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Eric Spoto’s Training Routine & Methods for a World Record Bench


Eric Spoto’s methods to Raw Bench Madness:

The most talked about bench presser on the web talks about his training style, and philosophy. I took some time to get it here all in one place, so it would be easier to find and get an idea of how Eric trains.

Informal Opener:

Most of the early years of my training consisted of basic bodybuilding training. I just use to be more focused on moving bigger weights than getting a pump. Weighted dips is my favorite exercise, if there is one secret exercise I would say that’s it. You can get the same feel as bench, use crazy weights and no need for spotter. I try to have my elbows flare same as bench not tucked all the way and not out directly to the side. My newest split which I am very happy with goes like this.

Eric’s Training Routine:

Monday: Heavy Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps

Tuesday: Heavy Legs

Wednesday: Heavy Back and Biceps

Thursday: Cardio, Core

Friday: Light Weight Pump/Speed focus Chest, Shoulders, Rotator cuff, and Triceps

Saturday: Light Back and Biceps Heavy Traps and Forearms

Sunday: OFF day, Eat like a Hog

Example Training Days

Monday – Heavy chest, shoulders, triceps

Note: When its heavy chest day I pyramid up, when I get to 495 if it feels heavy I might not go heavier for that day. I think its my body telling me to back off. I do follow the basic routine I posted before but its just a guideline, how I feel determines what I do more than my set workout. I do a couple heavy sets in between 1-5 reps then pyramid down usually stopping one to two reps before failure.

Bench Press:

135, 225, 315 all 1 set of each 20 reps. Then, 495 1×6, 585 1×3, 635 2×2, 495 1×11

Close Grip:

495 1×8, 405 1×12, 315 1×20


1×25 bw, 1×15 plus 90lbs, 1×13 plus 180lbs, 1×9 plus 225lbs

Seated Shoulder Press:

135, 225 1 set of each 15 reps. Then, 315 1×8, 365 1×4, 315 1×7

Smith Machine JM press: (I know Smith machine bar is no way 45 lbs but its the easiest way to count the weights)

135, 225 1 set of each for 20 reps. Then, 315 2×12, and 365 1×8.

Diamond push ups after the last set of JM press immediately go to burn set of push ups. Then 1 more set of diamonds for 40 reps to leave with a crazy pump.

spoto forearms

Spoto’s 19.5 inch forearms!

Wednesday – Back/Biceps Heavy

For upper back I stay in the 6-12 range. I am a true believer that free weights are king but I have to admit I love Hammer Strength for back. I always start with weighted pull ups. I am not a big fan of bent over barbell rows, I know its supposed to be the king of back but I don’t get anything from them. Single dumbbell rows work better for me. I count rear delts as back so I finish with some reverse pec deck flys try those single arm you will get much better work out of them.


Note: If there are dumbbells heavy enough I love single dumbbell arm rows but unfortunately the gym I was at only go 125.

Pull ups: 2×15 body weight 90lbs added 1×8 1×6 45lbs added 1×10

Hammer Strength High Row: (My absolute favorite machine)

3 plates 1×20, 5 plates1x10, 6 plates 1×6, last set 6 plates 1×5 strip to 4 plates immediately 1×10 strip to 2 plates 1×20.

T-bar rows: 5 plates 1×12, 8 plates 2×8

Machine Row: start with rack (full weight stack) for 15 reps, lower by 1/3 (of the stack) 15 reps, lower another 1/3 for 15 reps.

Standing Cable Pullovers:

3×15 I like to use a rotating lat bar most rotate so its not a problem.


Dumbbell Hammer Curls:

30 pounds 1×25, 75 pounds 2×10, 85 pounds 1×6 then, drop set 85 1×3, 65 1×8, 40 1×10, 25 1×20.

Cable Curls: Rack plus added plate for 2×12. Then, last set rack plus plate 1×8, take off plate 1×8, cut stack in half 1×20.

By Thursday your ATP is going to be sapped so the cardio is light low paced just get the blood moving.

Speed/light Day:

My light day’s I still do same basic movements. For example back I always do a minimum of one row movement one pull up exercise and one reverse fly. Rep range on light days is in the 10-15 range, some sets I even go as high as 25. I have a rotation of a group of exercises that I like and based on how I feel or whats available I just do it. I go to the gym with a general idea of what I want to do but based on how I feel I will change reps,weights,exercises.

On Friday the speed part is the bench and close grip bench I tend to lift everything faster than average, but the rest of the exercises are more focused on pump and deep stretch.

On the Light days I only take about one minute rest between sets on heavy days closer to 3-4 minutes.

