Training sessions from the past that shaped today and the future.

Old School Heavy Duty

The program this month is a program I started in 1994, each year I changed it a little, but kept its baseline intact.

Through 1997 I successfully combined HIT (High Intensity Training) with Thick Bar and Power Rack work, heavily influenced by Brooks Kubik.

I can remember at the time reading works by Mike Mentzer – Heavy Duty published in 93 and Heavy Duty-2 published in 96. Also Dinosaur Training (in my opinion the best training book I have ever read) by Brooks Kubik, also published in 96.

Heavily influenced and motivated to train as hard as possible and be as strong as hell, I developed a program that welded those two training worlds together.


Image 10

My Journal For 1997

Looking through the pages I am struck by how good this routine was back then. If I’m honest the gains made were incredible. But because that year I came 2nd in the British to Wayne Thicket, and also 5th behind Wayne’s 4th at the Worlds (it took me till 2007 to win the World’s); that year for me was not registered in the memory banks as being ‘the year that’, like 95, and 2007 and 2009 ‘stand out years’ for me. So over time when I have looked back to move forward this was a journal that I skimmed over and pushed to the rear of the pile; forgotten and neglected.

Obviously I had that year down as unsuccessful, when in fact as far as gaining muscle and strength, along with condition, it was actually completely the opposite, now that I have years of perspective and good old hindsight.

In fact it was one of the most result producing programs I ever did.

After winning the British in 95 my goal was to take a year off and come back in 97 for a crack at the overall. Off-season of 96 went real well and as soon as the Christmas trimmings where down I was in comp mode, the plan bigger – leaner – stronger – and train harder than ever in 97 – and I was and did!

So it was highly successful.

Here is the program


Old School Heavy Duty


Day One

Chest and Back

Rest two Days

Day Two

Shoulders and Arms

Rest Two Days

Day Three


Rest Two Days



Day One

Chest and Back

Warm Ups


Flat Flyes 1 set to Fail- using Thick Dumbbells

No rest

Hammer Chest Press 1 Set to fail then a Static Hold held in the contraction position for as long as I could stand, followed by a Slow Negative

30 seconds rest

Rack Bench Press Thick Bar 1 set to fail – pressing from a dead stop on the Pins

Image 6

Thick Handled Dumbbells 



Pull Over Machine (it was a power cam one not Nautilus but still very good)

1 set to fail plus Static Hold at the contraction point

No rest

Chins 1 set to fail weight added

No rest

Bent Over Row or Dead Lifts (these alternated from one session to next)

1 set to fail

No rest

Shrugs holding the top for a count of count of 10- 1 set to fail

Sit Ups 3 sets weighted

Image 7

Early Morning In My Gym Future Bodies 

Day Two

Shoulders and Arms

Normal warm ups


Lat Raise Machine – 1 set to fail plus a Static Hold in the contraction point

No rest

Rack Thick Bar Shoulder Press off the pins bench upright 80 degree

This was rest paused – reps to fail – rest 10 seconds go again – fail – rest 10 seconds go again till I could not move the bar no rest

Bent Over Lat Raise 1 set to fail


Triceps Extension Thick Bar on a slight decline 1 set to fail

No rest

Push Downs 1 set to fail plus Static Hold at contraction

Slight rest 30 seconds or so

Dips 1 set to fail


Thick Bar Curls 1 set to fail

No rest


Slight Rest 30 Seconds Or So


Concentration Curl 1 set to fail each Arm

Image 8

The Thick Bar 

Day Three


Looking in my journal there is a line

Oh my god had butterflies for two days – pushed so hard on this last time -and I need to do even better-(I underlined this) Train Hard Win Easy

Normal Warm Up


Leg Extension


Leg Press

Bang Bang Bang 1 round to fail


Hack Squat 1 set to fail

Image 9

Hack Squats With The Lads 


Leg Curl 1 set to fail

Calf Raise 1 set to fail

At odd times I would include a Static Hold on the Leg Extension or a Drop Set



I kept progression simple – when ever I got near or past 12 on any movement the weight was increased the next session.


I concentrated on gaining strength and working as hard as possible.


I kept the rotation simple 1 day on 2 days off.


I did only walking on days off as a recovery aid.


I only used one supplement MetRX meal replacement 2 – 3 a day along with my normal good food


The strength I gained was phenomenal.


At the start of the program

In the leg tri set squats 2 plates a side

By the end of the year even while comp ready 3 plates same reps

Hacks 2.5 plates aside at the start in the tri set

By the year end 4 plates aside

Everything just went up – by similar amounts

Dead Lifts went from 3 plates to 4.5 aside

Bench Press Thick Bar from 1 plate aside on the 100 pound bar to 1.5 plates aside – even with pre ex work with the flyes and so forth thats around 250 pounds in old money/weight.


