Back in the day, if a guy was a wrestler, he was a bona-fide badass. The sport, which grew out of what were essentially MMA fights with less striking and more wrestling (catch style), was filled with bad motherfuckers who ate big, lifted big, and lived big.
The guy who presided over what he perceived as wrestling's fall into the chemical years (of which Hulk Hogan's apparently the evil figurehead), was the great Bruno Sammartino, a man so beloved by Italians and wrestling fans that they stabbed a heel who turned on him, smashed his cars, and flipped over cabs he was in.
Bruno was an Italian immigrant who rolled over to the US due to WW2, and landed on the shores of our nation without a fucking word of English in his vocabulary, and a physique worthy of an Auschwitz beauty pageant. As such, a Jewish kid (of all the odd fucking things) dragged him to the Y to get him yacked so he'd stop bleeding all over the kid's mom's carpet every time he went over to the house, since Sammartino was busy getting his ass kicked every five minutes. A couple of years of brutal fucking training later, Sammartino was a badass wrestler who received a scholarship offer for wrestling from the University of Pittsburgh, and went on to win a bunch of lifting titles. In Sammartino's words, he "became, I thought, a pretty good wrestler. And I became a pretty strong guy to where I started competing in both Olympic lifting and power lifting. I stated setting some records, first city records, then state records. In 1959 I set some power-lifting record. That's when I did my 565-pound bench press. I did a 715-pound squat and a 690-pound dead lift. By now I'm a big guy, about 265 pounds, 270." (Lee Benaka interview) Additionally, Bruno, who was apparently obsessed to the point of fucking distraction with the bench, bench pressed 315lbs for 38 reps in his prime. Not too fucking shabby, especially considering the fact that he was fanatically drug free, and he put up the 565 bench with a 2 second pause on his chest.(Critical Bench) His workouts were fucking legendary, and weren't spurred by anything but Sammartino's imagination, his defiance against gravity, and his titanic brass balls.
He fueled his lengthy, brutal, and frequent workouts by eating his fucking ass off. At 5'11" and 270, Bruno had to have been a big eater, and according to interviews, he'd routinely put away 24 lamb chops or four pounds of steak at one sitting and eat breakfasts of 12 eggs, a loaf of bread, a whole box of cereal, and two quarts of milk.(Post-Gazette) Rippetoe would have been proud of his total unwillingness to approach the dinner table with anything but contempt for food, and to stuff as much whole food down his gullet as humanly possible. Luckily, Sammartino wasn't overly concerned with showing up at competitions ripped to fucking shreds, and he was lifting 6 and wrestling 7 days a week, so he was training to a point where he'd likely have dropped dead of starvation eating any other way.
Think wrestlers don't get the fuck after it? Think again. Bruno, the hardass, Paul Bunyan motherfucker that he was, was always busy "doing amazing feats, such as picking up the 620-pound Haystacks Calhoun and dumping him so hard that the center of the ring caved in. Or doing push-ups with two men on his back." (Post-Gazette)
So, "what was his program?", you might be asking. From what I was able to glean from the spotty accounts online, and sifting through innumerable bullshit posts about his alleged routine, I determined that no one seems to know much, other than he trained a fucking lot. Larry Zbysko, Sammartino's protege, still utilizes Sammartino's bench program with clients, and it consists of the following, 2-3 times a week:
--12 reps of 135
--8 reps of 185
--6 reps of 225
--4 reps of 275
--2 reps of 315
--1 rep of 365
---then a constant increase in weight until reaching a max. Current Max: 485 lb
--8-10 reps of 315
--6-8 reps of 315
--8-10 reps of 275
--3 sets of 8 reps of 245
-Upright Rows on Cables
--4 sets of 8-10 reps
-Biceps (various workouts)
--4 sets of 8-10 reps (one workout)
--4 sets of 8-10 reps (another workout)
Given that Sammartino himself stated that he benched 2 or three times a week, I think it's safe to say that that pantywaist bullshit you see floating around the intarwebz masquerading as a Sammartino workout is a fucking sham.
When he was 70, this was his workout, which he did 3 times a week, in addition to running 7 miles a day:
LAT PULLDOWNS: 5 sets of 15 reps: 130 lbs
SHOULDER DUMBELL RAISES: 10 sets, 15 reps each arm, 40 lbs
BENCH PRESS: 7 sets of 8 reps: 150-250 lbs
DUMBELL BENCH PRESS: 5 sets of 10 reps: 100 lbs
CURLS: 10 sets of 10 reps each arm: 40 lbs
TRI-DUMBELL EXTENSIONS: 4 sets of 15 reps: 40 lbs
LEG EXTENSIONS: 5 sets of 20 reps: 125-160 lbs
LEG RAISES: 75
LEG EXTENSIONS: 75
ALTERNATE LEG RAISES: 75
BICYCLE LEG EXERCISES
BENCH CRUNCHES: 100
So much for the frequent heavy workouts fucking up one's ability to lift when they're older, right? According to an interview with Sammartino on youtube, this cave bear of a fucking man beat the shit out of several guys at once, with the Iron Sheik coming through with a key assist. When he was 51, he knocked out a former Steelers running back with one punch, and then proceded to kick the shit out of 5 other guys with the help of the Iron Sheik. Apparently, Sammartino was backstage in an off-limits area and suggested the football player and his friends roll out. After the guy took a swing at Sammartino, Sammartino KTFO'd the guy and got jumped by the dude's friends, so the Sheik rolled in and they fucked up the lot of the pussies.
That's how motherfuckers from Sammartino's day rolled, and that shit was apparently not a shoot. Thanks to Boni, who gave me a link to a ridiculously long interview to which I didn't have time to listen and couldn't find a reliable transcript. I'm sure he'll add 11000 Sammartino facts to this, since he's a fucking Bruno mark, haha.
What'd we learn from this? Well, you can be a high moralist and still be Benny Podda-esque in your approach to training, you can out-eat any volume of training known to man, and lifting retardedly heavy and beating the shit out of your body every day will not necessarily lead to one being a fat, whiny, weakling, as many would assert.
Time to put that assertion to the test, fuckers.