Interview with powerlifting Team USA member Meghan Pellatt
By CB reporter Ben Tatar.
Critical Bench: Today Critical Bench is here with Meghan Pellatt who has succeeded in powerlifting. She will be a member of Team USA in June as she competes in the powerliftings World Classic in Africa. Meghan, tell CB readers a little about yourself.
A little about me; I have always been a competitive person. I grew up in a small town where I played sports year round basically from the time I could walk. I have always known that I was genetically gifted with strength and became borderline obsessed, challenging strangers to an arm wrestling match, or by wrestling who ever I could. When I fell into powerlifting I knew I had found a home.
Critical Bench: What federation do you compete in and what are your best lifts?
I compete with USAPL RAW (no knee wraps, no suits, no bench shirts) in the 63 kilo open division, they are a drug tested federation. My best competition lifts were 292 squat, 170 bench and 385 deadlift. I haven’t competed in a few months so I have reached new PRs in the gym since then, 300 squat and 405 deadlift. My bench has been stuck almost since the beginning, maybe you guys at Critical Bench could help with that!
Critical Bench: Meghan, how did you get started in powerlifting?
I started powerlifting when I lived in Florida. There was a group of powerlifters that I had followed for awhile until I had the courage to ask to join the team. It was love at first lift after that!
Critical Bench: What are your future goals? (Tell us about your upcoming competition in Africa)
I have had the honor to be invited to compete on team USA at the Classic World Championship in South Africa this year. It had been my ultimate goal from
the beginning and now that it is reality my goal is to have the experience of a lifetime and to medal in my weight class. To stand on the podium with the best female lifters in the WORLD would be nothing short of incredible. I’m on some pretty intense programming and I am determined to place in the top 3.
Critical Bench: What are your top 10 tips to get scary strong beyond belief? (Note Meghan deep squats for reps more than what most men squat once)
1) Warm up!!! I don’t mean a few arm circles, touch your toes and go. Take at least a half hour for dynamic warm ups, foam rolling and stretching.
2) Ask questions. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right. Find someone who knows what they are doing and proper technique. You have no idea how much it irks me when I see people doing quarter squats, or when I see backs bent like a fishing pole during deads.
3) Proper nutrition. Not all powerlifters are fat. I’m not a believer in cutting whole food groups out of your diet. Flexible dieting works for me, for cutting, maintaining or bulking. Fat and carbs are just as important as protein.
4) Rituals. Find one that works for you and use it every time you approach a lift.
5) Focus. I am easily distracted, so when I am in the gym I have to put my headphones on blare some music and get into the zone.
6) Stay positive. Sometimes you are going to miss a lift and you’re going to get pissed off. Allow yourself a few minutes to be mad at the world, brush it off and get back to work. Every failure is a step closer to success.
7) No excuses. When I lived in Florida I worked a full-time job and had full-time personal training clients, I never missed a training day. If you want something bad enough, you’re the only one who can go out and get it. Find time and let nothing get in your way.
8) Less Cardio.
9) Recovery. Rest days are just as important as training days.
10.) Get rid of anything (or anyone) that is bringing you down.
Critical Bench: Great tips! what motivates you?
Like I said I’m very competitive, and as a competitor I want to win. The thing that motivates me is knowing that there is a real chance that I could be one of the best female lifters in the world.
Critical Bench: So far in your powerlifting journey list us a favorite moment, funny moment, crazy moment and a moment that changed you the most Favorite moment?
Standing on the podium at Nationals with a silver medal around my neck while getting a hug from the living legend, Jennifer Thompson! (I mean she 132 pounds and benches over 300)
Funny moment: Getting interviewed, when the camera was on I felt like Ricky Bobby I didn’t know what to do with my hands. I kept touching my face, doing weird things with my fingers and I couldn’t get any actual words out of my mouth. Embarrassing.
Critical Bench: What is your powerlifting routine like?
For now, once I finish the program I’m on I will test my maxes and start with a new one and most likely bench and squat two days a week.
Critical Bench: How do you want to be remembered I would like to be a legend like Jennifer Thompson, Kimberly Walford, Taylor Stallings or Jenn Rottsinger.
I want to be remembered as a strong woman, in more ways than one.
Critical Bench: What is your advice to woman out there who train?
Stop thinking you’re going to get bulky and lift heavy!
Critical Bench: Who would you like to thank?