My two partners Chris and Rob made awesome gains also –Rob for instance won some powerlifting meets and then came 3rd in the ANB British Novice that year looking awesome

All in all it was an awesome program and a good time in life x

Enjoy the journey guys – always enjoy and absorb x


Love to ya all Ian x

HIT Training

The Day HIT Training – Hit Me – Literally

Looking in my journal, Thursday 1 September 2000.  I can remember the day like it was yesterday.  It was a nice, end of the summer evening as my training partner,s Rob and Chris, pulled down a back street in Barnsley, England.  We were looking for a small gym that a buddy of mine had been training in for 12 or so weeks, when he turned up for a workout at my place, Future Bodies in Morley, Leeds at the time – I could not believe the gains he had made.  He told me about a couple in Barnsley that had trained him H.I.T (high intensity training) style.  One phone call and days later, there we were.

As I understood, it was very small, and down behind a row of tenement houses.  All we could see was rows of garages, nothing anywhere to indicate a gym.  Then I noted one of the dilapidated garages had one of its black wooden double doors open a little, my first thought was to see if anyone was in there, so I got out of the car and headed towards it.  As I got closer I could see the familiar steel box section that everyone that loves weights can spot a mile off, as a bench or rack.

I waved the lads to get out of the car and we made our way to a small double garage.  Inside we found some heavy steel homemade equipment spread around the outside of a huge hole in the middle of the floor.  Everything looked homemade and heavy, apart from an old Nautilus Leg Extension sort of perched right over the hole.  Little did we know we were in HELL.  Mick and Sue Moran greeted us ‘in hell’.  A couple, in their 50’s, Mick a thick set guy, kind of tough looking and Sue a quiet spoken women that betrayed how evil a streak run through her.  My buddies and I chatted a little with them and Mick asked who would be going first.  I said I would, looking all-full of myself.  I had been working the HIT trail for a while now but on a split routine.  I figured how hard could this be?  I had not directly said this to Mick but on the phone expressed that I trained HARD and had done some shows!!  Yada yada yada.  So in his mind, he was out for blood, as he knew I did not ‘TRAIN HARD’.  He said, “Just do as you are told – exactly as I tell you”.  “Yes sir” I said, by now my heart had sunk into my ass.

From the pages of my Journal

Not that I need reminding that much – god the workout is seared into my soul.  It goes down as one of my all-time hardest workouts.  Why?  Well for one it was a hell of a shock; I had never trained that hard before.  It took all I had to keep going – pride, balls, stubbornness.  Whatever it was – I had to find it.

From that day on I had a high water mark to reach for.  Here is the workout.

Squat – 30kg a side, slow and deep descending I would say for I guess 5 to 7 seconds negative (lowering), then a pause at the bottom for a second, then up.  This was for 20 reps. Frigging hell I thought after these what the hell have I let myself in for?  No rest.

Leg Extension – full range of movement, pause at the top, weights lightly clicked behind.  I found myself feeling for the click, it seemed a world away – CLICK – and up, no kick, squeeze at the top.  They were both in each ear – 20 reps, get 20 reps!  I was in a world of pain.  Every time I failed they dropped the weight “keep going – you’re not done 20 reps”.  How the hell I got them I do not know, I was out of it.  Here’s the point I let out a “what the f” as I got off the Leg Extension and they put me – ‘put me’ under the Squat.

Squat – yes I kid you not, same weight same style – forced reps the works till 20, this was torture I thought I going to fall flat out.  I don’t know how but I did them, it seemed endless.  The bastards.  No rest at all, I was pushed over to a dip and chin homemade box steel unit in the corner.

Chins – at last something I can do well I thought.  Nope – not happening, again not the way I had done them.  They had me take an underhand grip – pause at the stretch and pause at the top – the very top.  This was for 12 reps, arms and back screaming, made me forget my legs for a spell.  Till I stepped off the frame and nearly fell in the hole.  Again they moved me with no rest on to a Decline Bench.  As they then lifted the bar off the Squat stands and passed it too me, 30kg a side.

Decline Press – for chest, they had me push down towards my groin and squeeze my chest hard, forced reps to 12.

Oh my god what the hell is this I thought, my whole body is shot to bits!  I rolled (fell) off the bench and as instructed sat on the floor and was handed a small bar on a Low Pulley Row.

Low Pulley Row – it was heavy “come on strong little man” Mick said as after 6 or so reps he was giving me forced reps to reach 12.  Each rep the stretch was held and at the contraction.  Sue kept you in the right alignment and was just pure frigging evil – hold – hold – hold – chest up squeeze.  I wanted to punch them both but I could not have fought my way out of a paper bag at this point, instead I just screamed and got my 12.

