Navy veteran and YouTuber Alexandre austen has made a name for himself for his fitness challenges, especially when it comes to military aptitude tests. But for a recent attempt, he’s undertaking a new kind of stunt that has gone somewhat viral on the fitness internet: underwater dry cleaning. The event’s Guinness World Records began to fall in 2019, when a man pumped through 43 reps underwater. By 2020, the brand increased to 77 repetitions while being completely submerged under water.
But Alexander is less concerned with the volume of reps than with the pure weight. “As an athlete myself, I had to test this bench press method myself to see how buoyancy affects the bench underwater,” he says. His goal: to put 405 pounds completely under water using steel plates. According to Alexander, other fitness enthusiasts who have tried the stunt have done so using rubber plates, which float more in the water and therefore feel lighter.
He’s aiming for the 405 mark, even though his maximum on land is around 300 pounds. He uses the help of weightlifter Kristen Dunsmore and CrossFit and endurance athlete Hunter McIntyre. Alexander begins by putting 135 pounds in a swimming pool. Before going any further, let’s be clear: don’t try this at home.
“It’s definitely a little lighter. It’s really hard to stay on the bench… I was like on the side. But I had two reps,” he says. “It felt good.”
But just at the start of the experiment, they encountered a problem. The team must change pools after being kicked out of the one they started in, but quickly move to use the pool of professional stuntwoman Michelle Khare. They also make some adjustments to keep their legs from floating while lifting. To avoid this problem, they decide to place a 45-pound weight on their waist and set up a bank to hold the bar itself.
In the new pool and new setup, Alexander attempts to lift the 135-pound bar again and is able to do 15 reps. Then he climbs to 225 pounds and is able to do 10 reps.
“It was really good, it was a lot better than on earth,” says Alexander.
Then he increases it to 245 pounds for 1 rep. He increases the weight to 315 pounds and does five repetitions. Then it drops to 335 pounds and hits a single rep. Excited, he moves up to 405 pounds … but can’t get the bar out of the rack.
After the attempt, Alexander explains how the water displaces the weight. By his calculations, one pound on land is actually 0.86 pounds in water. So 45 pounds is really 38.7 pounds in water … and 405 pounds is 348.3 pounds. Even though he was working with this handicap, he was not going to push this a lot of weight in the pool.
This article first appeared on Men’s Health United States.