied.
As for celebrating, we were in Boston, and went to a restaurant called the Prudential. It is 52 stories up, overlooks the whole city with glass walls, and has a live Jazz band. Classy stuff. We ate like royalty, drank champagne, and lived it up for the night.
CB: What is your advice for others to get strong? Give us ten tips for super human strength!
RL: Funny you ask, I just recently wrote an article giving ten tips to increase strength. I go into more detail than I could here, so allow me to drop the link here and suggest readers give that article a peak. Keep in mind, strength some times comes at the expense of cardio endurance. If your goal is strength, please do read on…
CB: What are your 10 tips for an amazing Squat?
RL: 1) Foot placement for balance can be critical!
Once a lifter is accustomed to the Squat, he (or she) will adjust his foot placement to his specific liking. Often Powerlifters and bodybuilders who have been squatting for years will develop their own squatting style (whether sumo stance, shoulder width, or narrow for bounce at the bottom). For beginners, I would suggest feet shoulder width apart, with the toes pointing out on a 45 degree angle. This will help with balance during the Squat. The feet point out on a 45 degree angle will also force the knees to flare outwards, instead of bow inwards, during the lift. The knees pushing out helps turn on the muscles along the posterior chain (the hamstrings and glutes).
2) Take a full breath of air and hold it!
I know your gym teacher taught you to blow out when you lift weights. Your gym teacher was wrong. Picture a large balloon. We are going to put a small rock on this large balloon. If the ballon is not fully inflated, the weight of the rock will push this balloon forward or backward, and change the form of the ballon. This is what happens when your body is not tight and full of air during the Squat.
When you Squat, it is important to take a full breath of air to inflate that balloon. Now the small rock will sit on the balloon, and not cause the balloon to pitch forward or backward, or loose it’s form.
3) Wrap the bar around your body!
I know, literally speaking, it is impossible to take the barbell, and wrap it around your body. However, when you place the barbell on the bottom of your traps and prepare to squat, I want you to try your hardest to do just that! Clinching the barbell and pulling inward as if attempting to bend the bar around your upper body will tighten your back and shoulders. Again, picture the large balloon. You need the balloon to keep it’s form and stay inflated to balance the small rock on top of it. If you are loose up top, you will pitch forward in your squat and loose form. This will put stress on the lower back.
Taking a full breath of air and clinching the barbell as if to wrap it around you will tighten your upper body up, and engage all the muscles in your core and back. This will greatly improve your balance, and also help strengthen your upper body and core, during the lift.
4) Point your elbows toward the ground!
After you have placed your feet, taken a breath of air, and tightened your upper body, a lifter should point their elbows toward the ground. The elbows should remain pointing towards the ground at all times. Picture your elbows as the steering wheel, and your upper body as the wheels. If your elbows point to the ground, your upper body is being directed to stay upright. If your elbows begin to point backwards on a 45 degree angle (which is the most common placement for those who Squat improperly), then the upper body will be directed to pitch forward. This will in turn put a lot of pressure on the lower back. The pressure on the lower back will then work it’s way down the chain and cause the body to adjust and put more pressure on your knees.
It is important to keep your chest out and facing forward. Have a friend look to see if your elbows are pointing to the ground or backwards on a 45 degree angle when you squat. Often lifters are unaware of the placement of their elbows. Or they begin with the elbows pointing down, but shift them on an angle as they Squat closer to parallel.
5) Look up on a 45 degree angle!
I see people looking at themselves in the mirror all the time when they squat. The best way to keep balance is to remain upright and tight. The body will naturally want to pitch forward with the weight of the barbell on your back as you Squat. Keeping your head tilted on a 45 degree angle upwards, with your eyesight the same, will help keep your upper body upright. Like a person who is beginning to drive, if they look one direction they automatically start steering toward that direction ever so slightly. This is the same with the Squat. Help direct your body in the right direction by controlling your head placement (wrestlers and other athletes already understand the need to keep your head up when lifting).
6) Break at the hips, not the knees!
Once you have completed steps 1-5, you are ready to start lowering into the squat (I know, you never thought there was so much to do with the upper body when Squatting, but now you see why I cringe when people think Squatting is for the legs only). Perhaps lowering into the Squat is not the right wording, as you are not so much lowering as you are sitting backwards.
