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Thread: Steroids and the bench world record

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    Senior Member OGROK's Avatar
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    Steroids and the bench world record

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bench_Press_world_records

    Noticed that before steroids became available to top athletes (the 1950's), the bench world record was 360ish lbs for over 50 years. Does this mean that anyone that is benching over 360 today is almost certainly using steroids or a former steroid user? How do we account for these numbers? You can point to diet and stuff but remember these are WORLD RECORDS.
    Last edited by OGROK; 04-19-2009 at 04:20 PM.

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    modern knowledge, techniques and equipment are also contributing factors. Boards, chains, shirts, all of that malarkey has helped benchers significantly since that period of time. I don't know of course when they came into fashion though. I think it would be a bit far-fetched, or significantly far-fetched even, possibly ignorant/arrogant to state that anyone benching more than 360 pounds raw is taking steroids because this sort of record may improve over time, i.e. 50 years (without steroids) , although I am not suggesting that steroids haven't seen improvements in the world records. The key to success though with most of these athletes is determination, hard work, good genetics and of course diet and nutrition, steroids simply cannot make up for a lack of these factors, they are not 'the lazy man's method of getting strong' as I have heard in the past.
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    Senior Member danmac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OGROK View Post
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bench_Press_world_records

    Noticed that before steroids became available to top athletes (the 1950's), the bench world record was 360ish lbs for over 50 years. Does this mean that anyone that is benching over 360 today is almost certainly using steroids or a former steroid user? How do we account for these numbers? You can point to diet and stuff but remember these are WORLD RECORDS.
    I have a bench that is approaching 360, it should be there within a few months. And i can guarantee you, in all honesty. I have NEVER taken steroids, a pro hormone, anything really. And i am not anything special, there are plenty of people i believe are natural with much higher benches.

    It probably just comes down to form and training.
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    Georg Hackenschmidt may have been a 90lb midget. 361lb would have been a sweet bench.

    It also says pre arch, shirts etc. Things move on. Another 100 years they will say the same about us.
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    IRL my name is Trent Hazerboy's Avatar
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    I'm pretty sure steroids were available to athletes even during the "golden age" of bodybuilding in the 50's-60s. I remember on the film bigger faster stronger he talks about Olympic athletes using them in the 50s because they were sure the russians were. Who knows who was using what though. That being said, you're missing a lot of other variables.

    I'd say that a lot of this had to do with bench press popularity. In 1898, no one was bench pressing. Hardly anyone had very standardized weights or barbells who was interested in lifting, and those that did most certainly didn't have a bench press. Why do you think "odd lifts" like the side press were so popular back then? Thats all they had to lift with. Back then the popular thing was Olympic weightlifting, in part because all you needed was a barbell, some weight, and a floor.
    The "thing" to do was military press. According to Brooks D. Kubick's "Dinosaur training," overhead pressing 200 lbs was like the benchmark for a decent strength athlete, regardless of size. How many average bench goers can do that today? Why is the military press so much weaker? Have people really gotten weaker since then? No. It's just not popular man. The same thing can be said about the bench press in the early 1900's. I mean, just look at picture's of old time bodybuilder's in the early 1900s (who, at that time, were also strongmen). None of them had large chests. Back then it was all about your obliques, shoulders, biceps, and quads. Its most likely because those were the easiest things to develop with the equipment they had in the day.

    Equipment was another big deal. Even those that did bench press most likely didn't have uprights. I'm fairly certain hepburn benched from the bottom position, meaning he had to deadlift the weight up, sit down on the bench, rock the weight back to his chest and press. This was another reason the bench press wasn't popular--not only did you need a bench, but you also needed uprights. All you needed for the military press was a barbell. This was during a time when there really wasn't the same equipment that we have today.

    Form is another issue. Just look at something like Pat Casey's record, something which he did without a bench shirt. From there until today the record has only increased about a 100 lbs. Most likely Casey did not bench without an arch, though I don't know for certain. I know many of the first powerlifting competitions in the 50's did not allow arches. I'm sure things like a lot of leg drive, keeping your abs tight, hip drive off the bottom, and pulling your shoulder blades together tightly were not practiced heavily. Most likely casey just laid on his back and pressed.

