No big deal, just the heaviest bench press of all time.
In late June, 35-year-old Will Barotti made a jaw-dropping multiply equipped bench press of 1,105 pounds (501.2kg) and the biggest bench in history almost flew under the radar. Barotti doesn’t have an Instagram or a Reddit account. We only caught the video in a small Facebook group of about 800 members with the caption, “Congratulations Will Barotti all time world record bench press holder. The most weight ever pressed by anyone…ever!! 1,105 POUNDS!!!”
Made at a Metal Militia Powerlifting Federation meet, that bench press is not only three pounds over Tiny Meeker’s six-year-old record of 1,102 pounds, and it’s not only 335 pounds over Julius Maddox’s raw bench press world record of 770lb/350kg — it’s heavier than the heaviest deadlift ever made.
The heaviest deadlift ever made was performed by Thor Bjornsson earlier this year, in a deadlift suit (so it was equipped) and with wrist straps, when he pulled 501kg/1,104.5lb. Thor’s deadlift was hyped for years and was broadcast live on ESPN. Barotti benched 501.2kg.
If you’re like us, you probably have no clue who Will Barotti is, so we called him up to find out more about the man.
Update: Since this article was published, multiple men have passed Barotti’s herculean effort. On March 1, 2022, Jimmy Kolb bench pressed 598.7 kilograms (1,320 pounds), wearing a bench press shirt. At the time this article was updated (March 2, 2022), Kolb’s press is the heaviest equipped bench press ever.
BarBend: Will, you made the heaviest bench anyone’s ever made, and we know nothing about you. Who are you? What do you do?
Will Barotti: I live in upstate New York, I work in corrections. Like you said, I’m 35 years old. I don’t know, living life, hunting and fishing.I just love lifting weights. I’m not much into technology, it’s why I don’t really have Instagram pages and all that.
Open Powerlifting says you’ve been competing for eight years and in your first meet, at age 27, you benched 700 pounds at -275 pounds. Then four months later you benched 805 pounds at 308 pounds, is that right? You added 100 pounds to your competition best in four months?
It sounds right. I’m not sure. (laughs) I was between a lot of jobs back then. When I moved up to this area in 2004, I didn’t even know what powerlifting was. I loved lifting weights, but someone introduced me to (coach and founder of Metal Militia) Bill Crawford, who said this area is very historic in powerlifting. I was like, ‘Well, what’s powerlifting?’ And these guys took me under their wing and taught me the ropes.
Has breaking the world bench press record been a goal you’ve had for a long time?
Not specifically the record itself, I just always wanted to be the best at something. That’s just the way I grew up: there’s something in this world I know I can be the best at. And every gym I’ve ever been to I had to be the biggest guy in it, the guy who lifted the most weight in it, and when I found out what powerlifting was and I started hearing about these numbers, they seemed astronomical. I was like, ‘There’s no way I can touch those numbers, but I’ve got to. Somehow, I’ve got to.”
The historic 1,105lb bench press.
So what does your training split look like? Do you spend much time on the squat and deadlift?
In the beginning with powerlifting, I used to deadlift and squat, but due to some injuries I don’t really deadlift and squat much anymore. Benching is just something I’ve always been better at, anyway.
My training used to be more like five days a week, and I started getting more injuries: the more I trained, the harder I trained, the more I felt I was injured and not recovered for the next week of training. So I spent more time recovering, less training, more eating, figuring out my sleep patterns better, because I used to work night shift for a time and that really screwed me up.
So now you train three times per week?
Yeah, three times a week right now.
What do those sessions look like, is it all upper body?
Now it’s pretty much all upper body due to the back injuries I have.
Monday, I’ll do back and biceps. Tuesday will be shoulders, triceps, maybe a little speed bench. Nothing too crazy, more accessories. Take Wednesday and Thursday off just to recover before Friday’s bench session.
If I feel my body’s not recovering from the speed day then I’ll eliminate speed days for a while.
I’m not huge into floor pressing, I do it occasionally. With the back injuries and everything, the less I gotta be on the floor, the better. I do like board presses here and there, but I love bands more than anything. That stretch reflex and hitting the speed with the bands, I like that for some reason. I’ve always done band presses, (and) I just hammer shoulders and triceps, I want to make sure everything’s supported.
Do you do much dumbbell pressing?
I did get into some dumbbells a couple years ago because I felt like I plateaued off. We had a training partner that loved doing dumbbells after benching, and it was amazing because I could out-bench this person but I could not out-rep him on dumbbells, and I was just dumbfounded by that. ‘How was this possible?’ So I stuck with (dumbbells) for a while and my raw bench actually did fly up pretty good when I was doing that with him.
Do you train equipped very often?
Nowadays, no, I don’t put the equipment on very often. Maybe every couple of months I’ll put it on. Sometimes I’ll just walk into a competition with no training whatsoever and say, ‘Hey, let’s see what happens.’
You know, we don’t meet many elite powerlifters who would ever consider going to a meet without training for it! What’s your secret? How do you have the heaviest bench press of all time?
My family! I hate to be the guy who says ‘Oh, my genetics!’ — obviously there are other things that play roles in it — but most of the guys in my family are 300-plus pound guys. We’re not small people. If I stop training today and took months off, when I walk back to the gym I’ll still be stronger than most people. Not all my training partners, but most of them will be like, ‘Wow, you retained your strength very well.’ I’m just naturally strong.
Do you divide your training up into separate blocks? Like hypertrophy blocks, strength blocks, endurance blocks, that kind of thing?
I just personally like to train no matter what. The only time I change things up —and it really bothers me but I know it’s the best thing for me — (my coach) Bill always tells me: (when) you’re two weeks out, you deload. (When) you’re a week out, you don’t lift a weight until the meet because you’ve got to heal. And to me, it was very frustrating, because to spend a week not lifting? That was killer to me, because that’s my outlet. That’s where I go to be who I am.
But whether I’m training for something or not training for something, I’m in the gym doing the same thing: I’m lifting heavy weight, I’m having fun, if I walk in and say ‘I just wanna have fun today, let’s see who can hit the most amount of reps on this’ or ‘Who can lift the heaviest weight?’ Me and my buddy Nick have little competitions every week, busting each others’ chops over things. So for me, I’m gonna be in the gym doing the same thing, week after week. If I get injured, I’m dying to get back in the gym. I’ll find a way to train other things if I can.
Is there anything else you want to add?
One thing I do want to mention that’s bothered me for years, and it’s taken a lot of credibility away from this sport, is bad lifts that get accepted.
Even if I didn’t hit the most amount of weight in the world, I always wanted to know that I did it the best. There was no failure to my lift, there was no questionable ‘He didn’t do this, he didn’t do that.’ I want to know that people said, ‘Wow, that’s an amazing lift, no question about it.’
Yeah. And everywhere we’ve seen the lift being discussed online, the acclaim has been universal. The comments are always, “That’s a damn smooth lift. That’s good form.” Congratulations on your lift.