Scott Mendelson Q+A

The current unequipped all time world record holder (715lbs/324.3kg) and former all time equipped bench record holder (1030lbs/468kg) made a thread on the bodybuilding.com misc forum where he posted up a spoon picture confirming his identity.  During the thread he answered posters questions in what transpired to be a very informative dialogue,  it’s not often you get the ear of an all time record holder.

A member of the forums ScottGomez created a blog post where he collated the Q+A and condensed it into one easily readable post you can find his original blog here – https://mendelsonmisc.blogspot.com/

I have posted the body of the Q+A below.

Training related questions :

Q: What’s your opinion on decline bench from a bodybuilding/power lifting stand point. Better for overall chest development then flat?

A: From a powerlifting standpoint, I don’t even hit dumbells. I strictly hit variations of board presses and flat bench for chest. After a workout, I will supplement with a 5 sets of tricep extensions then 5 sets of hammer curls then I call it a day

Q: Scot, do you prefer sumo or narrow stance DLs? Which is better for moving the heaviest weight?

A: Conventional narrow stance deadlifts are the best for overall strength and development. Everyone has their style, but that is what I prefer

Q: What are your thoughts on Poliquin and his principles? The guy praises and quotes you quite often. 

A: Charles Poliquin is a genius. He knows what he is talking about and gives very calculated training adice

Q: How much direct trap work do you do? Also do you prefer either Dumbbell row or Barbell row over the other?

A: Bro, if you are benching correctly, you should be arched up on your traps. My traps are soar as **** after a bench day. I don’t do any trap work…Barbell rows are superior to dumbell rows

Q: What exercises to improve lockout? Board press?

A: to improve lockout work on heavy reps of 3-5 on the 3 and 4 board

Q: How do you stay safe when benching so much weight?

A: Nobody gets injured benching at my gym. I am above them screaming the correct form. We don’t flare our elbows our, we pinch backs, keep elbows tucked tight, and bring the weight to the correct spot on the upper stomach. There are so many bench press injuries that can be prevented from better form.

Q: How long did it take you to reach double body weight bench press?

A: I used to lift like a bodybuilder and reached double body weight I think around the age of 21. At 25 I hit 365 for 56 reps so i’ve been at this for a while

Q: What’s your warm-up weight for benching?

A: Warmup weight is always 155 (1 25 kilo plate on each side) then I increase to 2 then 3, then 5 then I jump to the heavy weight!

Q: What’s your tempo typically like in training sessions?

A: Rep tempo is always slow on the way down the explosion on the way up. When you are going down it is not a race, you want to be pressing up while you are going down to keep the triceps engaged. Your back and triceps should be so wound up that when you hit the bottom of the lift and you activate your leg drive, the weight should effortlessly pop up

Q: Do you have any special advice for hitting chest for bodybuilding more so than strength? 

A: Yes, when hitting bodybuilding, I had great success focusing on form and contractions. There is no correct way to safely build chest with heavy weight bodybuilding, you will rip your damn pec off. That is a risk you have to take for the sport. Get between 8-15 reps and really focus on contraction

Q: Like a year ago I got was going for a personal record 305 1rm. got it but hurt my shoulder in the process. I couldn’t do chest for months and it still hurts when going too heavy. Are my big benching days over? Any tips?

A: No your heavy days are not over. Stop using dumbells and learn to bench properly. Elbows tucked tight, shoulders back, the weight should be felt in your triceps. You really have to learn from a professional to bounce back and get your form on point

Q: What would you say are the top accessory exercises for bringing up one’s bench? My bench is my weakest lift seriously my max DBs is slightly higher than with the bar.

A: Bench is your biggest accessory to bench. Board presses are always the foundation of gaining strength

Q: Rest between sets?

A: Regarding tempo, we take our time. I always allow my body to fully oxygenate and recover before the next set. We take in between 10-15 minutes between heavy sets

Q: Scot, what are your opinions on using decline bench press to build overall chest mass/shape?

A: For chest mass it is great, for powerlifting I never use it

Q: Opinion on flys and pushups?

A: Ya flys are great for development but also are a shoulder killer. In additon in case anybody was wondering, pushups are bull**** if you are strength training. Great for aesthetics but do nothing once you are strong

Q: What music do you listen to (if any) to get you pumped up for a work out? Do you use any visualization techniques?

A: I always visualize success, I get in an aggressive mindset before every lift. I love metal when lifting

Q: Scot how did you work past your plateaus?

A: To lift past plateaus, you really need to train incredibly hard and fatigue your CNS (Central Nervous System). Then give it some time to rest and lift for a week at 70 percent of usual loads and lower volume and you will come back stronger than ever time and time again

Q: What are your thoughts on Mark Rippetoe and Starting Strength?

