Today on the 700 Club, Pat Robertson shared with viewers his fitness “secret.” The octogenarian televangelist boasted of regularly doing thirty 1,000 lbs. leg presses as part of his exercise routine: “A few years ago I did some pretty heavy stuffy, I used to, my leg presses, warm up with 500 lbs. and I went up from there, I did 30 reps of 1,000 lbs.”
Back in 2006, Robertson said he could leg press 2,000 lbs. The New York Times wrote at the time: “According to a related news release and photographs on the network's Web site (www.cbn.com), Mr. Robertson has leg-pressed 2,000 pounds, even though (as many online commentators have pointed out) he is 76 years old and the current world record is 1,335 pounds.”
GNC eventually pulled its Robertson-branded protein smoothie, “Pat’s Diet Shake,” but not before the episode raised questions about, as the Virginian-Pilot put it, “the fuzzy line between his tax-exempt operations and his profit-making ventures.” Slate’s Mike DeBonis commented at the time:
Let's get Pat Robertson's bonkers claims out of the way right now. As CBS Sportsline's Clay Travis reported earlier this week, there's no way the 76-year-old Robertson broke the leg press record—by more than 600 pounds—of a former Florida State quarterback.
Even when doing (what he claims to be) 1,000 pounds, Robertson's form is wack. First, he helps his legs by pushing on his knees with his arms. That's a no-no. He also achieves nowhere near the recommended full range of motion, which is to bring the knees to at least a 90-degree angle. And if he's going to double the weight, where's it going to fit? Neither Andrew Sullivan nor I have seen a machine capable of holding 20 plates of 100 pounds each.
Most telling is that Robertson has two staffers loading the machine for him. A big knock against the leg press is that it's inefficient. Most leg press machines are constructed as either a sled angled at 45 degrees or a lever. (There are some that use cables, too.) In all cases, some of the weight gets borne by the machine. You may be loading 400 pounds, but your muscles are feeling only 200. In other words, eight plates on the machine are only four plates worth of effective weight. And by the time you're finished loading and unloading, you could have done an extra set or two of squats.