It has been quite the week for super heavyweight powerlifter Julius Maddox. Maddox set a new American record on bench press with a massive 723.1 pounds over the weekend.
Maddox broke the previous record of 722 pounds which was set by Eric Spoto in 2013. So how does Maddox do it? That’s been a question on our minds since he first joined the 700 pound bench press club last year. This week, Maddox’s strength coach Josh Bryant went over the bench press strategies Maddox uses to set records:
Tip 1: Every Day is Back Day
A strong, stable back leads to a big bench. Bryant explained here that Maddox trains four days a week and in every section he hits his back. Maddox does a wide variety of exercises, including seal rows, lat pull downs, and seated rows.
[Check out these 6 great muscle and strength building upper back exercises]
At what point does training shoulders become such an added stressor that it takes away from the bench? Bryant notes that once he noticed Maddox was getting unnecessarily strong in the landmine press — “just doing it for the sake of doing the lift” — he scaled him back and had him do more lat raises and delt flies. Shoulder work, he emphasizes, is a means to an end. Do enough to avoid imbalances and injury, sure, but a 500-pound overhead press isn’t the goal you’re shooting for.
Tip 3: Conceive, Believe, Achieve
Maddox has full faith in himself, coach Bryant, and his training plan. On the same day that he set the new all-time American record on bench press, he believed in himself enough to try for the new bench press World Record that very same day.
Tip 4: Static Holds
Doing static holds in training — take a weight you can’t bench and hold it instead, helps prepare him to hit a new weight for the first time at a meet. This is also one of Jen Thompson’s favorite accessories for her world record-setting bench press.
Tip 5: Keep Volume High Without Getting Too Fatigued
Maddox is what Bryant described as a “fast gainer,” which he defines as someone with “so many fast twitch muscle fibers that are so neurally dialed in it takes them longer to recover.” To keep volume high without being too taxing, the two do lots of push-ups throughout the week.
Tip 6: Work Your Triceps
This was once a weakness for Maddox, but now it’s one of his strengths. Close grip variations and also mixing in the Kaz press work has been very beneficial for him. The Kaz press is a little like a combination of a close grip bench and a tricep extension:
Tip 7: Don’t Forget a Healthy Lifestyle
For Maddox it’s about making sure he’s getting proper sleep, nutrition, and recovery every single day.
Tip 8: Listen to Your Body
Not every day is going to be perfect, so you need to have a healthy mindset about when is the right time to go up in weight and push it, and when it is best to pull back. He doesn’t mention this, but many athletes find tracking their heart rate variability to be a good way to know if your system is ready for heavier weights.
Tip 9, 10: Body Work
Deep tissue massage is something Maddox has been implementing into his routine for some time. And another practice he’s started including in his routine is floating in a sensory deprivation tank, which he finds helps him calm his mind and boost his recovery.
All of these 10 tips and techniques have helped Maddox set a new American record on bench. We’re excited to see what he accomplishes next, and maybe we can all learn from his tips to up our own bench press strength.
Featured image from @irregular_strength Instagram page, photo by @kyle_wurzel.