by: Josh Bryant
At the end of August, Julius Maddox slapped the all-time world record bench press record to sleep; this past Saturday, he slapped it for sleeping with a world record 744-pound bench press, executed faster than the Tijuana Two Step.
Everything is bigger in Texas, including bench presses, so no better place to set the record than at the Rob Hall Classic Meet at Big Texas Gym in Austin, Texas.
Now, compare that to the 723 lb American record Julius hit less than five months ago.
As Julius’ coach, I want to first off congratulate him! Not just for undoubtedly being the strongest bench presser of all-time, but, most importantly, for being a great man. Once operating by the code of the street, now Julius lives by the law of the Lord and has helped countless others become free of addiction and find a life of purpose through his Friends of Sinners Ministry.
Let’s look at some strategies that have helped Julius recently increase his bench press.
Majoring in the Minors
#Squateveryday was a popular hashtag a few years ago. It popularized the trend of doing primarily competitive lifts, with little to no assistance work; the complete antithesis to the advice of the greatest powerlifter of all-time, Ed Coan, and others with great longevity and careers expanded across decades. Thankfully, now more lifters are including accessory work.
The benefits to accessory work are huge, it can correct imbalances, increase muscle hypertrophy (think both safety and confidence), teach a strength athlete to feel a muscle working and add variety to strengthening targeted muscles while preventing overuse.
A glass of red wine daily can benefit your health, a pint of the moonshine you buy 90 miles North East of Nashville, Tennessee, won’t.
Everything has a point of diminishing returns.
A few years ago, Julius’ shoulder strength was a strength but overtime it began lag. We built it back up with one the one-arm landmine press, it paid huge dividends and was key to Julius achieving his first 700-pound bench press.
Over time, Julius’ strength went batshat crazy in this movement.
Everything has purpose!
The purpose here was to set the world record bench press, not a 600-pound overhead press. The landmine press was simply a means to an end; in our proverbial chess game, it was checkmate with this movement. So, instead of getting absurd with this lift, we switched to lateral raises and rear delt flys, face pulls and T3 raises to target the often neglected lower traps, which play a huge role in shoulder health.
Everything has a point of diminishing returns, in the best-case scenario, gains cease and in the worst, you will become acquainted with the local orthopedic surgeon. Pause, sometimes, when reflecting on your purpose for accessory work and ask yourself, “Is this useful?”
Matthew 17:20 says, “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, “move from here to there” and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” That affirmation is powerful.
And, for the solely scientifically inclined, there is a spot for you under this powerful tent of belief. A 2014 review of 53 trials compared elective surgical procedures to placebos and found that sham (bogus surgeries) provided some benefit in 74 percent of trials and worked as well as the real shebang nearly 50 percent of the time.
The take home is this, as you hit your lifts each week in training, you build positive momentum. You progressively feel a power greater than you take over, no longer do problems exists just possibilities, it feels like you are never going to miss a lift. This psychic chemistry tells you nothing is beyond your capacity. If the bar is loaded, you will lift it! This is the zone; few lifters have been there, but great champions, like Julius, live in it.
An article on Julius by Roger Lockbridge says Bryant made no hesitation in predicting Maddox’s future. Quoting Maddox, “He just saw me and said it out loud with a straightforward tone. ‘You’re going to set the all-time raw bench record. You’re going to break the world record.’ The way he said just matter of fact was something that added onto that confidence. At that point I was like ‘tell me what to do and I’ll do it.’ It was on.”
Julius fully believes in himself and our discussions have been in an “as if” fashion; now that is has happened, it’s just becoming official to the rest of the world.
Every day is Back Day
Kaz says a “strong man equals a strong back.” Bench press is no exception! A strong, well-developed, muscular back not only iridates an aura of power and gives you a nice, stout shelf to bench press off, it even provides a little spring on the press up. We have used this strategy for nearly two years and the dividends are coming in as Julius’ bench press is now riding around in a Bentley and smoking 100 dollar cigars!
Your upper back can take a licking and keep on ticking! The upper back recovers quickly. Julius trains four days a week, one day is completely devoted to upper back work , the other three include minimally one upper back exercise, sometimes more. This has been paramount to keeping Julius’ shoulders healthy. REMEMBER, the lower back recovers very slowly, when increasing upper back frequency, use things like pull-up variations or lat pulldowns and keep rows chest-supported or on a cable. BENT OVER ROWS WILL TAX YOUR LOWER BACK, THEY ARE NOT A ONE TO ONE SUBSTITUTE FOR CHEST-SUPPORTED ROWS.
