Training

A Quick Guide - Is A 405lbs Bench Press A BIG Deal?

Updated September 27th 2022

How difficult is it to get to a 405lbs bench press?

  • Is it a difficult accomplishment?
  • What needs to be done?

The bench press can be considered one of the icons of strength training.

Glorified by lifter worldwide, the bench press is one of the most known upper body exercises out there.

“How much do you bench?” is often asked as soon as you step foot in the gym.

How rare is a 405lbs bench press?

There are not too many lifting communities that can assemble a tribe of bench pressers that can all crush a 405lbs bench press. Even at a 315lbs bench press at 170lbs, this would put me better than 92% of all lifters.

If you weigh 170lbs like me, a 405lbs bench press would put you in the 99% percentile of all lifters in the world.

If you weigh 200lbs, a 405lbs bench press would put you in the 97% percentile of lifters in the world.

If you weigh 220lbs, a 405lbs bench press would put you in the 94% percentile of all lifters in the world.

How rare is a 405lbs bench press?

Pretty damn impressive even considering the average bench press standards.

Take it as a grain of salt though.

It is one thing to give it your all in the gym and another thing to suffer from analysis paralysis from being stuck in fear.

Can a majority of people bench 405lbs in their lifetime?

Yes and no.

If you are willing to dedicate years or even decades of training time to improve your bench, I have no doubt that you will reach it.

The world is your playground.

Can you avoid some common pitfalls while you are progressing your bench press—

  1. Elbow pops
  2. Bench press forearm pain
  3. Hamstring cramps

You will welcome the challenge into your life since you know that it will result in your progression of strength.

What can people do in order to get to a 405lbs bench press?

What is the perfect game plan?

Understand that there will be no “perfect” program to get you to a 405lbs bench press.

When you break any training routine down to its basic components, it really comes down to two main ideas—

  • Can you add more weight on the bar
  • How often can you add more weight on the bar?

How often are you adding more weight to the bar?

For beginners, they usually increment weight on the bar after every successful workout.

A bodybuilding program like Fierce 5 demonstrates this principle nicely.

Once you realize your linear progression limits, you may want to try a different style of programming.

For intermediate lifters, they increment weight every week.

For advanced lifters, they usually increment weight every month.

For world class and elite lifters, they utilize special training blocks in order to optimize their body’s recovery and to carefully plan their peaking cycles when there is a competition.

Can you add more weight to the bar?

I really enjoy Mark Bell’s perspective on training when the power podcast was one of the only fitness podcasts for training.

In the past, he would claim that he was never someone who usually has a strict training program.

He just enjoys lifting weights and pushing his body to the limit.

It is this basic understanding and discipline that has allowed Mark Bell to push past his limitations and to enjoy all his successes in lifting.

In all strength training programs, like Greyskull LP and Starting Strength, they all incorporate progressive overloading, which is a strength training principle where lifters will continue to add weight to their working sets after every successful workout.

This is one of the sole drivers of getting a big bench press.

Take this example as a thought experiment:

If you can bench press 225lbs for your working sets today, try to add 5 lbs every week.

If you are able to do that, congratulations!

In 4 weeks, you have gotten stronger.

You would be benching 245lbs for your working sets instead of 225lbs.

Would this be easy?

Nobody said this is easy.

This is one reason why many lifters give up or make excuses as to why they are unable to get stronger.

If you are unable to add more weight to the bar, that is not the only training variable you can manipulate in order to get stronger.

You can change volume

For example, you cannot seem to do more than 225lbs for 3 sets of 5 reps.

Why not do 225lbs for 3 sets of 6 reps from now on?

Push yourself to break your old time plateaus.

By doing more volume, you are training your body to develop a greater work capacity.

This is good because it means that you can potentially do more heavier bench press weight in the near future.

It is important to just focus on one training session at a time so that you do not overwhelm yourself.

It is very easy to try and compare yourself to the guy benching way more than you.

Understand that it will take time and that if you are implementing a positive mindset in your training, good results will follow.

Take shorter rest breaks

Another training variable to tweak is to take shorter rest breaks.

After you exercise your muscle, your body needs time to recover.

By shortening your rest intervals, you are training your body to adapt more quickly.

