T Nation

500lb Bench Press - How Common are They?


I thin you mean “nobody bigger than me is natural” ;D

Anyway people need to focus on themselves, make goals they can achieve in the short term and just be the best them they can be.

I’ll never bench 700lbs, doesn’t mean I’m going to complain when someone sets a world record. Or have the audacity to think I could too if I cycles harder. And it also doesn’t make me any less fit for being where I’m at.


the guys you mentioned are not natural, but I do personally know a guy who is 100 % clean and benches 500. It’s super fucking rare to find that, but I would bet my entire bank account this guy is actually lifetime steroid free, and he’s had a 500+ bench for awhile.


I believe it. Doug Hepburn benched 500 before any athletes ever used steroids. There’s a guy here in Ottawa named Leon Brown who has some IPF masters bench records just under 500, he has benched 525 t&g in training. He says he was benching over 400 in high school, I’m sure he could add 100lbs. to his bench in 30+ years without any special supplements.

There were strong people before anabolic steroids existed.


Steroids have been used in athletics prior to the Munich Olympics. They were legal, easily available, and passed around the gym like your preworkout scoop.

Just saying.


Excuse me for my lack of historical knowledge, was that before or after Doug Hepburn’s 500 bench?


Sorry. Berlin Olympics. And it was in 1936 so he would have been 8. So I sincerely hope it was before he benched 500 lmfao


well since doug hepburn was born in the 1920’s, his prime years were essentially at the VERY beginning of steroid development. It’s possible that he could have used them in his 20’s but highly unlikely. Your description of steroid use is far from applicable to the 1940s and 50’s. I really don’t see a reason to assume he had to be on.


I’m not saying he was. Or that it’s impossible without them. But steroids were invented before the 20th century, and commonly used in sports before the 70s-90’s, when it became a huge media spectacal, than people like to talk about. Just because a record happened prior to the ioc banning doping doesn’t mean people didn’t use juice. Infact their generation was the reason it became so popular once bodybuilding took off.


OK, so at the very least it’s possible that he wasn’t natural after all. Maybe it’s better to just take whatever and compete untested so that you don’t have to bother with these kinds of arguments, we will never know the truth. Powerlifting is the one of the few sports where that is an option.


Apparently the first athletes to take steroids were Russian weightlifters. They pumped them full of test until their prostates were so swollen that they couldn’t piss.

Fun times!


you have evidence of this? everything i’ve read has indicated that this is not the case. I’ve consistently read that the 1930’s were the absolute beginning of synthetic testosterone.


From Wikipedia:
Isolation of gonadal androgens

The use of gonadal steroids pre-dates their identification and isolation. Medical use of testicle extract began in the late 19th century while its effects on strength were still being studied.[102] The isolation of gonadal steroids can be traced back to 1931, when Adolf Butenandt, a chemist in Marburg, purified 15 milligrams of the male hormone androstenone from tens of thousands of litres of urine. This steroid was subsequently synthesized in 1934 by Leopold Ruzicka, a chemist in Zurich.[143]
In the 1930s, it was already known that the testes contain a more powerful androgen than androstenone, and three groups of scientists, funded by competing pharmaceutical companies in the Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland, raced to isolate it.[143][144] This hormone was first identified by Karoly Gyula David, E. Dingemanse, J. Freud and Ernst Laqueur in a May 1935 paper “On Crystalline Male Hormone from Testicles (Testosterone).”[145] They named the hormone testosterone, from the stems of testicle and sterol, and the suffix of ketone. The chemical synthesis of testosterone was achieved in August that year, when Butenandt and G. Hanisch published a paper describing “A Method for Preparing Testosterone from Cholesterol.”[146] Only a week later, the third group, Ruzicka and A. Wettstein, announced a patent application in a paper “On the Artificial Preparation of the Testicular Hormone Testosterone (Androsten-3-one-17-ol).”[147] Ruzicka and Butenandt were offered the 1939 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work, but the Nazi government forced Butenandt to decline the honor, although he accepted the prize after the end of World War II.[143][144]
Clinical trials on humans, involving either oral doses of methyltestosterone or injections of testosterone propionate, began as early as 1937.[143] Testosterone propionate is mentioned in a letter to the editor of Strength and Health magazine in 1938; this is the earliest known reference to an AAS in a U.S. weightlifting or bodybuilding magazine.[143]

Development of synthetic AAS

The development of muscle-building properties of testosterone was pursued in the 1940s, in the Soviet Union and in Eastern Bloc countries such as East Germany, where steroid programs were used to enhance the performance of Olympic and other amateur weight lifters. In response to the success of Russian weightlifters, the U.S. Olympic Team physician John Ziegler worked with synthetic chemists to develop an AAS with reduced androgenic effects.[150] Ziegler’s work resulted in the production of methandrostenolone, which Ciba Pharmaceuticals marketed as Dianabol. The new steroid was approved for use in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1958. It was most commonly administered to burn victims and the elderly. The drug’s off-label users were mostly bodybuilders and weight lifters.


*synthetic. And i guess I should have said research into steroids.
1889 testosterone was discovered. There are lots of medical aticles about guniea pig and goat testicles.
1925 we start to see effects of human testosterone on test subjects. (I beleive from cadavers, like we did with insulin until the late 70’s)
And as I said they were used since atleast the Berlin Olympics (1936) in sports.


steroids are bloody brilliant. Been ages since I’ve taken any.

EDIT: not sure why I decided to post that random musing…


They got it from pee? Not extraction. That’s disappointing


Doug Hepburn benched 500 in 1953, so it’s entirely possible that he was taking steroids after all. I have heard many times that him and Paul Anderson are two examples of how strong it is possible to get without drugs, but all we have to verify that is their word. The IOC didn’t ban AAS until 1976, so there was no real incentive for elite athletes to stay natural.


I think flipcollar said it best:


If you are drug free and really want to compete on a “level playing field”, then the best option is a federation like RPS or WPC that has tested and untested divisions. With the world games and their Olympic aspirations, the IPF has given incentive to cheat drug testing.


Steroid free 500+ bench is absolutely insane.

Those 3 guys are obviously 3 of the strongest powerlifters around. And 2 out of the 3 do not bench 500 at will, or easily. That was my only point.

To me, mentioning natural or not is just another fact that is included when citing lifting achievements. I am a big fan of all 3 dudes, and I did not disparage them in any way. I find it annoying that any time pharmaceuticals are mentioned, you get the guys who say “juiced” and disparage every accomplishment; equally annoying IMO, are the guys who then jump in and say “no matter how much you juice, you can’t blah, blah”.

edit to add: obviously not mini-ranting at flipcollar, only cited him due to what he’s seen


no doubt. I’m heavily involved in the lifting community, and I know a lot of people who bench a lot of weight. I know guys who bench over 600. So for me to say I only know of 1 guy who benches 500+ naturally, that says a lot.