Wake up: Natural Powerlifting Does Not Exist It's time for the wannabe powerlifters to wake up and see reality.

| by Truth Seeker |

I just finished reading the newest article on StartingStrength.com written by none other than the trainer of champion powerlifters Marty Gallagher.

I like that man. What he writes always intrigues me, albeit not exactly in a positive way. I understand what he is saying, but I also see many noobs getting caught in a path that only ends one way – into the Kingdom Of FatsoLand and Weakling Islands.


Citizen of Fatsoland. {source}

This time the article of Gallagher was dedicated to a legendary American bench press record holder under the name of Mike MacDonald. The text is supposed to appeal to the members of the site who look up to those powerlifting legends and secretly dream of becoming just as good. Sorry. It’s not going to happen naturally even if you follow Gallagher’s official how-to steps. It takes more. Much more.

As expected, the article only talks about “training secrets” without mentioning steroids even a single time. I guess cambered bars and dumbbell bench presses are politically correct and received nicely by the deceived public. {Oh, wait! I just have to get my cambered bar and I will bench 2 times BW}

How do I know that MacDonald was not natural?

Here’s some flawless logic for you – he set untouchable world records and was obsessed with benching. If he loves it so much, why would he stay natural? If he can bench 635lbs naturally, why not roid up a bit and do 730lbs? Seriously? Why not?

Even to this day, a 635lbs bench press is ultra-impressive at any bodyweight. How could you possibly think that a human, even as talented and as hard working as MacDonald, can move this weight naturally? Seriously. Wake up.

Side note: I’ve trained in a professional powerlifting gym. I never saw a single natural powerlifter there bench press 315lbs. Before saying things like “what a weak gym”, keep in mind that the same place has produced 500lbs raw bench pressers.

As a result of disinformation, many ordinary guys are sucked into an imaginary bubble. You think that you can become a master if you follow the sick knowledge dropped by the underground iron gurus, but the reality is very different.

To this day, I have never heard a single guru tell the obvious truth. They would dance around it, mask it with superlatives and exaggerated claims while giving false hopes to the natty suckers who do not know any better.

I can assure you that even you follow Marty Gallagher’s routine to the letter, you won’t get the strength and mass presented by the retro-champions.

At the end of the article, Gallagher gives a hypothetical program for a “170lbs man with a 300lbs bench press”. Are you kidding me? I doubt there are more than 5-10 people on StartingStrength.com who can bench 300lbs regardless of bodyweight. Why didn’t he write a routine about the ectomorph sucker benching 180lbs at the skinny-fat bodyweight of 190lbs? That would be a lot more interesting to the pool of lifters there.

The only lifters that could get even close to a 300lbs bench press at 170lbs BW would be either genetic freaks like MacDonald, massive drug users or both. That’s the truth. I know there are people who can bench 2 times their bodyweight naturally, but those individuals are built for the lift (short arms + wide shoulders) and usually have 5-10 years of work behind them.

Ironically, the routine is supposed to add 25-30lbs to your bench press in 4 weeks plus 8-10lbs of bodyweight increase. Who the hell adds 30lbs to his bench in 4 weeks at an elite level? Also, how much muscle do you think you can gain as an advanced natty in a month? Zero pounds. 95% of those 8-10lbs gained in 4 weeks would be fat cells taking you straight to Fatsoland.

So, what’s missing here? Obviously, the drugs. Every lifter presented by Gallagher is/was a serious steroid user.

In conclusion

The training advice presented by gurus like Marty Gallagher can be useful. I personally like linear periodization. However, the gurus are not going to tell you the complete truth.

But if you stay in this game long enough, you will learn it all on your own.

