03 March 2015

The Last Couple Decades Weren't Just Awesome Because of The Mustaches: Behold The Awesomeness Of Powerbuilding

Lee Priest was a strong motherfucker in his day... because he was not a minimalist and learned from his contemporaries in other sports.

As I mentioned in a recent article, there seems to be a trend toward minimalism in today's trainee.  I'm not simply referring to powerlifting, either- the strength training/physical culture world has become so fractured that hard lines have been drawn in the sand regarding training techniques and styles that people don't dare cross, lest they arouse the ire of others within their given subculture.  For instance:
Ok, so not all amateur bodybuilders are tards, but the vocal ones on forums are 100% retarded.  Somehow, I don't think Milan Šádek is on Bodybuilding.com seeking affirmation from 16 year olds with gyno.
  • amateur bodybuilders  (not pros, as they actually understand how to train to maximize hypertrophy) scream endlessly about the value of "perfect form" and rail against training heavy or with loose form.  From Reddit to Facebook to Youtube, they're constantly bemoaning the likes of Brad Castleberry for their "shitty form"... nevermind the fact that that shitty form has him lean, 255 lbs at 5'9", and strong as shit all the time.  Has he been to "snap city"?  Nope.  That doesn't stop the pussies on the internet from whining about his form, however, and the weights he's using to "pump up his ego."  

I've seen pot pies with more muscularity and intensity than this chap.
  • powerlifters yammer on endlessly about the uselessness of bodybuilding movements and seem to hold it as a point of honor when they look like fat bags of pasty white dogshit.  Then, they have the utter audacity to flip out on people on the street when questioned if they bodybuild, incredulous that someone would actually be giving them a compliment for appearing as though they lift.  Fucking retarded, yet that's what they do daily.
Any time I need an ego boost about my shit-dog clean technique, I know right where to look.
  • CrossFitters are perhaps the worst of the lot, telling everyone nearby with their clothing and words of their love for CrossFit and decrying the utility of exercises that would actually lower their risk of injury and resolve muscular imbalances, like leg curls, seated rows, and dumbbell and cable work for their "vanity muscles."
Ugh.  Someone had to make the CrossFitter look good, I guess.
  • Olympic weightlifters in the United States are notorious for furiously masturbating to the deliberate misinformation propagated by the Bulgarians in the 1980s, so they eschew any and all assistance work for endless light sets of squats and the Olympic lifts to "perfect their form."  As such, they blow at everything from their own sport down on through basic fitness. 
So, how'd it get this way?  Frankly, I blame the internet, because I'm old and crotchety and shoot rock salt at the young whippersnappers in my yard as they scamper hither and yon in their damnable skinny jeans, listening to Miley Cyrus dubstep remixes or whatever horrible shit that passes as music is these days.  Prior to the internet, there were divisions between the sports, but nothing like what goes on now, at least in my experience.  The camps have become so fucking dogmatic that they're blind to the fact that all of them can learn a great deal from each other, and that they'd all benefit from doing so.

Lee Priest- powerbuilder and grand world champion of bulking.

That is where power bodybuilding, or powerbuilding, comes in- it crosses the lines between the different lifting disciplines to create the thickest, leanest, strongest motherfuckers the world has ever seen.  Nowhere in powerbuilding would you find fatties happy to be fat and look like they don't lift (save, perhaps, for Lee Priest and his hilarious obsession with KFC), and nowhere withing the confines of this style of training would you find a lifter whose training poundages didn't match the impressiveness of their physique.  Instead, powerbuilding has always been jam-packed with huge, strong, ripped dudes throwing massive weights around like they were pinatas at a Mexican midget's birthday party- we're talking about badass, hard-as-nails, thicker-than-a-mack-truck motherfuckers like:

Scott Wilson 
1980s mass monster with who is considered to have one of the broadest sets of shoulders in history

Superstar Billy Graham, Western USA Tenn Mr. America, World Strongest Man competitor, and possessor of a 605 bench press who trained with Pat Casey, Arnold, Franco, and Dave Draper in the late 1960s.

