Thursday, May 9, 2019

Marvin Eder Trains for the Bench Press - Barton Horvath (1951)

Taken From This Issue (May 1951) 

Young Marvin Eder is a "wonder boy" in more than one way. Four short years ago he was a total unknown. 

Note: I found this short write-up in the August 1949 issue of Strength & Health magazine! From the Self Improvement Heroes column.

"Superman at Age of 17"

Dear Bob (Hoffman)

I am sending to you three pictures of a boy who deserves a lot of credit. He is Marvin Eder of the East Side Barbell Club of New York City which is equipped with all York apparatus. Some people don't really believe that Marvin has been working out for just 2 years and 10 months, but it is true. He is 17-1/2 years old and is five feet seven inches tall.

These photos were taken on our club roof. His power is really amazing. You can sen an official to witness his strength. He can supine (bench) press 340 for 2 reps, Press 255, and do 3 full dips with 260 lbs. (a fat man holding on his legs). Marvin squats 370 lbs. for 10 reps and he does 6 underhand chins with 125 lbs. tied to his waist. And last, which I think is amazing, 5 reps with 155 lbs. stiff-arm pullovers on a bench. His bodyweight is 181 lbs. stripped.

Irvin Snyder.      

Okay then . . . 

One year after he had his first taste of the "iron pills," he astounded the bodybuilding world, at the age of 15, by taking second place in the Jr. Mr. North America contest, being nosed out of the title by the sensational Johnny Icino. The next year, he reversed this decision, winning the title. One year later he again amazed the critics by annexing the title of Mr. Eastern America, upsetting predictions with a smashing victory over the great Leo Robert, and today, just 19 years of age, he is not only one of the world's GREATEST physique stars, but recently he unofficially established a world's record in the bench press, a stupendous lift of 410 pounds!!!

Still growing in size, his present height is 5' 8.5", weight 190 pounds, upper arms of 18", chest 49, waist 32 and thighs of 26" give some indication of the even greater glory which is destined to be his in future years. 

Streaking across the strength and muscle horizon with the blinding speed of a comet, in four years he has blazed a path of physical acclaim which will glow forever. Remarkable as his massive muscular perfection is, right now his greatest fame lies in his record shattering ability in the bench press . . . which is the King of Lifts among bodybuilders. There is one question uppermost in the minds of bodybuilders . . . "How did Marvin Eder train for power in the bench press?" 

It was to gain the answer to this question that I recently sat down with Marvin at Abe Goldberg's great gym in New York City. It here that Marvin always trains, and anyone who enters this most modern and thoroughly equipped gym, one of the very finest in the world, finds himself at once seeped deep with an atmosphere of STRENGTH and MUSCLE. No wonder Marvin established his record there . . . the place brings out the very best that is in you. 

I have known Marvin quite well for several years, and have been watching his sparkling career carefully. The very first time I saw him, I recognized the he possessed all the qualities for physical greatness, so his recent triumph was not a surprise to me. The bench press of 410 pounds, while unofficial, still is one that cannot be denied. Performed in perfect style, on a Jackson International bar, known for its accuracy, the lift was witnessed by Joe Weider, Abe Goldberg, Frank Stranahan, Charlie Smith and many others.

Without any reflection upon the great lift of Marvin Eder in any way, it should be mentioned in fairness to all that since he made the record, Danny Prata of Rhode Island has been reported as performing a bench press of 415 pounds, which exceeds Marvin's poundage. However, at the time of this writing, Marvin is devoting all his time and energy to pushing the record even higher, so it is very possible that by the time this article appears in print he may have made 420 or even more. He told me that he is confident that he will make 420 to 430 within three months. I feel that he will.

The first thought in my mind when I started my interview was how it felt to make a record, and I asked Marvin this. The answer was that of course he was thrilled, but also was a bit surprised to make it. He had been very busy at work the previous month, and had been able to train very little. Two days before, he had taken his first big workout in a month, in which he had done a lot of sets of bench presses, besides a full program for the other parts of his body. His muscles were just a little stiff after this workout. Still, when he tried the first weight the night of his record performance, he knew that he was set, for his starting poundage of 330 pounds went up like a feather.