“Train 10 minutes a day and increase your strengthOpens in a new Window. by over 30 percent in 10 weeks,” claimed one popular isometric training system. Often isometric zealots speak of isometrics with divinization. Yet, others make them seem as profitable as selling brisket sandwiches outside the annual vegan convention.
By having Julius push against an immovable rack (although I bet he breaks it soon) just shy of lockout, this allowed him to produce roughly 15 percent greater force than could be produced concentrically. In a max bench pressOpens in a new Window.Opens in a new Window., maximum force is maintained for 1/3 of a second as the weight is lifted up. Isometrically, maximum force production can be maintained for five to six seconds. This allowed Julius to produce 15% more force 15 times longer in an isometric contraction. This systematically targeted Julius’ sticking point and gave him the strength to lock out 744.
If performed incorrectly, isometrics can be damaging to your rate of force development and can damagingly impact your stretch shortening cycle.
So here are some guidelines:
–Perform an isometric contraction against an immovable, strong, solid structure.
–Don’t start the isometric contraction at the point the isometric contraction will take place. Some dynamic movement is recommended pre- and post-contraction.
–Do not exceed five to six seconds for maximal isometric contractions.
–Perform some sort of explosive dynamic work after isometric contractions for the benefit of your central nervous system and positive neural adaptations.
–To maximize benefits, contract as hard as possible.
–After a workout that contains isometrics, try some breathing exercises, static stretching and/or proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching, and some foam rolling.
–Do not perform for more than six to eight weeks at a time
Training with the Bandbell Bar
Don’t worry, Julius and I have aren’t starting a drum circle in sister town Tibet outside of Santa Fe or writing screen plays at Starbucks in California.
But we are in favor of anything that works!
The bandbell bar recently has helped Julius in his training on his secondary accessory bench press day.
The bar is designed around the principle of Oscillating Kinetic Energy (OKE).
Why does this principle matter to Julius’ world record quest? This tool was originally used just for rehab, but it is also, as we have discovered, is very useful for prehab.
Using a bamboo bar instead of a steel bar in any movement changes the lift. A flexible bar with weights suspended by flexible resistance bands becomes erratic (because the weights have multiple degrees of freedom). Julius is required to control this throughout the lift. It’s not just point A to point B, but controlling it in three-dimensional space so it doesn’t get to points C,D,E or F. This requires full recruitment of the often underutilized stabilizer muscles. In essence, Julius receives great muscular workout but his central nervous system isn’t worn down like it would be handling maximal weights on a secondary bench day.
Training with bandbell bars can be a great prehab tool for serious strength trainers! Does this tool replace the standard bench press? Hell no! Can it help you stay healthy and prolong your lifting career? Evidence suggests such; furthermore, it is the brainchild of former Westside lifter, Jim Seitzer, and sold by EliteFTS.
This is what has helped Julius! I am sure something in here can help you. In the words of Bruce Lee, “Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”
Champions are built in the off-season, here is our proven off-season plan.