My boyfriend Matt McDonald, who pushes me day in and day out to be the best, he and I come up with my programming and without him I know I wouldn’t be where I am today!
Critical Bench: Thanks Meghan! We all wish Meghan the best as she continues to amaze us all. Please visit Meghans’s gofundme link and support her:
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
CRITICAL BENCH: Today CB is here with American Deadlift Record Holder, Dave Sheperd. Dave, can you tell Critical Bench readers about yourself?
I was introduced to this while on vacation 6 years ago in FL when I met Tom Hall from Cincinnati, Ohio who holds many records in the mid-west. Tom has deadlifted 505 in Ohio at the age of 70. I have deadlifted 465lbs which is a UPA record. This was not completely new to me as I have fooled around with somewhat heavy weights since I was 17.
CRITICAL BENCH: Dave, at 72 you’re the strongest 72 year old at 198lbs! Tell us about your world record?
I hold the American record in the UPA at 220#.
CRITICAL BENCH: Dave, congratulations for holding an American record in the UPA. Do you have any advice for others so they can be strong as they enter their 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond?
I would say that it is important to live a healthy lifestyle as genetics of course is something we can’t control. You must also push yourself to be goal oriented.
CRITICAL BENCH: What have you done that has allowed you to be strong, even in your 70s?
I would say probably just a matter of staying with it and being disciplined.
CRITICAL BENCH: It’s really hard for people to be really strong in their 70s. In fact only 20 people or so compete seriously against you in their 70s. Do you think more guys could compete against you?
I think there are plenty of guys my age that if they chose to do so, they could work up to being competitive.
CRITICAL BENCH: Dave, what has worked for you when it comes to getting a bigger deadlift?
Doing the squats has helped my pull from the floor, as well as heavy bent rows and pulls off 7″ in boxes also seem to work for me.
CRITICAL BENCH: What goes on in your mind before attempting a world record deadlift?
At a meet there is a lot of pressure to perform the lifts to a judge’s satisfaction, really no time to think about anything else for me.
CRITICAL BENCH: What are your future goals?
My future goals are really to maintain this level and improve the bench and squat a little, but without “real” supplements. Improvements at 72 are really tough.
CRITICAL BENCH: Do you have any mottos or creeds you live by?
Never thought of having one, maybe just try and be the best at what you undertake in life.
CRITICAL BENCH: Dave, in closing is there anyone who you would like to thank?
I would like to thank all the guys on the Flex Appeal team and especially Amy Roberts and Phil Guarino, and my friend and mentor Tom Hall. Also, I want to send a big thanks to 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.
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?
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.
There seems to be an accepted notion that aesthetic bodybuilding techniques can’t be integrated within the structure of an empirical powerlifting workout program. I firmly believe otherwise.
It has been my observation upon viewing the iron game there are two types of people. First there are those who are pumpers and toners and secondly there are those who concentrate on the brute power of heavy lifting alone.
That is until recently when we have a metamorphosis of a third type of hybrid person who trains to combine the best of both worlds. It involves the nice blood choked pump of the bodybuilder yet it’s got the rugged and capable power of a strength athlete. When you combine these two approaches you have what is called powerbuilding or powerbodybuilding.
Powerbodybuilding can be used by competitive bodybuilders as well. It’s great for the early cycle in which a bodybuilder is embarked on the critical muscle mass building phase. For the contest entering and winning bodybuilder it is important for him to be perceived as someone who doesn’t just have herculean size which is ALL SHOW and NO GO. There’s a stereotype out there that bodybuilders are not very strong. Using a powerbodybuilding method at the beginning of their contest cycle they’ll be able to back up the great cosmetic physique with some real world strength and power.
Likewise a strength athlete or powerlifter would like for the public to perceive them as not just someone that lifts heavy iron, but also has the rugged, solid and capable look of a finely tuned athlete.
One of the saddest things I have observed especially in the powerlifting arena is that of the lifters who weight under 242 pounds.
Many of them possess tremendous tendon and ligament strength but yet as far as overall behemoth muscular bulk they just don’t have it. And when you throw a long sleeved shirt and tie on them they pretty much blend with the masses of the general public.
Personally, that bothers me. Granted, tendon and ligament strength is important I admit to that. But I’ve observed lifters with larger physiques than mine that move much less heavy iron that I do. I feel that they’re more into a pump phase of training, which is fine, but deep down I know they desperately want to possess more superhuman strength and power. Enter POWERBODYBUILDING.
