Weight Lifting, Weight Training, Bench Press & Bodybuilding
June 23, 2024
Interview With Bench Press Record Holder Jeremy Hoornstra
by Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com

Raw bench Press Champ Jeremy Hoornstra

Back in 1977 Mike MacDonald set a World Record in the bench press that nobody thought would be beat. Over the past 25 years strength experts were always saying how nobody has ever dominated the raw bench press like Mike MacDonald and that his record may never be broken. Well, today, almost 30 years later a man by the name of Jeremy Hoornstra has just broke Mike MacDonald's 603.5 lb raw bench world record in the 242 weight class at the New England Record Breakers competition! Jeremy's new RAW bench press world record has given the whole powerlifting Community a new message "RAW BENCHING IS BACK!!!"

Not only is Jeremy one of the best raw bench pressers on the planet but Jeremy was also a very successful bodybuilder as he use to compete in the southeastern USA and southern states bodybuilding competitions. Jeremy also has also participated in strongman competitions. Well, now let's hear what Jeremy has to say about his powerlifting, bench press and bodybuilding journey. Here at Critical Bench we bring you the new bench press legend of the world, Jeremy Hoornstra!

1) Critical Bench: Jeremy, welcome to Critical Bench. It's great to talk to the man who broke the old great Mike MacDonald's world record. So, tell us about yourself!

Jeremy Hoornstra: Well, right now I'm a senior at Florida State University working on a Sociology degree and an Interdisciplinary Social Sciences degree. I work as a bouncer at Yianni's and Aj's Sports, and when I'm not there I'm a firefighter at Chaires Capitola Fire Department. I grew up in Leesburg, Florida which is a small town between Ocala and Orlando. I plan on moving back to the Orlando area when I graduate this year to work at Orlando Fire Department unless the Tampa Bucs are needing a new fullback…

2) Critical Bench: Tell us about your bench press routine! How did you train to break Mike MacDonald's 30 year long lasting record?

Jeremy Hoornstra: My workout routine changes from week to week, but I try to at least keep the exercises that I think are essential in each one in some form. Here's a typical chest workout for me:

Jeremy Hoornstra Flat Bench Press
225 x 15
315 x 10
405 x 10
495 x 8
585 x 3
635 x 2
405 to failure

Incline Bench Press
315 x 10
405 x 8
495 x 5
495 x 5

Incline Dumbbell Fly's
140's to failure for 3 sets (highest dumbbells the gym has)

Flat Cable Fly's
Weight stack for 10 reps, 3 sets

Hammer strength
6 - 45's each side to failure, 2 sets

3) Critical Bench: Now tell us about your whole workout routine?

Jeremy Hoornstra: I train every body part on a different day with little muscle groups getting trained later on that evening.

Monday - Back, cardio (night)
Tuesday - Chest, Traps and Forearms (night)
Wednesday - Bi's, cardio (night)
Thursday - Shoulders, calves and abs (night)
Friday - Tri's, cardio (night)
Saturday - Legs

I don't rest too much between sets, if I'm going heavy, I'll go a little longer, but usually not more than 2-3 minutes or so. My full name is Jeremy Hoornstra. As for volume, it changes but I usually keep it high.

Jeremy Hoornstra 4) Critical Bench: what are your best lifts? Where did you break MacDonald's bench press record and what is it like being among the elite in the sport?

Jeremy Hoornstra: My best lift would probably be my bench press. I've gotten 655lbs. I have bench pressed 585 in the gym touch and go using a close grip! Next to that would be behind the neck military press (455lbs for 4 reps) and squats. I try to stay proportionate though, so if an exercise or body part is lagging in size or strength, I make it a point to nail it extra hard until I see results.

The records were USPF, one in bench only and one in bench for a full power competition. They were high enough to break the world record but were not counted as a world record until I did it at the NERB's where the weight was calibrated and everything with Jean and Terry Todd judging with Coan and Kaz announcing. It was "officially" a world record then. The records were 605 raw and 629 (I think, was in kilos).