A: Don’t follow it much, sorry

Q: What are some exercises that you do for strength/conditioning of certain muscles? I am looking to increase my frontal pushing power (mainly in the bench press). I feel like my front shoulders give in before my chest actually does.

A: Get your form corrected and your bench problems will go away. I can’t stress enough to focus on technique

Q: What are your thoughts on shirted vs no shirt. I have done a few meets myself and (no offense) it seems like the shirts are cheating… You’re putting the weight up but there is an unnatural (not talking about the “other” gear) aid.

A: Ok, shirts are not pure “RAW Powerlifting” per se. They are def. not cheating because every competitor can wear a shirt as well. I love shirted because it is that much cooler throwing up 300 extra pounds. I do love the purity of the RAW bench as well but shirted is here to stay. I love them both and will break that 800 RAW soon!

Q: Best program to start serious strength building?

A: Low rep 5 to 7 sets. Bench twice a week, legs once. I will get more into detail once I get a website up and running. I will post info to help different level lifters

Q: Low reps as in? 

A: Low reps as in 2-5

Q: Can I stay under 200 lbs and be able to increase bench up to 350 by summer? At 225 currently.

A: I don’t know how you train and what you eat, it is tough to make substantial strength gains while trying to stay really lean

Q: Serious question, opinions on incline bench, from a bodybuilding perspective do you think it helps develop the upper chest or is this a myth? I know it sounds a bit stupid but I read somewhere that no matter what bench you do the pec is stimulated the same to a certain degree and that overall chest shape is determined by genetics…

A: Incline def helps upper pec development. Yes to a certain degree it is genetics but you can maximize your potential

Q: Do you consider deadlifts to be a back or leg exercise?

A: Deadlift is the whole wamboozle! Deadlifts will give you more back thickness and development than any other exercise out there

Q: How many days a week would you recommend me benching and/or which routine?

A: Monday Bench

Wednesday Deadlift/Squat
Friday Bench
You can throw in a back, shoulder and arm day in there as well depending on your goals

Q: Can you recommend a good strength routine for a beginner, to build up their overall strength and their big 3?

A: As a beginner, really focus on eating properly and lifting heavy. You should have no problem having great progress if you are just starting

Q: I know a guy who trains for powerlifting he makes his trainees do insane amount of reps… like 30+, is there a reason for this?

A:  Thats is unnessary and not applicable to powerlifting. Sometimes I will make my athletes do 100 reps on the hack squat machine slowly to test their will but not regularly

Q: Scot what are your thoughts on calisthenics in regards to muscle hypertrophy and in comparison to traditional weight training?

A: Calisthenics are great if you aren’t incredibly strong already. Pushups do nothing for me anymore. Dips are great as well

Q: When you discuss benching it sounds as if you’re describing more of a close grip triceps bench than a traditional bench press. Is this what you mean? In a bodybuilding sense, that would reduce the emphasis on the chest and subsequently reduce chest development would it not?

A: We do not hold the bar close, but we tuck our elbows into our ribcage the whole way down. In a “bodybuilding sense” yes you have to flare our your elbows and risk injury to make substantial gains.

Q: What do you think of doing weighted dips as assistance to increasing bench press? What about weighted pull up variations for back strength/development?

A: Weighted dips are great and IF DONE PROPERLY will help put on strength and size. Most people jump to these movements too soon. You need to be able to take advantage of the full contraction of the dip and pullup and be able to do many reps to increase to weighted. 

Q: I want to center my routine around increasing strength on bench, deadlift, and squat but what kind of secondary lifts should be done and where in the routine?

A: I will post more information on my website but this is what my team does
M: Bench 6 sets of 2-5 reps…4 sets tricep extentions 12 reps…4 sets hammer curls 12 reps
W: Squat/Deadlift (rotate every week) we will do glute ham raises, hyperextensions, leg press, and isolation work as well
F: Bench 6 sets of 2-5 reps…4 sets tricep extentions 12 reps…4 sets hammer curls 12 reps

Q: Scot, what’s your opinion on Russian strength programs such as Sheiko or Smolov?

A: Sorry I can’t answer that, I don’t follow what their programs are all about

Q: What do you think I should do to bust through my bench plateau? I’ve tried super sets and heavy negatives

A: Back to the board press reps 3-5

Q: What about things like dips, db bench, front squats etc.?