Attempt to keep your knees in the same place while you break at the hips and push your butt backwards as if you are trying to touch an imaginary wall behind you with it. You keep sitting backward, not sitting straight down, reaching for that wall. The wall is not there, so you end up lowering downwards the further back you reach. This movement, when keeping your upper body tight, will cause you to feel as though your are coiling a spring. A tight upper body is critical to keeping balance. So is flaring your knees outward and not forward or inward.
7) Do not let your knees go past your toes!
A good indication you are not sitting backward, and are in fact sitting straight down too much, is if your knees are drifting past your toes. If that is the case, you are no longer loading up your hamstrings and glutes properly, your upper body is pitching forward too much, and your are putting extra pressure and strain on your lower back and knees.
Just like the elbows, ask a friend to watch you squat and to pay attention if your knees drift over your toes. If they are, a red flag should be set off that your are doing something wrong. Likely you need to tighten your upper body and sit further back in your Squat.
A good way to practice sitting back with the Squat is to grab a bench and to place it directly in the middle of the Squat rack. Your feet will be placed straddling the bench, and you will sit backward onto the bench. You do not sit down onto the bench! You never even touch the bench with our butt. You actually are aiming to touch the bench with your inner thighs. This will make you push your butt out and activate your glutes and hamstrings (which powerlifters call “the seat of power”). You merely touch the bench with your inner thighs as a marker for sitting backward, and rise back up as soon as they do touch. Some times spreading the knees at the bottom of the Squat helps the lifter to achieve the proper depth while not letting their knees drift over their toes. It is at the bottom of the Squat that most lifters have problems keeping their knees back.
8) A flat back is not enough, a proper Squat has an arched back!
Most males Squat with a flat back when they first start out. I have noticed it’s not natural for them to arch their backs when sitting backward into the Squat. This limits the activation of the posterior chain (“The seat of Power”), and ultimately limits the strength and gains the lifter will get out of the lift. It also puts stress on the lower back. Arching the lower back will help the glutes and hamstrings turn on, and keep the upper body tight and flexed. A flat back limits all this by taking the brunt of the lift.
If mastering the arch in the lower back is a problem, I suggest squatting onto a bench as mentioned in step 7. You’ll be able to tell if you’re squatting with an arch in the lower back by what hits the bench. If it’s your butt, arch your lower back more. If it’s your thighs, you’re on point (again, you are not sitting onto the bench, just touching it and then coming back up).
9) Drive upward when in “the hole”!
“The hole” is what powerlifters and bodybuilders call the bottom of the squat. It is important to understand that “the hole” is not a quarter of the way down, or halfway down. “The Hole” is just below parallel. That means you need to squat so the upper part of your leg is parallel to the ground, then the dip just a bit lower so the crook of your hip breaks parallel. That is a full Squat. No less. Any less than that, and you are training partials. Partials are also useful (even lock outs), but should never be mixed up with calling them Squats.
Once in the hole, a lifter is at the most vulnerable part of the lift. They are also at the part of the lift that makes them work the most and gives them the most gains and benefits. That is why it is important to always Squat into the hole, and break parallel with the crook of the hip. Like mentioned before, get a friend to see if you are Squatting low enough (along with if you are keeping your elbows pointing toward the ground, your knees back from your toes, and your head up, chest out).
Once you hit the hole, fire with everything you got to drive upward. Do not pitch forward. Concentrate your force to drive upward. Keeping your chest out, your elbows down, and your head pointing upward will all help with the direction of your drive. If you are looking forward, and your elbows are pointing backward on an angle, than your body is going to be pitched forward slightly. This makes it a lot harder to drive upward. It makes the lift inefficient, and stresses the wrong parts of the lifter.
10) Wash, rinse, and repeat!
Once you have completed the lift, you go through steps 1-10 all over again for every single rep of every single set. That is the rule. That is the unspoken law. The one rep you get lazy on can be the one time you injure yourself (especially when you start to move up in weight).
Getting lazy with your set up will result in diminished results. Properly Squatting will increase muscularity and strength for your whole body, not just your legs! Your arms are flexed pulling on the bar. Your back and shoulder blades are tight and flexed from the pull on the bar. Your chest is out and head up, activating your core and midsection. Your sitting back on the Squat activates the full lower part of your body correctly and efficiently.
