Peter Edgette has become the youngest person to bench press 600 pounds raw in competition in the history of powerlifting. He did so at 22 years and 4 months of age, breaking my record of 22 years and 10 months of age. He attained this amazing feat earlier this month at the Metroflex Strength Association, Wild Game Feast powerlifting meet at the world-famous Metroflex Gym in Arlington, Texas.
SEE ALSO: Boost Your Bench Press in 6 Weeks
Hailing from Plano, Texas, Peter is an engineering student and a legendary bouncer in the beer halls of Dallas, Texas. While most kids Peter’s age are zeroed in on women, whiskey and cigars, Peter is like a priest, but the weight room is his monastery. In the three years I have trained Peter, he has never missed a session and he approaches each one with Zen-like focus.
Check out the actual lift at 2:17 into the video.
Here are 4 strategies that helped Peter achieve this incredible 600-pound bench press.
1. Decrease Bench Press Frequency
Poke around Instagram and you will stumble upon green trainees enthusiastically proclaiming how they are going to squat or bench press every day; assuming they don’t get injured, they usually burn out.
We had one priority – make Peter Edgette the youngest human being to bench press 600 pounds, not to get social media likes.
We decreased Peter’s training frequency on the bench press from two days a week to one day per week. The result was Peter stayed injury-free and approached each session with enthusiasm.
Application Point: Genetic thoroughbreds like Peter are easy-gainers, meaning they need to train less often and with less volume. Many self-proclaimed “hard gainers” with poor genetics gleefully exclaim they should train less. These “experts”, in reality, are as full of crap as a Christmas Turkey. Fast gainers have much more fast-twitch muscle fibers and efficiently recruit a greater number of muscle fibers, all which requires greater recovery. The less gifted you are at something, the longer and more frequently you must practice to become a jedi master!
2. Increase Upper Back Training Volume/Frequency
A strong upper back is not the most important component of a big bench press. However, as Kaz said, “Strong man equals strong back.” The bench press is no exception. A big, strong upper back gives you a large shelf to bench press off of and even provides a little spring on the press up. Examining all of Peter’ numbers, his upper back was proportionally weak compared to the opposing muscles on the front side of his body.
Application Point: Peter trains three to four times per week with weights. One day was devoted completely to upper back training, at least two other days included minimally one exercise for his upper back. I have found, purely by anecdotal observation, the upper back responds very well to high frequency/high volume training, regardless of what type of gainer you are. Peter did a minimum of 32 sets of upper back work per week. The lower back does NOT recover quickly, so to increase upper back training frequency, use things like pull-up variations, lat pull downs and keep rows chest supported.
3. Implement Partial Weighted Dips
Traditional bodybuilding wisdom says a full range of motion is needed for full development. That is all fine and dandy but to accomplish what never has been accomplished in the bench press, it is going to take some exploration outside of traditional orthodoxy. Peter, at bodyweight of 299 pounds, did dips with sets of five reps with 320 pounds over his bodyweight to a depth of about three inches above parallel.
Application Point: Peter has always had great drive off his chest; his lockout strength or triceps were the weak link. In the past we tried close-grip bench presses, rack lockouts, bands and chains but we did not get the desired result of a 600-pound bench press. Peter’s goal of 600 remained rigid, but with this rigidity we were flexible in our approach, we discarded what did not work and found what was useful, and the desired outcome was achieved!
4. Train with Submaximal Weights
In the past, Peter went too heavy too often. This whole entire 12-week training cycle, Peter did eight reps of 540 pounds or over; this was spread over five sessions. Peter trained using lighter weights while focusing on technique, tightness and every single repetition putting maximum force into the barbell. Simply, Compensatory Acceleration Training was the name of the game.
Perfect practice paid off! Lifting huge weights in the gym that don’t carry over into competition is mental dwarfism!
Application Point: The principle of individual differences tells us that everyone has a different genetic blueprint. Simply put, some people do better not training heavy as often, while others need to! The key take-away is performing all repetitions in work sets with perfect technique, tightness and with maximum force.
Peter has all the tools to achieve the heaviest bench press of all-time.
I’ve shared with you things that have worked for Peter, so it is your job to keep what is useful to help you and to get rid of what is not.
Time to bench press!