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Interview with American Deadlift Record Holder, Dave Sheperd

As told to 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.


Interview with Bench Press Superstar Will Barotti

as told to 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?

1.  Nutrition

2.  Rest

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

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

3.  Overtraining

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.


Exercising your Muscles

May 7, 2013 by  
Filed under Recent Posts

Workout is one of the essential aspects of our lifestyle. It seems man is lost somewhere amidst the stressful routine, unhealthy food, polluted environment and fast pace of life. Wise people who know how to balance life with their schedule would definitely take some time for workout, exercising, yoga meditation or any other relaxing activity. Saying so does not mean that one has to run around looking for a gym to workout. Rather he or she can perform simple exercises and take guidance from online sources such as The website offers tips and advices on all kinds of body and muscle development. Also the site features articles that guide beginners and experts as to how to maintain a healthy workout routine.

Other than physical movement using equipment, there are other ways one can exercise. Performing normal household tasks, walking down the street to fetch groceries instead of using vehicles, cycling to office instead of driving a car and playing games are the few ways one can exercise himself.

There is a wide spread believe that virtual games help people to reduce weight and keep fit, as most of these games incorporate human movement into gaming. Some even consider playing games using Nintendo as a workout regime. Though this might hold true for some games, not all games can be considered as a physical activity or a workout session.

For example, casino games such roulette, blackjack and even slot machines do not involve any physical activity. It makes the player to sit in one position and keep playing the game. Also, people who gamble frequently do not engage in other leisure activities that have health benefits or focus on healthy habits.

Casino games may be fun, but they cause dire health issues. Several studies show that gambling not only cause physical health issues, but can affect mental health as well. They lack interactivity. So, if you are a huge fan of casino games, ensure that you mix it up with some kind of exercise in order to escape from its effects.Gaming can have a role in your healthy lifestyle, but only if it is done in the right way. They can be a good way to have fun, but at some point you need to get out and move your muscles! Check here for more gaming options.

Challenge Fat Loss Workout Sample From Shawna Kaminski

Hey, I’m Shawna K, author of I get asked all the time if I compete or if I just finished a contest of some sort.

I tell them, ‘Yes, I compete, I just finished my last contest in 1990’.

It’s fun to see their jaws drop.

I don’t do anything drastic in terms of nutrition or training to maintain my lean and muscular physique. I simply apply the scientifically proven principles of M2A or ‘muscle metabolism acceleration’. More on that in a bit.

My first love is strength training. I’m not a big person but I can lift a fair amount of weight given my size, gender and age, (not to mention my busy schedule of work and being a mother of two teenagers). In fact, I take offense to the whole saying, ‘you’re pretty strong for a 50 year old woman’. I want to throw that saying off a cliff.

Based on the weight I move and the things I can physically do, that saying is safely at the bottom of some canyon.

The truth of the matter is, ANYONE can do the things I do when they employ my challenge fat loss techniques. They involve training intensity with the correct combination of strength and high intensity intervals.

Muscle metabolism acceleration is all about training anaerobically to create lactic acid which is a precursor to growth hormone. And GH is the magic bullet of fat loss. Why not naturally increase GH to decrease fat and increase lean muscle?

As well, my training methods create metabolic afterburn so you’ll burn more calories long after your training session is done.

I know that you’re up for challenging workouts, why else would you be a fan of Mike and Critical Bench?

I also know that sometimes it just takes that extra ‘push’ to get you the results you desire. When you know that a 50 year old woman can crush the workouts that I give you to do, it puts things in perspective. You can do them too.

Here’s a sample workout. In this workout you’ll find:

 KB swing
spiderman push ups
goblet switch lunge
pull up
sit out
plank recovery

Do 5 rounds of 35 seconds of work with 07 rest/transition OR 20 reps of each exercise.

You can check out more workouts with challenging exercises like pull ups, burpees, and grueling combinations of exercises that are done in 20 minutes or less. You can use these workouts as a stand alone program, after your strength workout or on your day off to help you get lean and stay strong.