A:  I am a huge proponent on focusing on the three main lifts to increase numbers. As I have wrote several times in the thread, I don’t do db bench, my athletes don’t frontsquat much and we don’t do dips. We are powerlifters, we practice what we compete in

Q: Also, aren’t board presses more useful for a geared lifter where the main sticking point will be higher up and thus will require more triceps? Than a raw lifter who, usually, will be weaker off the bottom.

A: Regarding board presses, I still recommend board presses with less boards if your lockout is not your weak point. This will allow you to work with heavier loads and really stay dialed into proper form and technique.

Q: I think you use the overkill shirt (please correct me if I’m wrong) which has mass amounts of stopping power, what is your opinion on the Inzer SDP which has a lot more stretch?

A: I stick to overkill. Never used an Inzer but I know people that love em

Q: What do you think of training for aesthetics but using mainly bench,squat,dl with some arm work and chins/dips? Idea being that getting strong on these 3 will bring some decent size gains as well

A: Aesthetics= Heavy lifting, proper diet, and incorporating correct cardio

Q: Scot, tell us about some of your epic gym lifts on other exercises. stuff like shoulder press, dips, close grip bench, curls, side laterals, pullups etc.

A: I can dip for weeks on end with perfect form. I don’t shoulder press anymore but I can hit 315 all day

Q: I know I am not in Mendelson’s league but for 8 reps I would probably do the first five on one breath then pause at the top, take another big breath and finish the last 3 reps.

A: C’mon guys, if you are hitting reps, hold your breath when you are exerting then you can get some air. Hitting eight reps you’l pass out without breathing. When I hit 5 rep board press, I do it on one breath though  That is years of training

Q: Woah didn’t know how deep pros went into breathing.

A: When you expel your breath, you lose power in the lift

Q: Do u train in cycles or play it by feel?

A: I do it all based off of feel, if I am wiped out I give myself a week of low intensity

Q: Scott is speed benching necessary?

A: No, I never speed bench or preach any of those techniques

Q: However, what are your thoughts on box squats overall?

A: Box squats are a great exercise. I work it in our routine here and there

Q: Is it necessary to train the Military Press for a big bench?

A: No, I don’t train it at all anymore

Q: How come you don’t really do any direct back work? Of course you know what works for you but surely that would be of some good use?

A: I do. Once every week of every other week ill throw some bent over rows and one arm dumbell rows

Q: Thoughts on suicide grip? (claw grip)

A: Why do people use it? It doesn’t seem worth the risk of dropping it. It is all up to what feels most comfortable to the bencher. It is indeed more risky

Q: What do you think of Jim Wendler’s ‘5/3/1’ programme? Do you think having a deload every 4 weeks is necessary or can it slightly hinder your progress?

A: I don’t have to deload every 4 weeks, it takes me longer than that to crush my nervous system to the point where I need to lighten up. 5/3/1 works for some. I lift based on how I feel that day and always end up pushing myself to the heaviest weight I can push for 3-5 reps 

Q: You said that you should learn how to keep your breath in without exhaling during the lift, in order not to lose power. I sometimes find that on my last few reps if I don’t exhale I feel a pain at the back of my head, which goes away after a few minutes. Could it be related to the breathing, or is it just a coincidence?

A: I’ve never felt pain from that, the only thing you will experience is a strain in your face from exerting so much force

Q: What did your routine look like during your bodybuilding days?

A: High volume, slow tempo contracted reps, very painful workouts

Nutrition and recovery related questions :

Q: Scot, how many calories a day do you typically eat?

A: I used to eat 10000 cals a day. I thought that the bigger the better. I realized at 380 lbs that there is a diminishing point of strength gains made from gaining weight. I could hardly walk up the stairs without passing out. I am now around 320 and stronger than ever. I still eat like a horse but I cut out all the sugar bullshiiiett and now eat mass quantities of rice, chicken, steak, and eggs.

Q: What supplements, if any, do you use for general health or as ergogenic aids?

A: I know nobody wants advertisements on here but I don’t even get paid for this so ill spill it. No joke these guys came through my gym to train with me and have a startup supp company that is launching in jan 2012. It is called NLA Performance and they have the best preworkout I’ve ever hit. It is extreme! Its called SUPP-D. Ill let you guys know when it comes out if you are interested

Q: Curious about this as well and about the supps you use in general.

A: I use NLA’s preworkout, vitamin pack, and energy/test booster. I also slam down protein powder and BCAA’s from various companies (it’s all the same). If your diet is not on point, supps mean nothing. I use it strictly to get in my vitamins and get fired up for workouts

Q: How important is sleep for growth? Is 5 or 6 hours ok?

A: Sleep is critical get 7-9 and you will make much better gains

Q: Approximate amount of milk i should drink a day?