Brutally thick and strong Mike Mentzer

Huge squatter and possessor of some of the craziest triceps in history, Paul "Quadzilla" Demayo

Training partners and general lunatics Branch Warren and Johnnie Jackson

One would hope that you might find the above pictures at least somewhat compelling, as those maniacs are all cut from the same cloth as Chaos and Pain's Baddest motherfuckers Ivan Putsky, John Grimek, Chuck Sipes, Phil Grippaldi, Steve Stanko, Stan Efferding, Franco Columbu, Bruno Samartino, John DeFendis, Benny Podda, and Marvin Eder.  A quick bit of googling will net you their routines, all of which I've posted in their requisite articles, and all of which were lengthy, brutally heavy, and frequent in the extreme.  The following workouts are no different- while they might vary in rep ranges and exercise selection, each of the following routines utilizes weights designed to make the lifter shit their pant s in fear before starting each set, training volumes designed to destroy the person undertaking the program or make them into the most brutal sonofabitch who's ever lived, and all of which require focus and intensity that would make the nerds in the CIA's Stargate Project look like drooling halfwits with a bad case of ADHD.

Bill Ennis, just walking into meets and trashing kids while looking like a bodybuilder and rocking 5.5% bodyfat.

Behold, then, the awesomeness of powerbuilding programs- programs designed to make lifters brutally strong, massive, and ripped.  And before you assert that these programs have never allowed a lifter to dominate powerlifting, bear in mind that Stan Efferding and Johnnie Jackson are both IFBB professional bodybuilders and are fifth and sixth on the best of the best list on Powerliftingwatch at 275 for the deadlift, IFBB pro Greg Doucette has the ninth best bench press at 198 in the history of the sport, IFBB pro Amit Sapir has the world record in the raw squat, Stan Efferding has held the unwrapped squat and total records at 275 lbs for the last four years, and that all of the great powerlifters of the late 1970s (John Kuc, Jon Cole, Rick Gaugler, Ricky Dale Crain, Ernie Frantz, and Jack Barnes) and most of the great powerlifters of the 1980s (like Gene Bell, Joe Ladnier, Larry Pacifico, and Ken Lain) trained with a powerbuilding style.  Hell, the first guy to bench press 600 lbs in competition, Pat Casey, was a bodybuilder.  Therefore, it might be time to put aside your Smolov/Sheiko/program du jour and take a page out of a time wherein Magnum Pi was an authority on facial hair and dudes were actually proud to look like they'd stepped inside a gym before.

The Powerbuilding Elite

Mike O'Hearn
6'3", 285lbs.

Frankly, I was surprised at this, but when I started googling "power building", his name started popping up like plastic rodents in a short-circuiting Whack-A-Mole game.  Insofar as I knew, O'Hearn gave up powerlifting and bodybuilding years ago to be a cover model, American Gladiator (he's the only person to be a gladiator on both the old and the new show, Battle Dome gladiator, and actor.  Apparently, that's not so, because he looks as big and lean as he's ever been at 46, and has been putting up crazy PRs recently like a double with 500 on the incline, bottom position pin squats with 650 for 8 sets of 8, and highish reps on seated behind the neck press with 405 lbs.

O'Hearn's self-stated training style is "power bodybuilding" and as he's bulked back up, he's been heavily espousing this style of training, mixing it up in the gym with the likes of such strong motherfuckers as Kali Muscle, NFL punter and oft-voted "best body in the NFL" punter Steve Weatherford, IFBB pro and world record holding powerlifter Stan Efferding, and synthol-ed Mickey Rourke look-alike Rich Piana.  From what I can see of O'Hearn's training, his workouts are a hell of a lot longer, heavier, and more intense than what he recommends for the average trainee, but you guys will get the gist of his methods from O'Hearn's 12 week power bodybuilding program.  If you check out his Facebook page, you can see he also highly recommends exercises like the bottom-position pin squats (also one of my faves), shrugs, machine rear laterals, incline JM presses and all sorts of cables for arms, seated dumbbell work for shoulders, and a bunch of other stuff- the following is just his bare-bones recommendation.