When you have mastered the Squat, these 10 steps will not take long to do. In fact, a lifter can set up a squat with all 10 points in a second between every rep once they have them down. However, it is important for a lifter to rehearse these steps with light weight until they have them to memory. To do so, have a friend watch your Squat from the side and to look for the following…
-Is your head up?
-Are your elbows pointing down?
-Did you take a big breath?
-Are your knees drifting over your toes? Are your knees flaring outward like they should in the hole?
-Are you breaking parallel with the crook of your hip?
Thats it for now. Now go Squat. You can thank me later when you see the results!!
CB: What are the 5 biggest mistakes that you see other weight lifters make?
RL: 1)I see people doing ONLY partial squats. Some people are doing quarter squats and thinking they are parallel. Some are doing parallel and thinking they are ass to the grass. There is a major difference in the gains you get from squatting a short range of motion constantly and squatting a full range of motion. Partial squats have a place in your workout routine, but they should not be the only squatting you do.
2) Not enough free weights! People who say they never see any gains in size and strength are usually the people who stick to the machines. They might get adventurous and try out a smith machine to bench, squat or dead. You will not see proper gains unless you use free weights. Usually, people don’t use free weights because they don’t know proper technique and are intimidated. This is understandable, but ask some one who does know their way around the free weights. Otherwise you will have a low ceiling on your gains.
3) Overuse of wrist straps to keep their grip on the barbell. This will drop your grip strength significantly. Use chalk, or a chalk substitute. You are only as strong as your grip strength. If you need a strap to keep that bar in your hands, than you can’t lift that bar.
4) Getting advice from the wrong places! Be careful where you get your advice from. I see people “training” friends in the gym a lot. Most of the time they are just ordinary gym guys who are taking friends to the gym and showing them how to lift. I know their heart is in the right place, but sometimes they are teaching improper techniques. Being a gym rat does not make you a personal trainer. In most gyms, there will be only a dozen people who know how to Squat and Deadlift properly.
5) People often don’t train a proper routine to hit their whole body evenly. I hear people say every body part gets a full day, so they are hitting their body evenly. Arms, back, chest, shoulders, and legs all get a day of workout.
That’s great, but is your lower body from your waist down 1/5 of your body? No. So why are you training it only 1/5 of your gym days? This is why most people have over developed upper bodies and under developed legs. It is also why most people are amazed at the numbers powerlifters can lift. They don’t realize how strong they could be if they trained properly. Your glutes and hams are your seat of power. Most people are not unlocking that secret to strength. It’s a shame.
CB: What would you like to see change in the iron game?
RL: It is a dream of mine to have Powerlifting in the Olympics. That would pretty much change the game, in all respects, for the best. There would be one federation, with universal equipment rules, drug testing, and mainstream recognition (with media and sponsorships that come with that). There could still be professional federations with multi-gear, and no drug testing. Every sport has professional ranks.
CB: So far in your iron journey list us a) a great moment, b) a crazy moment c) a funny moment and d) a moment that changed you forever.
RL: The greatest moment of my Iron Journey was winning the World Championships of Powerlifting (WDFPF). Being such a big underdog, and coming from behind like that to win it all with the very last deadlift – it was like a movie. I always dreamed of it happening and I always played out a dramatic scene for it, but I never could have dreamed a better story. It was perfect.
The craziest moment was when I tried to pull two planes connected together by a rope, live on National TV. The first plane started to move and then the second plane jack knifed the rope broke, lol, It was a mess.
A moment that changed my life was when I won the National Championships and went on tour to visit Cancer Camps for kids. I pulled 26,500 lbs. school buses. I met some amazing kids and their families and saw things I’ll never forget. It was bitter sweet. I won’t go into detail, but there are some moments I’ll never forget.
CB: What are your future goals?
RL: I look forward to defending my World Championship in Scotland next year. I look forward to continuing my television career, and pushing 6 Pack Lapadat, Inc. even further. I have made a lot of strides in the past few years and built my brand. I hope to continue this. I have several projects in the works that will be big for me and for Powerlifting/Strongman.
I also plan on pulling another plane this year for charity, and doing more charity work for kids now that I am Champ for the year. As long as I can, I want to represent the sport of powerlifting properly, and use my marketing degree to bring media and public attention to the sport.
