Baddest Mofos Ever- “Terrible” Ted Arcidi
ALL YOU DUDES SITTING OUT THERE JUST DOIN’ NOTHIN’, LIKE A BUNCHA AMOEBAS, NEED TO LISTEN THE HELL UP. TERRIBLE TED ARCIDI WAS A GODDAMNED MONSTER, AND NO MATTER YOU KNOW ABOUT HIM JUST ISN’T ENOUGH.
The fact that most of the people endlessly (and fruitlessly) babbling about training online in the modern era seem to know the names of of people like Brad Castleberry, Jujumufu, and that Athlean-X shitslug but not that of the first man to bench 700lbs so raw he wasn’t even wearing wrist wraps is indicative of just how useless the vast majority of the fitspo bullshit truly is, and how pointless the machinations of everyone using the hashtag #fitfam truly are. Absent in Ted Arcidi’s herculean effort are even the oft-repeated bodybuilder critiques about over-arching, because Arcidi wasn’t trying to be the most famous belly tossing contortionist in history, nor was he about gaming weird biomechanical bullshit to trick lift the weight- Ted Arcidi was instead about moving the most weight with as much raw aggression and brute strength as he possibly could from his chest to arm’s length while laying on his goddamned back. Period. No tricks, no nonsense, and no poser nonsense… and to top it off he was an actually interesting and compelling figure throughout his life, rather than a poser chasing dollars with a fabricated resume and the depth of character to match that of a sheet of saran wrap.
If you want the TLDR of Terrible Ted Arcidi’s, you can pretty much just toss all of the weaksauce bullshit you’ve got on your bucket list into the trash and imagine a biography that stops just short of conquering a small nation and walking on the moon. He’s owned gyms, a supplement company, a sporting goods company, acted in movies with Denzel and DeNiro, shared the small screen with Tracey Morgan, traded mustache-grooming secrets with Tom Selleck, wrestled in the WWE and WCW, traveled the world, rocked a physique envied by many and matched by very few, and outbenched almost every single person who’s ever walked the Earth.
Terrible Ted Arcidi’s Vital Statistics
Height: 5’11” Weight: 291lbs Raw Bench (Competition): 705lbs Single-Ply Bench (Competition): 725lbs Standing Behind the Neck Press (Strict): 375lbs x 5 (Yahm) Squat: 750lbs [800lbs a little high] (Weis Boss) Deadlift: 730lbs (Ibid)
The world-shattering bencher and substitute-for-the-hilariously-incarcerated-Ken-Patera pro wrestler Ted Arcidi was born in Buffalo, NY in 1958 to a first generation Italian-American orthodontist and a nurse. Being a kid in Buffalo during the 70s, he played hockey year round. At that time, defenseman Bobby Orr was setting the goddamned world on fire by being one of the highest scorers in the league and in history while playing defense. In a time when ice hockey defensemen were basically just broken-faced serial killers on ice, Orr managed to lead score like the best forwards and be a vicious, helmetless slaughterbeast at the same time. As such, every kid in North America wanted to be him, and every chick with a working vagina wanted to bang him blind.
If you can get past the fact that there was a time in the US when people actually gave a damn about hockey, know that Arcidi was admittedly no better than average at the sport. It wasn’t for lack of trying however, as he broke his ass off training for it, doing endless pullups, dips, and pushups, tons of road work, and playing a ton of street and ice hockey. As a freshman at Salem State University, Arcidi wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire from a grades or hockey standpoint- he was spending any time he wasn’t spending in the bar trying to bang every broad who passed his field of vision. Rocking what he claims was a 0.00 GPA going into the second semester of school, Arcidi was treated to a blizzard that dropped 27 inches on Boston, so he hit the gym out of nothing more than boredom and was instantly hooked.
“And I think the fact that, you know, partaking in sports is important, but even when I was doing sports the calisthenics, I was like insane about it. And I really feel that doing-I used to do dips like an animal, push-ups, chin-ups. And I really feel that that just commenced a great basis for weight training because my tendons were really strong. I, I because I did that for years. I did that for at least three years before I even touched the weight” (Yahm).
