Four-time World’s Strongest Man and three-time Arnold Strongman Classic Champion Brian Shaw is known for his strength but that is not necessarily the case when it came to the classic flat barbell bench press. With the delay of the 2020 World’s Strongest Man contest pushing the event to November, Shaw decided to pursue a road to a “701 Pound” (318 kg) Bench Press.
The “701” was a humorous jab at Eddie Hall, who had been working to reach 700 pounds on his bench. He never got there due to injuries and pursuing other interests. Thanks to his upcoming fight with Hafthor Bjornsson, he won’t be looking to achieve that goal anytime soon.
As for Shaw, he began his quest with a YouTube video posted on March 24th where he reached a top weight of 470 pounds (213 kg) for three reps – all with a powerlifting pause at the bottom.
Fast forward 10 weeks later. On June 1st, Shaw posted another video featuring himself and partner Tyler Stickle completing another bench press workout from Shaw’s home gym in Colorado. This time, Shaw reached a top weight of 510 pounds (231.3 kg) for the same three paused reps.
That is a 40 pound improvement on his three rep set in around 10 weeks. He has yet to do a max test to see what he can press for a single. Most athletes with the training experience of someone like Shaw would hope for a max improvement of even 10 reps in that same time frame. Part of Shaw’s success could be that he didn’t train with the bench press normally before starting this program.
His most famous feat with the flat bench press was when he completed 500 pounds for 5 reps in Bradley Martyn’s gym in California. That was in 2018 and the reps Shaw did were “touch and go” reps with no pause. The pause, of course, makes the lift more difficult since you can’t use momentum to press the weight.
Shaw credited his success in part to working with strength coach Josh Bryant and how he’s tweaking the program as the weeks go by.
“What Josh does with the program is he just bumps everything up. It’s kind of a cumulative, you know, this we may add a rep, this we may add a little bit of weight, this we add an extra set, or something like that, and it’s broken up over the whole training session but I can feel the effects of this for sure.”
It’s uncertain when Shaw hoped to achieve the 701 goal. The 2020 World’s Strongest Man contest is scheduled for November which gives him around five and a half months to prepare. It remains to be seen whether Shaw will continue to train with the bench while prepping for the contest.
Featured Image: Instagram/shawstrength