The Mike Mentzer Workout Routine

The Mike Mentzer Workout Routine

In the fitness world, Mike Mentzer’s training philosophies are having a resurgence in popularity. High-intensity training is more popular than ever and people want to learn about Mentzer’ training system.

Here’s a full breakdown of the Mike Mentzer workout routine and everything you need to know about this training style.

Who was Mike Mentzer?

Mike Mentzer Body Builder

Before we get into the Mike Mentzer workout routine, let’s talk about who Mike Mentzer was. Mike grew up in Pennsylvania and got into physical fitness and bodybuilding from a young age.

He began training seriously during his teens and worked his way up the ranks and became an influential figure within bodybuilding.

Mentzer’s approach to bodybuilding was heavily influenced by his background in philosophy. This intellectual approach set him apart from many of his peers in bodybuilding.

As a forward thinker, Mentzer developed a highly structured and scientific approach to training. His training philosophy was centered around intensity over volume.

Mike believed that the key to muscle growth and strength gains was to train with maximum intensity with just one set.

The Mike Mentzer Workout Routine 

Mentzer’s training philosophy was centered around the idea of intensity over volume. He believed the key to muscle growth and strength gains was to train with maximum intensity.

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The entire Mike Mentzer workout routine revolves around one set to failure. Whenever Mike was in the gym, he would pick no more than three exercises and do a single set to failure.

Mentzer argued that this approach allowed for maximum stimulation of the muscle fibers without doing multiple sets. By following this training philosophy, he believed that it would reduce the risk of overtraining and minimize time in the gym.

The Mike Mentzer Workout Routine Training Splits

The Mike Mentzer workout routine is a training split broken up into three days of training per week

  • Day One: Chest & Back
  • Day Two: Legs & Abs
  • Day Three: Shoulders & Arms

Day One: Chest & Abs

  • Dumbbell Chest Fly, Cable Crossover: 1 set to failure
  • Incline Smith Machine Press: 1 set to failure
  • Machine Pullovers or Straight Bar Lat Extensions: 1 set to failure
  • Close Grip Underhand Lat Pulldown: 1 set to failure
  • Deadlift: 1 set to failure

Day 2: Legs & Abs

  • Leg Extension: 1 set to failure
  • Barbell Back Squat or Leg Extension: 1 set to failure
  • Leg Curl: 1 set to failure
  • Standing Calf Raise: 1 set to failure
  • Weighted Decline Sit Ups: 1 set to failure

Day 3: Shoulders & Arms

  • Machine or Dumbbell Lateral Raise: 1 set to failure
  • Reverse Pec Deck or Dumbbell Rear Raise: 1 set to failure
  • Barbell Curl: 1 set to failure
  • Cable Triceps Pressdown: 1 set to failure
  • Weighted Dips: 1 set to failure

What is the Duration of a Mike Mentzer Workout Routine?

Mike Mentzer on Beach

The Mike Mentzer workout routine should last no more than 30 minutes per training session. Mentzer believed spending hours in the gym training would just burn the muscles.

He felt that you could get everything you need in just a 30 minute training session.

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How Often Should the Mike Mentzer Workout Routine Be Done?

The Mike Mentzer workout routine was based on a split system. Typically targeting different muscle groups on different days of the week.

Mike advocated for a low frequency of training, with each muscle group being worked every 4-7 days to achieve adequate recovery.

The Mike Mentzer Workout Routines Resurgence in Popularity 

Years after Mentzer’s untimely death, his workout routine has had a resurgence in popularity. Online, there are now many hardcore fans of the Mike Mentzer workout routine, who have adopted the training philosophy.

It’s no surprise that Mentzer’s training theory has a huge fan base because there’s a lot of good stuff in it. The best part is that you’ll get results with less time spent in the gym.

The Positives of the Mike Mentzer Workout Routine

There’s a lot of good stuff within Mike Mentzer’s training theories, but there’s two reasons it’s still being used. These two reasons are because the Mike Mentzer workout routine is simple and effective.

His training system is easy to follow and will get you results. All you have to do is train hard for one set per body part and you will get results.

Criticisms of the Mike Mentzer Workout Routine 

While the Mike Mentzer workout routine can be an effective form of training, many exercise science professors have issues with it. Here are some of the biggest criticisms of Mentzer’s training style.

Outdated Training Methods

Mike Mentzer Pose

The biggest criticism of the Mike Mentzer workout routine is that the training methods are outdated. This doesn’t negate Mentzer’s influence as a forward thinker, but science wasn’t available during his era.

Now that more research and studies have been done on the best training methods, we know what works and doesn’t work. For his era, Mentzer was ahead of his time, but since more research has been done, we can see his theory’s flaws.

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Mentzer’s Progression Algorithm

In Mentzer’s progression algorithm, he starts every exercise with 8 reps and continues at that weight until he completes 12 reps. Once he achieves 12 reps at the weight, he adds 10% to the load and restarts the progression.

Newer exercise science research has shown that you can hit hypertrophy with a 5-30 rep range and not just 8 reps. The other flaw in Mentzer’s progression algorithm is the progression will eventually take longer to achieve.

A better progression would be keeping the same rep-range, but adding 2.5 to 5 lbs in your next training session. You’ll have a more frequent progression and get better results.

Mike Mentzer vs. Arnold Shwarzenegger

The biggest detractor of Mike Mentzer’s training Theory was the legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger. These two were bitter rivals who hated each other.

Mentzer’s training theories and diet went against everything Arnold founded his training on. The two would constantly snipe at each other at Gold’s Gym and nearly came to blows.

In the 1980 Mr. Olympia, Mentzer came in fourth and Arnold took first when many thought he didn’t deserve it. This caused Mike to quit professional bodybuilding, citing that it was all political and in favor of Schwarzenegger.

The Legacy of Mike Mentzer and His Workout Routine

Despite his tragic passing in 2001, the Mike Mentzer workout routine is more popular than ever. There are now more people using the training philosophies that Mike developed decades ago.

It’s a shame that Mike didn’t live to see his theories validated, but people will continue using his training philosophies.