“It was kind of like opening up Pandora’s box for me. The developing of strength, size and power was something I hadn’t experienced before and I enjoyed it very much.”
From there, it was all downhill, and by downhill I mean easy as falling off a ladder into a bucket cunt at an orgy. In his sophomore year, Ted benched 420. One of Ted’s friends convinced him to transfer to Norwich State, which he did in spite of the fact he’d have to sit out a year of hockey- he figured he would spend the year lifting so as to enter his next year a goddamned beast. There, he essentially forced the school administration to allow him the same access to the dining hall as the football team so he could eat enough to fuel his insane workouts, and proceeded to blow up like the goddamned Hindenburg. At his first meet, less than two years after he first picked up a weight, Terrible Ted pushed 460 at a bodyweight of 220 (fully 50 lbs heavier than his starting weight). The following year, he his 545 at 242. The year after, 610 lbs. Then, in 1985, lmost seven years to the day after he first picked up a weight, Ted Arcidi became the first man to bench over 700lbs in competition, putting up 705lbs at the Budweiser World Record Breakers in Honolulu.
“We all have a great deal of talent within us, but the key is unleashing it.”
All steroids, right? Ted readily admits to gear use, but he didn’t touch it until after he was already benching 600. And if you think it just came easy as shit to him, think again- after gaining admittance to some of the top dental schools in the country (Tufts, Marquette, and NYU, and Georgetown), Ted chose Tufts and worked as a substitute teacher to pay his way through the program. Then, realizing that he was insanely close to smashing the shit out of the world record, Arcidi had to make a choice- school or legendary status in the strength world.
“And I’m just saying to myself, “I’m not, I better not blow this,” you know? Because at one point I was, I was thinking you know I have a shot to be the first man to bench press 700 pounds. I mean that’s gonna, that’s gonna be earth shattering. No one’s ever done it. The world record at the time was 661. You’re breaking it by like forty something pounds, that’s like Bob Beamon in the long jump. You just blew it away” (Yahm).
As Kroc put it, “After dropping out of school, Ted moved into a small, dark, damp basement with a single room and a pull chain toilet so that he could focus completely on breaking the record” (Kroczaleski). The man was the living embodiment of being a driven competitor, and he let absolutely nothing stand in his way. As such, Arcidi officially became the proud owner of the biggest bench press in human history, surpassing the legendary Bill Kazmaier, within a year.
Having smashed the everloving hell out of the bench press record, Terrible Ted started looking around for other opportunities to showcase his strength (and actually make a little cash). With Ken Patera in prison for his notorious and utterly amazing McDonald’s incident, the WWF needed a strongman, and Arcidi fit the bill perfectly. At the end of Patera’s prison sentence, Arcidi was a released, and he went on to wrestle alongside The Ultimate Warrior, Ravishing Rick Rude, and Mick Foley in WCCW (a Texan organization run by the Von Erich wrestling dynasty) for a couple of years, won the heavyweight title then finally turned his attention back to powerlifting in 1990 when that organization went tits-up.
Tragically, five years of professional wrestling combined with years of ultra heavy benching took their toll on Arcidi, and though he was able to easily set another record using one of Inzer’s new bench shirts, he had problems locking out the weight and ditched his comeback after a year. From there, he opened a gym in New Hampshire, continued selling his own brand of supplements for years, and opened a business refurbishing exercise equipment for resale. On top of that, he introduced Triple H to Killer Kowalski after repeatedly trying to talk him out of joining the record business, and was a strength trainer for both Chyna and Triple H early on in their careers. And if that weren’t enough goddamned entries in his book of awesome, he acted alongside Denzel in Equalizer 2, Law and Order, with DeNiro and Rene Russo in The Family, Nurse Jackie, 30 Rock, and Blue Bloods, among other things.