CB: Do you have any funny or interesting stories that you would like to share?
RL: At my first Nationals I was in a rush and couldn’t find two matching socks. I had to wear one black and one white deadlift sock. I won the Nationals and ever since I wear one black and one white deadlift sock for good luck.
I also took the chalk and drew “superhero muscles” on my lifting suit. I drew in a 6 Pack on my stomach. No one knew who I was, because it was my first Nationals, so people called me 6 Pack.
I won, and the newspapers called me 6 Pack and ever since I have been 6 Pack Lapadat. I have been on two TV shows in Canada, and in both of them as 6 Pack Lapadat. I get booked for appearances, and I am always 6 Pack Lapadat.
Life is funny, you can’t call it. I drew in a fake set of Superhero muscles and now the Canadian press calls me the real life Superhero, 6 Pack Lapadat.
CB: What do you enjoy away from training and competing?
RL: I don’t take much time off training, to be honest. I rarely take a week off straight. That’s a really bid deal for me to do. I love weight lifting that much. But on my down time I like to make music. I have had some of my songs make it onto the radio here in Canada. My journey has been a crazy one, so I’ve got a lot to talk about, lol, Here is a song I wrote while on the road filming my TV show.
CB: How are you going to remember your iron journey?
RL: Sports do not build character, they reveal it.
I’ve seen a lot of people come into the game talking one way, and ending up doing another. Say what you will about me. Say I should have lifted in this fed, in this division, at this time. Say I have gone Hollywood with all the media stuff I am into now, but no one can say I ever did anything to disgrace the sport or myself.
Never will anyone hear about me failing a drug test, or not holding myself appropriately in the media and press. This is the sport of Kings and Queens. My journey in the Iron Game will never come to a close, whether I’m competing or training the next generation, or working to promote the sport behind the scenes.
CB: Thanks for sharing your journey with all of us today. In closing is there anyone who you would like to thank?
RL: I’d like to thank you guys for the interview and all of my supporters for always helping push me forward. I may take to the lifting platform alone, but I always have an army behind me. Any one looking to know more about me and my latest projects can visit www.6packlapadat.com, follow me on twitter at @6packlapadat or find me on Facebook, 6 Pack Lapadat.
Recommended Follow Up Resource:
4 Keys To Savage Strength
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.
as told to CriticalBench.com by Ben Tatar
Jake Prazak has bench pressed 909 at 220lbs and 920 at 242lbs. These are both world records. Let’s meet bench press world record holder Jake Prazak!
CB: Jake, tell us about yourself.
JP: I am 35 years old and live in the small town of Rock Falls, Ia. I am married to Jessica and have 4 kids. Hunting, fishing, lifting, and wrestling is how I spend most of my time. My family by far is the most important thing in my life.
CB: Jake, you benched 909 at 220lbs and 920lbs at 242lbs, both world records. What went through your mind after you achieved both of those lifts? How did you celebrate?
JP: They both felt amazing. In bench there are a lot of ups and downs. To finally get the records was a relief because I had been close so many times. We celebrated just like we do after any competition…with lots of beer to replace lost carbs and rehydrate.
CB: Tell us about your bench press routine!
JP: Monday- Shoulder preventative maintenance, close grip bench, accessory triceps
Tuesday- Shoulder preventative maintenance, Squat/Deadlift, leg accessory, bi’s, forearms
Wednesday- Shoulder preventative maintenance, Upper Back work and some more shoulders
Thursday- Shoulder preventative maintenance
Friday- Shoulder preventative maintenance, Bench, accessory chest
Sunday- Shoulder preventative maintenance, bodybuilder day (core, cardio elliptical sprints)
CB: Can you tell us a little more about what you do during shoulder preventative maintenance days and why they are important?
JP: I look at my body as a complex machine. If you don’t do any preventative maintenance (PM) on machines, especially the complex and most used parts, they will start to not work correctly and eventually break. That is how I look at my shoulders. Your shoulders take a beating daily, they need to be taken care of. For my PM for shoulders I do active stretching, light band work, and several different rotator cuff movements.
Bill Carpenter with Jake Prazak
CB: Jake, give us 10 keys to a scary strong bench press!
JP: 1-Training partners that are on the same page as you
2-Listen to your body. Your body will tell you when to deload, no program should.
