Power of a Training Partner — John Haack and Larry Wheels’ Bench Press Workout

Success in powerlifting requires mastering the bench press, and Larry Wheels and world-record-holding powerlifter John Haack demonstrated their bench press prowess during a recent YouTube collaboration.

On June 16, 2024, Wheels shared a video featuring the athletes training the bench press, including a variation with a sophisticated Power Smith Dual System machine. Watch them trade heavy reps below:

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Before their session, Wheels and Haack outlined their bench press strategies. Typically, Wheels performs a five-by-five workout. Haack prefers a three-set by three-rep approach. Wheels was four weeks away from his contest prep for his next bodybuilding competition.

I want to get to the Olympia stage and then take a break from bodybuilding for six months.

During that time away, Wheels plans to pack on more size and potentially attempt another powerlifting record. Per Open Powerlifting, Wheels’ best raw total was 1,075 kilograms across the squat, bench press, and deadlift. He has his sights set on a 1,134-kilogram (2,500-pound) total with wraps.

However, Wheels remains cautious about pushing his limits too far, keen to avoid the risk of another permanent injury like the ones he suffered with his biceps and his quad.

It gets riskier and riskier as you get stronger and stronger, so trying to weigh risk-reward.

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Bench Press Grips

Wheels began by stretching. He performed pyramid sets — increasing the weight of each set by adding a 45-pound weight plate to both sides. Wheels gripped the barbell so that his ring finger aligned with the knurling. He paused briefly with the barbell on his chest before exploding to lockout.

Haack paused during the eccentric, with a hand placement slightly narrower than Wheels. Haack’s pinkies hug the knurling.

Single 45-pound Plates & Double 45-pound Plates

Wheels opened with a set targeting four to six reps. Haack, in turn, lifted the same weight and matched Wheels’ reps. Wheels wasn’t originally planning to train the bench press in the lead-up to his prep but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to train with Haack.

Haack’s next major sanctioned meet is in September. He has one more week of his off-season week before entering a deload week before the start of his prep.

Triple 45-pound Plates & Quadruple 45-pound Plates

Wheels hit two reps of 315 pounds. With four plates, Wheels used elbow straps and completed 10 reps. Haack raised the ante, adding 35 pounds (a 25-pound plate and a 10-pound plate), and managed three repetitions.

Power Smith Dual System Machine Press

The Power Smith Dual System machine provides enhanced stability and the advantages of unilateral training while targeting the same muscle groups as the traditional bench press — chestshoulders, and triceps. Haack and Wheels used the machine set at a slight incline, biasing their upper chests

Starting with a single 45-pound plate, Wheels performed eight reps to Haack’s 10. On his second set, Wheels increased the weight by an extra weight plate and hit seven repetitions to Haack’s eight.

During their third set, Wheels increased the weight again and secured five reps. Haack followed, pushing to six reps. Wheels hit seven reps on set four. Haack returned to the machine and maxed out 10 reps. They closed their session with machine chest flyes, an accessory exercise after exhausting their pecs.

Haack and Wheels are elite athletes who found training together can help push each other harder than they would if they’d trained alone. Ideally, training with someone at or beyond your level will offer the most benefit. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that “effort trajectory was positive and significant for those with an always superior partner.”

More Training Content

Feltz, D. L., Hill, C. R., Samendinger, S., Myers, N. D., Pivarnik, J. M., Winn, B., Ede, A., & Ploutz-Snyder, L. (2020). Can Simulated Partners Boost Workout Effort in Long-Term Exercise?. Journal of strength and conditioning research34(9), 2434–2442. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0000000000003732

Featured image: Larry Wheels / YouTube

The post Power of a Training Partner — John Haack and Larry Wheels’ Bench Press Workout appeared first on BarBend.


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