Workout Tips

Recored-Setting Bencher Shares Secrets to Success

What does it take to become one of the strongest-ever, pound-for-pound benchers in the world? Here’s a hint: it ain’t a fancy suit.

josh bryant thumbnail by CSCS, MFS, PES
Recored-Setting Bencher Shares Secrets to His Success

Recently, Jeremy Hoornstra bench pressed 672 pounds at the APA Raw Powerlifting Nationals -- active word, “raw” – at a bodyweight of 246 pounds. This is the most weight ever bench pressed by a sub-300 pound human being in competition.

Powerlifting competitions allow a lifter to take three attempts. After commencing the competition with 622 pounds, Jeremy jumped straight to 672 pounds for the world record. The old Russian expression says, “He who takes no risks, drinks no champagne.”  The proverbial champagne was uncorked after Jeremy nailed the 672 pounds, beating the previous world record in the 242-275 pound weight class held by Russian Vladimir Krastov.

Jeremy Hoornstra 672 World Record Bench Press

Jeremy made a legitimate attempt at 701 for his third attempt but it proved too much for him on that day. As his coach, I am confident that 700-plus is well within his grasp. Here are the strategies we used in Jeremy’s training that helped him set this record and, more importantly, that you can apply to help build a bigger bench immediately.

1 Build Stronger Triceps

Big bench pressers have big arms that bust sleeves! The triceps are the prime mover for the lockout in the bench press. Building the strength required to lockout huge weights in the bench press is done with compound movements like dips, close-grip bench presses and board presses. It’s important to finish triceps training with isolation exercises like dumbbell triceps extensions, Tate presses and heavy triceps pressdowns in order to fully exhaust every fiber of the triceps. For the aesthetic-minded individual, big triceps make up 2/3 of the arm—a great way to stretch the tape. For the strength aficionado, stronger triceps equate to a bigger bench press.

2 Work the Back

“Strong back equals strong man,” says former bench press world record holder and three-time world strongest man winner, Bill Kazmaier. Citing Kaz in strength circles is like citing the Pope at the local cathedral. Building a big, strong back helps you lower heavy weight under control and builds a launching pad that assists pressing the barbell off the chest. Some of Jeremy’s favorite back builders are head supported barbell rows, Meadows rows and neutral-grip pull-ups.

3 More Sets, Less Reps

Jeremy occasionally does some higher-rep work in the off-season and some extremely high-rep dumbbell presses for muscle hypertrophy. By doing more sets and fewer reps, Jeremy gets more practice with first reps, where your neural connection is freshest and your muscles are still brimming with explosive energy. All that matters in powerlifting is the first rep, so the benefit of more sets with fewer reps is immediately transferable. Jeremy can also maximize explosive power in lower rep ranges. More sets and fewer reps allow Jeremy to practice how he plays.

Final Thoughts

If your bench press hasn’t budged since Bernie Madoff was a free man, try these three simple strategies that can help you like they have helped Jeremy.

Josh Bryant, MFS, CSCS, PES, who coached Hoornstra for his record raw lift, trains some of the strongest and most muscular athletes in the world in person at Metroflex Gym in Arlington, Texas, and via the Internet. He is the co-author of Amazon # 1 selling book, Jailhouse Strong, and EliteFTS best-selling eBooks, Metroflex Gym Powerbuilding Basics and Bench Press: The Science. To learn more about Josh Bryant or to sign up for his free training tips newsletter, visit