A: more the better

Q: Supplements? As in Cell-Tech? It’s the only good supplement.

A: Haha you have to be referring to what I think you are. Of coarse thats the most important, but if you guys think for a second that legal supplements don’t help with gains you are fooling yourself. I am slamming powders and pills down my throat all day and it really does increase my recovery and strength. I am not a big proponent that protein powder does a whole lot, I would prefer to eat a steak

Q: WHAT do you currently use for recovery, and how well does it work?

A: I take a supp called HIGH-T three times a day. Obviously the natural test boosting component of it doesn’t help me but it does forsure help my recovery, energy levels, and intensity

Q: Help a skinny bro!!

A: Dude, EAT AND SUPPLEMENT CORRECTLY!!!! Slam down those Cals. Being an ectomorph won’t stop you from gaining weight if you are taking in the right supplements and more cals than you are expending. Lots of animal meet and rice

Q: So what’s your favorite food?

A: Steak Pasta

Q: Was it just cutting calories slightly and introduced more cardio while still focusing on increasing strength?

A: You can make gains while cutting but naturally this will be very hard. It is better to clean bulk then cut

Q: Hi Scot, would you mind sharing with us how much you spend on food each week and possibly ‘supplements’.

A: I used to spend about 500 on myself for food a week but I have cut back a lot of the ****. Now I eat a little cleaner and make a HUGE pot of chicken and rice every day and graze at it all day long. I also have no problem eating out as well. I don’t worry too much about what I eat when I am out as long as I am getting in my chicken, steak, and rice most of the time

Q: In Power Unlimited you were talking about your diet you mentioned a lot of your calories were from weight gainers. Is this a special one you make or a brand?

A: I don’t drink many weight gainers anymore, too much sugar

Q: Hey Scot, do you drink (alcohol)? If yes, do you think it affects your training? If no, is it strictly to get the best out of your training? 

A: I never drink or smoke. It kills your recovery, strength, and energy levels

Q: Is there any particular foods in which you’ve consumed and it’s had a positive effect on your strength?

A: Chicken, Steak, Rice And Supplements are the reason I am where I am now

Personal questions :

Q: What made you decide to join this forum?

A: I joined to help out the online community with what I can and give back to the sport.

Q: What’s going through your head when your lifting to break a world record?

A: Better than sex brother. Feels like I am holding up a damn condo when I hit 1100 pounds.

Q: Ever going to try 800lbs raw bench or something? Break your old 715.

A: Not yet that is soon to come. I am focusing on shirted till the expo in January

Q: Scot, what are you feelings on PLing coaches (or strength coaches in general)?

A: Most PL coaches don’t know ****! You have no idea how much anyone can benefit from a great coach. My experienced lifters learn more and more every day and are consistanly busing pr’s. The technique is very complex and takes years and years to master. Before every lift, you need to do a mental checklist of everything you need to do regarding form. You really do need a professional to critique your form. For example I have some new lifters at my gym that are strong as **** and have been lifting for years, but I am yelling at them all day “elbows in” “back tight” “leg drive”. It really does take consistancy and a lot of hard work to master form

Q: Favorite/least favorite powerlifting memory?

A: Favorite: breaking world records

Least favorite: tearing muscles!

Q: How long have you been lifting?

A: Lifting since I was 15. I started boxing at age 12

Q: Scot, at 42 have you showed any signs of peaking? At what age do you think a man’s strength (and bench) peaks?

A: I am still peaking. You will gain the most strength around the ages of 30-35

Q: How does it feel to be 320 lbs?

A: I feel healthy and powerful. I am still fast as hell with my hands and stronger than ever

Q: Does your strength actually have any disadvantages in everyday life? Broke off any door handles recently by accident?

A: Haha no disadvantages, I love having that strength

Q: Tits or ass?

A: C’mon bro, tits

Q: Do other power lifters discredit you for only benching? I know there’s a big belief that it’s not power lifting if you don’t squat/DL.

A: Hell No they don’t. I squated over a G and was no where near peaked then I got into a devastating car accident that destroyed my ankle. I don’t think i’m discredited, I physically can’t squat or dead anymore

Q: How did you find out about the misc?

A: some of my athletes were talking about it and said its the ****

Q: Fav metal bands?

A: Metalica

Q: Any severe lifting related injuries? 

A: I have torn rotator cuffs, both biceps, my quad, and a pec

Q: I was wondering if you’re familiar with the Metal Militia style of shirted benching.

A: sorry not familiar with it

Q: Are you still making gains at 42? If so, when do you think you’ll “peak”?

A: Stronger than ever still making gains! Don’t know when i’ll peak but it sure as hell isn’t this year

Q: Have you ever gone down to super low body fat and competed or always done power lifting?

