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Mike Mentzer Workout Routine & Diet

Mike Mentzer Workout Routine & Diet

Michael Mentzer created the “Heavy Duty” method, which is one of the hardest ways to train in bodybuilder history. This method uses heavy weights, high-intensity training, and smaller rep ranges. Today, we’re going to talk about the idea behind this training method and take a look at the full Mike Mentzer workout routine.

BONUS: Download The FREE Mike Mentzer Workout Routine PDF

How Did Mike Mentzer First Get Started?

Mike Mentzer started lifting weights at the young age of 12, and by the time he was 15, he could bench over 350 pounds. 

Back in 1971, he met Arthur Jones, the man responsible for pioneering high-intensity workouts specifically for bodybuilding. This encounter paved the way for Mentzer to develop his ground-breaking method of training. 

By winning Mr. America in 1976, he proved his revised high-intensity workout routine was successful.

Both Mike Mentzer’s physique and his outlook on the sport of bodybuilding were noteworthy. He studied physiology extensively and wrote from a holistic perspective regarding the relationship between the brain and the rest of the body.

The Heavy Duty Training Method

The Heavy Duty exercise method came about when Mentzer thought about health, fitness, and getting bigger quickly. This method was the basis of Dorian Yates’ training, which helped him become Mr. Olympia six times.

Mentzer’s workouts were very hard, but he demanded that every rep be done with perfect form. This meant that the concentric and eccentric parts of each movement had to be done in two to four seconds. This accuracy made workouts harder, especially since Mentzer liked to use big weights and do few reps.

He had his own unique take on what it meant to be “going to fail.” It didn’t mean he couldn’t lift anymore; it just meant he wasn’t able to do it correctly. This way of thinking went against the common idea that you should rest as little as possible between sets. Certainly different from some of his counterparts like Tom Platz who advocated for higher volume and total failure.

Pre-Exhaust the Big Muscles

Another pivotal aspect of the Heavy Duty system was pre-fatiguing the primary muscles you intended to target during a workout. First, you make sure they receive full attention during compound exercises by tiring out these muscles. 

For instance, performing dumbbell flyes before bench presses pre-fatigued the chest muscles, enhancing the effectiveness of bench presses.

This strategic approach allowed the big muscles to get the attention they deserved while working in harmony with the smaller, assisting muscles during compound lifts.

Mike Mentzer Stats

Height5’8″ (173 cm)
Weight225-235 lbs (102-107 kg)
Age49 (at time of death)
BirthdayNovember 15, 1951
Awards1979 IFBB Mr. Universe (Pro), 1980 IFBB Mr. Olympia (2nd place), 1982 IFBB Mr. Olympia (3rd place)

Mike Mentzer Workout Routine

Mike Mentzer Workout Routine

Mike Mentzer’s workouts were high-intensity but short in duration, and he didn’t do them very often. He recommended training with complete dedication, going until muscular failure, and then taking a long rest period. Here’s a rundown of his workout schedule:

LAST CHANCE: Download The FREE Mike Mentzer Workout Routine PDF

Day One: Legs

Leg Extensions Superset with Leg Press

Leg Extensions: 1 set of 6-8 reps

Leg Press: 1 set of 6-8 reps


Squats: 1 set of 6-8 reps

Leg Curls

Leg Curls: 2 sets of 6-8 reps

Calf Exercises

Calf Raises: 2 sets of 6-8 reps

Toe Presses: 1 set of 6-8 reps

Day Two: Upper Body (Chest, Back, Shoulders, Biceps)