You are getting stronger as a result.

So, if you are benching 225lbs for 3 sets of 5 reps while taking 5 minutes rest breaks, try to take 3-minute rest breaks instead.

Again, the idea is to challenge yourself so that your body is forced to adapt.

As always, challenges will force us to hate ourselves and make us want to quit.

It is a natural reaction that occurs when you want to break your limits.

Your body does not want to change since it is comfortably maintaining homeostasis.

Break your old habits today to start your journey towards benching 405lbs in the future.

Especially if you are lifting weights on weekends only.

4 Reasons Limiting Your 405lbs Bench Press

  1. Triceps are too weak
  2. Upper back is too weak
  3. Scapula stabilizers are too weak
  4. Form is not optimized

Triceps are too weak

You need both:

  • Strong triceps
  • Bigger triceps

You know what must be done...

This means more volume to work on developing your lagging triceps.

  • Single arm tricep extensions
  • Double arm tricep extensions
  • Skullcrushers
  • Wenning presses

Here is a circuit style warmup to help work on your weaknesses and keep you in shape to build up a massive bench press.

Perform each exercise for 25 reps for 4 cycles with no rest—

Upper back is too weak

You need a strong and developed upper back.

Let us get to work—

  1. Rear-delt flies
  2. Rows of every grip and implement variation
  3. Pull-ups
  4. Reverse rows
  5. Upper back shrugs
  6. Facepulls, with different implements and grips

Scapula stabilizers are too weak

In order to lift big weights, stability is a precursor.

If you don't have stability, your injury rate skyrockets.

  • Internal rotators of shoulders
  • External rotators of shoulders
  • Serratus anterior
  • Pullovers
  • Lat pulldowns, with every grip and implement

Form is not optimized

Anybody can lay down on the bench and bench press.

But are you utilizing the best cues—

  1. Shoulders retracted
  2. Feet anchored into the floor
  3. "Pushing yourself away from the bar"
  4. Pushing your chest to the bar
  5. Staying tight throughout the entire movement

Small technique changes especially with elite level benchers can make a significant difference.

How long does it take to reach a 405lbs if you bench press 315lbs?

If you weigh above 93kgs, many lifters recorded that they were able to increase their bench press to 405lbs in about 1-3 years.

Many lifters have noticed very quick improvements from 315lbs to 365lbs-385lbs in one year.

In the next few months, they also noted that progress was a bit slower but they were able to achieve their goals nevertheless.

It is vital to keep in mind that strength training progress should respond well with training stimulus unless you are a minority that really needs to do something drastic.

Overall, it comes down to how badly you want to achieve your goal.

If you just kind of want it, you may not reach your goal at all.

With 100% concentrated effort, you will achieve what you set your mind to.

You will bend your circumstances and environment

World record bench press

 In 2021, Julius Maddox bench pressed 354.7kg (782lbs) raw with just wrist wraps, no belt or suit.

After the establishment of the IPF, the current heaviest bench press done in a powerlifting competition was 302.5kg (667lbs) by Ted Arcidi. 

He competed raw without wrist wraps at 130kg (286lbs) bodyweight.

There are several bench pressers that can hit over 1,000lbs equipped but those records will not be included here.

It is impressive how far people can take the bench press once you developed the physique, and mental strength to tackle these world records.

How to bench press 405lbs

It starts with the setup.

After you avoid common issues such as bench pressing with bent wrists or shaking while bench pressing, you will find that most of your bench press training is quite boring.

Aside from your ego fueling your desires, incrementally loading the bench press so that you did more than your last training session is really the backbone of your 405lbs bench press program.

All you have to do is just be consistent.

Conclusion

A 405lbs bench press is pretty rare.

It is a good training goal to have and will put you into an elite group of lifters.

You will be respected by a lot of the lifting community for this one lift alone.

Obviously, why stop there?

405lbs is just a stepping stone to a 500lbs bench press.

Be aware, though, that it will take some time.

And if you are training injury-free for years and years, you will soon reach your goals sooner than you think.

Results accumulate slowly but once you see that the first domino falls, it will be a landslide of gains.

And when you try to explain to your friends or students how you have such an impressive bench press, the first thing you will credit your success to may be to not get injured at all.


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