Mike Mentzer’s Pull Workout

Heavy Duty pull program for massive gains

High volume with moderate weight is preached by many bodybuilders of today. You know, the standard 3-4 working sets in the 8-12 rep range, with a good mind-muscle connection and a squeeze. However, one of the most popular bodybuilders of the Golden Era, Mike Mentzer, broke away from the norm and did low volume workouts, that were few and far in between, but he went all out and made sure that there was nothing left in the tank. Mentzer split his body up into two sections, doing push and pull workouts. So, in this article we will be taking a look at Mike Mentzer’s pull workout.

Let’s dive in.

Who Was Mike Mentzer?

mike mentzer

Mike Mentzer was a Golden Era bodybuilder that has been well known for his usage of the Heavy Duty training program that helped him add some serious muscle mass. Mentzer’s version of the heavy duty workouts consisted of low volume but high intensity. Each set consisted of only one or two working sets within the 6-8 rep range, but the last rep was supposed to be to absolute failure, meaning if once you hit the top end of those rep ranges, you would be giving it your all to complete the rep. 

However, Mentzer did not stop at just 6, 7, or 8 reps. From there, he would utilize things like forced reps, negative reps, and rest-pause reps, the descriptions of which can be found in the table below.

Term Meaning
Forced Reps A spotter helps to move the weight for additional reps
Negative Reps A spotter helps on the positive halves of reps, the the lifter slowly lowers the weight for about 6 seconds
Res-Pause After hitting failure, rest for 15 seconds then perform another rep. Mentzer would repeat that process for 4-6 more reps
Pre-Exhaust Supersets Do a set of an isolation exercise before a set of a compound exercise for the same body part without resting.

He would also only train 3 days a week, with 4 days dedicated to rest and recovery, which is where the body truly grows. Bits and pieces of Mentzer’s training style were used by some other bodybuilders, such as Tom Platz who was known for going to absolute failure on a lot of his sets, but he trained in the higher volume area. Dorian Yates, a 6x Mr. Olympia champion also used the heavy duty training program, and he is regarded as the original mass monster, for the sheer size he brought to the stage. So it is safe to say that Mike Mentzer had his impact on the bodybuilding world.

Sadly, Mike Mentzer passed away in 2001 at the age of 49.

Full Name: Mike Mentzer (Golden Era Bodybuilder)
Weight Height Date Of Birth
225-235 lbs 5’8″ 15/11/1951
Division Era Nationality
Men’s Open 1970’s, ’80s American

Mike Mentzer’s Push Workout

As stated above, Mike Mentzer would divide his body up into two different areas, where he would do a push workout, as well as a pull workout. It was interesting, however, because Mentzer’s push workout included leg exercises but lacked shoulder exercises, which were instead done on his pull day.

Let’s take a look at Mike Mentzer’s pull workout.

Workout B (Back, Traps, Shoulders, Biceps)

Exercise Sets  Reps
Machine Pullover (ss with Close Grip Underhand Pulldown) 2 of each 6-8
Barbell Row 2 6-8
Machine Shrug (ss with Upright Row) 2 sets of each 6-8
Side lateral raises (ss with Machine Shoulder Press) 2 sets of each 6-8
Dumbbell or Machine Rear Lateral 2 6-8
Standing Barbell Curl 1 6-8
Dumbbell Concentration Curl 2 6-8

Mike Mentzer’s pull workout does not look like much, but you have to remember that those working sets were absolutely brutal. He also did not do any shoulder presses, as he hit the front deltoids on his push day with his chest movements, but he did indeed do raises to hit the side delts, as well as the rear delts, to give his shoulders a truly “capped” look.

Warming Up and Working Sets

Now, Mike Mentzer did not just go into his one or two working sets and absolutely brutalize the muscle with his heavy duty training, that would leave almost any individual injured. Instead, he did 1-3 warmup sets with about 75% of his working weight to get blood flowing to the muscles and the joints ready to be absolutely brutalized.

As stated above, the working sets for Mike Mentzer’s pull workout were only in the 6-8 rep range, but those sets were to absolute failure, and then he would go beyond that with the forced reps and such.


mike mentzer curls

Now, despite doing extremely heavy sets and going beyond failure with each working set, Mike Mentzer never compromised his form. He made sure to complete each movement with proper form, all the while maintaining a great mind-muscle connection during the movement. Having that adequate form helped to lower the risk of injury, as well as ensure that the targeted muscle is being worked. You do not want to be doing a bicep curl, but be using your legs and core to cheat the barbell up. Instead, you want to really get a good squeeze out of the muscle, and that is exactly what Mike Mentzer did.

Mike Mentzer Pull Workout Frequency

Now, as stated above, Mike Mentzer would only train on average, 3 days a week, while prioritizing his recovery through proper nutrition and supplementation the other 4 days of the week. He also made sure to allow at least 48 hours in between each training session. That means if Mentzer trained his push day on Monday, then he would train his pull day on Wednesday, and then his push day on Friday, and the cycle would repeat.

Mike Mentzer Pull Day Wrap Up

Overall, Mike Mentzer is someone who truly had an impact on the sport of bodybuilding. Though many bodybuilders prioritize the high volume and more frequency, Mike Mentzer was very different in that he used heavy duty training with low reps but gave it his all during each workout. Mentzer’s pull day workout was no different. 

What do you think of Mike Mentzer’s pull workout?

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Images courtesy of Instagram (@mentzerhit)

Dylan Wolf
I work mainly in content writing, focusing my free time on bodybuilding and strength sports. I was introduced to fitness in high school and after watching Generation Iron movies. I love to train. I have competed multiple times, even winning a junior title in classic physique. I have a bachelor's in criminal justice and business obtained through Alvernia University. When I am not focused on work or training, I enjoy watching films or reading about anything and everything.