With that utterly ridiculous biographical intro, you people better be dying to find out how the man ate and trained, and you’re in luck- I researched this hard enough that I might at this point be world’s foremost authority on this bad, bad man.
The Various Victuals of Terrible Ted
Like some of the behemoths of the 1950’s, Arcidi’s rise to cryptozoological dimensions was quick and focused, but nothing Earth shattering, restrictive, or ridiculous. Nah, he wasn’t on some proto-Vertical Diet, nor did he weigh and measure each morsel like he was a moneylender from ancient Sumeria faced with tables of weird exotic spices to exchange for coin. Instead, the dude who packed on 100lbs of rip in five years stuck to the basics.
Breakfast for Ted always consisted of oatmeal, whole eggs, juice, and multivitamins, though it was his smallest meal of the day. Thereafter he adhered pretty rigidly to 1980’s bodybuilder fare mostly consisting of chicken and spaghetti. He believed that a ratio of roughly 40% carbs and 60% protein was optimal, keeping fats as low as possible, because the 1980’s were an insanely fat-phobic era. This meant he ate a massive amount of chicken breasts, because Terrible Ted was wolfing down 7,000 calories a day to gain and mass. He stayed away from sugars with near religious fastidiousness, believing that hypoglycemia was the ultimate gains killer, but once every two weeks he’d eat a candy bar just so he remembered what chocolate tasted like (Buckley). As for protein sources, Ted believed that chicken and fish were the best options, and stated that “If you are going to eat red meat do so just twice a week. Red meat, I feel, makes you sluggish. It takes so long to digest. It interferes with your workouts. Red meat is not such a good source of protein for myself anyway. I feel chicken and fish have less corpuscles between its muscle fibers” (Weis Boss). If that made you blink in confusion, you’re not the only one- my mental image of the man immediately changed from a ~300lb man mountain to an elderly man in a tonsure and black robes who’s giving alchemical advice while slowly dying of mercury poisoning.
Compounding that statement is one most people will likely find even more unconventional but was actually common among powerlifters in that era- Arcidi’s bodyweight in the offseason was 15lbs lighter than his competition training weight. Because Arcidi and his fellow powerlifters weren’t the attention whoring, narcissistic douches of the modern era, they were delightfully unconcerned with what the people around them, or in the world at large, thought about their training, form, training weights, and physiques were in the offseason, because again, they trained because they enjoyed training, not because their existence was so empty, lonely, and valueless that they required constant affirmations of their existence from complete strangers.
“I like to let my bodyweight drop during the off-season. To tell you the truth, I felt pretty good after I went to the Patriots football training camp and got down to 260-265 lbs. I got some cardio. I like to drop down about 15 lbs. to 270 lbs. before I begin cycling for a powerlifting competition” (Ibid).
Though I now despise cardio with a vehemence most people reserve for having their public persona match their banal private existence, I recognize its utility. As such, I let people know it’s possible to be jacked and ripped without it, even though science actually says you’ll be bigger if you do cardio. People have taken that to mean I am staunchly anti-cardio, but it’s more that I despise it and would rather find alternate means to awesome. In any event, big Teddy didn’t share my hatred of the shit- he loved it. His opinion of cardio belies his beginnings in hockey:
“It’s good to incorporate some running in the OFF SEASON, but not during the season. I think you lose too much bodyweight. Now and then if I do feel that I’m getting out of shape, if I feel I’m losing my breath during a workout and can’t cope with it on a light training day, I’ll go extremely FAST. I’m talking about a marathon. I’ll get my workout done in 45 minutes. I’ll just fly right through it because all I do on Monday is light benches and heavy assistance work anyway, so I can fly right through it. So, it gets my blood going, gets my heart beating up a nice, big training pulse” (Weis Boss).
“I feel they’re necessary for gaining strength. Especially at a WORLD CLASS LEVEL because everyone else is taking them. I’ve tried a few, but if they work as well as people have said they work, then I thought I’d be seeing more people benching 700 lbs. I’m the only one in the 700 lb club right now. I think a lot of it is not the steroids. It’s NUTRITION and REST and a good LIFTING CYCLE and a POSITIVE ATTITUDE” (Weis Boss).