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  1. TheRealShady

    Another supreme article. I hate those fucking fatsos in the squat rack looking down upon mere mortals like me for not joining their lard inducing cult

  2. Garrett

    I’m a senior in highschool with little over a year of weight training and closer to 8 months of serious weight training never used drugs not a genetic freak but I weigh 165 and bench press 265 so I truly doubt how rare you say it is to hit 315 at any bodyweight I’m not saying the fitness world isn’t plagued by steroids and other supplements I just feel this article over exaggerated it also I’m pretty lean and cut

  3. Rhys

    A 300lb bench press is very much within the realm of natural lifting. You sound a little butthurt.

    1. Steple2

      Lol I know, my max was 325lbs and was poor AF! So no protein
      and def no roids. With dedication people could hit 400lbs

  4. Glen

    You can get big and strong without steroids. I’ve benched over 300 and deadlifted over 400, both naturally. And I’m happy with that because I like to be lighter anyways.

    However, steroids is for guys who want to get freaky big.

    So why hate and complain? The information is available these days. It isn’t illegal in every country. It’s a choice.

    So why hate? If you want to get freaky big and the natural way isn’t working good enough, fuck it, just quit complaining and stick a needle in your ads cheek.

    Who gives a fuck? Seriously. Do or don’t.

    No need for me. I like being lighter anyways. But I’m not going to hate on the guys who do. Without it, we wouldn’t be seeing 600+ benches or 1,000 lb deadlifts.

  5. Who cares?

    335 close grip bench last week, 500lb squat to depth, and coming up on a 600 lb deadlift. Still plenty of room to grow on my natty journey. If you’ve been lifting less than 5 years then don’t say a 315 bench is a rare feat.

  6. J

    There is truth to this article, but if you lift in a gym where no natural lifter benched 315, it either means you lift with a bunch of pussies or everyone is in fact on drugs. I am lifetime drug free and my best competition bench is 425 at 200. Oh and btw I love powerlifting. It does piss me off that no one recognizes all these f*ckers willing to juice when I never did…not just a bencher

  7. Pavel Rogala

    Are we talking 315lbs or 315kg? I go to a gym that focuses on HIIT training and strength and conditioning (not a powerlifting gym) and there are at least 2 guys that bench over 300 easy (definitely natty as well, desk rat physiques and all, both weighing around 200lbs). I bench 260lbs, squat 405, deadlift 470 at 165lbs/75kg (https://www.instagram.com/pavelrogala) after 1.5 yrs training powerlifting. I hardly supplement (bcaa’s in training, creatine pre-meet) and have a pretty meh diet so 315 sounds like a pretty basic weight for anyone that trains powerlifting, eats well, and weighs 180+ lbs.

  8. Doctor Fuerte

    Hmmm… okay, not sure what to say? In high school; 130lbs BW I could bench press 275 & squat 315.
    Today, I weigh 205… I can bench 405 & squat 495 with a 495 DL. I have never used “STERIODS”! I do use Protein Supplements! Why would it be impossible to lift 315 naturally? I can rep 315 on a good day 8-12 reps!

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Good for you.

      1. Jerry Franken

        What is this nonsense?? 315 is nothing lol. Doing 600 is about steriods range.

  9. Doctor Fuerte

    What is your info and article based on? A Gym? Several gyms? I’m 43 and still benching 315 with ease… why would I need roids? Long term damage is not worth it, to me.

  10. Craig

    I’ve never used steroids, I weigh from 165-180 and I bench 315… Hoping for 325 soon. Just took time and effort.

  11. Nick Radanovich

    Bench 365
    Squat 415
    Dead 515

    Natural as fuck

  12. Elijah

    Sounds like you just wrote an article to justify being weak as fuck. 315 isn’t crazy. I know multiple lightweight natties benching over 400. I guess anyone who actually dedicates themselves to go past the beginner level must be on roids to you.

  13. NattyRetard

    Sounds like your coping, many people can hit that natty.

  14. R

    Nowadays most powerlifting federations are fully tested.

    One funny thing to observe is that best natural powerlifters are much bigger in muscle than best natural bodybuilders.

