Chest Exercises

Top 5 Assistance Exercises for the Bench Press

Boost your bench numbers with tips from a powerlifting legend.

bench press

To be a true student of the Iron Game one must study and acknowledge the legends that came before us. They often have tried and true methods of getting strong that should be passed down to the next generation of Iron Warrior. Before Garry Frank, Eddie Coan, and Kaz there was a man named 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 lbs., squat 800 lbs. and total 2000 lbs. And this was all done in an era before bench shirts and squat suits.

Having achieved these feats nearly 50 years ago, before the proliferation of bands, chains, and specialized bars, tells me that he had some serious knowledge that we can all learn form. 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 a smart selection of exercises.

In Bruce Wilhelm’s book, “Pat Casey: King of Powerlifters,” he 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 lbs. in the bench press. Here are the moves that helped him get to the next level.

Casey’s Top 5 Assistance Exercises for the Bench

barbell bench press

1. Heavy Lockouts

Casey would do heavy lockouts at two positions, 4” and 7” off his chest. When doing these lockouts, Casey would warmup thoroughly and then go for 5 singles at each position. He felt singles were best for strength building because they called upon the fast twitch muscle fibers.

2. Heavy Incline Dumbbell Press

Casey would warmup and then do 3 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.

Massive Pecs with One Move

3. Weighted Dips

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 Tricep Extensions

Casey would do extremely heavy pullover/tricep extensions. With the bar on the ground behind his head, he would pullover the weight and then do a tricep extension. Casey would perform 5-6 sets of 3-5 reps. His best in this lift was 365 lbs. for 3 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 bonafide 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 busting your ass with heavy pig iron.