When I was starting to work out with weights in the early 1960s, it was difficult for me to find competent, reasonable training advice. Magazines would show me workouts that lasted 3-4 hours. 30-40 sets! I couldn’t do that many sets with any challenging resistance, nor did I want to try! I didn’t have enough time.

It made more sense to me to do 3 sets per muscle group and rest more. This plan seemed to work well for me. I did better with workouts of 30-45 minutes.

When Mike Mentzer became known in the 1970s, he recommended short and very intense workouts. It seemed that all the other great bodybuilders were still doing lots of sets with lighter weights. Mike was a maverick, though Nautilus founder Arthur Jones was somewhat aligned with Mike’s views.

Mike is shown below. He was incredibly muscular.

Mike’s training routines and general philosophy are worth reviewing.


High intensity training. Mike believed in short, intense training sessions. He felt that the key to muscle growth was to train with maximum effort and intensity for brief durations.

Heavy weights and low volume. Instead of performing a high number of sets and reps, Mike advocated lifting heavy weights for a low number of sets and reps. He emphasized the importance of working to failure, when muscles are pushed to their absolute limits and can not do even one more rep.

Split routines. Mike was in favor of working different muscle groups on separate days. This gave him the ability to give maximum effort and focus to each muscle group.

Rest and recovery. Mike believed that muscles needed sufficient time to recover and grow after an intense workout. This was crucial.

Focus on progression. Progressive overload was a key component in Mike Mentzer’s training philosophy. This is consistently increasing the resistance or intensity to stimulate ongoing muscle growth.


Balanced diet. Mike promoted a balanced approach to nutrition – a well rounded diet that includes a mix of macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and fiber.

Protein intake. Protein is crucial for muscle repair and growth. Mike Mentzer recommended quality protein sources, such as lean meats, eggs and dairy. See my prior post on the value of protein.

Carbohydrates and energy. Carbohydrates were considered an important energy source by Mike, especially for his intense workouts. He recommended complex carbohydrates, like whole grains and vegetables.

Fats in moderation. Mike realized that fats were essential for bodily functions, but he recommended moderation, especially with saturated fats. He was for sources like nuts and avocados. See my recent post on nuts.

Hydration. Proper hydration was emphasized for overall health and optimal performance during workouts. See my prior post on water for fitness.


As an Amazon associate, I am able to use their links within my articles and I do so when they are relevant.

Mike Mentzer was an author and published several books on bodybuilding and fitness. There are also other items related to his bodybuilding career. I may earn commissions from sales made from the links. Each link will provide full details, prices, pictures and access to similar choices from Amazon.

The wisdom of Mike Mentzer. Hardcover, paperback or Kindle.

High intensity training, the Mike Mentzer way. Paperback.

Mike Mentzer’s nutritional philosophy: You can’t out-train a bad diet. Paperback or kindle.

Track your nutrition. Mike used a journal similar to this one for tracking foods.

Whey protein powder.

Creatine powder


Mike Mentzer made other bodybuilders look small by comparison. When he won the IFBB Mr. Universe contest, he did so with a perfect 300 score from the judges. He was the first bodybuilder to ever achieve a perfect score.

Mike was considered an intellectual. He changed the bodybuilding landscape in his time. I have never seen anyone so muscular.

His message to all of us was simply: Work out briefly, but intensely. Do reps to failure. Rest and recover before doing it again.

He was a highly respected bodybuilding icon!

Please leave me any comments or questions in the “Comments: section below. Or email me, richard@myworkoutathome.com.

Let’s stay fit and active!


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