I am not the lone proponent of the POWERBODYBUILDING movement (I am only seeking to introduce a renewed interest in this powerful training component), there have been others over the span of the last 60 years. Some of the most notable luminaries of this movement that I can think of offhand includes and is not limited to: Malcom Brenner, Franco Columbu, Jeff Everson, Lou Ferrigno, John Carl Grimek, Donne Hale, Mike & Ray Mentzer, Sergio Oliva, Reg Park, Bill Pearl, Clancy ross, Bill Seno, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Sipes and Dorian Yates, just to name a few.
If I am not mistaken POWERBODYBUILDING may have achieved its zenith when one of the criteria’s for entering an AAU sanctioned physique event required athletic events such as Olympic & Powerlifting to help secure additional points in the physique contest itself. Sad to say that’s not the case today.
All of the guys I have just mentioned have been great
assets to the physique game because for them to get the size they possessed they had to do some heavy, heavy lifting and if you looked at their workout programs you could see that they combined heavy tendon and ligament building movements with the muscle sculpting movements of the cosmetic bodybuilder.
assets to the physique game because for them to get the size they possessed they had to do some heavy, heavy lifting and if you looked at their workout programs you could see that they combined heavy tendon and ligament building movements with the muscle sculpting movements of the cosmetic bodybuilder.
It was not uncommon for Franco Columbu to bench in the high 400´s or deadlift over 700 pounds for a big triple. In tests of power, moving a huge weight in a short movement, deadlifts, squats, supports were all easy for John Carl Grimek. Clancy Ross was fully capable of getting 180-pound dumbbells in position self-assisted for some heft incline work.
And who can forget Chuck Sipes who could squat 6 to 700 pounds and bench nearly 600 pounds, when nobody else near his bodyweight was even close. Plus he was an IFBB super-star bodybuilder to boot.
It’s not by accident that all of the names I have mentioned have ended up at the top in the iron game. They not only looked the part (cosmetic bodybuilder) but they all could push the heavy iron that the general public perceived of them.
Naturally the question may arise as to whether the days of just being a pumper or toner are gone? Well, in my opinion I would have to say No!
Why not? Because there is still going to be a lot of people involved in the sport of bodybuilding who don’t have any aspirations of taking their training to that 3rd or 4th level of intensity it takes to train heavy. However if they do then it’s going to be way more competitive, mark my words, and I think as you see the sport metamorphosize into the year 2025 you’ll see more powerbodybuilding taking place because you will just have an overall edge over someone that just pumps the dog crap out of the muscles while giving little or no regard to gaining super human strength.
Now some people still might not know the difference between muscle bulk training and pump training so let me elaborate.
When a bodybuilder or a powelifter bulk train they use heavy, heavy weights to tear down deep muscle tissue membranes. The muscle rebounds (recovers) and grows abundantly. This is what is called ultimate hypertrophy.
Now on the other hand if a bodybuilder or powerlifter subjects themselves to light pumping movements you’ll gorge the muscle with blood literally. I call this a suck pump. Granted this type of training will shape and bring up the muscularity of the muscle bellies but it lacks the integrity of bulk training.
If you want to retain the transitory muscle thickness that you experienced with the flush pump training then you will have to include the deep tearing down of the heavy weight training. This is one of the best ways to retain muscle thickness (density) where in the morning you wake up and you still look pretty big.
What I am trying to gear this article towards is for you bodybuilders and powerlifters who desire total development and total strength while being less concerned about specialization in one area. Your overall strength and muscular size will definitely increase using a POWERBODYBUILDING program. This is because the program is physiologically construed to provide heavy high intensity work (muscle bulk training) for size and strength and volume high rep work (flush pump training) and to add fullness and vascularity to the muscle.
It has been my aspiration for quite a while now to introduce a powerbodybuilding system of training that can be used by beginners, intermediates and advanced men. Check out the brand new resource below for more information on exactly how to structure your training with a powerbodybuilding approach.
The Secret Training Methods That Transformed A Scrawny Former Marathon Runner Into A Massive Power-Bodybuilder- Bench Pressing 515 Lbs & QUADRUPLING Overall Body Strength & Power. Click here for the story.
Guest post by Andy Bolton of Deadlift Dynamite
1. Realize that strength training is a violent pursuit
You may have never thought about strength training as something violent, but it is. Think about it: when you squat, you put a weight on your back that could potentially cripple you if it all goes wrong. When you bench, you lift a bar above your body that if dropped on your neck will probably kill you.
