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Strength training is a popular form of exercise that involves lifting heavy weights to build muscle mass and increase strength. One of the most iconic strength exercises is the bench press, where the lifter lays on a flat bench and lifts a weighted barbell off their chest. Over the years, various athletes have set world records in this exercise, pushing the boundaries of what the human body is capable of. In this article, we will delve into the history of the bench press, explore the different categories of bench press records, and examine the current world record for the bench press.
The History of Bench Press
The bench press is believed to have originated in the early 1900s as a way to measure the upper body strength of athletes. However, it wasn’t until the 1940s and 50s that the bench press became a popular exercise in weightlifting competitions. In 1949, the first bench press championship was held in the United States, and it quickly gained popularity across the country.
Over the years, the bench press has evolved, with athletes using different techniques and equipment to lift heavier weights. In the early days of bench pressing, lifters would use a wide grip and arch their backs to generate more power. However, modern powerlifting rules require the lifter to keep their feet flat on the ground and their back in contact with the bench, limiting the amount of momentum they can generate.
Categories of Bench Press Records
There are several different categories of bench press records, each with its own set of rules and regulations. The most common categories are:
Raw Bench Press – This category refers to lifting a barbell without the use of supportive gear such as a bench shirt or lifting straps. The lifter wears only a singlet and a belt, and their performance is judged based on the amount of weight they lift.
Equipped Bench Press – This category allows lifters to use supportive gear such as a bench shirt, which is designed to increase the lifter’s ability to lift heavier weights. The lifter’s performance is judged based on the amount of weight they lift while wearing the equipment.
Age Group Bench Press – This category is based on the age of the lifter, with different age groups having different weight classes and records to aim for.
Weight Class Bench Press – This category is based on the weight of the lifter, with different weight classes having different records to aim for.
The Current World Record for Bench Press
The current world record for the raw bench press is held by Kirill Sarychev from Russia, who lifted a staggering 738.5 pounds (335 kilograms) in November 2015. Sarychev’s record-breaking lift was performed at the ‘WRPF World Cup’ in Moscow, where he competed in the super heavyweight category (over 308 pounds).
In the equipped bench press category, the current world record is held by Ryan Kennelly from the United States, who lifted 1075 pounds (488 kilograms) in November 2008. Kennelly’s record-breaking lift was performed at the ‘APF Senior Nationals’ in Illinois, where he competed in the super heavyweight category (over 275 pounds).
In the age group category, the current world record for the raw bench press is held by Tiny Meeker from the United States, who lifted 1102.5 pounds (500 kilograms) at the age of 56 in April 2021. Meeker’s record-breaking lift was performed at the ‘Big Dogs 5’ event in Australia, where he competed in the masters 3 (over 56 years) category.
In the weight class category, the current world record for the raw bench press is held by Julius Maddox from the United States, who lifted 744.1 pounds (337.kilograms) in March 2020. Maddox’s record-breaking lift was performed at the ‘Arnold Sports Festival’ in Ohio, where he competed in the 308-pound weight class.
Training for Bench Press
To achieve such incredible feats of strength, bench press athletes require a rigorous training program. Powerlifters often follow a periodized training program that focuses on building strength in specific muscle groups, such as the chest, triceps, and shoulders. This involves lifting heavy weights with low reps, typically in the range of 1-5 reps per set.
In addition to strength training, many bench press athletes also incorporate accessory exercises into their workout routines to improve their technique and address any muscular imbalances. Some popular accessory exercises for the bench press include incline presses, close-grip bench presses, and dips.
Nutrition and recovery are also crucial for bench press athletes, as they need to fuel their bodies with adequate protein and carbohydrates to support muscle growth and repair. Many athletes also use recovery techniques such as foam rolling, stretching, and massage therapy to help their muscles recover after intense training sessions.
Challenges and Controversies in Bench Press Records
Despite the impressive achievements of bench press athletes, the sport is not without its controversies. One of the biggest issues in bench press records is the use of supportive equipment such as bench shirts and lifting straps. While these items can help lifters to lift heavier weights, they also detract from the raw strength and skill required to lift the weight without assistance.
Another issue in bench press records is the variation in judging standards between different competitions and organizations. Some competitions may have stricter standards for what constitutes a valid lift, while others may be more lenient. This can lead to inconsistent records and disputes over who holds the true world record.
The world record for bench press continues to be pushed higher and higher as athletes strive to achieve new feats of strength. From the early days of bench pressing to the modern era of powerlifting, the sport has evolved, with lifters using different techniques and equipment to lift heavier weights. Whether you’re a seasoned powerlifter or a beginner just starting out, the world of bench press is a fascinating and inspiring world to explore.