I don't really think of myself as being among the elite in the sport to be honest. For me, the best thing about doing the big competitions is meeting the people I've considered to be the best at what they do.

World Record Bench Press Jeremy Hoornstra

5) Critical Bench: Tell us some of the greatest lifters that you have met in the game and why?

Jeremy Hoornstra: I've met a lot of great people at the shows and hope that one day I can help people the same way in which they've helped me. Ed Coan is probably known for being the best powerlifter ever and when I was doing a show last year, he picked me up from the airport, gave me a ride to the hotel and let me crash in his room (even though I kept him up snoring all night, sorry by the way) so I wouldn't have to pay for one. Ed is one of the legends of the sport and one of the nicest guys you could meet.

6) Critical Bench: tell us how your bodybuilding routine changes from your bench press routine? And give us your bodybuilding and power lifting routine.

Jeremy Hoornstra: My bodybuilding routine and powerlifting routine are pretty much the same, just a few things change toward each one. If I'm training for bodybuilding, I make sure I'm hitting abs really hard a few times a week and cardio twice a day. Also I hit hamstrings hard and move my feet closer together on squats. As for powerlifting, I make sure I've been squatting heavy for a few months leading up to the competition and dead lift every week. Deads are my weakest part of the three powerlifting events but I'm working on them and hopefully one day will actually like doing them. Other than that, I tend to keep reps and power exercises incorporated into both types of training. Obviously strength will drop before bodybuilding competitions but I still try to push myself the same for each.

Jeremy Hoornstra 7) Critical Bench: How important of a role did nutrition play in both bodybuilding and powerlifting for you?

Jeremy Hoornstra: In my opinion, nutrition is one of the most important things for both. Just like for a car, you can have the best interior and the best motor, but if you have no fuel, you won't go anywhere. For powerlifting I make sure I'm getting enough calories each day so that I don't lose any muscle no matter what. For bodybuilding, I make sure my carbs are clean and protein is constant every 2 ˝ hours. In both cases though, I try to eat at least 6-8 times a day.

8) Critical Bench: You have reached your pro elite status in powerlifting, and benched two world records. So what's next?

Jeremy Hoornstra: Right now, I'm focusing on powerlifting, so I'm thinking of goals towards that. Some of the goals I have set are to bench press 700 raw, bench 650 raw as a 242 lb'er, stuff like that. I set little goals for everything like curling and stuff, but they all pretty much just supplement the power lifts anyway. Another goal I have is to learn to use a bench shirt. I've worn one twice now and to be honest, I'm not really that good in them. I prefer to bench raw because I always have but I know it's a part of powerlifting and I want to learn to be a good raw bencher as well as an equipped bencher.

9) Critical Bench: You have succeeded in both powerlifting and bodybuilding. Which one do you prefer though and why?

Jeremy Hoornstra: To be honest, I like them both, but if I had to choose, I'd say powerlifting. First off, you don't have to diet. Everyone who has done a show knows how it feels when you're eating lettuce and boiled chicken and everyone else is chompin' down Big Macs with fries. Also, in powerlifting, you're competing against yourself or your own personal records more so than in bodybuilding. Powerlifting seems to be one of the only sports that you can be attempting to break a record and the guy whose record you're breaking is screaming at you to get it.

Hoornstra 10) Critical Bench: What is your advice for the beginner, intermediate and advanced lifter?

Jeremy Hoornstra: If I had to give advice to anyone, I'd say to stick to the basics. Power movements like squats, deads, clean, etc. will put on mass and strength, in my opinion, better than anything else. For the beginners, I'd have to say to be patient. Some of the guys in the gym you're lifting at have been lifting years and years. This is a sport that requires work, dedication, but most of all, time. You won't bench 400 over night and you won't have 20 inch arms right away. Stick with it and you'll see results. For the intermediates, push harder. Make sure that when you leave the gym, you know that you've given it your all and have nothing left. I would always tell myself that I could always go harder.