    The third is supplements and diet. And training styles ( no one was using westside or bands/chains in the 50s, much less 1898).

    Maybe part of it is because of steroid use, but you really can't discern who uses what based just on a record, and I think if you add all of these things together, thats more than enough to account for a majority of the increase in raw numbers. I mean, when you think about it, even from the 60's the record has only gone up 100 lbs. Lets say that 75% of that is because of newer and better training styles, diet, supplements, and technique. I believe that is a conservative estimate. That would mean that only 25%, or 25 of the record increase, would be due to steroids.
    Stats: 11/15/07-First-meet--2nd Meet----3rd meet
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    IRL my name is Trent Hazerboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OGROK View Post
    Does this mean that anyone that is benching over 360 today is almost certainly using steroids or a former steroid user?
    I almost glanced over this part.

    No, that is outright silly. Would you say that for a normal human being, it is absolutely unattainable, ludicrously unbelievable to attain a 1x or 1.5 x bodyweight bench press without steroids? No! I mean, just take someone who is outright huge, just amazingly awesome genetics, and weighs 300 lbs. Is it really so hard ot believe he could bench 360 without steroids? Seriously? Thats not even that great of a ratio at that bodyweight, only 1.2 x.

    I think another thing you're missing is who, exactly, was doing the record books back then? Are we 100% sure that out of all of the people that benched in 1898 the best was 360? Maybe, maybe not. Communication was severely limited in those days (at least in comparison to today) and I wouldn't be that surprised if there was a 400 bencher around there somewhere.
    Stats: 11/15/07-First-meet--2nd Meet----3rd meet
    Weight: 185-----187---------198---------198
    Max Bench: 255---220-----------280------300
    Max Squat: 405----395----------440------460
    Max Dead:475-----485----------551------570
    CHINUPS - Bodyweight + 135, x1, dead hang. Still working on the one arm chinup.

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    Senior Member OGROK's Avatar
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    Looking into it, it seems that the 361 bench was performed starting with a pullover. That's probably why it was so low. But still doesn't explain why nobody was able to break 400 until Doug Hepburn in the 50's.

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    Senior Member danmac's Avatar
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    Read some of what hazer boy was writing. They didn't bench press much back then. If you are looking for some sort of number that would tell you if someone is juicing, you aren't going to find it. I know guys who juice who have 250 lb benches, and i know one guy who is a lifetime natural (i believe him, completely) who has put up a 595 competition bench and has a goal of hitting 600 raw.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hazerboy View Post
    I'm pretty sure steroids were available to athletes even during the "golden age" of bodybuilding in the 50's-60s. I remember on the film bigger faster stronger he talks about Olympic athletes using them in the 50s because they were sure the russians were. Who knows who was using what though. That being said, you're missing a lot of other variables.

    I'd say that a lot of this had to do with bench press popularity. In 1898, no one was bench pressing. Hardly anyone had very standardized weights or barbells who was interested in lifting, and those that did most certainly didn't have a bench press. Why do you think "odd lifts" like the side press were so popular back then? Thats all they had to lift with. Back then the popular thing was Olympic weightlifting, in part because all you needed was a barbell, some weight, and a floor.
    The "thing" to do was military press. According to Brooks D. Kubick's "Dinosaur training," overhead pressing 200 lbs was like the benchmark for a decent strength athlete, regardless of size. How many average bench goers can do that today? Why is the military press so much weaker? Have people really gotten weaker since then? No. It's just not popular man. The same thing can be said about the bench press in the early 1900's. I mean, just look at picture's of old time bodybuilder's in the early 1900s (who, at that time, were also strongmen). None of them had large chests. Back then it was all about your obliques, shoulders, biceps, and quads. Its most likely because those were the easiest things to develop with the equipment they had in the day.

    Equipment was another big deal. Even those that did bench press most likely didn't have uprights. I'm fairly certain hepburn benched from the bottom position, meaning he had to deadlift the weight up, sit down on the bench, rock the weight back to his chest and press. This was another reason the bench press wasn't popular--not only did you need a bench, but you also needed uprights. All you needed for the military press was a barbell. This was during a time when there really wasn't the same equipment that we have today.