Barbell Incline Bench Press - Medium Grip -1-3 sets, low weight
Working Sets
Barbell Incline Bench Press - Medium Grip -6 x 5 as heavy as possible
Dumbbell Bench Press- 4-5 x 10
Incline Dumbbell Flyes-3 x 8-10
Pm: 30 minutes cardio/crunches

Barbell Squat- 1-3 sets, low weight
Working Sets
Barbell Squat 7 x 3 as heavy as possible
Leg Press 5 x 10 as heavy as possible
Leg Extensions 3 x 10 as heavy as possible
PM: 30 min treadmill/ crunches

Standing Shoulder Press - 3 x 8
Wide-Grip Upright Barbell Row - 3 x 8
Standing Dumbbell Upright Row - 3 x 8
Side Lateral Raise - 4 x 12
Seated Bent-Over Rear Delt Raise - 4 x 12

Barbell Curl - 3 x 8
Seated Dumbbell Curl - 3 x 8-12
Preacher Curl - 3 x 8-12
Lying Triceps Press - 4 x 8-12
Triceps Pushdown - 4 x 8-12
Dumbbell Incline Triceps Extension (shown with cable) - 4 x 8-12
PM: 30 min jog/ crunches

Barbell Deadlift - 1-3 sets, low weight
Working Sets
Barbell Deadlift - 7 x 2
One-Arm Dumbbell Row -  5 x 10
Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown - 3 x 8
PM: 30min Cardio/crunches

Sergio Oliva
5'9", 235lbs.
Frankly, I find it hard to believe that anyone could not be aware of Sergio Oliva, but on the off chance one of you just crawled out from under a rock and are still trying to blink the sunlight out of your eyes, here's the lowdown on Oliva:

  • he took 2nd place in the 1962 Cuban National Olympic Weightlifting Champions
  • 1966 AAU Jr. Mr. America
  • 1967-1969 Mr. Olympia
  • 1972-1973 WBBG Mr. Galaxy
  • 1975, 1976 and 1978 WBBG Mr. Olympus 
  • 1977 and 1980 WABBA Professional World Champion 
  • 1980 and 1981 WABBA Professional World Cup winner 

Oliva's strength was as massive as his arms and quads (his quads were always 27" and his largest waist measurement was 28").  He hammered at his body the same way he hammered steel in the foundry where he worked, and his efforts paid off- at 235 lbs, he was strong enough to tangle with most powerlifters and not embarrass himself.

Chest and Back 
Bench Press supersetted with Chinning Bar.
Set 1: 200lbs x 8, 15 reps on chinning bar
Set 2: 220lbs x 8, 15 reps on chinning bar
Set 3; 260lbs x 8, 10 reps on chinning bar
Set 4: 300lbs x 8, 10 reps on chinning bar
Set 5: 320lbs x 8, 8 reps on chinning bar
Set 6: 350lbs x 8, 8 reps on chinning bar
Set 7: 380lbs x 8, 5 reps on chinning bar
DB Flyes supersetted with Dips- 5 x 15 reps with 80lb dumbbells for flyes, supersetted with weighted dips.

Shoulders, Biceps and Triceps
Overhead Press- 5 x 15 x 200 lbs
Extending Heavy Curls. 5 x 5 reps x 200 lbs
French Curls. 5 x 5 reps x 200 lbs
Scott (Curls) Bench. 5 x 10 reps x 150 lbs
Scott (Curls) Bench with Dumbbells. 5 x 5 reps x 60 lb dumbbell
Seated Triceps Extension. 5 x 5 x 60 lbs dumbbell, supersetted with Tricep Press Downs

Abs, Heavy Squats and Calves
Situps- 10 x 50
Leg Raises- 5 x 20
Side Bends with Bar Behind Neck- 5 x 200
Squats- 300 x 5, 400 x 5, 440 x 5, 470 x 5, 500 x 4
Standing Heel Raises- 10 x 8 x 300 lbs

Chest, Back and Shoulders
Bench Press- 200 x 5, 220 x 5, 260 x 5, 300 x 5, 320 x 5, 350 x 5, 380 x 5
Press Behind Neck- 5 x 5 reps x 250 lbs, supersetted with Rowing Machine, 200 pounds
Sitting Press with Dumbbells- 5 x 5 x 80 lb dumbbells.
Dips- 5 x 8