3-Do not get into a comfort zone…handle weights that takes you out of that zone.
4-Analyze how each accessory exercise you do can help your bench
5-Don’t worry about anyone else’s numbers but your own.
6-Eliminate as many distractions as possible throughout each day.
7-Constantly work on improving your form, setup, and technique
8-Know how to supplement correctly.
9-Travel and do a training sessions with the best out there. This hands on knowledge is priceless.
10- HAVE FUN and be yourself.
11- SPEED, SPEED, SPEED
12. Orgasm often…best thing for your body by far.
CB: Thanks for the 2 bonus tips 🙂 Thus far in your bench press journey, list for us a) your favorite moment b) a crazy moment and c) a moment that changed you the most
JP: a.) Watching any teammate hit their first multi-ply bench
b.) Watching bones break, quads detach, bicep tears… it’s so painful and crazy to see in person.
c.) Hearing my kid’s voice over everything else while laying on the platform.
CB: Where do you train? What is it like?
JP: I train at N.I.P. & Fitness Center. I own it with one other partner. It is a 5100 sq ft, brand new facility in Mason City, Ia. We have Powerlifting, Strongman, Dedicated Women’s circuit and lots of pin select and plate loaded equipment. We cater to everybody, no matter what your fitness goals are. www.northiafitness.com is our website. We have a forum and online supplement store. You may also find us on Facebook under N.I.P. & Fitness Center.
CB: That’s awesome. Everyone make sure to check out Jake’s gym. How did you get started in bench pressing? Did it ever occur to you that you would be a world record holder? That makes you one in 7 billion people. How does that feel?
JP: I started bench pressing in 5th grade and never quit. My first competition was when I was in 10th grade and I think I benched 185. I never in a million years believed I would hold any all time world records. It doesn’t even sink in until you say, “7 billion people” and then you start to look back and realize what you have achieved.
CB: What are your future goals?
JP: In the near future, I want to up the 242 record and within the next 2 years want to be the lightest ever to bench 1000.
CB: What are your 10 favorite exercises for a bigger bench press?
JP: 1-Splitting wood by hand
3-Close Grip Bench
4-Dumbbell military presses
5-Incline Straight Bar
9-Close grip bench with bands
10- 12 oz arm curls
CB: #1 and #10 are my favorite. How are you going to remember your bench press journey? How do you want to be remembered?
JP: I will remember all of the great friends I have met throughout the world. Powerlifters in general are the most down to earth, non self centered people I have ever met (for the most part)…until you disrespect them! That is what I will remember and love about the powerlifting community. I don’t really care how I am remembered, everyone else will decide that on their own.
CB: Well, Jake you’re so much stronger than the rest of the world. How do people usually respond when they discover that you can bench press over 900lbs?
JP: Most don’t believe it and most don’t understand multi-ply lifting.
CB: What was the best advice you ever received? What was the worst?
JP: Best: You have to live in your shirt. Worst: You train in your shirt way to much.
CB: I’m going to name a powerlifting topic. I want you let me know what comes to mind.
JP: Me in 11th grade. I thought I was big shit getting 225.
CB: 315lb. bench presser
JP: Believe me, I don’t mind taking plates off for you. I want you to be 405 lbs presser. I am just happy you are bench pressing and wanting to get better.
CB: 405 lb. bench presser
JP: Same as the 315 lb presser.
CB: 500 lb. bench presser
JP: Same as the 405 lb presser.
CB: 600 lb. bench presser
JP: Same as the 500 lb presser.
CB: 700 lb. bench presser
JP: Same as the 600 lb presser.
CB: Bencher who fears the shirt.
JP: You have to surround yourself with people who know how to use them…they will cure your fear.
CB: Bencher who disses the shirt.
JP: They have obviously tried it…they just can’t handle multi-ply benching. Do you want to say you bench 400 raw or 600 equipped? Human nature in all of us says we want to say 600 equipped. Sounds way cooler! Raw and equipped are two completely different sports. I got really bored with raw and became addicted to handling as much weight as possible. I have the utmost respect for anybody who competes and will never diss anybody.
CB: People who look up to you.
JP: Don’t be scared to talk to me and ask me any question. This is what I enjoy.
CB: Your fans.
JP: Thank You!