    Form is another issue. Just look at something like Pat Casey's record, something which he did without a bench shirt. From there until today the record has only increased about a 100 lbs. Most likely Casey did not bench without an arch, though I don't know for certain. I know many of the first powerlifting competitions in the 50's did not allow arches. I'm sure things like a lot of leg drive, keeping your abs tight, hip drive off the bottom, and pulling your shoulder blades together tightly were not practiced heavily. Most likely casey just laid on his back and pressed.

    The third is supplements and diet. And training styles ( no one was using westside or bands/chains in the 50s, much less 1898).

    Maybe part of it is because of steroid use, but you really can't discern who uses what based just on a record, and I think if you add all of these things together, thats more than enough to account for a majority of the increase in raw numbers. I mean, when you think about it, even from the 60's the record has only gone up 100 lbs. Lets say that 75% of that is because of newer and better training styles, diet, supplements, and technique. I believe that is a conservative estimate. That would mean that only 25%, or 25 of the record increase, would be due to steroids.

    great post

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    Senior Member Sensei's Avatar
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    NO ONE was bench pressing until the 1950s and almost no one was bench pressing until the 1960s. Powerlifting as a sport did not really hit its stride until the 1970s. Bench press shirts didn't have a huge impact until the late 80s/early 90s.

    Has absolutely nothing to do with steroids.
    A child does not learn to squat from the top down. In other words, he does not suddenly make a conscious decision one day to squat. Actually, he is squatting one day and make the conscious decision to stand. Squatting precedes standing in the developmental sequence. This is the way a child's brain learns to use the body as the child develops movement patterns. Therefore, a child is probably crawling, rocks back into a squatting position with the back completely relaxed and the hips completely flexed, and stands when he has enough hip strength. This approach makes a lot of sense and can be applied to relearning the deep squat movement if it is lost. -Gray Cook
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    Atheist Lifter evilxxx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sensei View Post
    NO ONE was bench pressing until the 1950s and almost no one was bench pressing until the 1960s. Powerlifting as a sport did not really hit its stride until the 1970s. Bench press shirts didn't have a huge impact until the late 80s/early 90s.

    Has absolutely nothing to do with steroids.
    Thank you! just saved me from posting something similar...except for the shirts, I didnt know they had an impact in the 80's too. So who was making shirts back then? and what material? just poly?
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    A gallon a day, everyday! ThomasG's Avatar
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    I'm having a hard time believing the record was only 360 then.
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    Senior Member Sensei's Avatar
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    I don't think they had impact of consequence until the early 90s, but Ken Lain and Anthony Clark were using early Inzer shirts. I don't know if Ted Arcidi ever used shirts or not.
    A child does not learn to squat from the top down. In other words, he does not suddenly make a conscious decision one day to squat. Actually, he is squatting one day and make the conscious decision to stand. Squatting precedes standing in the developmental sequence. This is the way a child's brain learns to use the body as the child develops movement patterns. Therefore, a child is probably crawling, rocks back into a squatting position with the back completely relaxed and the hips completely flexed, and stands when he has enough hip strength. This approach makes a lot of sense and can be applied to relearning the deep squat movement if it is lost. -Gray Cook
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    Quote Originally Posted by danmac View Post
    Read some of what hazer boy was writing. They didn't bench press much back then. If you are looking for some sort of number that would tell you if someone is juicing, you aren't going to find it. I know guys who juice who have 250 lb benches, and i know one guy who is a lifetime natural (i believe him, completely) who has put up a 595 competition bench and has a goal of hitting 600 raw.
    Travis Bell just bench 700lbs in competition drug free(more than that but dont remember number)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sensei View Post
    I don't think they had impact of consequence until the early 90s, but Ken Lain and Anthony Clark were using early Inzer shirts. I don't know if Ted Arcidi ever used shirts or not.
    I read an interview with Ted Arcidi where he said his 705 bench that held for 8 years (this is of the top of my head) was done in a bench shirt and (It was 50/50 poly I believe he said) he wished he had not used the shirt because it would of still been a raw record (no longer the case). He claimed the shirt just protected the shoulders.