And the deadlift encourages you to lift weights from the floor that could break your back if you don’t have the correct form and know how to stay tight.
Indeed, if you don’t get a buzz from watching MMA, boxing, rugby, American football or some other “violent” sport, you are probably not cut out for serious strength training. However, if you do get a kick out of watching those sports and have a passion for getting stronger, you need to develop…
If you want to dominate the kind of weights that the average lifters can’t even hope to lift, you have to be aggressive.
When you are in the hole on the squat, with your max on your back, you have to drive that bar back to the start position like your life depends on it.
The same goes for the bench press: when the bar touches your chest, you have to crush it with serious aggression and drive it back to the start position.
And as for the deadlift, I don’t think any other lift is so dependent on being in the right state of mind. Watch my world record deadlifts and you will see my training partner slap my face beforehand for several minutes. As Dave “Bulldog” Beattie does this I am allowing my aggression to build. When the time comes I push Dave out of the way (not easy to do given that he’s 300lbs) and then I unleash hell on the bar.
That’s the kind of attitude all the best guys have. If you want to see aggression, watch me lift, watch Captain Kirk lift, watch Chuck Vogelphol lift, watch my training partner Brian Reynolds lift—all great lifters, all very aggressive. You can get ok strength without aggression, but if you want to be super strong, you have to be an animal.
With that said, you also need…
The ability to think clearly and see things as they are is of vital importance to the strength athlete. Only when you think clearly will you be able to objectively work out your weaknesses and address them accordingly.
Only when you think clearly will you know when to push and when to hold back, when to get psyched up before a lift and when to just be aggressive when you are actually under the bar. Only when you think clearly will you be able to stay injury free and ensure your own longevity. Clarity is essential for success. Most people are unclear and unsuccessful. There is a pattern right there.
Visualization is a simple yet highly powerful mental skill that all successful people have. Science has proven that if you think about something over and over again and with enough intensity, your brain can’t actually tell the difference between whether or not you have actually done what you are thinking about or just imagined it.
So… the trick is to visualize yourself going for and SUCCEEDING with personal bests over and over again before you actually attempt them. I “saw myself” lift 1,008lbs thousands of times before I actually pulled it for real. When the time came to do it in competition, I actually felt like it was nothing new. Embrace visualization and use it to help you get stronger.
At the same time…
5. Avoid excess negativity
The reason why I say to avoid excess negativity and not just to avoid negativity is because we all have negative thoughts and we always will have. The difference is that some people dwell on negative thoughts and allow them to sabotage their success, while others quickly eliminate them and/or work out if there is a hidden message.
In relation to lifting, the biggest example of negativity is people who see themselves missing personal bests. Never, ever do this and if you catch yourself doing this, stop it straight away and imagine yourself succeeding 10 times. In order to ‘catch’ negative thoughts before they get out of hand, you must have…
Tony Robbins says that most people live their lives like a leaf on a river. In other words—they go where the river takes them, with no real control over where they are going. If you want control over your life and your strength, you must be like the speed boat on the river; able to pick its course and do what it wants—instead of being dictated to by your surroundings and circumstances… you must take control and make things happen.
When you are focused, you will naturally take control and spend your time more wisely. Right now, do a quick exercise that will get you focused…
• Take out a sheet of paper
• Write down three 30 day goals
• Write down three 3 month goals
• Write down three 12 month goals
• Write down a big, outrageous 3 to 5 year goal
Read these goals every day and tick them off as you do achieve them. Finally, you must be:
Bruce Lee talks about flowing like water. You must be the same. No matter how well you plan, things will always need to be tweaked and altered along the way. That goes for strength training and everything you do in life.
Do not be stubborn, be flexible. If something’s not working, be man enough to change it.
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!
Andy Bolton is an English powerlifting and strongman legend. He was the first guy to deadlift one thousand pounds in a powerlifting competition. Andy won his first competition at the age of 21 and just kept going from there, never looking back. He is the current World Powerlifting Organization world record holder (2,806 pounds) and holds the WPO world records in squat (1,213 pounds) and deadlift (1,009 pounds). His best competition bench press is a whopping 755 pounds.
In his latest work, Super Size Your Strength, Andy teams up with fellow powerlifter Elliot Newman to share their insiders’ secrets for driving your squat, bench press and deadlift to new, amazingly powerful highs. Let’s take a look and see what they have to say.