Chest: Dumbbell Flyes or Pec Deck Superset with Incline Bench Press

1-2 sets of Dumbbell Flyes or Pec Deck: 6-8 reps

Incline Bench Press: 6-8 reps

Dips: 2 sets of 6-8 reps

Back: Nautilus Pullovers Superset with Close-Grip Underhand Pulldowns

2 sets of Nautilus Pullovers: 6-8 reps

Close-Grip Underhand Pulldowns: 6-8 reps

Bent-Over Barbell Rowing: 2 sets of 6-8 reps

Shoulders: Universal Machine Shrugs Superset with Upright Rowing

2 sets of Universal Machine Shrugs: 6-8 reps

Upright Rowing: 6-8 reps

Nautilus Side Laterals Superset with Nautilus Presses

2 sets of Nautilus Side Laterals: 6-8 reps

Nautilus Presses: 6-8 reps

DB or Machine (Reverse Pec Deck) Rear Delt Rowing: 2 sets of 6-8 reps


Standing Barbell Curls: 1 set of 6-8 reps

Concentration Curls: 2 sets of 6-8 reps

Day Three: Legs and Arms


Leg Extensions – Single Leg: 5 sets of 8-10 reps

BB Squats: 5 sets of 6-8 reps

Lying Leg Curls – Single Leg: 5 sets of 8-10 reps

Leg Press: 5 sets of 6-8 reps

DB Lunges – Walking: 5 sets of 8-10 reps

Calf Raises – Standing: 5 sets of 10-15 reps


Triceps Pushdowns – Cable: 5 sets of 8-10 reps

Dips – Bodyweight: 5 sets of 10 reps

Overhead Triceps Extensions – Cable: 5 sets of 8-10 reps

DB Curls – Standing: 5 sets of 8-10 reps

Reverse Grip Chin-Ups: 5 sets of 6-8 reps

Preacher Curls – Barbell: 5 sets of 8-10 reps

Forearm Curls – Barbell: 5 sets of 10 reps

This three-day workout routine emphasizes high-intensity, compound movements with multiple supersets, short rest periods, and low repetitions. Mike Mentzer believed that this approach maximized muscle growth while minimizing the risk of overtraining.

Mike Mentzer  Diet

Mike Mentzer  Diet

At a time when many athletes were following high-protein, low-carb diets, Mike Mentzer’s way of eating stood out. He favored a balanced diet that included a variety of foods:

  • Proteins: He recommended about 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight. His protein sources included red meat, fish, eggs, and poultry.
  • Carbohydrates: He believed in a balanced intake of carbohydrates, emphasizing high-quality grains, bread, and pasta.
  • Fats: He didn’t shy away from fats, including sources like butter and peanut butter in his diet.
  • Dairy: He incorporated dairy products such as milk and yogurt.
  • Fruits and Vegetables: Mentzer’s diet included at least 4 servings of fruits and some vegetables, emphasizing their role in overall health.
  • Calorie Control: Mentzer recommends keeping daily caloric intake under 2,000 calories. He also advised maintaining a food diary to fine-tune one’s diet.

Mentzer’s diet was different for a bodybuilder of his era. He focused on balance and overall health. Although it’s not in line with modern diets, it was effective for him 

Mike Mentzer Supplements Of Choice

Mike Mentzer Supplements

Mentzer was open about his use of steroids, which was more common in bodybuilding during his era. However, for those looking for healthier alternatives, he recommended two primary supplements:

  • Whey Protein: Whey protein is easy to eat throughout the day and gives you important amino acids that help your muscles grow and recover.
  • Creatine: The body makes its own creatine, which is known to help the body make more energy during high-intensity activities. This makes it useful for building muscle and strength.

Mentzer’s intense training, well-rounded diet, and comprehensive approach to bodybuilding still inspire fitness enthusiasts and budding bodybuilders globally. His unwavering commitment and distinctive methods have made a lasting impact on the bodybuilding community.

Final Thoughts

Mike Mentzer’s “Heavy Duty” approach to bodybuilding is a great example of how to work hard and get results. His unique approach to nutrition and focus on short, intense workouts done infrequently and at a high speed continues to inspire aspiring bodybuilders and fitness fans all over the world.

Mentzer left an indelible mark on the world, and his story shows how well his methods worked. If you want to learn how to build a body like his, there is a lot of useful information from the man who made an iconic figure and left an indelible mark on the world of bodybuilding.

Mentzer’s unwavering dedication to his skill, both mentally and physically, is an inspiration to anyone who wants to push their limits and become the best at bodybuilding. 

People who are interested in exercise today still follow his amazing training methods, dietary advice, and focus on overall health and wellness. 

The lasting legacy of Mike Mentzer offers priceless tips and tricks to help you become fitter and healthier, whether you want to become a bodybuilder or just improve your exercise routine.