Heavy Arms 
Press- 3 x, 5 x 200 lbs
Extending Heavy Curls- 3 x 5 x 200 lbs
French Curls- 3 x 5 x 200 lbs
Scott Bench for Triceps- 3 x 5 x 200 lbs
Scott Bench for Triceps with Dumbbell- 3 x 5 x 50 lb dumbbell, supersetted with Tricep Press Downs.
Chinning Behind Neck- 5 x 5 reps
Chinning Bar with Closed Hands- 5 x 5 reps, supersetted with Tricep Machine Pull Downs

Abs and Legs
Situps- 5 x 10
Leg Raises- 5 x 10
Side Bends with Bar Behind Neck- 5 x 50
Squats- 3 x 3 x 300 lbs; 2 x 3 x 400 lbs; 3 x 20 x 250 lbs
Front Squats- 5 x 10 x 200 lbs
Sitting Heel Raises- 5 x 5 x 200 lbs

Steve Michalik
5'10", 210lbs.
Well known for his psychotic intensity, undying love of AAS, and for having trained John DeFendis until he achieved his ultimate and ridiculous final Super Saiyan form.  Training two days on, one day off, Steve smashed heavy legs and back Day One, slaughtered chest, shoulders, and arms Day 2, and massacred his abs and calves on a daily basis.  Every workout was basically a bloodbath in which Michalik would work up to an incredibly heavy last set, then do three weight drops in that set to pulverize whatever was left of the bloody hamburger that was the bodypart being trained into a painful pile of pumped up muscle mush.

While the weights below might not scream "HOLY SHIT HE WAS STRONG" at you, bear in mind a bad car accident cut Michalik's career short and we never really got to see what he was capable of, but Michalik was strong as all hell.  According to 1974 IFBB Mr. America winner Don Modzelewski,
“I ran into [Michalik] and just asked if he could give me some advice. Out of the goodness of his heart, he came down and trained me every night, six days a week, for about twelve weeks, and never asked me for a dime. He was no longer training at that time, but one Sunday morning plopped down on a bench with a jelly doughnut in his mouth and, without a warm-up, knocked out twenty reps in the bench with 315, with his ankles crossed up in the air.” (Colescott).
I don't know about you, but I've never seen a 5'10", 210 lb man bench a set of 20 with his legs in the air and 315lbs, all while munching on a jelly doughnut.  That, in my book, equals fucking strong.

Michalik with 1982 Mr. O Samir "Lion of Lebanon" Bannout

Michalik's Split
Day One
a. Leg Presses - four sets - 450 lbs. to 800 lbs.
b. Leg Curls - four sets - 125 lbs. - 15 repetitions.
c. Hack Squats - four sets - 150 lbs. to 325 lbs. - super-setted with
d. Leg Extensions - constant weight of 225 lbs. - ten repetitions.
e. Full Squats - four sets - 205 lbs. to 405 lbs. - ten repetitions.
a. Long Pulley Cable Rowing - seated - six sets - 150 lbs. to 200 lbs.
b. Bent-over Rowing - four sets - 150 lbs. to 245 lbs. Triple drop on last set.
c. Seated Lat Pull-downs - six sets - 150 lbs. to 275 lbs.
d. Deadlifts - four sets - 205 lbs. to 400 lbs.  Triple drop on last set.

It wouldn't be a party without this picture.

Day Two
a. Barbell Pullover - constant weight - 75 lbs. four sets of 15 repetitions for rib-box stretch.
b. Bench Press - six sets - 205 lbs. to 405 .bs.
c. Decline press - six sets - 20t lbs. to 345 lbs.
d. Incline Press - six sets - 150 lbs. to 300 lbs.  Triple drop on last set.
a. Seated Press (on machine) - five sets - 150 lbs. to 205 lbs.
b. Seated Behind the Neck Press (on machine) - 5 sets - 125 lbs. to 175 lbs.  Triple drop on last set.
c. Lateral Raises (dumbbells) - 4 sets - 25 lbs. to 45 lbs.
d. Shrugs - 4 sets - 205 lbs. to 300 lbs.  Triple drop on last set.
a. Lying Triceps Curl on Flat Bench - 6 sets - 110 lbs. to 200 lbs.
b. Seated Triceps Curl - 6 sets - 100 to 150 lbs.  Triple drop on last set.
Regular Set:
c. Decline Triceps Curl - 6 sets - 100 to 150 lbs.  Triple drop on last set.
a. Preacher Curl - oNe Arm - 4 sets - 50 to 75 lbs.
b. Incline Curl (on half-moon bench) - 4 sets - 65 to 85 lbs.  Triple drop on last set.
c. Standing Curl - 6 sets - constant weight - 120 lbs. super-setted with-
d. Preacher Curl - constant weight - 110 lbs.  Triple drop on last set.

