Drug Free Raw Bench Press Reality

Napf regional world championshipsToday I am going to walk you down reality road. We are going to talk about the drug free bench press. If you want to get me all fired up in the fitness industry, it’s pretty easy to do. All you have to do is feed the world a bunch of unattainable nonsense that will never work and I get all twisted up. I admit it. Maybe it’s a character flaw. Maybe I’m a little crazy. Call it what you want. I don’t mind. There is so much non truth out there. I have said it many times before and I will say it again and again. I will NEVER sell, promote, pimp for, advertise, associate with, or anything else, people or products that are not drug free or non sustainable over the long haul. I have always claimed that I am life time drug free because I am. The difference between myself and so many others out there is very simple. I AM SPEAKING THE TRUTH!!!!!!!!! Everything that I coach and offer, YOU can accomplish. I don’t care if you are man or woman, young or old. It is all doable and sustainable on a long term (life time) basis.
     I read an email last night from an organization that prides themselves on being drug free. They admit that they used to use steroids but no longer do. I thought, at least they admit it so I started reading their stuff. They are big promoters of drug free muscle. Good stuff, I thought. So yesterday out of nowhere, they team up with an admitted steroid user on how to get really lean and jacked. To the unknowing this sounds like an awesome opportunity. Sorry everyone, it’s junk. That’s what got me all fired up. I have a real problem with liars.
     OK, moving on to the truth.I will cover several different exercises over time but I get so many “How much do ya bench” questions I thought we should start there. So let’s talk reality and truth where the bench press is concerned. Let’s first decide that we are talking about people that do “lift weights” on some level. Everyone from beginners to top of the food chain, competitive, world champions. We are also only talking about unequipped or raw bench press for our discussion today. One last rule for this conversation. We are not discussing junk bench pressing. I don’t care what someone can bounce six to eight inches off their chest and call a bench press.
     To give ourselves a good base line we must always keep in mind that most people will never even bench press their own body weight. That is just how it is. We can chalk a lot of that up to no desire and poor training habits. Is this to say that those same people couldn’t. Absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, anyone can bench your own body weight and some much, much more. Now this is where we start to separate genders.
     Ladies, if you are benching your own body weight or more then you should be very proud of your self. You have accomplished something that very few women have ever or will ever do. Well done sisters! The number one reason why the ladies are generally stopped there is very simple. Naturally occurring levels of testosterone are way higher in men than women. Testosterone is the number one most important strength and muscle building hormone. That’s it. It’s a simple law of nature. Men have more of it. A lot more of it. Moving on.
     As we creep higher in numbers the big goal for most people is that 300 pound mark. Most people will never get it. When we get past body weight numbers I see a lot of mid 200’s and a little higher but that’s usually about it. For smaller, lighter guys those are big numbers but for average size guys, well let’s just say you have a lot more in you. Getting back to the 300 pound mark. If you can bench press over 300 pounds with good form, that’s considered a big number no matter what you weigh. Forget about all the magazine numbers and what some guys cousin can bench. You know the one. What ever your best number is, randomly falls just less than theirs. Some people, right? I’ve heard it all and it’s almost always lies. 300 pounds is a lot of weight. If you drop it on yourself you might die. It’s heavy any way you slice it. If you can bench 300+, you should be proud.
     But Chris, is that it, is that the end of the road? No way. Serious drug free strength will put you at near double body weight numbers and maybe more. In reality that’s about it. There are always guys that even beat this scenario, but are they lifetime clean? I doubt it. Last thought to take with you is this. If you can bench press double your body weight with good form, you are world class my friend. No discussion. No debate.
     EDIT: Clearly life gets in the way sometimes. This article was written in December 2013 and I have experienced plenty of road blocks since then. I am stronger than I was then and am still working on the double body weight bench press. I am getting closer every day.
     Can I bench press double my body weight you ask. Well, my answer is this. Not yet! I am close. I currently weigh about 180 pounds and just yesterday morning I benched 345 pounds with a little help from my wife at the end of my workout. I WILL bench press 360 and more at 180 pounds. My goal is summer of 2015 on the long end. Stick around and find out. Here is a video of a meet I did last year at this time. I didn’t even have a beard so this is rare footage. I had just dropped over 25 pounds of body weight to compete in this IPF regional world championship bench press meet where I represented the USA in my age group and body weight. I dropped from my old body weight of just over 200 lbs to about 178 pounds. It took it’s tole on me for sure. I was totally depleted and came in tired and weak, but still managed to squeak out a 303 pound competition bench press. It was good enough for the gold medal that day. Keep that in mind next time someone tells you that you have to bench press 400 or more to be strong. Friends if you have ever actually seen a 400 plus pound lifetime drug free, raw bench press, you have seen something special. Enjoy the video.


  1. I believe that all back work is good for the bench press. People in general over think. If you have mobility issues, you should work to correct them. Weight training is athletics. Being an athlete is a broad spectrum of topic, but mobility issues and being an athlete don’t go together in my opinion. Thanks for reading.

  2. Mike,I have seen a few wild claims out there that steaed cable rows lack integrity as a movement and should be dumped in strict favor of inverted rows (and possibly chest-supported rows). I have always been a big fan of mixing in lots of steaed cable row work for bench support.Do you think this movement may have been unfairly thrown under the bus, because people chose to extend contraindications specifically pertaining to those with poor hip mobility (and likely T-spine and GH mobility, too) and overall motor control to populations who have no good reason not to make use of the steaed cable row as an option in the upper back / bench support arsenal?

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