T Nation

Bench Press More with Less Muscle?


What is the difference between benching 185 for a couple reps or 300 for a couple reps. I am 6ft 1 180 and i am at 10% body fat, i can bench 185 for a couple reps and it is pretty hard for me. I train 4-5 times a week and try to follow a consistent diet i have been 0n and off for 2 years.

On the other hand i have a buddy who is 6ft 1 210lbs(kinda chubby) and partys and drinks all the time and he can bench 300 for a couple like its nothing. He rarely goes to the gym and eats crap all the time. I just dont understand why he can bench so much more, do i have some underdeveloped muscle or stabilizers that are holding me back or are some people just naturally stronger.


Well, your first mistake is going to the gym "on and off" and worrying about what your buddy is lifting. Only being able to get 185 for a couple reps means you are obviously underdeveloped. Your friend is probably naturally strong, but he was also pretty consistent at one point in his life to get to that level of strength in the first place.


thats the thing tho, he has never been consistent. He at most could string together a month at a time. I'm not worried about what he can bench. Just wondering why some people seem to be naturally way stronger.


While everyone can make progress with proper and consistent training and diet, each individual will start off at a different 'level' of natural strength (for innumerable factors). Don't obsess over it, just play the cards you're dealt. Also, if you happen to be one of the few people dealt a strong starting hand, don't automatically assume that you're going to end up winning the game either.



A lot of things can vary between people. He might not only be, say, naturally stronger, but he might have ultra short arms with a big gut, meaning his range of motion is something like 2", i.e. better natural leverages.

Unless you're looking to get into powerlifting competitively, there really isn't much point in worrying about what other people can lift or why they can lift more than you.


Not to mention unless you're ripped like Stu in competition mode I would venture to guess you're not 10% bodyfat. Being skinny doesn't equal low bodyfat it equals low weight. You sound malnourished if you're 6'1" and only weigh 180 lbs.

Despite whether or not you are following your diet I would say its a shitty one that you need to rethink so you put more size.

The difference between benching 185 lbs and 300 lbs is a low. About 115 lbs per rep according to my math. If you're doing 6 reps at 185 vs 6 reps at 300 than that's a 690 lb difference in total volume. That will build a lot more muscle.


Its just how it is man and you got to train the way that is optimal for you and not for someone else. My friend who is lighter than I am is stronger then me in more things than I am. He progresses well on low rep schemes while I stagnate and get achy joints on low rep programs and progress much better with moderate to high volume. Focus on your weaknesses and do what gets you results regardless of your friends strength levels.

If you post your program and diet people can give you tips on what to do but you have to find what works for you.


Uhm, he is 30lbs or more bigger than you and body mass does help. yes, genetics factor in here as well, but I will never figure out why people think extra body mass doesn't help lift a weight.

It does.

It always has.

The bigger guys here are usually the strongest as well.

What does "kinda chubby" even mean? Some of these newbs think anyone who can't see their abs is "chubby" so that tells us nothing.


Everyone starts off at different strength levels...it's how you progress over the years that really matters.


thats exactly what i was going to say! people for the most part never pay attention to their bioflavinoid level. most americans are VERY deficient and pay more attention to less important testosterone and estrogen levels...like those even matter!

thats why you see all those fat guys benching so strong! all of those 'noids (like the kids call them nowadays) are stored in their gut and they can activate their release whenever their body is under high stress, like when weight lifting. usually the 'noids only can activate when they're on their back, which explains why they are so strong on bench, but suck at everything else.

im no expert on this information, its quite new, but im sure others know more about it.


The both of you are really clever and funny, but it belongs in the GAL forums.

If you don't have real help for the OP, GTFO.


Lol @ "noids"


you're right. ill get the 'fro out now.



This is an interesting bodybuilding subject.


X2. I'd like to see an open discussion about this if only for the fact that it would minimize the amount of people raving about relative strength levels.

CC proposed talking about maximizing leverages for lifting in his latest thread. It's certainly a topic that hasn't been given the coverage it deserves.


kinda chubby is weighing 210-220 of mostly fat at 6ft 1. Why does weighing more help lift a weight if it is not muscle.


my question is why if your fat and out of shape and treat your body like shit can you then put up 300lbs on a bench press. Just seems odd


I was sort of joking, this has nothing to do with bodybuilding.


Like people said before, there are many factors involved. Different people have different ratios of fast and slow twitch muscle fibers as a result of their genetics. The more fast twitch you have, the heavier weight youll be able to lift naturally, though youll have less endurance. Could also be he carries most of his muscle mass in his upper body where you might have proportionally more in your legs. He could also have shorter arms than you/a bigger gut than you, both of which reduce range of motion. His form could be more powerlifting style (arched back, tucked elbows, lots of leg drive) where yours is more bodybuilding style with elbows flared. Even if he hasn't been consisent, hes probably been benching since middle school.

Unless you're powerlifting, how much you bench doesn't really matter. Of course you aren't going to get bigger without getting stronger, but instead of worrying about your max get big and let your chest speak for itself.


1) you probably need a better/more consistent program
2) you would probably see more gains if you had a diet similar to your friend's