Terrible Ted Arcidi’s Bench-Tastic Training Cycle
Terrible Ted only competed a couple of times a year, and spent 4-5 months a year in his offseason, at a lighter weight, doing more cardio. Bear in mind when reading this program that it was the bare bones, mainstay of what he did. It wasn’t as though he didn’t deviate from this, as he was no pussy who feared “overtraining” like Russians fear Keanu Reeves. The dude did plenty of shit that is not listed here, like neck. For instance he felt “that being tight on the bench is very important,” so he did unlisted “neck work because the insertions of the neck muscles lie in the shoulder girdle and thus help stabilize it during the bench press” (Buckley). Given the size of his traps, it’s basically unthinkable that he never shrugged, and given his ridiculous biceps it’s preposterous to assume the man only did 18 reps of bis a week. Thus, look at this as a framework, not one of the retarded, stone-set programs so in vogue with 150lb know-nothings on Reddit.
“We’re trying to set the precedent and not anyone else. That’s why I respect [Kaz] a lot, especially at his age. I’m not saying he’s an old man, but he is the senior of a lot of lifters. He has no mental barriers. That’s got to be the biggest key that we both have. I think I could Bench Press 750 lbs. I DON’T HAVE ANY MENTAL BARRIERS.”
Off Season Training
Monday: Light on the bench presses and medium on the presses behind neck.
Tuesday: Usually a rest day, but he occasionally does lats. “He works his back by doing 4 sets of 10 with 240 pounds for lat pulldowns. He follows this with some gut work” (Buckley).
Wednesday: Complete rest and relaxation.
Thursday: Heavy bench press and light on standing BTN press.
Friday: Like Tuesday, he occasionally moves lats to this day from Thurs.
Saturday: Heavy standing BTN press.
In this hypercritical, hyperdetailed programming world, I realize that you people are going to want a little more than “heavy/medium/light,” so here’s a legend for that roadmap to success: “80% for a light training day and loads in excess of 85% for heavy training days, utilizing 6’s and 5’s and finally loads in excess of 90% max for those heavy triples and doubles in the competition phase of his training” (Buckley).
“No coach, no mentor. All me. All me.”
11 Week Contest Cycle
1st 3 Weeks: Use repetition pattern consisting of 6’s on B.P. only, Day 2. 2nd 3 Weeks: Use repetition pattern consisting of 5’s on B.P. only, Day 2. Final 5 Weeks: Begin to adapt to reps of 3’s and then begin utilizing a combination of 3’s and 2’s the final two weeks of the cycle, on B.P.’s only, Day 2. Week 12 in his cycle, contrary to what everyone else has written, was pre competition week, in which he trained very little. If you want the specifics on that, read Dennis Weis’ e-book). According to Buckley, who chronicled Ted’s efforts leading up to his 1982 win in Hawaii, Arcidi’s competition cycle sometimes stretched to 13-14 weeks. Unlike modern trainees, he wasn’t wedded to a hard and fast system.
In re his rep schemes:
“Sixes are great, you get good endurance and strength. I feel that 6’s are the greatest thing that man ever came across for repetitions in the bench. With 6’s, you’re away from the heavy, heavy weight but yet you still have to throw some weight around, because it’s not exactly light weight. Imagine going for your best 6 reps. That means for me I’ve got to get 560-570 lbs. This gives me a lot of tendon and ligament strength. This is a very important factor when getting into the heavy triples and doubles later, because the endurance and increased lung capacity from the 6’s, you’ll be able to blow up those 5’s, 3’s and 2’s” (Weis Boss).
