Do not try this at home kids. Powerlifter Eric Spoto just broke the world record for raw bench press (meaning that the lift was not assisted by any sort of equipment, popular one being the benchpress shirt). At the signal of the judges, the man successfully pressed a ridiculously impressive 722 lb (327.5 kg), at the Southern Powerlifting Federation California State Powerlifting Meet in Sacramento, California on May 19, 2013. The previous record was being held by Scott Mendelson who pressed 715 pounds (324.3 kg) on May 22, 2005 at the New England Bench Press Classic. At the event, Eric Spoto lifted 661 lb (300 kg) on his first attempt, followed by 716 lb (325 kg) and his final lift of 722 pounds earning him 5 500$ prize money while making him the top ranked raw bench presser in the world today. I think you know you’re onto something when you warm up with 661 pounds unassisted!
Personal records of Eric Spoto
This is what he claims to have done in the gym or what can be seen in his popular videos (hit youtube anyone). Totally unofficial numbers but definitely worth mentioning.
- 405 pounds for 26 reps;
- Raw bench 735 pounds for 2 reps (3-board press);
- 765-pound benchpress with slingshot.
Here is a photo showing how huge the guy is. That man is a beast!
More information on Eric
- Age (as of 2013) : 36 years old;
- Lives in : Las Vegas, Nevada;
- Height : 5 ft 10 (5’10”);
- Weight : around 320 pounds.
- Trains at : Super Training Gym, Sacramento, California
Video of the unassisted bench press record
The three lifts
Just before his third and final lift in the video above, you can actually see one of the spotters telling him to take off the loops in his wrist wraps. According to Jim McDonald, the spotter was the well known bodybuilder Stan Efferding concerned that wrist wraps weren’t allowed in that federation, but it’s an old rule that is no longer in effect.
The controversy with the referee’s ”Press” call and the Pause
If you have ever watched a powerlifting meet other than this one, you know how it works. Usually here’s what the lifter does :
- The lifter takes a sniff of smelling salts (lol not mandatory);
- He unracks the bar when he is ready to lift;
- He brings the bar down to his chest and stabilizes it (the pause);
- The referee or judge says (or yells) ”press” loudly;
- The powerlifter lifts the bar completely and racks it.
From what we can see in the video above it seems like a standard unofficial lift where there is no ”pause”. Eric Spoto simply lowered the bar to his chest and lifted it pretty much instantly. Definitely looks good to a random person who doesn’t know much about powerlifting, but according to powerlifting federation rules that doesn’t seem legit at first glance. The judge didn’t seem to be looking for a pause and yelled ”press” as soon the bar was low enough. This is somewhat of a problem in the powerlifting community because we sometimes get the feeling that judges are there to make sure a world record is broken on that day. Before you jump to any conclusions about my opinion on Eric’s lift that day, please remember that sometimes the audio can be delayed in those videos and lead to confusion.
A better angle on the lift
In this video the angle makes it easier to see the bar actually stop, making it a legit (although very quick, and borderline) pause. I don’t know about you, but according to me, the lift is legit.
Let’s just say we’re all pretty excited the world record was beaten after being in the hands of Mendy for so many years (since 2005). But what now? According to Eric Spoto’s Twitter, he’s currently working towards a 730-pound bench press, and maybe more. Scott Mendelson has now lost his title (the equipped benchpress one as well, in 2013 to Paul Meeker). Is he going to do something about it ? We will see for sure, but I remember seeing a couple videos of him around April 2013 where he tries to raw bench 716 lbs and gets injured in the process. Can’t wait see how he will react.