    I know plenty of drug free lifters who easily exceed 360 lbs. benches. One of which is 220. Training and diet gets better over time as well as technique. Benches change, as does the rules for the lift.

    Big James Henderson benched 711 raw in a drug tested meet, and some sources list him as lifetime drug free.

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    I really dislike these generalizations. I started out at 6' and 125 and I'm now at 257 (this morning). I've had too many people tell me that I'm on roids because I'm big now. I call BS.
    As far as the benching goes, there's a friend that used to go to my gym that put up 365 at a body weight of 185 and he did it raw. No roids, no shirt, just brute force. Some are just meant to bench.

    +1 on Hazer's great post.
    Last edited by rbtrout; 04-20-2009 at 10:26 AM.
    Give chalk a chance.


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    SFW! drew's Avatar
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    Didn't read any of the above.

    I don't take steroids. I bench 455. I am the furthest thing possible from a genetic freak.

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    Congrats on making the stupidest thread this week on BB.com, er....wannabebig.

    Pat Casey benched 600 in a t-shirt in the 60s. You don't know if he was roided up or not. That roids hit the scene in the mid-50s proves nothing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brad08 View Post
    That roids hit the scene in the mid-50s proves nothing.

    And the fact that they had been experimented with since as early as the late 1890's (in the case of GH, which is Not technically anabolic steroids, but is grouped nonetheless by the media and forum trolls, but I digress)

    all it comes down to is guys feeling inferior and making a witch hunt out of something that should be legal anyway.

    Grats to guys like Travis Bell and thos around him, that are able to do what they do without it.

    Along side of that Grats to all the equipped lifters, as they are working just as hard to reach their goals, there is no magic pill, only hard work, good diet and some helpful addons.
    Last edited by WillNoble; 04-20-2009 at 11:14 AM.

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    Good points. The real question is, if everyone's on roids, and roids help you bench 600+, why isn't everybody benching 600+?

    An article on the history of benching

    Notice V. Dizenzo from THIS board is on the all-time 600 roster. Pretty exclusive group.

    Last edited by Brad08; 04-20-2009 at 11:23 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brad08 View Post
    Good points. The real question is, if everyone's on roids, and roids help you bench 600+, why isn't everybody benching 600+?

    An article on the history of benching

    Notice V. Dizenzo from THIS board is on the all-time 600 roster. Pretty exclusive group.

    Same with Rob Wilkerson and Mike Wolfe
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    IRL my name is Trent Hazerboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brad08 View Post
    Congrats on making the stupidest thread this week on BB.com, er....wannabebig.

    Pat Casey benched 600 in a t-shirt in the 60s. You don't know if he was roided up or not. That roids hit the scene in the mid-50s proves nothing.
    LAWL

    A little harsh brad, I think we've all seen worse. I could see how if you didn't know a whole lot about the history of the bench press it would be a legitimate question, especially just by looking at the records.
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    Max Bench: 255---220-----------280------300
    Max Squat: 405----395----------440------460
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    CHINUPS - Bodyweight + 135, x1, dead hang. Still working on the one arm chinup.

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    update your sig!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sensei View Post
    NO ONE was bench pressing until the 1950s and almost no one was bench pressing until the 1960s. Powerlifting as a sport did not really hit its stride until the 1970s. Bench press shirts didn't have a huge impact until the late 80s/early 90s.

    Has absolutely nothing to do with steroids.


    My thoughts exactly, bench pressing did not become a mainstream lift till around those times.


    look at the numbers alot of those guys in the golden age put up in the deadlift, bent press, contonental press, and a true back squat, some of those guys were phenominal in their strength because its what they worked on, i think guys are way stronger now due to advents like steroids and such in some cases but i doubt any guy on roids can match the numbers of the golden age guys in those classic lifts because they are done as much anymore.

    360 natural is very easy to believe.

    i mean **** i was benching mid 4's in college no roids, not even a good diet, just some hard training, lots of food and being 290 helped as well, and i think copious amounts cheap beer played a role in it as well
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