T Nation

How Long to Bench 400?


My buddy just started hitting the gym hard over the last several months. He's one of those guys I've read about that have little-to-no experience, but are just naturally strong. Well, it wasn't long before he got all of his noob-gains out of the way and he hit the 275 bench wall. He got up 280 for 3 last night.

Anyway, I think he might be getting a little frustrated because he's not seeing the gains nearly as fast as when he first started. My concern is that he'll throw in the towel. He wants to bench 400+. I know that diet, age, training, and body-type certainly play a part in everything, but I figured I'd ask the community if anyone has any personal experience on reaching certain goals. How long did it take you to hit 400ish (give or take a bit)?

I told him that I imagined it could take a few years to get from where he is now to 400. I think he believes it can be done much sooner. I'm not saying it can't, of course, but figured the community here knew a lot more than me when it comes to stuff like this.



Is he jack3d?


3 scooped, as a matter of fact.


Triple shot

Damn son


If all he wants is a big bench then he's a powerlifter. Show him WestSide or something like that.


Nevermind the thread got moved to the PL forum,I see.


There are guys on here with great physiques that never hit a 400 lb bench. Conversely, at a powerlifting meet last month I saw a fat guy bench 405 paused. When I say fat guy, I don't mean a guy with visible muscle and shape with fat over it. I mean a guy that doesn't look like he trains and just looks like an every day fat guy. My point is that a 400lbs bench isn't the best indicator of a great physique.

How in the world would we know how long it takes for the guy to reach a 400lb bench? Some guys on this site did it within 3 years. Others never did it at all. I hit 315 within a year. It's been 3 years total and I still haven't gotten there yet.

Edit: This was originally posted in the BB forum so my answer is in the context of bodybuilding.


Yeah, he's not jacked by any stretch. He considers himself fat with a shitty diet. I don't know his exact weight, but I'm thinking around 265, 5' 9"... wanna say 30ish % bf last time he told me (I honestly can't remember). So yeah, he's not going for physique. He's going for straight strength. I will say that he has a very wide and thick back. He's also very "barrel-chested", despite his weight.


I was fairly sure this was the kind of question that may not be answerable. I'm not so much interested in anyone telling me how long it would take him. I'm more interested in about how long it takes the "average" person who had 400ish as their goal. This way I can let him know how much time he realistically could have to look forward to, based on the community of folks I've asked.


It all varies. I got it after about 3 and half years of powerlifting training. (after having "worked out" for a number of years)

If he's a BOF and concentrates on just that, you could probably do it in a year or so.

BUT there are always injuries and all kinds of unforeseen things.

The only real answer is to take it as far as he can.


Exactly 217 days, 9 hours, 31 minutes, and 15 seconds. It's science.....


First time I maxed bench was in august of 1999 for football testing... I did 155 at about 165 bodyweight. It took me a year to get to 225. I did 315 for the first time at "senior week" after I graduated high school... I was relatively hungover and very surprised I got it. So that was 2 years between 225 and 315. I got 315 again during college football testing at a bodyweight of around 230 my freshman year. From the end of my junior year to my 1st senior year, my bench was stuck at 365. I started training for powerlifting while still playing and my bench went up 45lbs in like 3 months. So, I guess that was spring of 2007?

So 8 years of very hard very consistant training. From that last football testing to now, I am around 430-440 raw. This shit takes a long time.


What training system were using then that helped? And what system do you find has been the most successful in continuing to increase strength since then?


He has to want it badly enough to stick with it. You are not responsible for his commitment. What exactly does his training look like? I ask mainly for the sake that he stay injury-free although noone can guarantee this. Does he plan on competing with or without the 400+ bench? Sounds like has the frame to be a big raw bencher.


I took me 6 years to get from 140kgs to 182.5 kgs (which is just over 400 lbs I think).

I made mistakes along the way and had a few minor injuries which stopped me benching temporarily, and I'm not really a naturally good bencher. If I knew 6 years ago what I know now then I think I could have shaved maybe a year off that, tops.

Naturally strong will only get you so far. He's got to work his ass off, and still it's going to take him a long time.

If he's a phenom and dials everything in I think it could be done in 2-3 years, but that's an optimistic estimate.

It seems like kind of a pointless question really. The thought of how long it will take shouldn't really enter his mind - that sort of thinking isn't going to get him through those training sessions where it just isn't working, or those weeks and months when it seems like everything is going backwards.

What he should really be doing is just strapping on a pair of nuts and getting down to it.


^ this


Back then it was basically progressive overload/linear periodization but with lots of heavy singles thrown in. I broke my back in 2008. I couldnt do shit for a while so I leanred as much as I could, read as many books and articles as I could, and actually started to understand the Westside method and thought that would work well will my injury. I started benching heavy about 2 months after the fracture, then doing max effort squats and deads a few months after that, and my back has not giving me any problems since. It takes me a long time to get any weight on the main lifts but I get pretty consistant gains with Westside.


It never ceases to amaze me how truly gifted people just can't appreciate what they have. He's benching 280 after only a few months of training, and really thinks he's having it hard? I can show you people that work their butts off for 10 years and still can't get their bench past 200.

If he's willing to put in the work and stay with it, then OK. But if he's a quitter, then just let him quit and move on. Life's too short to waste on someone who has no fire in the belly.


I'm not going to speculate as to how long it will take, there's obviously too many variables. Two of the guys I've lifted with benched over 400 after about 4-5 years of lifting, one of em is closing in on 500 after about 8 years of lifting. Me, I plan on hitting 400 at my first meet in October, where I'll have been lifting for about 8 years. Had I known what the hell I was doing, I probly would have pressed 400 a year or three ago.

Anyways, what I would really caution here, is not lifting too heavy. Those two guys I mentioned? 6-7 years ago, they were warming up with 135, right? I didn't think much of it, and did the same. 135x10 when your max isn't much over 225, is a work set.

Get this guy on a good program, and I wouldn't be overly surprised if it took a single year. If he putzs around with a bad program, or doesn't follow the good one, doesn't warm up properly, overtrains, etc, he might be able to still get there, but it might take a decade instead.


Good stuff in here, so first I'll echo what others have said. He sounds like a gifted presser, so as long as he trains consistently he'll get there pretty quickly. 400 at that size isn't a great lift anyway, so he should see that as a step on the ladder up.

I'm a decent bencher and it took me about 5 years to get there, but I was also 165 after 3 years of powerlifting, so that obviously delayed me. This is what I can't stress enough: STAY SAFE! I benched 410 at 21 or so, then proceded to wreck my shoulder with stupidity and bro training. I'm just now at 26 passing that back up, and I have reccurring shoulder problems every few months. Tell him to pull more than he presses and to stress prehab, and he'll be fine. But once you're injured, you'll be dealing with the same shit forever, so it's best to avoid it.