Marvin feels that it may have been his irregular training the previous month which had given him a needed break in his workouts, and permitted him to build up the reserve for this record lift. Always a hard and steady worker, in the four years he has been training he has had no real layoff, except the one mentioned. He now realizes that a rest once in a while may be helpful and has decided to take at least two full days of rest in the future before again trying for a record. This makes good sense and shows one quality which Marvin possesses which will be a great asset. He is always willing to learn, and doesn't have that attitude that he knows it all. He is fast to recognize new ideas which can help him with an open mind. He feels that he has learned another important lesson through this forced layoff.

I was curious to find out whether there was any guide that a beginner could use to determine whether or not he possessed unusual ability in the bench press. Marvin feels that if a beginner can bench press more than he can either curl or standing press at the start that this is an indication that he can go places in the lift. In his own case, he was able to bench press 110 pounds the first attempt, which was considerably more than he could curl or standing press. Of course he agrees that this is not a fast rule, but it did prove itself in his case.

It was not until two years ago, however, that Marvin showed any real ability in the movement. Up to this time he seldom practiced it, and then one day at the suggestion of Abe Goldberg he included it in his routine, with the main idea being to develop more impressive arm, chest and shoulder muscles. Finding 200 pounds too light, he decided to try his strength at heavier workouts and succeeded in his first workout with 270! It was then he determined to specialize on the exercise with the idea in mind to someday break the record.

From that day on up to the present, the bench press has always been his first exercise. By placing it first in his routine he felt that he would have more power and energy to give it all he had each workout, and the results speak for themselves. He has never skipped the exercise in his workout since.

While he feels that many factors are responsible for his present success, the one he stresses more than any other is the fact that he has worked hard and steadily on the bench press year in and year out. This certainly is a logical presumption, for hard and steady work certainly stands as a proven success formula in any field of endeavor.

Marvin cautions against anyone specializing entirely on one lift. It is his contention that only the bodybuilder with the utmost all around development will smash the records. Therefore, if you do hope to become a top bench presser, you must never neglect your other exercises. If you do, there will be a certain spark lacking which will hold you back. In fact, Marvin is so convinced of this close association of all around physical power for a record performance in any lift that he presently is paying a lot of attention to the deadlift, feeling that steady practice in it will give him still more all around power which in turn will push his bench press up further.

His exact method of practicing the bench press is one which will build both power and muscular size. He performs at least 5 sets each workout. The first is the heaviest, using a weight he can handle for about 3 reps. Then he drops the weight 20 pounds and performs about 5 reps. Then another drop in weight and about 7 reps. He continues this until his final set finds him using a weight he can handle for up to 12 reps. This, in a sense, is a variation of the rest pause method of training, which is known for creating tremendous power. Marvin's variation includes the essentials for large muscle building as well.

While each workout is a tremendous one, Marvin wisely sticks to the three-times-a-week training program. More than that is too much in his opinion. "You must rest a lot when you train hard with weights," says Marvin. "If you don't, you're bound to go stale and not progress as you should. Too many lifters and bodybuilders try to develop overnight, and hold back their own progress by training too often. In some special cases, for a short period of time, particularly before a bodybuilding contest, 5 or 6 workouts a week can make you razor-sharp, but year in and year out three times a week has been proven best for the vast majority of bodybuilders. Remember that the next time you become overanxious!

Being that Marvin only weighs 190 pounds, which is fairly light for a man who raises such tremendous poundages, I asked him if he thought bodyweight was important in the bench press. His answer was that bodyweight in itself was not as important a factor as the development of as close to maximum muscular size as possible. In other words, a short man who was heavily muscled stood as good a chance as a larger man with an equal degree of development in this lift. It is logical to see how a pair of 16" muscular arms on a short man could be as powerful or more powerful in a lying movement as a pair of 18" arms on a taller man. The taller man would have to push the weight further, his bones would be longer, and actually inch-for-inch he would have no greater proportionate development. His bodyweight, while a definite advantage in the standing lifts, would do him little good when lying down. Marvin, with his bodyweight of 190 and arms of 18: at a height of 5' 8/5" is proportionately just as massively developed as John McWilliams, who stands much taller, weighs 250 or so and whole arms hit well over 20 inches. Incidentally, McWilliams has performed an official bench press of 408.5 pounds, which I believe is still recognized as the official record, unless Prata's 415 has been officially accepted at this time. The comparison between Marvin Eder and is an ideal example to prove the above point.