They then made me sit straddled across the Decline Bench and handed me the bar for a Behind Neck Press.

Behind Neck Press – no idea what was on the bar, I could not see or even think at this point.  Every rep was like a max rep, held in the bottom and top, stretch and squeeze.  Bloody agony!  I was shaking so much everything on me was switching off, I got 12 with I think some help, or lots of it.

The bar was whipped off me and then again pushed into the corner, I felt like I was going to explode I was in so much pain and so pumped.

Dips – on the frame, “deep – deep – stretch – hold – then tense at the top”, bellowed at each side of me.  I got 12; they would not let me get off till I did.  These were done in a Rest Pause Style.

I stepped off the frame “nearly there” said Mick as he handed me the bar again.

Curls – I could hardly hold the bar, my arms felt like sponge, it was the hardest set of curls ever, then or since – 12.  That frigging 12 again.

Again I was pushed over to the Low Pulley area that also was a Pushdown with a rope.  These did not register at all, 12 with most of them being forced reps.

Dips.  I kid you not, I almost cried here.  I did 3 reps; I could not for my life do another rep.  Mick made me do 9 negatives – stepped up and lowered myself to the bottom, slow.  I was screaming like a pig.  Done!  Said Mick, I dropped to the floor like a stone.  The cold mucky cold concrete floor felt like the best thing in the world, I wanted it to soak me up I was in so much pain – everywhere; my whole body was in shock.  I moaned like a baby and looked over at the lads, their faces froze in horror.  I felt the wave build – I am going to be sick!  I scrambled outside, stumbled on a patch of grass outside, fell on my knees and let it rip.  It was like a possession of sorts – projectile was not the word.  I thought it would never stop, when it did I rolled on the back street between the garages and soaked up as much cold concrete floor as I could.

I lay there for a long time, enough for me to smile as Chris made his way to the sick patch of grass.  I smiled at him and gave him the thumbs up.  Not long after Rob joined in the laying down in the street party, it took us a while to get up and head home.  When we had overcome the shock we chatted about what had just happened.

I voiced that I thought we trained hard and clearly we did not.  All of us vowed to train hard as possible and make some gains.

The Gain

For the next twelve weeks I trained harder than I had done up to that point in any of my training life.  My weight was 157 or so and I was fair lean at the start of the HIT program we set upon.  In 12 weeks I gained like never before topping at 172 and only a slight difference in in leanness.  At 5.3 I looked like a box and was strong as a bull.

Here is the base program:

  • Squats
  • Leg Extensions
  • Chins
  • Decline Press
  • Deadlift
  • Shoulder Press
  • Curls Thick Bar
  • Rope Pushdown
  • Dips
  • Calf Raise

One set each to fail, aiming for 12 reps.

When I got 12 the weight went up.  Simple, just killed it every time.

Why did I stop?  After more than two years of training the HIT way I was getting to the point of being scared to train.  Yes you read that right – scared.  The workouts were that brutal I was hating my training.  The gains had been awesome but the romance had faded, so I used other forms of working out and although productive, nothing was or ever has been as productive as the HIT program.  Why HIT now?  Well as the years have gone on, I have trained hard – not balls to the wall – but hard.  I can tolerate it now, training very hard is a learned skill and I have had a lot of years of practice of touching the edge.  In order to make gains there has to be a trigger, and intensity is the best way to trigger growth.  I wanted and needed to make some gains so I developed my own THREE version of HIT.  Based on my many years of research and working out, how I can kill it and recover at the age and advanced stage I am in my training life.  I think I have an awesome program that has had me gaining very well.

A little discussion here on training hard as many out there will not get this concept.  Yes there are gyms full of guys who never seem to do a great deal other than mess about with their phone between sets.  Well unless you are from Mars you must understand that many – many – of these kids are not let’s say, unassisted.

The normal guys, with normal hormones and recovery need to work with Mother Nature not against her.  To grow, and for body composition to alter for the better, more muscle less fat – there HAS TO BE a stimulus, a trigger.

This has to come in the form of a bloody hard workout.  If you do what your body is capable of you will not change.  Read that again – you will not change.  Now the laws of nature state that if you train hard you cannot train long.  You cannot sprint a mile, so the harder you push the workout, the less you can tolerate in volume.  Simply put here, if you want to grow and be more muscular and leaner – kick the crap out of yourself on a few hard basic exercises, get out of the gym, eat good food and wait till you feel recovered.  Then kick the crap out of yourself again.  Honest to god it boils down to something as simple as this.


I hope you enjoyed that section –It made my adrenalin kick in reading it I can tell ya.

Again its another form of training –if all you get from this is the next time you go in the gym you kick ass and work harder, my job is done.

Be Old But Strong of Mind and Body.