Supersize Your Strength is a 16-week training program to build raw/unequipped strength. In other words, if you wear knee wraps on your squats this program is suitable for you but if you wear squat and deadlift suits and bench shirts, then you need to look elsewhere.
The book is broken up into eight easy-to-read chapters that cover everything you need to know to follow the program and build your squat, bench press and deadlift. The sharp focus on these ‘big three’ exercises is one aspect of this book that I really like. If you’re a powerlifter this sharp focus makes perfect sense. If you’re not a powerlifter but just a guy who wants to get strong, this approach still makes sense because by focusing on the big three lifts, you’re building absolute strength from head to toe. In other words, Supersize Your Strength helps you build the foundation you need to grow all over your body. All of this is covered in chapter one.
The next chapter provides an overview of the complete 16-week program. The program is designed for a four-day training schedule and is designed to be followed exactly as-is, without modification. The only modification allowed is a switch to a 3-day switch schedule.
Chapter three covers the all-important warm up. If you expect to be lifting the kinds of weight these guys do, it is absolutely critical that you properly warm up—no exceptions. Extensive photographs are provided for each warm up exercise.
Chapter four outlines the 16-week training program. The guys include handy charts that cover each four-week period of the program. The number of exercises performed each day ranges from a low of four to a high of seven. Rest periods between the sets should be between 60 and 180 seconds, depending on the type of exercise you’re performing. You’ll need to read chapter five though first, because this is where all of the exercise movements are laid out for you. Again, like in chapter three, pictures demonstrate proper form.
The very few modifications that are allowed in the Supersize Your Strength program are covered in chapter six. For example, if a four-day cycle doesn’t work for you, it is acceptable to switch to a three-day split routine by combing certain exercises. The program includes 20 minutes of cardio per week. However, you are allowed to add some additional cardio time to this schedule. Keep in mind though that the goal
of the program is to build super strength so it is important that you not spend too much time doing cardio.
Chapter seven is focused on things you can do to increase your strength gains. Specifically, this chapter highlights pre-, during- and post-workout nutrition, along with the all important recovery. I found the nutrition section of this chapter especially useful. The guys provide a lot of great information about carbs, protein, timing your nutritional intake and more. Remember that nutrition is the foundation of all gains in size and strength. You can lift until you can’t lift any more, but if you don’t have the proper nutritional foundation, the gains just won’t happen. The recovery section in chapter seven is also very well done.
The last chapter outlines your post-program strategy to maintain your gains.
Andy and Elliot also include four bonus books: Explode Your Squat; Explode Your Bench; Explode Your Deadlift; and Bigger Lifting Through Stronger Abs. Each of these volumes provide a nice range of tips and tricks to keep exploding your results beyond the 16-week Supersize Your Strength training program. All-in-all I’m happy to give the program a solid recommendation. Andy and Elliot obviously know what they are doing in terms of strength training and they do an excellent job of conveying their knowledge and wisdom to the reader.
Do THIS And You’ll Get Bigger, Stronger And Faster – Guaranteed.
By Andy Bolton author of Supersize your Strength
You may wonder what it is that I’m referring too. After-all, to guarantee that you’ll get BIGGER, STRONGER and FASTER is a pretty bold claim, right?
But it’s a claim I can back up with results.
My own results (multiple world records and titles).
My training partners results.
My clients results.
Now, what the hell am I talking about?
Here’s your answer…
I’m talking about Training Program Design.
You see, the right training program can accelerate your gains in the gym faster than virtually anything else, but the wrong program can leave you without any gains for months (or even years) and can lead you down a road of injury and frustration.
The trouble is, it sounds easy – all you have to do is write an effective training program and you’ll achieve all your muscle-building and strength goals.
BUT – it’s not easy!
Not by a long way.
I see many guys hurt themselves and make little or no progress in the gym because they are clueless when it comes to training program design.
Some Bench Press 6 times a week.
Others only train the ‘mirror muscles’.
Others only train their upper body’s.
The list of mistakes goes on and on.
The most important things you need to get right if you want to get big and strong are:
- Good sleep
- Proper nutrition and hydration
- Lifting technique
- Training program design
Without a good training program you are doomed to failure. With a good training program it can be like removing the brakes, adding the Supercharger and saying “HELLO” to a whole new world of gains.
When I was starting out in the world of strength I found the best lifters I could and I studied what they did. At first I copied their programs and made decent gains.
