The bench is pretty much the ultimate display of explosive, powerful strength in the gym. The world’s highest 1 rep max for bench press has been fought for by weightlifters for decades as it’s an incredibly prestigious title to hold.
According to Guinness World Records, the heaviest bench press in a single lift was performed by Blaine Sumner, an American powerlifter. He lifted a staggering 401.5kg (885lbs) on March 5th, 2016.
This incredible feat has been attempted by other weightlifters since Sumner set the record but over the course of several years, nobody has been able to beat him yet.
What Is The Female World Record For Bench Press?
By comparing the female bench press world record with the male equivalent, we can get a better understanding of Blaine Sumner’s pure strength.
The female record is held by Rae-Ann Coughenour-Miller, who was able to lift 274kg (605lbs). This is definitely no easy feat and to put it in perspective, it’s like the equivalent of lifting an adult male grizzly bear above your head!
Keep that in mind next time you head over to the bench press at your local gym!
What Is A Bench Press?
It’s all well and good looking at the people who can do the heaviest bench presses but let’s think about what a bench press actually is.
Quite simply, it involves laying on a bench and lifting a weighted barbell up and down over your chest.
What muscle group does bench press work? It’s a great exercise for building up muscular strength in your arms, shoulders, and chest. If you’re trying to train your general explosive strength capacity, you might perform some bench presses at the heaviest weight you can handle and only do a couple of reps at a time.
However, if you want to improve your muscular endurance, using a lighter weight and performing more reps is a much better way to go.
The bench press is also included as one of the three lifting exercises in the sport of powerlifting. Alongside the deadlift and squat, competitors will show off the maximum capacity of their upper body muscle with as heavy a bench press as they can manage.
How To Bench Press Safely
As with any exercise you can implement into your workout routine, there are ways to do it right and ways to do it wrong. If you get the technique for bench pressing wrong, you won’t experience as great muscular gains from the exercise and you can put yourself at risk of serious injury.
The first thing you should do is keep your feet flat on the floor, either side of the bench when you lay down. Some people prefer to put their feet and legs up on the bench with their body but this massively restricts the amount of power you’re able to generate into the lift.
In terms of how you grip the barbell, the key things to remember are to place your hands slightly wider apart than your shoulders and to keep your wrists as straight as possible.
By keeping your hands a sufficient width apart, you’ll work the target muscles much better than if they were closer together. Also, this is a good way to maintain balance and control over the bar.
Keeping your wrists straight has much more to do with avoiding injury. If your wrists are even slightly bent when you’re performing a set of bench presses, it can build up a long-term injury that you may not notice at first.
The final thing to consider is using a spotter. This is absolutely essential if you’re attempting to lift particularly heavyweights.
The risk of lifting the heaviest weights you can manage is that you may find yourself unable to lift the bar up onto the rack and it could end up crushing you. A spotter’s job is to help you out if this happens and get the barbell off of you.
Other Bench Press World Records
Guinness World Records is well-known for having some pretty wacky and creative records in a variety of categories and bench pressing is no different.
For example, the record for heaviest weight lifted in a minute by bench press takes into account the accumulated weight of every bench press rep a person can perform in one minute. In 2012, Eamonn Keane was able to lift a total of 6960kg (15,344lbs) in one minute. Now that’s a serious workout!
Even more impressive is the record for heaviest weight lifted with a single-arm bench press in one hour. For this record, Dariusz Slowik used just one arm to lift a barbell up and down for a whole hour! He was able to lift a total of a staggering 16,964.8kg (37,400lbs). If that doesn’t make you feel lazy, nothing will!
Slowik also holds another unique bench press world record. He was able to perform 41 bench press reps with claps in between, in one minute.
However, one of the most challenging bench press records of all is probably the record for most consecutive bench presses underwater. Of course, lifting weights underwater is certainly a lot easier on the muscles than doing it on dry land.
The challenge here was that the record holder, Vitaly Vivchar, has to hold his breath the entire time! The Russian was able to perform 77 consecutive reps with a 50kg (110lbs) weight before coming up for air.
Of course, there are also plenty of paralympic bench press world records out there too. Because of the various paralympic classifications, it’s impossible to determine the greatest bench press by a disabled athlete but plenty of the records are way heavier than the average person could handle!
Like we said at the start, bench pressing is one of the greatest displays of strength that anybody can perform. The world record title is something that people have striven for over decades of trying. Ever wonder how much a Gorilla can bench press?
If you think you could take on the record holders someday, there’s no reason you can’t. Everybody is capable of doing what these great weightlifters can do, it just takes a whole lot of commitment and determination.