T Nation

Rick Weil

I ran across some blogs about me and wanted to offer any assistance or answers to questions about my training. I am about to turn 55 but still alive and doing well. ran a full marathon four years ago and tried to make a comeback in the bench. It seems at my age there just isn’t any testosterone in my system, natural or added. I have not given up. I have a father who is 82 and still competing on a world level in handball. His mom (my grandmother) lived to 109. I guess I am still a youngster with these genes.

How did you train for the bench? i read somewhere u recommend reps between 4-7 for strength gains

I only trained the bench once per week. I did assistance work the other workouts. I did like to keep my reps at 3-5… but heavy and with perfect form

I did 3-5 reps in my once per week workout on bench. assistance exercises were done on other days. I also did the squat and deadlift and competed in powerlifting. I actually won a few national contests. There were times when my bench was almost as much as my deadlift, but I had a pretty good squat. best was 740 at 181

Awesome to have you posting here.

What made you settle on your style of benching? You hardly see anyone bench flat backed as you do, especially at lower weight classes.

Also read you liked reverse benching. Did you prefer that style, or just a lift you did because it helped to increase the regular bench press?

What did you do to keep your shoulders, elbows, and wrists healthy while still being able to train hard?

In was always comfortable when I benched. Laying flat is so much more comfortable than arching.
Many years ago there were two brothers called the Barbarian brothers. they used to do an exhibition where one brother would bench 500 pounds with a backwards grip. It was obvious that the one brother was helping but they made a big show of it. I wondered what part of the body that exercise would work and found very quickly that it was a great tricep isolation exercise if done correctly. I wrote about it in Muscle and Fitness and PLUSA. Then I started doing it as an exhibition stunt. I believe my best reverse was 505 for 5 reps. I can not remember what my best max was. (545??.. getting old) I never used the reverse in competition.

I think the reason I stayed relatively injury free was I only trained each body part once per week giving me lots of recuperation time. Never used many supplements (unless you consider roids a supplement) but not big on vitamins and protein powders. Although now I do make a protein shake using HOT STUFF with apple juice and frozen strawberries

A lot of advice given for benching in current PLing focuses around maintaining a strong arch and using a lot of leg drive.

Did you put a lot of emphasis on leg drive? What kind of advice do you have for people who are not very good at arching their back and bench relatively flat?

Man to have a record that’s stood thirty years especially in what’s probably the most universally known gym lift…that’s just crazy. That shit was done before I was even born lol…

If I remember correctly you were a possible challenge to Coan. Is that right? Your numbers were awesome. What happened that stopped you from continue to compete years ago?
When you said you did assistance exercises on days beside your bench day, what would that consist of…How heavy…set frequency…lifting selection…etc.
I’m 43 and still competing and I plan to for years so I would love to read about how you did it for inspiration and example.

I always referred to the bench press as a whole body exercise, including the legs for drive. I actually felt that the chest was not affected as much as the shoulders, and triceps. Sutebun… look up some of my articles on bench press technique, they are all over the internet.

Gorillavanilla. Ed Coan was always at least one weight class heavier than me. I met Ed for the first time in Austin Texas at the Seniors in 82 or 83. do not remember exactly. we were both up all night in and out of the sauna trying to make weight. He was just off of winning the teenage Nationals and I did not know who he was. Like wise I was a new comer to the National contests and he had no idea who I was. We both made weight… he at 181, me at 165. It was the 148 to 181 class lifting together and I did out bench him with my World record 485. He went 9 for 9 and looked like he had a lot more in him that day. He was unbelievable. Ed and I became friends and when I broke three world records in a row at the YMCA nationals at 181, Ed and Doug Furnas were there helping me. Ed was frustrated that I refused to get psyched and actually was joking around as I chalked my hands. Doug handed out to me and Ed cheered me on. After the third World Record of 551 at 181, I walked over to Mike Lambert and asked if he got a good cover shot for PLUSA. Mike said yes and it was the first and only time I made the cover. I was thrilled. When I hit the 556 at the next meet, I had no idea that this lift would follow me 25 years later as something memorable or even Historic. I am humbled and honored to have called myself a Powerlifter. When I graduated college in 91, I told my father I was more proud of my diploma than the world records. I worked harder at the undergrad degree that any world record. Lifting was always so easy.
Anyway Gorilla… I loved the reverse grip for triceps and seated dumbbell presses for my front delts. I also did very heavy front raises with dumbbells. I needed lifting straps just to hold onto the 80’s and 90’s as I lifted those dumbbells up to my nose. gorilla, I see you are in Florida…what part?

I live in Orlando. I read about you and Ed over the years when I began powerlifting around 1992. I was inconsistent for many years until about 8 years ago and since then I have been very dedicated but it is a long journey. When I finally got my act together about the beginning of 2005 I was 35 years old so my progress has never been as good as it might have been had I stuck to it 13 years earlier. Doesn’t matter to me though if my progress is slower because the satisfaction in strength is awesome.
I’m awestruck by the people you know or have known. I used to read PL USA issues over and over again because they were so real and inspiring as opposed to MF.

I was in a gym and I met this dude who was about 6 feet 4 inches tall and 280 lbs that could just walk up and bench 405 lbs for reps and squat 600 with no problem and he really got me going in powerlifting.

I think college was fairly easy for me and powerlifting is hard, enjoyable work. In some ways one is defined by the way one takes satisfaction and gains contentment from work…at least that 1/2 of my 2 cents available tonight-following deads and bench work. I’m doing a Sheiko competition program right now in preparation for a contest here in Orlando on July 13th. I’m lifting in RawUnited right now which is a great group of lifters. I have a thread on the Over 35 forum called HardcoreEssentials if you’re interested in chatting there.

Love seeing you here, you were one of my favorites as a kid ( Ill be fifty this year).

Tom. 50 is young

You´re a legend!

What assistance exercises did you do?
I guess you were genetically blessed in the bench/powerlifting?
Did you follow a systematic progression on the benchpress?

Thank you for your time!

Mr. Jeannay,
Thank you for your kind words.
I loved reverse grip bench and seated dumbbell presses. I also did front raises with dumbbells. I think my bench was mostly front delt and tricep.
I do not know if I was genetically made for the lift, but I do know when I laid on the bench I was comfortable and confident.
I did not really have a system to follow. Every time I tried to set up a 8-10 week workout, it never ended up the way I planned and I got frustrated.
It seems the more I relaxed mentally, the better I did.

One crazy thing I did in competition was to do my opener for a double in the warm up room. I always knew I would make an easy opener after that, Also I felt a real strict opener made the judges not look as close on the next two.

Doing your opener for a double before the first attempt is pretty awesome to me. What percentage of your max would that be? Did you do that for the squat too?

Gorilla, do not know what percentage. I based it on the World record I wanted to break. Not to big a jump from my opener to the second attempt World Record. I did not do that for the squat as I was never anywhere near World record poundage

Your confidence in benching ability was remarkable.

You warmed up with the world record… for a double. Obscene.

No, the double was not the World record. In that meet I opened with 462 and then went to the WR of 485 for the second attempt. At tthe YMCA Nationals I opened with 523 and then went to the WR 540 for the second, 545 for the third and took a fourth at 551