I am constantly fascinated with learning how strongmen and women trained. For me, one of the most interesting things about the history of fitness is learning how and why people trained, and for what reason. Today’s post looks at Pat Casey, one of powerlifting’s early celebrities.
Pat Casey was one of the strongest men in 1960s America. Known by many for his ferocious chest strength, Casey was a pivotal figure in the early years of powerlifting. As we have previously discussed on this website, powerlifting, as a sport, only emerged in the 1960s. Casey was part of this early wave.
A strong all round lifter, Casey was the first man to break the 2,000 pound barrier on the three lifts (the Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift). He competed without using supportive clothing like bench suits or squats suits. Instead, all his lifts were completed raw. This made his strength all the more impressive.
In 1967 Casey bench pressed 622 pounds without a bench suit. Operating as a heavyweight lifter, Casey was known for his huge appetite as well as the intensity he brought to his training programs. During archival work for a different project, I stumbled across a Strength and Health routine published by Bill Pearl in 1963. In it, Pearl discusses Casey’s strength and, more importantly for us, his training routine.
For lifters interested in old school methods of gaining strength, you’ll see that Casey, like Doug Hepburn, followed a relatively simple approach. He lifted heavy weights, for few reps, and did so on a regular basis. To me, this demonstrated two things. First that we often overthink what is necessary when it comes to our training and second that less can oftentimes be more.
Casey and others from his era undoubtedly placed a great deal of emphasis on quality over quantity. Although they trained regularly, they trained with heavy loads and with a high intensity. The results were obvious. Casey was one of the strongest men in the world. His routine in 1963 – which came several years before his peak was as follows.
Bench Press: “Warm up and then do five single reps with 500 to 510 pounds with a 2 second pause.” He does a total of 15 sets all together.
Squat: 5 sets of 5 reps from 300 to 500 pounds
Power Cleans: 3set of 3 reps up to 320 pounds
Wide Grip Chins: 10 sets of 8 reps
Wrestler’s Bridge Pullover and Press: 5 sets of 4 reps up to 305 pounds
Incline Press: 210 pound dumbells for 4 sets of 4 reps
Squats: “Works up to 5 heavy singles with limit weight and then does half squats from a bench for a total of 15 sets”
Dips: 10 sets of 3 reps 300 pounds
Barbell rows: 3 sets of 5 reps working up to 350 pounds
Lateral Raises on Incline: 3 sets of 20 reps “Fairly light weight for pump”
Bench press: Same as Monday
Squats: Same as Wednesday
Triceps Press on Bench with Barbell: 10 sets of 4 reps working up to 270 pounds
Power Cleans: Same as Monday
Neck Bridges: Same as Monday
Now for those who are interested in learning more about Casey, which I would really recommend, the below YouTube video has some great images of Casey as well as some interesting tidbits about his career.
Aside from that, Marty Gallagher wrote a wonderful article for Starting Strength on Casey’s life. I’ve no doubt that you’ll quickly understand how and why Casey was such a respected figure.
As always … Happy Lifting!
July 1963, Strength & Health