Check out this progression of bench press world-records from Wikipedia:
|164 kg (362 lb)||1898||Georg Hackenschmidt presses 164 kg (361 lb) from the floor.||raw|
|165 kg (364 lb)||1916||Joe Nordquest presses 165 kg (363 lb) from the floor.||raw|
|227.27 kg (501.0 lb)||early 1950s||Doug Hepburn becomes the first man to bench press 400, 450, and 500 lb. In November 1950 he pressed 400 lb (181.82 kg). He pressed 450 lb (204.55 kg) in 1951, and 500 lb (227.27 kg) in December 1953.||raw|
|256.82 kg (566.2 lb)||1959||Bruno Sammartino presses 256.82 kg (565 lb).||raw|
|279.2 kg (616 lb)||1967||Pat Casey presses 615.5 lb (279.2 kg) on March 25, 1967 and becomes the first man to bench press over 600 lb.||raw|
|288.64 kg (636.3 lb)||1971||Jim Williams presses 635 lb (288.64 kg) at the Eastern USA Open. Then in November, he presses 661 lb (300.45 kg).||raw|
|306.2 kg (675 lb)||1972||Jim Williams presses 675 lb (306.2 kg) with only ace bandages on his elbows, wearing a T-shirt on November 9, at the 1972 AAU World Powerlifting Championships.||raw|
|263 kg (580 lb)||1973||Don Reinhoudt presses 580.04 lb (263 kg) Raw at the inaugural IPF World Powerlifting Championships in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on November 10, 1973.||raw|
|267.6 kg (590 lb)||1974||Don Reinhoudt presses 590 lb (267.6 kg) raw at the AAU Senior National Championships in Fort Worth, Texas on September 1, 1974.||raw|
|275.5 kg (607 lb)||1975||Don Reinhoudt presses 607.37 lb (275.5 kg) Raw on May 3, 1975 in Chattanooga.||raw|
|276.69 kg (610.0 lb)||1977||Wayne Bouvier presses 610 lb (276.69 kg) in August, 1977.||raw|
|277.5 kg (612 lb)||1978||Doug Young presses 611.8 lb (277.5 kg) on April 3, 1978 in El Dorado, Arkansas.||raw|
|278 kg (613 lb)||1979||Lars Hedlund presses 612.9 lb (278 kg) on June 21, 1979 in Stockholm.||raw|
|282.5 kg (623 lb)||1979||Bill Kazmaier presses 617.3 lb (280.0 kg) on July 8 at the USPF Nationals in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi and then breaks his own record with 622.8 lb (282.5 kg) on November 4, 1979 in Dayton, Ohio at the IPF Men’s World Powerlifting Championships.||raw|
|285 kg (628 lb)||1980||Lars Hedlund presses 628.3 lb (285.0 kg) on March 4, 1980 Copenhagen.||raw|
|287.5 kg (634 lb)||1980||Bill Kazmaier presses 633.83 lb (287.5 kg) despite quadriceps injury at the 1980 World Series of Powerlifting in May 1980 in Auburn, Alabama.||raw|
|300 kg (660 lb)||1981||Bill Kazmaier first presses 639.3 lb (290.0 kg) and then 661.4 lb (300.0 kg) at the USPF West Georgia Open Powerlifting Championships, held in Columbus, Georgia on January 31, 1981 to become the first human to officially bench press 300 kg (661.4 lb)(raw) in an IPF-sanctioned meet (and without elbow wraps).||raw|
|302.5 kg (667 lb)||1984||Ted Arcidi presses 666.9 lb (302.50 kg) without wrist wraps on April 1, 1984 in Honolulu, Hawaii at the Hawaiian Internationals at only 286 lb bodyweight.||raw|
|320 kg (710 lb)||1996||James Henderson presses 705 lb raw in a T-shirt without wrist wraps or a belt to become the first man to bench press over 700 lb raw in May 1996.||raw|
|322.5 kg (711 lb)||1997||James Henderson first presses 699.97 lb and on a later attempt the same day 711 lb (322.5 kg) raw without wrist wraps or a belt on July 13, 1997, at the USPF Senior Nationals in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (full three-lift-meet). Today, it is still the highest bench press ever performed in a drug-tested competition as well as the highest ever done in an IPF-sanctioned three-lift-meet.||raw|
|323.4 kg (713 lb)||2003||Scot Mendelson presses 713 lb (323.4 kg) on February 8, 2003.||raw|
|324.3 kg (715 lb)||2005||Scot Mendelson presses 715 lb (324.3 kg) with belt and wrist wraps on May 22, 2005 in Worcester, Massachusetts at the New England Bench Press Classic.||raw|
|325 kg (717 lb)||2013||Eric Spoto first presses 716 lb (325 kg) and then 722 lb (327.5 kg) with belt and wrist wraps on May 19, 2013, at the 2013 SPF California State Powerlifting Meet in Sacramento, California. Eric successfully benched 661 lb on his 1st, 716 lb on his 2nd and 722 lb on his 3rd attempt on the same day.||raw|
|335 kg (739 lb)||2015||Kirill Sarychev presses 739 lb (335 kg) with wrist wraps and without a belt on November 22, 2015, at the “SN-PRO CUP”.||raw|
|335.5 kg (740 lb)||2019||Julius Maddox presses 740 lb (335.5 kg) with wrist wraps and without a belt on August 31, 2019, at the “Boss of Bosses 6”.||raw|
|337 kg (743 lb)||2019||Julius Maddox presses 742.9 lb (337 kg) with wrist wraps and without a belt on November 17, 2019, at the “THE ROB HALL CLASSIC”.||raw|