Intensity instead of volume is not the common wisdom for bodybuilding goals. Nevertheless it is a noteworthy method and Mike Mentzer in his later works went so far as to recommend workouts with one working set per exercise and brakes of one week and more between workouts. His concern was that many athletes he saw on volume plans seemed to be constantly overtrained and therefore not progressing ideally. Intermediate bodybuilders who want to find out how brief, intense and infrequent training works for them will still find this program an interesting starting point.

This program with three Workouts follows Mike Mentzer’s template for high intensity bodybuilding from 1993:

Day 1: Chest – Shoulder – Triceps
Day 2: Back – Biceps
Day 3: Legs – Abs

– Work with a professional trainer to prepare you for high intensity on each of the exercises
– Always maintain proper form
– Slow controlled reps – 4 sec up – 2 sec hold – 4 sec down
– Increase weight for upper body to go to failure in the six- to ten rep range
– Increase weight for legs to go to failure in the twelve- to twenty rep range
– Only one set to failure, per exercise
– Have someone there to push you

If you are new to this program, we don’t recommend to push sets past failure with forced reps, negatives or rest-pause yet. Talk to a professional coach before you start this and train with at least one partner to assist each other in going this far.

You will learn a lot more on this method reading Mike Mentzer’s book Heavy Duty (1993) or High-Intensity Training the Mike Mentzer Way, with John Little (New York: McGraw Hill; 2002).

The Program:

Day 1: Chest – Shoulder – Triceps

Six exercises for chest, shoulder and triceps:

– Dumbbell Incline Fly
– Barbell Incline Bench Press (Superset)
– Dumbbell Standing Side Lateral Raise
– Dumbbell Lying Rear Lateral Raise
– Cable Tricep Push-Down
– Parallel Bar Dip

Day 2: Back and Biceps

Six exercises for back and biceps:

– Dumbbell Bent Arm Pullover
– Parallel Close Grip Front Pull-Down (Superset)
– Barbell Reverse-Grip Bent Over Row
– Smith Machine Shrug
– Barbell Deadlift
– Barbell Standing Biceps Curl

Day 3: Legs and Abs

Five exercises for legs and abs:

– Leg Press
– Sitting Leg Extension
– Lying Leg Curl
– Smith Machine Standing Calf Raise
– Sit-Up

Tipps:

– Increase the weight for upper body exercises to go to failure in the six- to ten rep range
– Increase the weight for leg exercises to go to failure in the twelve- to twenty rep range
– Slow controlled reps – 4 sec up – 2 sec hold – 4 sec down
– Always maintain proper form
– Rest shortly, about 1 minute between exercises
– Don’t rest between exercises in supersets