Monday (Day 1) Bench Press– 3 x 5 x 405 to 415-420lbs (plus forced reps on the last set) Standing Behind the Neck Press– 1 x 5 x 260, 275, 300 Skullcrusher (to Nose)– 1 x 6 x 340, 350, 350 Standing Barbell Curls– 3 x 6 160 – 195 Lat Machine Pulldowns– 3-4 x 10 x 235-240
Fun Fact– Terrible Ted gave exactly zero damns about training with paused reps. All of his bench reps in training were touch and go, with a moderate speed on the descent and as explosively as possible off his chest. Yes, folks- he loved bounced reps more than most of you love your own genitalia.
Thursday (Day 2) Bench Press– 3 x 6 560-570lbs. Standing Behind the Neck Press– 3 x 6 x 225lbs The rest of the day is the same as Monday
Saturday (Day 3) Squats– 1 x 5 x 550 Deadlifts– 1 x 5 540 to 620 Standing Behind the Neck Press– 1 x 3 x 335 and 365 for 1 set each
And rest periods? He took them in spades. “I do take a lot of time resting between heavy benches. I take up to 5 to 6 minutes between sets. I don’t care, I want to get the weight, so that is why I take a lot of time in between my sets on heavy days. I need to be recuperated fully for the next set. Now, on my light days on the bench and even with assistance work, I go extremely fast because I’m not going for any heavy weights.”
Fun Fact– In another awesome eff you to the modern era, Arcidi relied heavily on forced reps, and did them on the last set of every heavy training session.
According to John Buckley, day one of the last phase of Arcidi’s training in 1982 looked like this:
Bench Press: 155×8, 225×3, 335×3, 405×2, 475×2, 525×1, 575×3, 575×3, 600×2 plus 4 forced reps.
Skullcrushers (bar brought to nose): 120×5, 210×3, 305×6, 325×6, 335×6, 335×6, 335×6
Triceps Pressdown: 190×6
Standing BTN Press: 45×6, 135×6, 225×7, 245×7, 245×7, 245×7
EZ Curls: 3 x 6 x 200
And his three major consideration for weight training: plenty of protein, plenty of sleep, and recuperation.
A number of sources mention Arcidi’s love of naps, so he really isn’t kidding when he says recuperation is vital for a big bench. That’s not to say he was into taking a week off every month like every shit coach and natty asshat online suggests, but rather that Arcidi religiously napped between 60 and 90 minutes a day, every day. Beyond that, Arcidi believed that neck work, skullcrushers, and strict standing behind the neck press were critical components of his bench press success. Though he is the only source beyond myself who seems to have noticed or mentioned this, the abdominal strength that heavy overhead presses confer carry over strongly into every other lift, so doing them seated basically destroys their utility.
And there you have it- Terrible Ted Arcidi, one of the greatest benchers in history and without question one of the coolest people to ever walk the planet. If nothing else, this should stand as a reason to get off your ass and do something interesting with you life, because however much interesting shit you do, your life’s story will bore the shit out of anyone who know’s Ted Arcidi’s tale.
You don’t owe anybody anything. You’re your own man. When the party’s over and you’ve screwed up, you’re the guy you have to answer to. If you do well, you still have to answer to yourself.
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Bench Routines- Pat Casey, Ted Arcidi. The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban. 17 May 2015. Web. 12 Feb 2019. http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2015/05/bench-routines-pat-casey-ted-arcidi.html
Kaelberer, Angie Peterson. Triple H: Pro Wrestler Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Mankato: Capstone High-Interest Books, 2003.
Kroczaleski, Janae Marie. The five tools of mental strength, aka balls. T-Nation. 9 Feb 2011. Web. 12 Feb 2019. https://www.t-nation.com/training/five-tools-of-mental-strength-aka-balls
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Weis, Dennis B. Ted Arcidi “The Boss of the Bench Press.” E-book. https://www.benchpresschampion.com/CHAMPIONS3/TedArcidi.pdf
Yahm, Sarah. Theodore A. “Ted” Arcidi NU 1982, Oral History Interview. Norwich University. 4 Apr 2015. Web. 12 Feb 2019. http://archives.norwich.edu/digital/collection/p16663coll9/id/10/