  15. Chuck Mirabile

    I knew Mike MacDonald personally and was very close friends with Mike. These are the truths I know for fact. Mike MacDonald was a very quiet and relatively introverted man. He was genuinely kind hearted and couldn’t hurt a fly….wasn’t his nature. Was awarded a valor medal, the Medal of Gallantry I believe, serving in Vietnam as a corpsman, essentially a medic as he did not want to take another person’s life. MacDonald was benching 320# after only a few months of formal weightlifting at 16 years old. As a 17 year old high schooler he officially bench pressed a RAW 405# at 178#, also squatting and deadlifting over 400# at that meet. Prior to Vietnam Mike had officially bench pressed a very easy RAW 450# at 198# and a RAW 480# at only around 215-218# or so with a 1700# plus total. In training Macdonald was already up to 500# RAW at less than 220# well before using any steroids. His first experience with steroids was after meeting a lifter named Ed Ammerman at the meet he did his 480# bench press and 1700+ total, all RAW and steroid free. His first experience was with dianabol, reportedly never more than 5-15 mg daily, cycling his use prior to meets, sometime after 1972-1973. He eventually was introduced to injectable steroids around 1980, alternating intramuscular testosterone and decadurabolin every other week or so (highest dose for each about 200-250 mg for each), usually for a couple of months prior to a planned meet, then taking a month or two off….all under the supervision of a doctor with blood work monitored until steroids were deemed ‘ilegal’. At his best he officially bench pressed 522# @ 181, 562# @ 198, 582# @ 220 (weighed about 218#), and 603# @ 242# (1977 Twin Ports Open in Duluth, MN, with a 1703# total, weighed 240#; pre-meet training lifts of 525-535# for 5 reps, 565# for a triple). Mike also did an official 592# bench press, locking out 608.87# on a 3rd while weighing only 232# in 1981 at Body Expo II in Anaheim, CA…the 608.87# bench was only disqualified for a technical error as the lift slightly nipped the under edge of the left upright just prior to lockout, but was indeed fully locked out…that rule has since been changed and the 608.87# would have counted under the since revised rule). Prior to the meet he had hit a 620# strict touch ‘n go single and tripled about 570#. He hit 600# or better on at least 12 occasions, possibly as many as 17 occasions 1977 and 1981 (as light as 225#), with a best training single of about 625# for a RAW touch’n go single. Had he ignored some left triceps tendinitis and torn his left triceps a few weeks after the Body Expo meet in 1981 attempting a 622# bench, having hit around 617# the week before, he might have conservatively reached about 617-625# officially at 242#: 600# officially at 220#: and maybe even simultaneously held 5 weight class WR bench presses, 181-198-229-242-275, as he likely could have hit 620-625# as a very light 275#er weighing just over the 242# weight limit. In all Mike hit about 36 WR bench presses over the 4 weight classes, 181-198-229-242! Sadly Mike died of leukemia, related to Vietnam related agent orange exposure at 69 years of age. He was truly one of a kind. Interestingly, he told me that had there been drug tested competition in his time he likely would have remained natural, but as such was not the case and he wanted to be the best he did indeed admittedly use steroids. His records were set prior to bench press shirts. Hope this helps answer your questions on what is possible naturally.

  16. Dominique Locas

    I have been lifting naturally for seven years and I have a best strict overhead press of 239 lbs, which is a rarer lift than a 405-lb squat or a 315-lb bench, regardless of bodyweight. I have done it by training similar to pre-1960 olympic weightlifters.

    I simply can’t trust anyone who has been coaching elite lifters or been an elite lifter after 1960. I have read an article where Mr. Gallagher writes about the ungodly strength someone can gain by lifting only once a week. In my opinion, he forgot to mention the most important ingredient. We all know what it is.

  17. Pete

    Mike Macdonald did admit to taking “medication” for the 603lb bench press record.. He was already capable of 500lb natural though.

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