World Record Bench Press Strategies
There was this Coca-Cola cowboy who had a BBQ joint right by the Tesla dealership; the place was trendy, portions pygmy, prices high, and food horrific. When it came to BBQ, this cat was the equivalent of a virgin sex therapist with a thriving practice!
About a half hour away was Steve’s BBQ.
Steve was a BBQ man, but rude, smoked cigarettes while smoking meat, had no marketing skills and didn’t play the social game. No ribbon cuttings, no comping city council for reviews and God rest his soul, Steve had the best BBQ in the state of Texas.
Steve’s was the most underrated BBQ in the world.
The World Record Holder You Need To Meet
I now want to introduce you to TD Davis, the most underrated powerlifter in the world; but, unlike Steve, TD is nice and likeable. TD does not have a million followers yet, but he is the real deal and will soon have the world record powerlifting total.
TD, on Sept 25th, at the WRPF Showdown powerlifting meet, totaled 2376 raw without knee wraps, along with bench pressing the biggest weight ever in a full powerlifting meet with 716.
Record Breaking Strategies For a Bigger Bench
I have worked with TD for the past three years. TD is an amazing person and will out work anyone—I want to share with you three things that have helped TD’s record-setting bench press, recently.
For you, the reader and personal applications of these tips, use what is useful and discard what is not, paraphrasing, Bruce Lee.
Buffalo Bar Bench Press
The obvious reason people bench press with the buffalo bar is to build power out of the bottom. Buffalo Bar bench pressing for TD, however, was intended to improve his lockout.
TD is the most explosive lifter in the world, a blessing, but has one drawback—the ability to grind. TD needed to be able to grind to be the best. Because the Buffalo Bar bench press creates a slight deficit, this increased TD’s ROM which increased his time under maximum tension, and made him grind.
Remember, the Buffalo bar is a tool not a religion—the tool served TD perfectly to build lockout power and the ability to grind.
Additionally, the Buffalo bar is slightly thicker, it relieved some of the wrist and elbow stress from traditional bench pressing. The bar’s slight camber makes it somewhat unstable, and forced TD to work hard to stabilize the bar but without turning it into a Barnum and Bailey Sideshow using Richard Simmons like weight. Moreover, this bar magnifies small mistakes and forced TD into proper elbow position while bench pressing.
NOW, TD can grind!
Application Point: Buffalo bar benching should never be done in lieu of competition bench pressing during meet prep but it can be used an accessory movement in off-season or meet prep, and even a primary movement during the powerlifting off-season. If you have shoulder issues bench pressing, or have extremely long arms and/or a small chest, AVOID THIS MOVEMENT—the risk-to-benefit ratio is not justified.
The Forgotten Muscle Group
According to Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell, Word-Champion Powerlifter Larry Pacifico said, back in the 1970s, that 75 percent of your bench press is triceps.
My philosophy is speed off the chest is the name of the game but you must have the triceps strength to seal the deal after the initial barbell catapult off your chest!
TD’s explosive strength off his chest is unparalleled.
BUT, regardless, his triceps strength was holding back his bench press. Remember, we are talking world records here, not the bench for reps contest during happy hour against some over-the-hill longshoreman.
TD built his triceps with: close grip benches, close grip benches with bands and chains, bench press specific isometrics, various dumbbell extensions, push up variations, and push downs cluster sets. We progressively added volume and intensity with accessory work.
TD was now bench pressing twice a week during this cycle. The secondary day was a lighter close grip bench press and followed with some sort of isolation triceps exercise. The heavier day after bench press always had some sort of CNS intensive triceps pressing variation, and had a secondary triceps intermediate exercise ie JM PRESS, dicks press or another isolation exercise.
Application Point: TD is a fast gainer so hitting triceps twice a week is big, BUT he built up his work capacity, gave transparent feedback and was an iron monk, fully focused and immersed. We absolutely risked some slight overtraining, but the NFL would also be safer if they switch to flag football. This was aggressive but not negligent and, mark my words, the best is yet to come.
High Rep Weight Training
As y’all know by now, I am a zealot for compensatory acceleration training! It maximizes technical, explosive, and maximal strength training adaptations—with bench press execution, there is no other way.
But, on the powerlifting stage, from a competitive standpoint, it does not matter if a lift is fast or slow! All that matters is what’s on the bar and if it goes up. Not being able to grind out a weight is a weakness—and improving weaknesses is a way to get stronger. Reps also contributed to TD’s newfound ability to grind out weights.
Furthermore, the best predictor or strength is muscle mass.
By hitting higher-rep bench press and accessory work in the off-season, TD added on extra slabs of muscle. This volume and rep work built up TD’s work capacity; he could now simply do more in training. An often-overlooked aspect of increased volume and rep work is it makes the tapering process go down smoother than hot sake on a cold day. This built-up volume reserve helped TD super compensate, minimized the risk of detraining and helped him set a world-record.
Application Point: Make sure in the off-season to rest your CNS, blast your muscles, and build your grinding ability with reps.
There is absolutely overlap in these elements that propelled TD’s all-time world record in the bench press. Synergy means that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts!
TD’s actions created a literal world record synergy.
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Want more strategies to increase your bench press?
I have put together a 12-week Tactical Powerlifting Program designed to have you peak for a powerlifting meet while increasing your work capacity so you are ready at a moment’s notice. Click HERE.