Every Day
Calves - 15 sets of about 20 reps - 150 to 250 lbs.
Abdominals - On an adjustable abdominal board. 50 to 75 repetitions on each rung for a drop set.  One to two sets of each drop set (Mr. USA).

Roy Hilligenn
5’6”, 180 lbs,

Roy Hilligenn might be the baddest motherfucker of whom you've never heard.  At 5'6", 180lbs, he might have been the biggest guy I'm going to mention in this series, but he his strength was so prodigeous than when coupled with his Aryan good looks, he'd have been the only person in Hitler's spank bank if he'd lived long enough to witness Hilligenn's lifts.  Hilligenn was the first South African to clean and jerk double bodyweight, tied the world record in the same lift in competition, and eventually unofficially broke the world record in that lift, smashing John Davis's record with a 402lb exhibition lift at a bodyweight that was 50 lbs less than Davis's, and crushing his own weight class's best lift by 32 lbs.  Hell, Hilligenn was even crazy strong into his old age- at 72, he did 35 reps with 400 lbs in the deadlift at a bodyweight of 165 (Bass).

Hilligenn with 405 overhead.

Hilligenn's training poundages are pretty badass even by today's standards, considering the frequency with which he trained, his bodyweight, and the equipment available to lifters in the early 1950s.  While training for the 1951 Mr. America, which he won, Hilligenn was moving some impressive weights:

Full Squat- 420 x 10
Bench Press- 280 x 10
Seated DB Press- 90s x 10
Dumbbell Row- 155 x 10
Incline DB press- 115 x 10

Though his program wasn't really one that could be considered hard and fast or particularly codified, Hilligenn stuck to an interesting 6 day split, wherein he alternated Olympic weightlifting and bodybuilding days.  Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Hilligenn did bodybuilding exercises from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., then hit a second session from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.  Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday were his Olympic lifting days, which consisted of just one session per day.  For his bodybuilding workouts, Roy typically went higher rep, sticking around the 10-15 rep range and going for a burn and a pump.  For most exercises, he'd use five sets, using a combination of barbells, dumbbells, and cables.

Hilligenn's Olympic days were much heavier and ultilized much lower rep ranges- for these he stuck in the 1-3 rep range.  On each of these days, he'd do all three of the olympic lifts, followed by jerks out of the squat stands for triples and doubles, then snatch grip high pulls, then clean grip high pulls, adding weight until he could no longer pull it.  Frankly, this seems like a really utilitarian, if brutal, methodology, and one that could easily be applied to any other strength sport with ease.

I couldn't find a single iota of info on this dude's training, but Mahmut Irmak is the only person I've seen make Andreas Munzer look like he should have been riding a Rascal through an Arkansas Wal-Mart.

As you can see, there are plenty of different ways to attack your physique with powerbuilding, and all ofthem yield pretty phenomenal results.  Still to come, we've got Mike Francois, Rich Gaspari, Phil Herndon, and a bunch of other badass, ultra-strong, weight-destroying badasses and their programs lined up to give you an idea on how to alter your program to bring your physique up to match your lifts, and vice-versa.  In the meantime, start working on that mustache- they appear to confer some sort of physique and strength advantage science has yet to explain.

