On June 11, 2023, teenage powerlifter Morgan Nicholls shared an Instagram clip of himself scoring a raw 238.1-kilogram (525-pound) bench press during a training session. According to the caption of the 16-year-old athlete’s post, the upper body feat marked a personal record (PR) for the competitor. Nicholls wore wrist wraps for his press — which would be considered raw in a sanctioned powerlifting context. At the time of this writing, it is unclear if Nicholls wore a lifting belt under his shirt.
To help him with this new milestone, the younger Nicholls was spotted by his father, Chad. The senior Nicholls is a renowned bodybuilding trainer and nutritionist, perhaps most famous for his diligent work with eight-time Mr. Olympia (1998-2005) Ronnie Coleman and former two-time Mr. Olympia (2020-2021) Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay. It appears his son is continuing to live up to an illustrious family name in strength sports — his mother, Kim Chizevsky-Nicholls, is a four-time Ms. Olympia (1996-1999).
Based on the tenor of Nicholls’ lift, an achievement like this might have almost been inevitable. In fact, a general perusal of Nicholls’ Instagram page will provide evidence that the athlete has been steadily but surely working on his bench press in recent months. For example, in late November 2022, Nicholls achieved his first 226.8-kilogram (500-pound) bench press. Fast-forward to early May 2023, where Nicholls shared a video of himself finishing off a 224.5-kilogram (495-pound) paused bench press for two sets of one.
In that same post, Nicholls revealed he underwent ACL surgery in early January 2023. The athlete had apparently suffered the injury sometime at the end of his high school football season in late Fall 2022, but it was initially “misdiagnosed.” Nicholls did not provide precise details on the extent of his tear, on which leg it occurred, or any specific rehabilitation methods and subsequent recovery timelines.
What’s apparent is that the ACL injury may have slowed some of his progress to start the year 2023. The video of his 495-pound bench press was Nicholls’ first post in roughly five months, which would align with his surgery and recovery timeline. At the time of this article’s publication, Nicholls understandably does not appear to have attempted any staple leg exercises like the back squat or deadlift since his surgery. Based on his social media presence, the last he left off with both lifts were a raw 288-kilogram (635-pound) deadlift PR from early December 2022 and a 247.2-kilogram (545-pound) squat with wraps PR in April 2022.
At the time of this writing, it is unclear when Nicholls plans to dive head-first into some of his lower body movements. Given his youth, the athlete is likely taking his recovery time slow, easing his way back into his entire training routine with a safe process.
That said, if Nicholls is already logging massive bench PRs in his comeback, a return to being an all-around powerhouse seems inevitable.
Featured image: @raising_mayhem on Instagram