Over the years I added my own unique flavors to the mix and made even better gains. Now I share my knowledge and wisdom (20+ years worth) with other lifters and athletes and they very often experience the best gains of their lives.
They add muscle.
They get stronger.
They get faster and build explosiveness.
If you’d like me to help you to get bigger, stronger and faster, by providing you with a “kick-ass” training program, click the link below:
Guest post by Mike Robertson
There are times when bench press training can feel like an exercise in futility.
I’m definitely not the best bench presser to ever walk the face of the Earth. While my squat and deadlift were always quick to go up, I always struggled with the bench press.
With that being said, I’m constantly reminded of a quote from Brad Gillingham. While I may mix up the numbers, the gist of the quote stays the same:
“If you start with a 200-pound bench press at the age of 20, if you only increase your bench press by 10 pounds every year, you’ll be a 400-pound bench presser by the time you’re 40.”
That little quote has always kept me motivated to keep pressing.
But as we get older, injuries start to creep up. It could be sore and achy joints, or the occasional muscle pull. But if we want to get that consistent 10 pounds every year, then staying healthy is key.
If our goal is to stay healthy and bench press heavyweights for extended periods of time, they are three key areas of the body that we must focus on. Those three areas are:
#1 – The thoracic spine
#2 – The scapula
#3 – The rotator cuff
Let’s examine how efficient training of each of these areas can not only keep you healthy, but keep your numbers going up for years to come.
The thoracic spine
The thoracic spine may still be one of the most misunderstood areas of the human body. As powerlifters, we’re taught to rely on the strong muscle of our lower back. However, if our goal is to not only maximize performance, but to minimize injury, we must improve the extensibility of our thoracic spine.
If you watch any elite level bench presser, chances are they have a high degree of thoracic extension, which leads to a solid setup and big arch. If you’re forced to get all your extension from your lumbar spine, you’ll not only lose some of your arch but you’ll probably suffer from low back pain as well!
The easiest way to improve thoracic extension is to drive thoracic extension on either a piece of PVC pipe, or a foam roller. The exercise is simple: lay the pipe or roller perpendicular to your body around the area of your mid back. Once set up, place your fingertips behind your head and pull your elbows together in front of your face.
Gently brace your stomach, and slowly wrap your upper back around the roller or pipe. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds, and then slowly work the roller up and down your upper back.
This exercise is effective whether it’s used pre-workout, post-workout, or simply throughout the day to loosen up your upper back. Not only will better thoracic extension spare your lumbar spine, but it will also improve your upper extremity biomechanics as well. This simple tip could be the difference between a healthy body and jacked up shoulders or elbows.
The Upper Back
Once thoracic extension is in place, it’s now time to lay the foundation for a big bench press. In this case, a thick and stable upper back will allow you to maximize your bench press poundage’s.
The key, however, is not only maintaining stability through your upper back, but to build strength and mass as well.
When setting up to bench press, the name of the game is stability. The upper back is crucially important, and we need stability in both scapular retraction (pulling the shoulder blades together), as well as scapular depression (pulling the shoulder blades down).
Basic stabilization exercises such as prone I’s, prone T’s, and prone Y’s may not look like much at first blush. However, these exercises focus on recruiting the appropriate musculature to stabilize our scapula. Far too often, we’re forced to use big, prime mover muscle groups to not only produce motion, but prevent it as well.
Instead, our goal should be to strengthen our stabilizers so they are on par with our prime movers. When we do this, we allow our prime movers to do the job they’re best at – move heavy weights!
Once we build the basic stability with low-level activation and recruitment exercises, it’s time to really focus on strength and muscle mass throughout the upper back.
We know that big, compound movements are ideal when it comes to building muscle mass. However, we need to develop strength both in horizontal pulling movements, as well as vertical pulling movements.
Exercises such as chest supported rows, dumbbell rows, and low cable rows are fantastic for building width through the upper back, as well as strength and stability in scapular retraction.
When rowing, think about pulling through your elbows, and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Dorian Yates used to say that if you can’t hold the midpoint contraction for a second or more, you are simply using momentum to lift the weight. This couldn’t be truer in our case, as a maximal bench-press often lasts anywhere between five and 10 seconds. You need that maximal contraction.
Instead of massaging your ego with ridiculous poundage’s, make sure to use the appropriate muscles, and really focus on squeezing at the midpoint of each repetition.
