James Henderson Bench Press Routine

James Henderson is one of the greatest benchpresser! He is also known as Big James Henderson and James “Hollywood” Henderson and was born April 9, 1965 in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Henderson is a graduate of Mercer University, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in theology and psychology.

He is the first man in history to bench 700lb unequipped without any kind of drugs or enhancement and he have done it in a drug tested IPF.

“There is a fire in me. I don’t know where it comes from. It’s flaming up more and more. It’s driven me to a place in my mind that is limitless. I feel like there is nothing I can’t do, nothing I can’t achieve.” So said World Bench Press Champion James “Hollywood” Henderson. 

“Everyone said that a 700 pound bench press is impossible without drugs, without a belt and without a shirt. And if the fire within me keeps burning, I will do 800 pounds the same way. No drugs, no belt, no shirt or wraps. I’m going to do it all with the natural ability that God gave me.”

“When I was just a child, I dreamed that one day I was going to be one of the greatest athletes in the world. That was my dream. At first, I thought my dream was going to be realized in football. God had blessed me with a big, powerful body, and I worked extremely hard to get the most out of what he had given me. By the time I was a senior in high school I was on every High-School All American team in the nation. There was no doubt in my mind, or anyone else’s who saw me play, that I was destined for the N.F.L. In my second year at Albany State College though, I ripped my knee out in a preseason game. In that my instant, my football career and my dream came to an end. My football career was over, and I wasn’t much of a student. I was afraid I didn’t know where to turn. I felt like there was no hope for me. I just couldn’t seem to get my life together. I started getting into trouble, and I dropped out of school. I know that hurt my mother more than anything else I have ever done. She wanted me to have an education. She wanted me to be more than just an athlete. She wanted me to be the best I could be. I have lost myself and I disappointed a lot of people who believed in me. Just the thought of her pain tear my heart apart.”

“When I got myself together, I dedicated my life to God and reestablished my goal to become one of the greatest athletes in the world.”

Mr. Henderson started weight lifting and he reached the 700 pound benchpress barrier. Everybody was saying that he will defeat Anthony Clark or any other big benchers. And that he will be the first man to bench 800lb!

James Henderson Bench Press Training 

James Henderson trains his upper body twice a week. Each session lasts about one-and-a-half hours. His sessions are intense, short and simple. He does a few basic movements for low reps. James cycles his poundage in the classical powerlifting sense. He cruises in the off-season, maintaining a high level of base strength without extending himself. Eight weeks before a contest James gets serious and begins to increase his top sets each session. Typically, he raises his top set poundage 20 pounds a week. The workout outlined contains the exact weights he used in his last heavy workout prior to the 1996 USPF National Championships.


Monday Weight x Rep
Benchpress 315×8, 500×5, 550×4, 600×3, 625×2, 670×1, 525×5
Close Grip Bench (10 inch grip) 405×8, 455×5, 500×3
Lat Pulldown  1 set 8 reps, 1 set 5 reps, 1 set 3 reps


Thursday Weight x Rep
Incline Press 315×8, 365×5, 405×4, 455×3, 500×2, 525×1
Military Press Seated 365×5, 405×3, 455×1
Hammer curls 60×25, 70×15, 80×10, 90×5, 100×3, 125×1 (3 times)

Benchpress technique

James Henderson: “I use a slow release with lots of torque as I lower the bar into perfect position on my chest. I pause each and every training rep and explode the weight off my chest. I use a narrow grip on my close grip bench presses, and feel this is the single best exercise for developing the kind of tricep power I can use in a bench press. Lat work helps build a big launching pad for my arms as they fold under me at the bottom of the bench. I pause my incline presses on each rep and make sure to lockout at the top. On my seated military presses, I brace my but and my back as my training partners help me get the weight to arms length to begin each set. I lower the bar to my shoulders before I begin the upward press portion. The hammer curls are brutal. I go “down the rack” handling six pairs of dumbbells for six sets with no rest in between. I do this three times. Talk about a burn! Hammer curls, inclines, military presses and lat work – these are the assistance exercises that have made my bench what it is today!”


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