T Nation

Going from 400 to 500 Raw Bench


I have a general long-term goal of benching 500 raw. It's just one of those milestones that few lifters achieve. T give a little background, for the past 4 years, most of my bench trainign revolved around training in a shirt. I almost never benched more than 315 before I started sharting up.

If I had no training partners and had to train raw, I would usuaklly just work up to a 3 sets of 5 to 8 in the 305 to 355 range- but no heavy singles. I started just working up to a heavy single before I shirted up on my heavy day. This has gone on for a couple months, now I can pause 405 before shirting up. This has kind of wetted by appetite for a big raw bench.

For those that have crossed that gap- or are crossing that gap- from 400 to 500- what had to change about your training, if anything?


I have set upon the path to 500 as well, but it might not be worth it?

It just might not be in the cards, Genetics play a huge factor on the road to 500 and beyond, that is why so few have benched over 500 consistently w/o major injury.(pec tear, strain, rotator cuff etcc.)

What is the point of benching 500 then follow up with a major injury.

Bench Shirts were created for this specific purpose.

You need to do more prehab work, eat more, sleep more, no drinking, and no sex/masturbation three days prior to benching.

Contortionist Back Stretches to create a ridiculous arch while benching. ( Metal Militia style.)

Board Work and Paused Bench shall be staples in your routine.



I kind of understand the drinking part, but sex? That makes no sense. Why would you want to live?


LOL, just avoid sex two or three days prior to benching, it works for some people, try it, deprive your self 2 or 3 days of the week of sex and watch that anger and frustration lead to PRs.


i think that limitations in lifting in general are usually mental. for many years i looked at a loaded bar and thought "damn.. that's a lot of weight. I"ll never lift that." and i was right. It wasn't until i changed my views on lifting that the numbers started to creep up. I would like to say that i did something crazy when my bench went from 400 to 500 but i didn't. I now look at the weight on the bar as just another number.

obviously though there has been some training techniques that have increased my bench. for me, supramaximal work with partial movements have given me my biggest bang for my buck. I love doing heavy high board work. I've worked up to almost 700lbs Raw on the 4 board. needless to say, once you've had nearly 700lbs in your hands, 500lbs doesn't feel very heavy at all and that's the entire point. most people won't bench 500 becuase they are afraid of it.

i've also really worked on getting my form spot on. i am constantly working to get more of an arch, consistent bar path, leg drive..all the things that are needed to move heavy weight.

if you have specific questions, feel free.


Makes sense to me! :wink:


huh so thats why I got stronger when I got married.


I've experimented a lot with that. For example, will I get stronger if I stop masturbating or having sex all together? I tried a couple of weeks, but I can't say that made any impression whatsoever on my results. In fact, the long term effects of such complete abstinence is probably not good at all from what I hear. I have also tried staying of it for a day or two before a competition, but I still don't think it gives any noticable edge.

There was a time when I was strict about never having an orgasm until AFTER going to the gym on a given day, so as to be able to perform as well as possible during the workout. But I do not care about that at all nowadays, because for me it's starting to look like this myth is busted.

Actually, I don't even think it would make any difference at all even if I went to the bathroom for a quick jerk off ten minutes before my big deadlift at a PL-meet.


sounds much like my bench session tonight. i hit 3 weight PR's. i was a bit sleepy going into the session though:)


You're right abotu the mental thing. I got crushed with 405 in pound plates a half a dozen times. But something about using a 407 in kilo weights (looks like 3 "plates" versus 4) made the bar feel 40 lbs lighter.

I think years of shirted benching and doign partials with weight and chain/band combinations with 600-700 at the top definitely makes holding and locking out a "heavy" raw weight pretty easy- provided I can get it up to 3 board height or so.

One major obstacle I think I have is keeping my tightness going down and really loading my chest/shoulders/upper back. This is similar to benching shirted- but happens a lot faster without a shirt binding up on the back of my arms. Did you ahev to really push weight/volume on accessory lifts that favor bottom end strength- like DB pressing, inclines, etc.? Or were these just kind of an afterthought?


Good luck.
will you be keeping a log on here?would like to see what your training wll be like.


You know- I heard that before from some lifters. In fact, the strongest raw bencher I know actually benchs more with a medium grip versus pointer-finger on the line. Are you stronger raw with a medium grip (like pinkies on the rings) or are you just doing it that way to minimize injury on your pec/shoulders? I like training lighter weights with that grip or floor presses, but it seems like I am strongest with a max grip and touching to the very top of my abs (even raw- I don't touch USAPL legal)- basically the same thing I do in a shirt.


Thanks. I keep a log on my gym's site these days. My training has been geared towards geared lifting in part- some shirt work and top end overloads- and this will continue. This weeks bench training will look something likes this

Light day:

bench- 275 + a monster mini band under the bench x 8 x2

floor press- pointer on the smooth- 275 x8 x2

Incline press- 245 x 8 x 2

Various upper back work

maybe a couple sets of flies and light shoulder stuff

(Weights/reps are approximate depending on feel. I have been cycling my reps/weights on light day- going from 2 easy sets of 10 on the first week on all lifts down to 2 challenging sets of 5 on the sixth week.)

Heavy Day:

Full range bench- Work up to a heavy raw single- 400ish

3 board w/ 200lbs of chain- work up to max single- not sure how much bar weight that'll be. I'll shoot for 315 and go from there- I'm pretty weak raw off of low boards

If I still feel good after that- speed triples with a medium grip off a 4 or 5 board- 3 to 5 sets between 405 and 455.

Tucked elbow DB presses pyramiding up to a heavy set of 5- probably 4 to 6 sets

Some kind of upper back/ rear delt work work

Band pushdowns for hi reps


I am having this problem as well transitioning from shirted to raw. I feel like once I get this down my raw bench will jump 50 lbs in a few months.


i know exactly where you are coming from. the hardest part of doing a competition bench is rowing that weight down, keeping tight, and holding it there until you get the press command. I've always found the pressing to be the easy part.

i've found that the tighter i arch the more lat activation i get on the row down. also, as soon as i unrack the weight, the first thing i do is push in really hard with the outsides of my hands like i'm trying to bend the bar. this flexes my lats hard and adds a ton of resistance to decent.

as for accessory work, i've found that really heavy bent over rows are my bread and butter for the decent. whenever i feel my decent getting too fast or out of complete control, i throw really heavy bent over rows back into the mix. after about two weeks, i'm back to a good decent again.


i'm a firm believer that the back has as much to do with benching as the shoulders, pecs and triceps. I've done my best benching when my bent over row weight is very close to my bench weight. i think this is a very good rule of thumb to follow.


Wow that's much too much pressing. What is this program based off of?


Awesome Vin, you need to post more here, this forum would benefit from your expertise.


Hey Guys, This Will probably piss you off, I know it did to me, He does it like if its NOTHING!
even stops to ask what rep he is ON! then Keeps GOING!

Tell me what you guys Think of THAT!
I think its amazing, hes not even that bulk either.


Its a fake big guy. they used to set up these fake weights at the arnold classics to get pictures or videos taken. think about it, the world record raw bench is 715. 585 x 23 would put his raw bench in the 900s or 1000s.

puts a 585 bench for 20 at 945 lbs raw.

check out this vid. same place. much less believable