A: I did bodybuilding training for a bit and dieted down but my natural proportions aren’t good for the sport. My waist line is too big and my strength was there so I took up powerlifting

Q: I recently suffered a pec tendon tear while benching and had to have surgery to reattach it. Have you ever had an injury like this or know of anyone who has? I have read that it is relatively common amongst powerlifters and wanted some info on recovery.

A: Surgery, physical therapy, lots of time and patience, rehabbing it back, then slowly getting back into lifting and learning correct form 

Q: Do you remember what your max bench was when you started lifting?

A: I have no idea, at age 20 I could hit 500 

Q: What’s your personal opinion, or impression, of the fitness industry as a whole in the USA?

A: The fitness industry is growing so fast right now it blows my mind. Supplements are getting better and better, records are getting shattered, people are getting bigger and more shredded. I love watching others work their way to the top

Q: Who would win a fight, you or Brock Lesnar?

A: If I never had a shoulder injury or my car accident, I would 100% crush Brock Lesnar. MMA would be my primary sport

Q: Have a condition called pectus excavatum (it’s on wikipedia) so my chest is fucked up, do you have any athletes with that condition? Do you think i will be able to get a good strength?

A: None of my athletes have it but I can tell you you forsure can still get good strength. It all all about overcomming adversity baby. I was told I’d never walk again because of my ankle injury, they wanted to cut my leg off. I still have the meanest leg drive in the bench game!

Q: Did you ever wrestle or do anything before as far as combat training goes?

A: I wrestled for 3 years with great success

Q: How much can you do raw do you think?

A:  Haven’t gone heavy on RAW lately, I don’t want to risk an injury before the Mendelson Classic in January. After I smash 1100 ill come out with a new record RAW for you guys

Q: What’s your opinion on the current bodybuilding scene such as Phil Heath and the retirement of Jay Cutler

A: Cutler and Heath are both legends. Phil is a good friend of mine and he is going to come throw Mendelson FIT for a few weeks and train with my team and I. Heath is a genetic freak!!! He is a legend and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon!

Q: As a great in this sport, how hard do you push yourself when you train? Do you try always keep a little spare in the tank for another day or do you give it everything you have and just try recover for the next workout? 

A: Great questions. I only train twice a week because I go so hard with such heavy weight. I go all out every single workout. I never leave anything in the tank. When pressing a load as heavy as the ones I bench, it takes a shietload of recovery time. I believe that most lifters train too much for maximal recovery. I consistantly fatigue my cns until I can hardly focus my mind then lower my loads for a week and then I am usually completely recovered and bounce back stronger than every, every time. 

Q: May you critique my form in this benching video? Thanks if you do!

A: You should be holding your breath during the lift, you should lift your head and watch the weight go down. Your elbows are flared and need to be tucked in. Your back should be so arched that you are resting on your traps. You need to bring the bar down wayyyyyyyyy farther to your stomach and slow the tempo while you are going down. When you are lowering the bar on the bench, your back and triceps should be so bound up and activated that once is is time to press up, it is a breeze

Q: Scot, what were your feelings on the death of Zyzz aka the Aesthetics God?

A: What do you want me to say??? Its a tragedy when someone young passes on early

Q: Scott how many times can you bench 600lbs raw?

A: I haven’t been doing raw bench, probably 3 right now

Q: Scot, have you lifted with Andy Bolton? What is your opinion, will he get his DL record back?

A: I have lifted with Bolton plenty of times, he is a beast, I could see him getting that record back in no time

Q: Mendy, what drives you to stay disciplined? I don’t powerlift but struggle to stay strict with my diet and goals. 

A: I stay disciplined because I love breaking my records, I am a competitive guy and love pushing myself and holding world records

Q: Any stories of “unofficial” feats of strength you’ve either performed or witnessed that blew your mind?

A: I have hit 365 for 58 reps. I’ll do that again within the next month and go for 60 or 65 reps. I’ll have my team film it and i’ll post it for you guys

Q: What are your squat and deadlift PRs?

A: Squatted over 1000 in competition before and I have deadlifted in the high 800’s before

Q: Who would win in a fight between you and Kimbo slice

A: I basically have no left ankle and I would take Kimbo down no prob.

Q: Have you ever thought of using your strength in a sport? Say football, or boxing?

A: I would have kept with boxing and eventually graduated to MMA if it weren’t for my ankle injury

Q: Who do you think would win in a fight between a grizzly bear and a silverback gorilla?

A: Silverback gorilla all day

Q: Other than that, when you were younger who did you look up to?

A: I used to look up to Arnold