I knew John Kuc personally.
I grew up in Wilkes-Barre, PA (god help me). Kuc owned a donut shop two blocks from my childhood home so I had quite a few opportunities to pick his brain. I asked the guy many of the same questions you’re all asking here so I wanted to comment when I saw this article.
There’s confusion over what “his routine” was. Basically, the guy tried everything at one time or another just like everyone else does. The different routines people are posting are from different times in his career. It's misleading.
This is basically the gist of what he told me:
(His “Assisted” Routine)
Early on he made most of his gains by ramping up to heavy singles in the lifts once or twice a week. He’d do something like:
Monday - Bench, Curls
Tuesday - Squat, Row, Shrugs
Friday - Squat, Bench, Deadlift to maxes
He'd work up to the heaviest weight of the day using 10,8,6,4,2,1,1 or some variation thereof. He would do something like 3,3,,1,1,1 in the deadlift.
He didn’t like assistance work. He did experiment with box squats and rack pulls at certain times in his career but didn’t think they helped much.
I showed him some early Louie Simmons articles in PLUSA and he thought they were bullshit. He urged me to keep it simple.
He used simple linear cycles early on, dropping the weights back after a peak and working back up. He didn’t use percents, he just went by feel and added a bit week to week. Simple as that. (That JV Askem cycle is misleading. It makes it look like some sophisticated mathematics when there was none.)
That being said, Kuc was also very frank about his use of “currently outlawed ergogenic aids“ which I greatly appreciated as a young lifter.
He told me that the linear cycling only worked while he was using. He would come off cycle for a little bit after a meet, lighten the weights, and then gradually start back, increasing the dose as the weights got heavier. That's how me made most of his progress, by upping the dose.
He also force fed himself to get up to super heavy. He and Jim Williams would go out for banana splits after their heavy session every week. That was their “post workout smart bomb“.
He dropped from super heavy by eating around 2,200 calories a day and walking. He also got off the “supplements” for a while until his doctor gave him the OK. He said his lifts went to shit and he was miserable. He was also pissed that he lost so much hair. LOL
(His “Clean” Routine)
Once he started lifting in the ADFPA he had to change his training. He wasn’t able to progress in a linear fashion anymore, so he started doing smaller 4 week wave cycles. His theory was that dropping back to light weights (like 60%) as a “natural” is a waste of time, and that nattys need to back off and rest for a bit, but should keep the weights higher to maintain their strength.
He also started using sets of triples and fours instead of singles. He would have kept doing singles if he could have, but he burnt out too easily without the "supplements".
This is basically the approach Bob Gaynor outlines in his article. Bob used to run "Kuc's Fitness" (later the "Fitness Headquarters") and used to promote contests in the area. He and his wife Geri actually got me started in lifting. Good people.
Kuc hated deadlifts. He did them grudgingly and never liked training them. I shit you not.
He pulled 925 in training as a SHW.
He only got to train with Jim Williams ("Chimsey") once a week in Scranton. He loved doing assisted bench presses (forced reps) with Williams and thought it was the main contributor to his 600 bench.
The assistance work people list in his routines is basically bodybuilding work he threw in to keep up his physique when he dropped down from super heavy. He enjoyed bodybuilding and when I first met him (96) he was in his late 50’s and still had a massive baseball bicep (actually more or a cantaloupe bicep).
He seemed to be a bright individual but very low key. Someone would probably think he was shy or slow if they talked to him. Very much the “strong silent type”, though I know exactly what Mary Gallagher says when he refers to his “Scary” psych up. Everyone knows a nice guy who will rip your head off and shit down your throat if you piss them off. I got that gist from Kuc. Very introverted.
The most poignant thing I can think of about him is that none of his coworkers even knew what the man had accomplished. My neighbor worked as a waitress at his shop. When I told her he was one of the strongest men to walk the planet she looked at me like my head was on sideways. He never talked about it, no trophies at the shop, nothing. To her he was just “John”, a very humble nice guy. It would be like working for Michael Jordan and not knowing he ever played basketball.
I can also tell you all is that when Kuc quit powerlifting he was DONE with it. After a local YMCA meet I took Tony Succarotte (former IPF WR holder in the bench) to meet him. Tony remarked that Kuc should come back to power lifting as a master's lifter and asked him if he missed it at all. Kuc’s reply was a simple “No, not really”, and that was that.
Somewhere in the early 00's Kuc sold the donut shop and the last time I heard he was involved in a Dunkin' Donuts in Exeter, PA. Wherever he is I hope he's well.
It's a bittersweet world where Lance Armstrong can ride his wittle bicycle and become a multimillionare celebrity but guys like Kuc are left as faint memories on internet message boards.
(p.s. - Jim Williams was a PIMP. Literally. Hell of a nice guy as well.)