CB: A bencher comes up to you and says, “I haven’t gotten stronger in years. I need help! I feel like I have reached my potential and I’m just not into it.” What do you say to get them going again?
JP: I say get into it and stop feeling sorry for yourself. There many people who have it way worse than you. So be thankful you can even lift weights! Once they change their attitude I will help them as much as they need.
CB: What’s your nutrition plan?
JP: I have no nutrition plan. I try and eat as clean and healthy as possible. I try and stay anabolic 24/7. Everybody knows what they should and shouldn’t eat, I don’t need it on paper. I love burgers, brats, and beer!
CB: I’m going to list five aspects of powerlifting. Tell me which you think are most important: Diet, Genetics, Mind/Heart, Training Partners, Rest.
JP: Mind /Heart
CB: Jake, if you could be any kind of animal, what would you be?
JP: A dog…They are pretty intelligent and obviously for the other reason.
CB: What makes Jake different in the gym than everyone else?
JP: I am driven to be the best at what I do. I am not happy with 2nd.
CB: Jake, it has been great interviewing you today. You have really shocked the world with the numbers you have been putting up in the bench press. We wish you all the best with everything you do. In closing who do you want to thank?
JP: I want to thank my wife Jessica and my kids for the sacrifices they have put up with while allowing me to be selfish in accomplishing my goals in this obsession of mine! They are my biggest fans. My training partners deserve a lot of credit as well, without a dedicated team no records would have been broken. My sponsors Rudy Rosales with OVERKILL STRENGTH EQUIPMENT, American Muscle (http://americanmuscle.us/), Rhino Power Gear (https://www.rhinopowergear.com/), HAAS Chiropractic, Synergy Worldwide (http://us.synergyworldwide.com/). I am proud to represent these elite companies. I take who I represent very seriously. Finally, thank you CRITICAL BENCH for taking the time to get to know me!
Guest Post by 1000 Pound Deadlifter Andy Bolton
Whatever your goal – whether you want to get stronger for the sake of being strong, stronger to increase your muscular size and build a harder, denser physique or stronger to improve athletic performance…
The 3 powerlifts will help get you stronger faster than anything else you can do in the gym.
The 3 powerlifts are of course the Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift.
Now here’s the thing…
These days you are bombarded with choice when it comes to what you do in the gym.
You can do the 3 powerlifts, or you can do Olympic Weightlifting, or you can do Strongman training or you can lift Kettlebells.
But, when it comes to building absolute strength, the powerlifts RULE. They always have and they always will.
That’s not to say that the other methods of weight training aren’t valuable, of course they are – but when it comes to getting a STRONG AS POSSIBLE… you can’t beat the squat, bench press and deadlift.
Think about it…
The biggest Kettelbell is 48kg. Is that likely to build the same strength as squats with 500 pounds or more and deadlifts with 600 pounds +? I think not. And I use kettlebells myself, but they are an assistance movement, not my main thing in the gym.
The Olympic Weightlifts are awesome for building explosive power, but when it comes to limit strength, they are still second to the powerlifts.
Strongman training can build a ton of strength as well but not the same way as the powerlifts can.
There’s a clue here by the way… Many olympic weightlifters and strongmen use the powerflifts to improve their strength.
For instance, weightlifters tend to squat a lot and strongmen tend to squat and do a ton of deadlifting.
I think what I am saying is clear.
If you want to develop absolute strength and the kind of rock hard, tough as nails kind of physique that only strong dudes posses – you should be doing the powerlifts.
The next thing we should discuss is how to actually squat, bench and deadlift.
It is my experience that most gym rats are always looking for the ‘mircale’ training program.
The one that’s going to add 400 pounds to each lift in 8 weeks.
Well, guess what? It doesn’t freaking exist!
However, if there is something that is more important than you’re training program – it’s your technique.
Most guys have truly awful technique and could make rapid improvements in their strength by improving their technique.
I have seen technical improvements add 50 pounds to a lifters Bench in a single session.
The same cannot be said of a particular training program.
And you are probably in the same boat. You probably don’t have perfect form and you should work on it. It’ll make you STRONGER and reduce your injury-risk.
A nice ‘double whammy’.
I’ve been in the iron game over 20 years and I’ve squatted 1214lbs, benched 755lbs and deadlifted 1008lbs.