Bass, Clarence.  Roy Hilligenn, a Marvel - Then & Now.  Cbass.com.  Web.  22 Feb 2015.  http://www.cbass.com/Hilligenn.htm

Colescott, Steve.  Surviving Mr. America's gym.  Musclemag.  16 Feb 2012.  Web.  3 Mar 2015.  http://www.musclemag.com/article/surviving-mr-americas-gym

The Mr. USA Story.  Eric's Gym.  Web.  24 Feb 2015.  http://bodybuilding.ericsgym.com/trainingarticles/stevemichalik/

Nuckols, Greg.  Powerlifters Should Train More Like Bodybuilders.  StrengthTheory.  7 Feb 2015.  Web.  22 Feb 2015.  http://www.strengtheory.com/powerlifters-should-train-more-like-bodybuilders/

O'Hearn, Mike.  mike O'Hearn's power bodybuilding: The 12-Week program.  Bodybuilding.com.  12 Nov 2014.  Web.  3 Mar 2015.  http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/mike-ohearn/power-bodybuilding/12-week-program.html

Roy Hilligenn- The smiling superman.  Iron Game History.  Aug 1994:3(4);8-10.  http://library.la84.org/SportsLibrary/IGH/IGH0304/IGH0304d.pdf

Sergio Oliva Training Routine.  Muscle and Brawn.  5 Jun 2010.  Web.  26 Feb 2015.  http://muscleandbrawn.com/sergio-oliva-training-routine/


  1. What is your opinion on Layne Norton's PHAT in regards to Powerbuilding?

    1. http://www.simplyshredded.com/mega-feature-layne-norton-training-series-full-powerhypertrophy-routine-updated-2011.html

    2. http://www.simplyshredded.com/mega-feature-layne-norton-training-series-full-powerhypertrophy-routine-updated-2011.html

    3. More importantly, what do you think of Layne Norton in general.

      He does "DUP training". From what it seems on his youtube training logs, he only trains bench/squat/deadlift. 3-5 sessions each 4-6 days a week.

    4. I know nothing whatsoever about him, frankly. Anyone who screams "natty" that loudly is either obsessed with nonsense, pandering to idiots, or a liar, as a general rule.

    5. This is what Mike O'Hearn does. I know he is no idiot and I could care less if he is juiced to the gills, but people like this just need to shut up with the "Natty" shit. People just get mad because of the obvious lies.

  2. wtf is this squat once a week bullshit

    Also - you've spoken highly about oly lifters' squats before. Tian Tao/Pat Mendes seem like they embarrass most powerlifters.

    1. Pat Mendes doesn't anymore, but the Chinese and Taiwanese women are tearing it the fuck up.

      I have made good gains with squatting once a week- you just have to go fucking ham. I'll have an article on strip sets that will elucidate this point soon.

    2. Pat mendes is coming back, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AT_-7Qz1_I

  3. As much as this may seem counter to a lot of your blog at first glance, I actually think it really illustrates your main point: Do whatever it fucking takes. You've posted dozens and dozens of different exercise routines by different athletes. They're different, but lead the athlete to become fucking sick. Why? Because they figured out for themselves what worked best for them both physiologically and psychologically. Generally, they all had a shitload of volume or frequency or both, and all had intensity.

    1. Pat Mendes is on the way back, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AT_-7Qz1_I

  4. Some porn would have really put this post over the top...

  5. Unrelated; how come you never write about Mike Dayton?

  6. http://www.davedraper.com/fusionbb/showtopic.php?tid/17769/

    Supposed scans of Steve Michalik's training journal, pre-Mr. America. Pretty interesting read, f you haven't seen it; the regimen he followed prior to the madness.

  7. Mike Mentzer!!! A power builder??? Issuance of insanity 1 needs to be re written I guess!! And what happened to the high frequency squats???
    Anyway, what the recent articles prove is that training needs to evolve over one's lifespan. Different horses for different courses...

    1. Just because his frequency was low doesn't make him any less strong.

  8. I've just eaten a can of dog food. Will I be ok?

  9. So when can we expect to see you rocking a mullet and a mustache, Jamie?

  10. Have you ever heard of a guy called Stuart McRobert? He'd make a good Baddest Motherfucker. He once did 400 x 20 in the trap bar deadlift.

  11. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxBuPial2W4

  12. I bet you can't guess which muscle in your body is the #1 muscle that gets rid of joint and back pains, anxiety and burns fat.

    This "hidden survival muscle" in your body will boost your energy, immune system, sexual performance, strength and athletic performance when developed.

  13. Do you need free YouTube Subscribers?
    Did you know you can get these ON AUTOPILOT & ABSOLUTELY FOR FREE by registering on Like 4 Like?