On your heavy days do you generally try for PR’s (personal records) or do you just hit some heavy weights for the day and not really worry about beating PR’s?

Most people think PR’s are just about triples or singles but I really don’t equate PR’s with heavy weight I have PR’s for everything for 315, 405, 495, 585, 635 so some of them are heavy but 315 my PR is 62 so so If I hit a 63 new PR. When I do reps over 6 I usually only do the bottom half to bottom 3/4 of the lift the only reason I locked the 405 reps out was cause I was seeing how many I can do like that. One reason to not lock out high reps is there is no need to put the wear and tear on elbows plus I also like the constant tension on your chest. Whats weird is your triple one day might feel like a ton and there is no way you think you can get a PR with it but you drop the weight back and hit a PR reps wise with a lighter weight. As long as your reps go up your strength does too.

Do you ever deload or take time off?

Just listen to my body, on average I miss a couple days throughout the month for just normal things that come up in life plus every couple months I take a week off.

Basically after Wednesday the rest of the week is pretty easy just pumping blood and getting ready for the next Monday.

My theory behind the 3 hard and heavy consecutive days is an attempt to stress my atp levels and hope my body adapts to the stress and finds a way handle the load better.

What about shoulder health?

Shoulder health is very important to me, there aren’t to many people who lift heavy who have never had a shoulder issue. I do rotator cuff after shoulders. I do 3 exercises 12-20 reps for rotator cuff. Usually 3 sets for each movement.

The most I have done on Shoulder press is a triple with 405. I have never tried to max out. I really don’t like doing anything besides Bench Pr

Eric Spoto looking huge

Eric Spoto manages to look massive next to IFBB Pro Stan Efferding, among others.

ess for less than a triple.


Eric Spoto’s diet:

I try to eat healthy. Good quality meat and fish. I don’t like vegetables but try to eat as much as possible plus I use a super greens. Plenty of fruit and nuts. I try to get at least 300 grams of protein a day most days I am pretty close.

Eric Spoto’s training philosophy:

I train heavy as long as I feel strong,energized and seeing positive results. If I feel weak one day I switch to a higher rep lower weight/intensity day. I never pre set periodization blocks into training cause I feel its just much easier to listen to my body. Another thing I forget to mention every couple weeks based on how I feel I switch to a bodybuilding one body part per day split instead of my standard 1 heavy and 1 speed/light workout per week per muscle.

I know things like 20 reps on close grip sound like they don’t belong in my workout but I will try to explain why they are so important in my opinion. I have switched between tons of different workout styles over the years I have tried them all. I use to be big on getting a pump in the gym. When I thought about possibly competing in power lifting I read everything on power lifting training. I tried super low reps heavy weights compound only. What I found was I never achieved a good pump anytime through the whole workout. I didn’t feel my body got good results training like that. I like to do heavy weights compound movements but I also have to try and achieve skin ripping pump its the best of both worlds. You still put heavy stress on your bones muscles and joints, but you also get the benefit of blood stretching your muscle belly.

Check out Eric Spoto’s full interview.

  1. outstanding workout plan.won the usa benchpress championship in 1984 and trained similar to eric’s training.i just believe in listening to your body.thanks for the tip on the bar.

  2. Hi where is Tuesday: Heavy Legs??

  3. I will be trying this and see how it works for a 58 year old man. I now max on bench at 385 and at my age progress is slow but I am still increasing. I wish I had this knowledge when I was young but it is never too late. Thanks to all those lifters who share their routines. I have only one piece of advice, check the rings on your bench bar because I had a favorite bench bar that I used for over a year and developed a slight pain in my right shoulder, one day I was donating a bar to a friend and we noticed the rings on two bars were not the same. I measured and found that the left ring was 1.25 inches closer to center than the right ring. I got rid of that bar and after 3 months of using a good bar the shoulder pain has gone. Must have been a bad day for the machinist who made that bar.

    1. Brandon5

      Oh boy… I should have never read this, my OCD will never give me a break now. I will have to check every barbell every training day. Any idea of the make/brand of the barbell?

      1. The bar did not have a name on it but it was a black steel Olympic and 1/16 of an inch thicker than all of the rest of my bars. That is why I loved it so much, funny how just 1/16 of an inch in diameter can make a big difference in the way it felt. I checked all of the other Olympic bars and they were centered but one had the outer rings at 32 inches and the other 3 had the outer ring at 34 inches apart. As I understand the IPF requires the rings to be 81 cm apart or 31.89 inches but it appears that most bars vary as much as an inch or two. I don’t take any thing for granted especially when I am lifting heavy.

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