View Full Version : Bodybuilder Pat Neve - Sacrifice to a Pain God & the Bench Press

05-28-2009, 08:47 AM
Pat Neve, as most followers of the sport know, is a former Mr. USA. He was twice 1975 and 1976 an AAU Mr. America class-winner -- the first bodybuilder to achieve this two years in a row. He's also been first runner-up in Mr. Universe and Mr. World.

Neve was the first man in history weighting 181 pounds to bench press over 450 - his record was 468 1/2 pounds. He gave up powerlifting for bodybuilding and to let old injuries heal. His early workouts on the bench for power were like sacrifices to the Pain God. Feverish and intense, bench pressing to Pat Neve was an emotionally-charged voyage into a land where few men his weight have gone before.

MTI: Not a lot of material has appeared in the magazines of the day dealing with your bench press ability. Did you have any secrets? Do you have any tips for beginners and avid Bench Press devotees?

Pat: "First of all, I would only try my limit once a month. Too many trainers come to the gym and go for the limit every single workout. I would work my chest only twice a week - Tuesday and Saturday.

"I feel that a lot of triceps work is important to be a good bench presser, so I trained triceps pretty hard and benches twice weekly."

"My personal sticking point in the bench was three-quarters of the way up, so to break that I worked on the isometric rack, using the overload principle. This was done by loading the bar to 500 to 550 pounds where the sticking point was, and just lock my arms out. Actually, I'd be pushing the weight only two or three inches, but it allowed me to get used to the feeling of the heavy weight and build that lockout power. I just never had a problem coming off my chest. My chest was strong. The problem was where it stuck three-quarters of the way up."

MTI: How did you gear this routine?

Pat: "When I was training for powerlifting, I would do anywhere from 10 to 15 sets on the Bench Press. After that I would follow with Bench Presses on a flat bench using dumbbells.

"With the bar I'd start at 10 reps and never drop lower 4 reps. And, of course, once a month I always try for my record. I could always gauge my record by how easy my four-rep weight was going up. Like, if my best 4 reps were 440 pounds, and say I did 445 pounds for reps, I'd know my single would have to be up.

"But I would only push myself once a month, because if you push yourself too much you start getting weaker and weaker and that puts you in a rut and you become depressed."

MTI: What's the relationship between the triceps and the Bench Press?

Pat: "The one exercise that worked for me, to supplement the bench power and triceps, was heavy French Presses with the dumbbell. You could either do it standing or sitting on the edge of a bench. I would work up as high as 165 pound and do 10 repetitions. (To perform, grasp a dumbbell in the center with the plates flat against your hands of the top loaded side. Lift overhead. Now with arms straight in the press lock position, lower the weight behind slowly behind the head. Press back up, using triceps only.

"I thought this worked triceps the hardest. I'd go on to Lying Triceps Extensions with the barbell, One-arm Triceps Curls, and Pushdowns on the lat machine. They'd all be done very heavy.

"As a matter of fact, when I was powerlifting, I did every movement heavy. A good example of this is , when I pressed behind the neck I did 285 at 185 pounds bodyweight. On that dumbbell French Press I'd start with 75 pounds to warm up my elbows and go up to jumps to 95, 110, and finally hit 165.

"I just did everything heavy, because when you powerlift you've got do everything heavy. It keeps you used to the feel of heavy weights, and that's in a slow strict form."

MTI: Do you believe t he increased velocity of weights, when they are cheated and swung, is the enemy of the joints?

Pat: "I feel that anytime you keep putting constant pressure on a joint and cartilage, it's going to wear itself down. The cartilage between the joint is a pliable substance, and it can be worn down through excessive pressure. Then it's bone rubbing against bone ... and this leads to tendonitis"

MTI: Okay, this comes form too much abuse with heavy weights, but is there a way to get around this?

Pat: "I don't thing you can if you're going to lift very heavy weights. I would say, now that I've been bodybuilding for the last few years, my joint pain has diminished a great deal. I feel it only when I train heavy, and I've talked to many of my good friends like Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Lou Ferrigno, they both claim they have no joint pain whatsoever. But these men never actually powerlifted for a certain length of time. I seriously powerlifted for three years. In that time span I attempted a world record in the Bench Press seven times, and set six world records."

MTI: To clarify that, we're not referring to training for three to five reps, but sheer, brutal super single rep force being overused in training. Is that the profile?

Pat: "That's what I feel. I feel anytime you exert yourself beyond your normal limitations, that's when you're going to cause, and it's jut a matter of time, going to cause some infringement of the joint area."

"If you approach it from more of a bodybuilding standpoint, you stand a better chance of being conditioned, than just using wild force and psyche."

MTI: So you're probably one of the world's strongest bodybuilders for your weight and frame.

"In my life, I only entered seven powerlifting meets, and I set six world's records. My total was the seventh best in the world for a 181-pound man. A lot of people consider themselves that, but never entered competition. They claim they did such and such in the gym. Well, I myself at 185 pounds bench pressed 490 in the gym. I don't even consider this a record, because I did it in the gym.

"But when you stop and consider a world record, that means pausing with the bar at the chest, and waiting for the referee to give you the go hand-clap from that position, not being able to move your feet, hips or head. I mean that's dong it according to the strict AAU rules. That's the only time it counts in competition ... sanctioned competition.

"That's one of the things that bugs me about the sport. Everyone claims it, but officially where are they? Franco Colombu claims he's the world's strongest bodybuilder, Kalman Szkalak says he is; David Johns thinks he is. Now these men may have lifted a lot of weight, but who knows what kind of form, their particular bodyweight ... I'm the only one who's actually done it. I'm the only bodybuilder to be a national champion in bodybuilding, plus holding a world record in powerlifting at the same time."