Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Interview with Bodybuilding Legend Pat Neve

By MTI (1980)

Edited by: Strength Oldschool

Patrick Neve can be reached online on Facebook.

Pat Neve - Front Double Biceps Pose

Pat Neve, as most followers of the sport know, is a former Mr. USA. He was twice 1975 and 1976 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 weighing 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.

Steve Crandall and Pat Neve - Bench Press Record Breakers

Info regarding photo above...


"About 1973.I became the lightest man in History to bench over 449 lbs. That day I did 460 weighting 176 lbs.Two weeks later I did 470 lbs.A month later I did 505 lbs weighting 178 lbs.Stopped for about 2 seconds on the way up got 1 white light and 2 reds. My friend on the right of me Steve Crandall did 410 lbs at the 165 lbs class. He and I had never been beat in a bench press. He decided next contest he would come up to my class and go against me.I open with 440 easy and he opened with 430 lbs. He missed 430 all 3 times. I did 470 lbs and won the division. Steve went to another Gym and I have never heard from him since. I was never beaten in my class. At that time my 505 lbs would have been the greatest beach press officially done in history of powerlifting." ~ Pat Neve


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.”

NOTE: For Info on Heavy Partial Rack Training click here!

Old School Bodybuilder Pat Neve

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 than 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?

1977 Pat Neve - Massive Arm Development

Pat:The one exercise that worked for me to supplement the bench power and triceps, was heavy French Presses (see photo below) 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 pounds and do 10 repetitionsI thought this worked triceps the hardest. I’d go on to Lying Triceps Extensions with the barbell, One-arm Triceps Curls, and Pushdowns (see photo below) on the lat machine. They’d all be done very heavy".

Pat Neve Heavy Dumbbell French Presses

** (To perform Seated French Presses, 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 slowly behind the head. Press back up, using triceps only).

Pat Neve - Tricep Pushdowns


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 to 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 the 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 from too much abuse with heavy weights, but is there a way to get around this?

Pat:I don’t think 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.”

Pat Neve and Lou Ferrigno

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 just 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.

Pat:In my life, I only entered seven powerlifting meets, and I set six world 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".

Pat Neve - Back Double Biceps

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 Columbu (see photo below) claims he’s the world’s strongest bodybuilder, Kalman Szkalak says he is; David Johns thinks he is ".

Franco Columbu Bench Pressing


"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.”

The following comment on this article was provided by Magnus...


Pat Neve was a great bench presser and as he says he proved it in competition. Pat had a light bone structure for a powerlifter, this was an advantage as a bodybuilder as small joints make big muscles appear even bigger and rounder (think Serge Nubret or Flex Wheeler as good examples of that). But that lighter frame suffered from his early heavy lifting. I read an article by Pat years ago when he was preparing for a BBuilding contest and his joints were so fragile he said he dare not play rough-and-tumble games with his 4 year old daughter because his shoulders or elbows might be injured doing that! That’s why Pat trained with such strict form, loose style would have been risky to use. It’s ironic that on stage Pat looked like a superman and certainly was still strong yet suffered pain and was probably more fragile than most of the audience watching him. And these days Pat is a very rich man, hope he can enjoy his life without too much pain.” ~ Magnus


The following comment on this article was provided by Chuck Mirabile…


Pat was truly one of my all time favorites….he had an amazing physique…razor sharp and powerful….and not only looked the part but was the real deal….he set 6 WRs in the bench press as a 181#er and had a true competition best of that WR 468.5# as a 181#er. He also totaled 1600#…all pretty much raw. He was very underrated as a bodybuilder, and as well as he did competitively, he likely deserved even better. Not being in the Weider stable likely hurt his sponsorship and notoriety. He was one of the best for sure….I think his physique was superior to Franco’s and his bench press prowess was also likely superior, as his lifts were all done in competition and official. Franco may have hit a meet or so, both in Europe and the States, but I doubt his form, nor his range of motion was comparable.” ~ Chuck Mirabile


Some extra photos....

Chris Dickerson and Pat Neve

Chris Dickerson and Pat Neve

Pat Neve in the Gym training biceps with Incline Dumbbell Curls

Bodybuilder Pat Neve Training Biceps

Pat Neve - Single Biceps Pose - Incredible Arms!!

Pat Neve Single Biceps Pose

Pat Neve - Side Triceps Pose

Pat Neve - Side Triceps Pose

Pat Neve - Bodybuilding Pose



If anyone has any stories to share on Pat Neve, please add your comments below.

If you wish to read a 2009 Interview with Pat Neve click here.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...