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

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