mike mentzer workout routine

Mike Mentzer Heavy Duty Workout Is One of the Hottest Topic in Bodybuilding

Between 1979 and 1980, Mr. Olympias, high intensity training, got on the peak and Mike Mentzer (Born on 15th November 1951 – Died on 10th June 2001) even seemed to be on the verge of giving transformation to the realms of bodybuilding. Mike Mentzer had adopted the Arthur Jones HIT philosophy and expanded his knowledge and created his system called Heavy Duty. In his heavy-duty system, he kept the reps lower and weights bigger.

Let’s hash out the rapid rise and rapid fall and the enduring impact of Mike Mentzer’s Heavy Duty workout.

The story began in 1971 when 19-year old Casey Viator won the Mr. America title after training with Arthur Jone’s HIT-style tutelage. Mike Mentzer was placed 10th in the same contest as Mr. America introduced his fellow to Jones. Soon after that, Mike Mentzer started consulting HIT’s creator and even revamped his training based on that HIT philosophy, which got popular like his physique once he won Mr. America in 1976.

Mentzer even wrote articles for popular magazines like Builder/Power (the forerunner of FLEX), in which he covered techniques in detail for taking workout to the whole new level. He even came with his form of HIT. For example, Jones had recommended one 20-rep set per exercise where Mike lowered this ideal rep range to 6 – 9, with heavyweight that you can go to complete failure in this rep range. Also, failure wasn’t enough for Mike’s Heavy Duty. He even went beyond it. Mentzer based his Heavy Duty workout on three techniques: forced reps, rest-pause, and negative reps.

Mike Mentzer Workout Similar to His Comet Type Career

In 1979 at 27 years, being an IFBB Pro League newbie known for his arm, delt, and leg density, Mike was a phenomenon. Winning the heavyweight division Mr. Olympia, though not overall, he became one of the successful bodybuilders. And, published two Heavy Duty booklets in 1980, which gained a lot of popularity. He even wrote articles, gave seminars, and mail-ordered his philosophy. Most of all, the bodybuilder of that time tried his low rep HIT. However, it didn’t stay long, and mostly all turned back to their high-volume system. Though some even embraced it and for example, 6-time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates made his foundation on it, and it even influences today’s bodybuilder.

Heavy Duty: Basics of Mike Mentzer Workout Routine

  • Make sure you’re always keeping proper form.
  • Using 6 to 9 reps achieve full-rep failure.
  • Once you get adjusted with the weight you’re lifting, try to increase it within this rep range.
  • Force yourself to go beyond failure using forced reps and negatives.
  • For achieving failure, you can also make use of another method, rest-pause.
  • Divide your body part workout into two by allowing 48 hours resting gap between one workout session. For instance, on Monday, if you did Workout A, do another Workout B on Wednesday, then on Friday Workout A, Workout B on Sunday, or else Monday, if you want to take weekends off. In other words, prioritize your resting period, too.

Here’s Mike Mentzer’s Workout Routine

Below is one of the Mike Mentzer original workout of 1979 that you can give a try to:

Workout 1 on Monday:

Here’s below is the workout routine of Mike Metzer that includes three body parts: Legs, Chest & Triceps.


Sr. Exercise Sets Reps
1 Leg Extension Superset W/ Leg Press 1 6 – 8
2 Squats 1 6 – 8
3 Leg Curls 2 6 – 8
4 Calf Raises 2 6 – 8
5 Toe Presses 1 6 – 8
6 Incline barbell bench press 3 6 to 10


Sr. Exercise Sets Reps
1 DB Flys or Pec Deck Superset W/ Incline Bench Press 1 – 2 6 – 8
2 Dips 2 6 – 8


Sr. Exercise Sets Reps
1 Pushdowns Superset W/ Dips 1 6 – 8
2 Lying Triceps Extensions 2 6 – 8

Workout 2 on Wednesday:

Mike Mentzer Back workout with three other body parts Traps, Shoulders, and Biceps.


Sr. Exercise Sets Reps
1 Nautilus pullovers Superset W/ Close-Grip Underhand Pulldowns 2 6 – 8
2 Bent-Over Barbell Rowing 2 6 – 8


Sr. Exercise Sets Reps
1 Universal Machine Shrugs Superset W/ Upright Rowing 2 6 – 8


Sr. Exercise Sets Reps
1 Nautilus Side Laterals Superset W/ Nautilus Presses 2 6 – 8
2 DB or Machine (Reverse Pec Deck) Rear Delt Rowing 2 6 – 8


Sr. Exercise Sets Reps
1 Standing Barbell Curls 1 6 – 8
2 Concentration Curls 2 6 – 8

Some Tips for Those Who Would Like to Try Mike Mentzer’s Workout Routine

According to Mike Mentzer, the secret is to train briefly, keep it intense and infrequent. Lifters should prevent themselves from overdoing sets for all body parts daily. Enthusiasm sometimes becomes an obstacle and hinders growth because many lifters are so much into it that they don’t realize when to stop. They start training in marathon style, which often leads to overtraining. According to Mike, if anyone who’s trying high intensity for the first time and not familiar with it should start with three days a week routine.

According to him, you should do your last warmup set with approximately 75% of your working set and stop before you reach failure. Use pre-exhausts sets for supersets. For instance, in his back workout, he would do pullover (it isolates the lats) immediately before pulldowns (it works on three muscles lats with biceps and rear delt).

Wrapping Up

Here one of the Mike Mentzer heavy-duty workout routines is mentioned, which can help figure out how he likes to train. No doubt, like other bodybuilders, he had also used split routine, but according to him, some of the best gains he had made was following this type of heavy-duty workout routine.