11) Critical Bench: What shouldn't the beginner do?

Jeremy Hoornstra: They shouldn't give up or be discouraged when they don't see results right away. Patience, patience, patience. Also watch your form and technique. If you have bad form on anything, sooner or later you'll hurt yourself. You'll get bigger and stronger a whole lot faster if your technique is good. They only thing that's going to happen when a beginner is trying to sling the 50's up rather than curl the 25's is an injury. Stop trying to impress everyone and do it right. If you don't know if you're doing it right, ask someone. Most people in the gym are more than happy to help with stuff like that.

12) Critical Bench: What was the best advice that you were ever told and what was the worse?

Jeremy Hoornstra: Man, I'd have to say the best advice I've gotten was last year from Ed Coan. I had just bombed out trying to break a bench press record and he told me, "Don't worry about it, I've done the exact same thing before….just don't do it again." The worst advice was to forget powerlifting and stick with bodybuilding. "Powerlifters are big fat, bald, 400 lb. guys who can barely bench over their own weight." This is obviously not accurate - what's Mariusz Pudzianowski's % bodyfat now?

Jeremy Hoornstra 13) Critical Bench: Give us: your most hardcore powerlifting story, most emotional, and funniest?

Hardcore- Hardcore seems to happen a lot. I don't know if it's me just getting psyched up for a lift or trying to get an expression from someone, or both. Lifting until a nosebleed, ripping lifting straps in half during a set, loading the dip belt up with 7 45's and breaking the chain during the set, getting punched or slapped before a lift, squatting until you puke, I can't narrow them down to just one.

Emotional- Emotional would probably be breaking MacDonald's record at the New England Record Breakers with Kaz, Coan, Schoonie, Wolfe, Winters, Siders, all the legends of the sport. The record was almost thirty years old and no one came close to it so to break a legend's record was an honor.

Funniest- Funniest, oh man, I have a couple. I won't go into detail, but combining high school cafeteria food with after school clean and jerks makes for a loud set. Dripping sweat into my lifting partner's eye while he was benching and screaming keep going as he finished his last few reps with his eye closed (sorry Dave).

14) Critical Bench: looking back how would you describe your powerlifting and bodybuilding journey?

Jeremy Hoornstra: My powerlifting and bodybuilding journey was long, tough, but fun and is not near to being over. For both of them, your friends and lifting partners are so important. I wouldn't have gotten up every morning at 5am to lift if it wasn't for Brad. I wouldn't even be in powerlifting if it wasn't for Brian. Having a spotter help you get the extra two reps you wouldn't have done is better than anything else. It was tough but that just makes you stronger in all aspects of your life. They're very different sports, but very similar as well. I think, at least for me, that training for one has improved my training for the other.

15) Critical Bench: is there anything else that you would like to say in closing?

I want to thank everyone who has helped me get to where I am today: God, my family, Rebecca, Dave, Brian, Brad, and of course the legends Coan and Kaz for setting the bar so high to make everyone be the best they can be trying to catch them. I wouldn't have gotten this far without all of you and I thank you all. Check out my new DVD, it's called 242 RAW!

242 RAW DVD - Jeremy Hoornstra's DVD Includes.....
The Following Feats Of Strength!


  • Flat Bench (raw) 675 x 1, 585 x 4, 495 x 10, 405 x 22

  • Incline Bench (raw) 605 x 1

  • Nosebreakers (benchpress bar) 315 x 4

  • Seated Front Raises 105's x 6

  • Standing Laterals 115's x 4

  • Military Press (behind head) 405 x 5, 455 x 3

  • Dumbbell Military Presses 100's x 50

  • Hangcleans with press 315 x 8

  • Bent-over rows 495 x 5, 545 x 5

The DVD will feature training leading up to the NERB, the Mr. Olympia - King of the Bench Competition, and the Arnold Pro Classic AnimalCage as well as competition footage from each. There is also an extreme cardio section (secret) guaranteed to motivate anyone.

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