But sheer, massive development is not the whole answer. Quality of muscle is even more important, and highest quality comes from working a muscle hard from all possible angles, according to Marvin. This too, is something I have been preaching for many years. You need variety of exercise and apparatus to do the job right.

While Marvin uses heavy weights in each workout on the bench press, he does not bench to his limit too often. He prefers to stay well within himself generally, and then, when he feels like shooting for a record he starts a bit higher for each workout for several weeks, gradually coaxing the muscles to handle more and more weight until he has them set for the very limit.

The bodybuilder and lifter can learn another important lesson here. Too often is a record attempt made on the spur of the moment. By this I mean a "personal" record attempt. A man will go to the gym and say to himself, "I feel good today. Guess I'll try my limit." Then he goes and pulls up a lot of weight without any preparation beforehand. More often than not he won't lift as high a poundage as he would have had he prepared properly. And sometimes he will pull a muscle or do damage to himself.

On the other hand, Marvin plans his record attempts well in advance. Weeks in advance. In this way he protects himself from any strain, and also is correctly "set up" for the very best performance.

Some of you may remember that Marvin has been mentioned more than once in these publications for his remarkable endurance. He has performed over 1,000 parallel bar dips and 500 chins in a workout. I next asked him if he felt that this endurance work helped him in any way in his bench press. The answer was . . . NO! He enjoys dipping and chinning, and once in a while follows such a workout. However, he does not feel that this has helped him in the bench press in any noticeable way. I am inclined to agree with him there . . . but it is certainly amazing for a man to have all the power, endurance and massive development all wrapped up in one package of physical perfection the way Marvin does.

I knew that readers would want to know the exact routine Marvin follows in his bench press training, so I asked him this next. Here it is.

The first exercise is the wide grip bench press.

The number of sets and weights you use will depend on your experience, however, it is advises that you employ the most weight the first set and decrease the weight each succeeding set, increasing your reps accordingly. Use a weight you can do about 4 reps with the 1st set and then wind wind up with a weight you can do about 10 reps with on the last set. 3 to 4 sets total will be the best for the majority.

The next exercise is the parallel bar dip.

Marvin has done 1 rep with 345 pounds attached to his body, and 10 reps with 230! At first you may only be able to use your own bodyweight. Later on, attach some weight to keep making the exercise difficult. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps here.

Now for a variation of the bench press.

Perform a regular floor press with the hands held a little wider than shoulder width. Marvin can handle more weight in this exercise than in the bench press, owing of course to the shorter action. He feels it gives him more drive in the middle of the bench press.

The power press off boxes will get you used to handling stupendous poundages and give you sensational lockout power.

It will also strengthen your wrists, elbows and shoulders, creating a new type of ligament and tendon power so necessary for limit bench presses. This exercise is a new addition to Marvin's routine, but already it has paid off with huge dividends and he is convinced that it is one of the very greatest. Reps and sets the same as the bench press.

For a wind-up, Marvin likes a direct triceps movement, and generally performs the standing triceps curl with a dumbbell, exercising each arm separately.

In this, he sticks to sets of about 10 reps and generally performs about 4 sets for each arm.

Then, after these 5 exercises are concluded, Marvin takes a short rest and goes into the rest of his program. A beginner should break in with lights weights and only one or two sets of each exercise. After a while he should increase the weights and sets, with 4 sets of each exercise being the limit.

Time was running out and Abe Goldberg's gym had become a beehive of activity, so it was hard for me to take up too much more of Marvin's time. But there were a few more questions I had to ask.

The first, and important to all bodybuilders and weightlifters, was whether steady practice on the bench press restricted ability on the standing press. Several people in the past have made such an assertion, so I asked Marvin for his opinion on this. His answer was, "Of course not!" He makes no claims of being an authority except where his own training is concerned, but it has been his experience that even when he didn't practice the standing press, every time his bench press went up, so did his standing press. He feels that aside from the element of increased power there is a psychological reaction resulting from handling very heavy weights in the bench press which makes lighter weights used in the standing press comparatively easy. The fact that he now does a 300-lb. standing press, without any real practice on the lift, forcefully demonstrates this fact. He is certain that as his bench press climbs up that his standing press will keep pace. I don't see any reason why it should not.

When asked what he thought his potential limitation on the bench press was, Marvin shook his head and said . . .

"I can't see any end in sight. I sincerely feel that a 500 pound lift is within my ability!

THIS -- my friends, is a quarter of a ton!!!



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