By Mark Carter
The Bench Press has always been the most talked about strength move of all time. The number one question while growing up, regardless of sport was, "How much can you bench?" The sport of power lifting has taken the bench press to new heights with great excitement and a following never before witnessed.
Someone once asked me, what is the most important element in your Bench press?
I answered without hesitation, it's ATTITUDE. He responded, what do you mean?
I said, "You have to visually see yourself locking the weight out." If you've successfully completed the movement over and over in your mind prior to the lift, nothing will stop you. "Attitude is everything" and will always be the most important tool you have. Your attitude can take you to places and open doors others thought impossible. That's what makes the difference between a champion lifter and an average lifter. Attitude takes you beyond your potential. Apply a positive attitude from the time you get up in the morning to your final thought before you retire at night. Attitude can reach deep into your soul causing an adrenaline rush taking you to unbelievable heights of success. Push your attitude before, during and after training, and the weight will increase.
If you think you've reached your limits, you have.
If you believe you can go heavier and you're willing to train like a champion, you will climb up the ladder. Attitude applies to every aspect of your life. Believe me, I have overcome many obstacles, challenges and injuries due to an open-minded positive attitude. Life starts with attitude and ends with attitude. Apply it to your bench, and watch your bench soar. At 43 years young, 210lbs, joining the elite with a 600lbs bench press in my first APF meet in January 2003, I can honestly say, I'm just getting started. I have an open-minded positive attitude, and I am still learning more everyday.
My first experience with the bench press was in 6th grade. I made a wooden bench press in shop class, and it became a popular fixture in my bedroom. I spent more time on that bench with my sand filled weights than I did sleeping. As a sophomore in High School, I achieved a bench press of 410lbs. The bench would play an important role in helping me achieve success as a Golden Glove Champion in boxing in my teens, as a wrestling star in high school and as a standout running back in college. After three knee operations, my vision for pro-football would come to an end.
Working out has always been in my blood. In my early thirties, I would take a liking to the sport of bodybuilding; I became very successful as an amateur up until my fourth and most devastating knee surgery. During surgery, I suffered from an anaphylactic shock, and my heart stopped. I was revived; spent three days in ICU and was told if it weren't for my excellent shape, I wouldn't have pulled through. The ill effects would last for nearly three years with many complications during this time span. Medication, too much time and lack of movement took over my life. Although I am now in need of a knee replacement, I thank God I was able to keep my positive attitude in tack.
Later I was released to exercise and started training with ex-pro quarterback Heath Shuler. Our workouts grew intense, and my bench got stronger. Shortly thereafter, I was talked into doing my first APF bench press competition. I would change my workouts up and research articles and videos by Louie Simmons, JM Blakely, Ted Arcidi, Scott Mendleson, Ryan Kennelly and George Halbert. As a rookie at age 43, I noticed that I had something in common with all these gentlemen, a positive attitude and great desire to win. At 43 years young, 212lbs, I entered my very first APF bench press competition in Pittsburgh, PA. I successfully pushed up 600.7lbs in the 220 classes winning and setting an unofficial world record. A few months later I would set an official world record at the APF masters national championship and another at the senior national championship. I qualified for bench America and placed a disappointing 2nd place.
This became a reality check for me as I began to train smarter. Being a founding partner of the Rush fitness complex, one of the fastest growing fitness chains in the Southeast has been time consuming. Finding time to workout has been challenging. This is when your attitude is most important. With the World Championship around the corner in Calgary, Canada and The Arnold Classic in 2004, I have hired one of my own personal trainers to push my limits. I have recently taken my workouts to another plateau. My goals are to win the world championship in the masters and open divisions and to win the middleweight class at the Arnold Classic. This would culminate a great first year in my power-lifting career.
I can only say I love the sport, the people are great people to be around, and age has no barriers. I've witnessed some incredible 70 plus year old champions still going strong after many years of lifting. If I've learned anything in my 30 years of athletic training, it's that you've got to train with your heart and soul. If you want to be a champion at any age, listen only to proven champions. Train like a champion. Live your life like a champion. Eat like a champion and most importantly; carry the vision, goals and attitude of a champion. Never give up. It's never to late, even if your goals are to get in great shape. Take pride in everything you do in life. Pride is simply your signature on a job well done. Dreams do come true if you believe and have faith. Remember the most important quality in life is your attitude. Believe me when I say, "Attitude is everything."
Now it's up to you, how far do you want to take it? How hard are you willing to train? What are you willing to give up, and how much are you willing to learn? Remember this; apply the 6 D's to your new goal: Determination, Dedication, Discipline, Devotion, Drive and Desire. Now apply an open-minded positive attitude. You can't lose, it's a proven fact that attitude is everything!
Note- Mark Carter is the first person over 40 ever to bench triple their weight and the third person over 40 ever to bench 700