And do you know what?
I still work on my technique each and every time I train and I have my clients do the same.
Sean Nalewanyj Interviews Mike “Westy” Westerdal
1) Hey Mike, welcome to this Muscle Gain Truth Inner Circle interview. How are things?
Doing great Sean, excited to talk shop with you.
2) You’re the creator of the well known “Critical Bench” program which teaches readers how to dramatically increase their bench pressing strength in the shortest period of time possible. Why do you think it is that the bench press has become such a landmark for measuring strength?
Don’t get me started Sean. First things first. What’s the most common question people ask you when you tell them you run a muscle building site? Probably, “How Much Do Ya Bench?” Why do they ask this? It’s an extremely popular well known exercise and for a reason. People don’t realize this but it’s literally a full body exercise. When performed correctly your legs will be sore, your lats will be sore, not to mention your chest, shoulders and triceps. It’s a great mass builder and carries over to a lot of field sports as well. I’m biased I’m the founder of CriticalBench.com but if I could only train one exercise the bench press would be it. Followed a close second and third by the deadlift and squat. Multi-joint free weight compound movements are always the best muscle builders.
3) Were you always naturally strong on the bench press? What kind of weight are you capable of moving now?
As a kid I was really skinny. In fact my freshman year of high school I weighed 120 pounds and couldn’t even bench press my own weight. Even when you stick up for yourself it seems that the smallest people always seem to be the ones that get picked on the most and have to constantly defend themselves. Like so many others I got myself a cheap Weider weight bench with the plastic weights and started lifting in my basement while practicing my punches on a heavy bag. Things were progressing slowly, but I was hooked on the muscle mags and reading everything I could get my hands on.
My family moved to CT my sophomore year of high school. Not having a ton of friends I spent a lot of my time in the YMCA weight room. In fact I probably spent way too much time there. I’m sure I was overtraining doing a full body workout 5-7 days a week, but as a beginner I was still making gains. I had to gain weight so I wouldn’t get pushed around the football field as defensive back, so I kept at it. By my senior year of high school I weighed 185 pounds and benched 275. Nothing amazing, but it was a huge improvement for me.
My lifting workout had been improving the more I read, I was eating as much as I could and training a lot smarter. I still wasn’t training the right way to add serious muscle but I was doing alright. After high school I walked onto a D-IAA football team and became a starter by my junior year. The summer of my sophomore year I figured out with the help of one of the team captains that you get stronger and put on size by doing heavy compound movements for low reps. When I dropped my reps and increased the weight my bench soared from a 315 to 400+ in a matter of a year.
Post college I kept at it reaching a 450 raw bench. I decided it was time to start competing. After moving to Florida and joining a barbell club I started competing in powerlifting. I compete in equipped powerlifting using a bench shirt I pressed 622 this past December. A week after the meet I benched 315 for 15 reps in the gym. I’m always trying to improve.
315 for 15
630 Equipped Bench
4) Surely there are individual differences, but as a general guideline, how fast can a trainee expect to increase his or her bench pressing strength when using the right program?
Sean I love this question. The reason is it’s entirely up to the person that’s trying to increase their bench press. If you’re the kind of person that thinks 50 pounds in 10 weeks is impossible than you’re completely right, you’ll never accomplish it. Likewise if you believe you can do it and have a good plan there’s no limit. I can’t set limits for people. This is one of my favorite quotes;
“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.”
-William Arthur Ward
Based on results I’ve seen I would say if you bench press less than 400 pounds you can increase your bench press by 50 pounds in 2.5 months. After that you start reaching your genetic potential and the gains certainly start getting harder.
A complete beginner will improve the most. Just practicing the lift and learning the motor skills will allow the trainee to bench more even without getting much stronger.
In addition if you haven’t trained with heavier loads and lower reps before you’ll likely react very well to this kind of program. Your CNS has to adapt to the heavier weights for you to get stronger.
5) What are some of the most common mistakes that you see lifters making when training for strength on the bench press, and how can we correct them?
Mistake 1: Overtraining
Let your CNS and your muscles recover and strengthen before hitting the bench again. Once a week is enough when training the bench.