Don’t let your work load, age or gender or anything else keep you from the body you deserve.

You can read more about Challenge Fat Loss by CLICKING HERE NOW.

About Shawna Kaminski


Shawna Kaminski is a retired schoolteacher of 20 years who’s found her passion in the fitness industry. She’s been a competitive athlete all her life and has competed nationally in three sports. She’s parlayed her ability to teach and her love of training into programs that you can directly benefit from.

Shawna just turned 50, is a mother of two teenagers and understands how busy life can be. Her workouts are short and intense and often can be done anywhere.

She’s always up for a challenge and shares her fitness challenges with you. Currently she runs her own fitness boot camps and coaches clients in person and online with her amazing result getting programs.

5 Weaknesses YOU Need to Fix to Increase Your Bench Press REP Strength

If you love bench pressing but feel that you need a break from constant heavy lifting you’ll love the video below. You may or may not know that I was previously diagnosed with a slight rotator cuff tear. It feels better now, but before I get back into really heavy benching again I wanted to try a different challenge.

I want to see how many times I can bench press my body weight! Right now I’m tipping the scale at 225 lbs which means my bodyweight bench press test would be the 225 lbs Rep Test. That’s the same test they use at the NFL combines to test the upper body strength of the future draft picks.

If this sounds like a fun challenge, you’ll want to check out the video below to find out what your weaknesses are when bench pressing your body weight for as many reps as possible.

How ironic is this? One of the best bench press coaches I’ve ever met lives near me here in Tampa Bay, FL. His name is Chandler Marchman, CSCS and he’s the owner of Elite Strength & Conditioning Training Center. It only made sense for us to team up and share the goods with you. Enjoy!

Weakness #1: Improper Form

When we teach the bench press,we always have to drive home the point that you MUST be the model of efficiency in order to perform to the apex of your natural abilities.

We can’t tell you how many times that with only 5-10 minutes of coaching we have helped add 20-35 lbs to a client’s bench press simply by correcting form.

How? It’s simple really, if you aren’t engaging the right muscles for the bench press, you will not be able to apply the maximum force. Inefficient movements will result in a less than stellar performance and that’s NOT only for a 1 Rep Max! Over the course of an entire set, you could be losing 3-5 reps just from not knowing proper form or test taking protocol…

Weakness #2: Your Max Strength Is Too Weak

Whether you admit it or not, the ability to bench press your bodyweight a number of times IS indicative on how strong you are. If you haven’t made maximal strength a priority, then you’re missing out on valuable reps.

Why? Think energy conservation and efficiency again. Say there are two guys, both weight 200 lbs. One can bench press 315 lbs, whereas the other one can only press 225 lbs.

Logically, who do you think is gonna have an easier time pressing 200 lbs for reps? If you haven’t prioritized maximal strength in the bench press, then you’re missing the boat!

Weakness #3: Lack of Muscular Endurance

On the flip side, if you lack muscular endurance, especially in the muscles activated in the bench press (chest, shoulders, triceps, and upper back), then you will peter out – regardless of how strong you are! Simply put, you must match maximal strength with muscular endurance if you wish to crush this test.

Weakness #4: Improper Weak Point Training

We mentioned before, in order to be effective in the 225 lbs rep test or any bench press rep challenge we must patch up any “leaks”or structural integrity issues.

That means we must identify key deficiencies and address them with the RIGHT exercises. If you aren’t addressing your weaknesses with the proper weak point training exercises, don’t expect to see any marked improvement when you test yourself!

Weakness #5: Poor Test Taking Technique

We know what you’re thinking. How could anyone “screw the pooch” on this one? You just grab the bar and bench it as many times as you can…until you can’t! Right?

If you think that’s all there is to it, you couldn’t be further from the truth OR further from increasing your reps.


Click Here for a Step by Step Plan
To Increase Your Bench Press Rep Strength