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.