Mistake 2: Pre-fatigue
Don’t do shoulders or triceps before a bench workout. You’re exhausting the primary movers you are going to need to bench. Don’t do cardio before a heavy bench workout and don’t deplete all your energy by doing way too many warm up sets. Save your energy for the max effort sets!
Mistake 3: Self Doubt
Get your head on straight. Get rid of all this self doubt and negativity. Don’t start a set by saying you’re going to “Try” or you “Hope” you’re going to get this rep. Your subconscious mind listens to you so program it with positive encouraging visions rather than self destructing criticism.
If you’re not confident, fake it. You have to picture yourself as a great bencher before you can become one.
Mistake 4: Lack of Goals
Would you head out on a cross country trip without a road map? Goals need to be realistic, measurable and specific. Be accountable. Tell people what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it. Remind yourself of your goals daily.
Mistake 5: Rep Ranges
High reps are not going to get you stronger in the bench press. Triples build power! If you’ve never done triples start with fives and work your way down over a few weeks.
Forced reps are okay when used in moderation. You just don’t want to have your training partner getting a trap and bicep workout in when you’re benching. It’s good to grind out the weight but when you’re stuck you’re stuck.
As for heavy negatives bench presses, I do not recommend these for beginners. They may not have the tendon strength or the stabilizers to control a weight well over their max. In addition if you’re getting sore from the regular workouts you don’t want to push it with a movement that is almost entirely eccentric which we all know causes muscle soreness.
For an intermediate or advanced lifter heavy negatives can be a huge confidence booster. Having felt and controlled such heavy weight sure makes the weight feel lighter when you go back to your working sets. There’s a lot of people from the school of thought that think eccentric training is good for strength and muscle, so I think it’s a good tool to utilize sparingly from time to time. See how you respond to it but make sure you have three spotters in place.
7) What about those delicate rotator cuffs that are so prone to injury. How can we prevent injuries when trying to move such heavy weights?
When you bench press there are four tiny muscles that play a major role in whether your bench press takes off or if you’re going to suffer from a bench press blowout. Build these muscles up and you can dramatically decrease the chance of blowing out your shoulder. If you’re benching heavy weight and not paying attention to these muscles you run the risk of muscular imbalances, shoulder pain, and getting stuck in a serious plateau.
To avoid rotator cuff issues I recommend warming them up prior to a bench press workout by doing some very very very light external rotation exercises. You definitely do not want to fatigue these muscles prior to benching. Than on a different day at the end of your shoulder workout do 3 or 4 sets of 15 reps with a similar exercise. Some rotator cuff exercises you can incorporate include the Cuban press, and Cable Internal and External Rotation.
8 ) Can these same techniques be used as part of a bodybuilding program for the chest, or are they strictly geared at building strength?
Sean we may disagree here but I believe that when you lift heavy with compound movements you involve the most muscle groups, release more testosterone and growth hormone and produce bigger and stronger muscles. If you strongly believe that you need to 10 reps for muscular hypertrophy than do the heavy bench press workout first than move on to some assistance exercises using higher reps. This way you get the best of both worlds. Do you want to look strong? Or do you want to be strong? Or would you rather look and be strong? I’ll take the third.
9) Do you have any other additional advice for increasing bench pressing strength fast?
You can probably utilize these two tips immediately to see some gains.
Big Bench Tip #1: Shorten the distance the bar travels. Move your fingers out an inch or two on the bar. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and flare your lats to create a nice solid base to press from. Chest out, shoulders back. Now arch your back so that your traps and butt are in contact with the bench and your feet are planted on the floor. You should be able to fit a foam roller under your lower back. Combine these three techniques and you’ve reduced the path the bar travels by 6-inches or more which should give you a nice boost in the weight you can move. This is not cheating; it’s legal in a powerlifting meet. Stay tight!
Big Bench Tip #2: Hold your air. Instead of taking a big breathe as you lower the weight and exhale as you push I want you to hold your breathe from start to finish. Why? By doing this you will stabilize your torso and create a more solid base to press from. Holding your air will help you keep the pressure tight.
Thanks for the interview, Mike!
Anytime Sean, thanks again for having me. Anytime you want to talk about the bench press I’m you’re man.
If you’re looking to build muscle and increase your bench press at the same time than be sure to look into my Critical Bench Press Program 2.0. It’s a full body strength training program designed to up your max by 50 lbs in 10 weeks.