In contrast, chin-up and pull-up variations are ideal for not only training scapular depression, but also for building our lats. The lats are critical for controlling the weight, as we will use to help actively pull the bar down to our chest when bench pressing. This “active” pulling helps maintain our stability and control on the negative portion of the lift.
Much like the row, we still need to focus on pulling through the elbows to initiate the contraction on vertical pulls. However, at the bottom, instead of pulling the shoulder blades together, we should be focused on actively pulling them downwards. Pavel describes this as pulling your shoulder blades into your back pocket. This is the essence of scapular depression, and it’s something that many trainees often struggle with.
The Rotator Cuff
The rotator cuff is the final piece of our puzzle. While many of us know that the rotator cuff is important, far too often rotator cuff training is quickly forgotten. Rather than taking a few extra minutes at the end of a session to train the rotator cuff, we leave it as an afterthought and figure we’ll get to it the next work out.
Exercises that emphasize the pecs and lats strengthen the internal rotators of the shoulder. To help maintain muscular and structural balance at the shoulder joint, we need to incorporate external rotation work in our programs.
Standrard exercises such as external rotations on the knee, or side-lying external rotations can get us started. However, I also like bigger bang exercises such as face pulls where we not only train external rotation of the shoulder, but we also get some upper back strength/stability as well.
Bringing it all together
One of the best times to get healthy and lay a better foundation is the off-season. Here are some simple tips to help regain structural balance, and put you in an optimal position to start training for your next meet or competition.
First and foremost, start your upper body workouts with a heavy pulling movement first. If you’re used to always pressing first, leading off with a pull-up or rowing variation will allow you to get more out of these exercises. You won’t be as fatigued as you normally are, and you’ll be surprised at how much more energy you have to train these lifts. With my powerlifters, we’ll often do this for the first 2-3 months of their off-season just to make sure we’re putting an emphasis on upper back strength and stability.
Along those same lines, the off-season is an ideal time to place an emphasis on all the little guys such as our rotator cuff, our scapular stabilizers, etc. Remember, the little guys are important for stabilizing the joint, and allowing the prime movers to do what they do best – move heavy weights. If we don’t bring our stabilizers up to par, we’re never going to see improvements in our primary lifts.
Whether your goal is to set a PR in your next powerlifting meet, or just be the biggest bench presser in your gym, the tips above can help take you to the next level.
Take a few weeks (or months) and build them into your next training cycle. I promise, you won’t be disappointed with the results.
About the Author
Mike Robertson has helped clients and athlete from all walks of life achieve their strength, physique and performance related goals. Mike received his Masters Degree in Sports Biomechanics from the world-renowned Human Performance Lab at Ball State University.
Mike is the president of Robertson Training Systems, where you can find tons of free blogs, podcasts, and even register for Mike’s free newsletter.
Mike is also the co-owner of Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training, which was recently named one of America’s Top Ten Gyms.
Coaching Call with Powerlifter Mike Westerdal,
Pro Strongman Elliott Hulse & “The Muscle Cook” Dave Ruel
In this 90-Minute Coaching Call, Mike, Elliott and Dave reveal:
- How they approach training respectively for powerlifting, strongman, and bodybuilding
- What is “Powerbuilding” and how it can help you get better results
- Their foolproof methods to be successful with your goals when you’re a beginner
- How to get rid of stubborn mid-section bodyfat and finally get a six pack
- How to work around an injury
- The best ways to live longer, stronger and healthier, and what to do to promote “anti-aging”
- The truth about the relation between muscle strength and muscle size
- What is the best: Krill Oil or Fish Oil?
- How to avoid muscle soreness
- The best type of cardio (HIIT or long moderate cardio?)
- How to approach calorie rotation in your diet
- And much more…
Elliott is a riot isn’t he? Leave your comment below!
I just put up this new PowerBuilding audio interview with Mike Schwanke. Mike is a training partner of mine at Tampa Barbell and he’s a pro division powerlifter.
You’ll like it because Mike is super lean and strong at the same time and shares his cardio/conditioning schedule.
A lot of people ask how much cardio is too much when you are trying to stay strong so this should shed some light on the topic.
By the way did I mention Mike weighs 220 lbs and has squatted 1000 lbs, benched 700 lbs and deadlifted 800 lbs in competition! So you’ll definitely want to listen to Mike’s tips.
Got something to add to the discussion? Leave your comment below on how to balance strength with low to moderate body fat levels.