When looking to make your mark in the weight room – and, by extension, your body – it is important to study and acknowledge the legends that came before us. They have, by trial and error, discovered methods of getting stronger that should be passed down to the next generation. And before the iron-slinging trinity of Garry Frank, Eddie Coan, and Bill Kazmaier, there was a man named Pat Casey.
Pat Casey: The King of Powerlifters
Pat Casey is one of the strongest men to ever walk the earth. He was the first man in history to bench press 600 pounds, squat 800 pounds, and (along with this deadlift) total 2000 pounds. And this was all done in an era before bench shirts and squat suits – just man versus gravity. Having achieved all these feats nearly 50 years ago before the proliferation of bands, chains and specialized bars makes it apparent that he had some serious knowledge that we can all learn form.
Casey’s Top 5
Pat Casey had long arms, long legs and a short torso – not exactly the body type you think of when you think big bencher. He overcame these genetic traits by brutal workouts and smart selection of exercises.
In Bruce Wilhelm’s book, “Pat Casey: King of Powerlifters,” Bruce interviews Casey about how he built such a mammoth bench. In the book, Pat says that he needed a jolt in his training after hitting 500 pounds in the bench press. To bust violently through that plateau, he employed these five exercises.
Casey would do heavy lockouts at two positions: 4” and 7” off his chest. When doing these lockouts Casey would warm-up thoroughly and then go for five singles at each position. He felt singles were best for strength-building because they called primarily upon the fast-twitch muscle fibers.
2. Incline Dumbbell Press
Casey would warm-up and then do three heavy sets of 3-5 reps. He felt it attacked the chest muscles at a different angle and also helped to build the delts and the general shoulder girdle.
3. Weighted Dip
Weighted dips were a staple in Casey’s training. He felt it built tremendous overall upper body strength and hit his triceps, pecs and delts hard.
4. Lying Triceps Extension
Casey would do extremely heavy pullover/triceps extensions. With the bar on the ground behind his head, he would pullover the weight and then do a triceps extensions, usually for 5-6 sets of 3-5 reps. His best in this lift was 365 pounds for three reps!
5. Seated Press
Casey would use a wide grip and press the bar from his chest overhead. He says that this exercise aided his bench press enormously.
Pat Casey is a legitimate (if under-appreciated) legend of the Iron Game and his no-nonsense approach to strength building should be a lesson to us all. Bands, chains and specialty bars have their place, but nothing can replace sweat equity with heavy pig iron. Take it from Mr. Casey.