Lessons Learned From a Bench Press Beast

410 RAW bench press at 154 pounds

Between grade school, college, and grad school, I have spent a considerable amount of time in a classroom. In the years since, I’ve continued to read everything I can get my hands on. I genuinely enjoy learning. There is more to learning than reading a book however. In my 20+ years of training, I have learned more in the gym than anywhere else. Plenty of knowledge can be acquired under the bar, inside the ring, or wherever else your training takes you. Thus, while some may frown upon bro-science, I enjoy listening to seasoned athletes or trainers when they share their experience. The bench press beast that you’ll see below is a prime example.

Bench Press Beast

Below you will find a video of a 154 pound recreational lifter who bench presses over 400 pounds. If there was an example of strength without size, this man certainly fits the bill.

Videos like this typically travel around the web and leave nothing but a long list of ignorant comments behind. If you’ve ever spent any time on Youtube, you can surely relate. It usually doesn’t take many comments to begin losing hope in the human race. Fortunately, some of the ignorance posted to this video has been offset by the wisdom shared by the actual lifter. He’s left a few gold nuggets within the 800+ comments that exist at this time.

Below I will highlight some of the wisdom that he has shared.

1. Patience and Consistency

If you’ve read my blog before, you’ve likely heard me ramble about the importance of patience and consistency (ex. see here). As I’ve stressed before, significant results require a significant investment in time. There are no shortcuts.

It’s nice to see that the lifter above shares similar beliefs. Contrary to what some might have initially thought, he was not an above average lifter when he started.

In his words,

“First time I ever laid on a bench, I got a very wobbly 85lbs at 120 body weight or so. Couple of yrs later, I weighed about 125-130 and got 120lbs from what I remember… I was average starting out.”

He continues by mentioning that he has been lifting consistently for 17 years. He is not a product of drugs, but rather hard work over many years.

“If there’s one thing I can credit to where I’m at today, it’s my consistency over 17yrs. If you can find a way to train over a long period of time, you will see the same strength gains if that is your focus.”

2. Life Outside The Gym

Another misconception that’s common when witnessing an impressive display is that the individual must dedicate every waking hour to the task. It’s nice to see this individual prove otherwise. He isn’t in the gym 24 hours a day.

In his words,

“Unfortunately, I don’t have any crazy gym secrets to share. I’m in and out of there in 60-70 minutes 3 days a week. I go right after work and hurry home to have dinner with my kids and wife.”

The take home lesson here should be straightforward. In short, it is possible to develop considerable strength while living a normal life outside of the gym. This man works full time to provide for his family yet still makes time to train.

3. Programming

Anyone who benches so much weight must follow a complex program, right?

Wrong!

Once again, this man demonstrates the potential of a simple, yet consistent lifting strategy.

“A lot of people ask what program I use. Up until about a year ago, I did not know there were workout programs to help you gain strength. For someone with a decent bench, I’ve got to be the most ignorant person out there.”

4. Strength Without Size

Many weight class athletes (ex. wrestlers) wish to gain strength without size. These athletes want to maximize their strength without gaining weight. Even an extra pound can force them to compete in a heavier weight class. Fortunately, this bench press master offers two valuable gems to such athletes.

First, he obviously demonstrates the strength potential of a smaller athlete. Most athletes have plenty of room to improve at a given weight. Second, he also shares his preferred rep range for strength.

He states the following:

“Yes, always working pretty low reps and ALWAYS working up close to the one rep max. I like to go heavy always. Light weights are for warming up and stretching.”

In a nutshell, he summarizes the ideal approach for strength development with minimal weight gain (i.e. heavy weights, low reps, and minimal volume). Follow such an approach while paying close attention to food/drink intake and you’ll maximize your strength potential at a given weight class.

5. Mindset

Lastly, this seasoned lifter shares what could be the most important tip of all. He highlights the significance of the mind when lifting.

In his words,

“The only thing that goes through my mind is lifting the weight… That confidence plays such an instrumental part in actually being able to lift the weight.”

So many lifters defeat themselves before they have even gripped the bar. When dealing with near maximal loads, there is no room for doubt. As soon as you believe that you can’t, you’ll almost always be right. You need to attack the bar with the mentality that you are in control.

Never worry about what anyone else thinks you can do. Many of the best athletes in the world don’t pay attention to opinions or realistic expectations. As Will Smith once said, being realistic is the most common path to mediocrity. He may just be an actor, but I couldn’t think of a better quote for high level athletes.

See it, believe it, and achieve it.

Summary

It would have been easy to share the video above and marvel at the impressiveness. It is much more useful to listen to what this man has to say however. It is easy to watch, but it takes a conscious effort to listen, learn, and apply. Never pass up on the opportunity to learn from someone who has paid his dues over many years of hard and consistent work.

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17 comments:

  1. Outstanding find! It almost takes two or three reads to let this sink in. For the serious life learner, borrowed experience is where its at. Thanks for sharing, Ross!

        1. Hey Ross, What are those rep ranges he uses for his strength gains, I would like to implement a number of reps and sets I can do specifically in my routine to increase just strength.

  2. Always very inspiring to see what can be done naturally. It brings a question to mind for Ross though. The gentleman featured grew stronger employing the SAID principle (Specific Adaption to Imposed Demand). That being, he trained as heavy as he could, and so specifically adapted to lifting heavy. Ross, I’ve seen some vids where you lift some very impressive weights. And yet, you achieve this without training with heavy poundages, instead employing BW resistance at a variety of angles. How have you seemingly sidestepped SAID?

    1. @Oz – Thanks for the comment, but your assumptions aren’t entirely true. Regarding myself, I perform many heavy/strenuous lifts. I do much more than bodyweight training. I also lift heavy odd objects, heavy d-bells, deadlifts, etc. I also add weight to many “bodyweight” movements (ex. heavy dips, chins, etc.).

    2. I’ve seen videos of him doing dips with 225 lbs attached to himself by chain. I could only imagine that something like that would bring up your bench press and other tricep related lifts/exercises and of course would help with heavy lifting. i.e. his heavy bench press.

  3. Consistency is absolutely on the top of the list. I love that he loves what he does without becoming obsessed. You can be focused without being consumed!

  4. Very thanks to this entry, it’s very actually for a present time. Everybody wants to be big and strong for a short time, using farma and other stuff. No one wants to spend years of hard work.

  5. Especially enjoyed the part about the mindset. I’ve been cutting for a while now (down 15lbs) while still gaining strength on the bench, squat and deadlift. However for the past 3 weeks I can’t seem to increase my bench anymore. I’ve been attributing it to the fact that I’m cutting and that it’s normal not to gain much strength.

    On the other hand I also notice that when I try to up the weight after the first few reps when it starts feeling heavy my mind already wants to give up before my body does, because it thinks I can’t handle it. Are there some tricks to make yourself believe you can lift something you know you should be able to?

  6. Hey Ross,

    I’d like to start off by saying that I just found your blog a few days ago and I’ve read some of your latest posts.Needless to say, I am quite impressed with your work and happy that I discovered you.

    I like this article quite a bit and especially the first lesson on patience and consistency.We get so focused on the end result and want to reach it as soon as possible without even realizing that most things(and benching over 400 pounds being one of them) simply take time.There’s no magic pill, no secret, no short cut.It takes hard work and discipline to grind day after day and slowly get better over time.

    This is a very important lesson and I’m glad I learned it so early on in my life.

    Thanks for this great article, Ross!

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