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Bill Kazmaier Training Routine?

Hello, I’ve been doing some reading on how the old school greats used to train and I stumbled upon what is apparently Bill Kazmaier’s routine. I’ll post it below. I was originally going to post this under strongman consider Kaz is most known for strongman after all but this definitely doesn’t resemble most modern day strongman programs/routines as far as I know.

So I just have several questions regarding the program cause it just seems well, it seems fairly insane. The amount of volume is ridiculously high, this seems to be something that was very common back in the day, most programs were in the 8-12 rep range and there wasn’t a craze over the number 5.

-Would it be possible for a mere mortal to work up to doing a routine like this and most importantly, would it be effective?

-How would this translate over to strongman? As far as I can tell, this seems more like a “bodybuilder” type routine. Does anyone know what Kaz did as it got closer to his (strongman)competitions? I know he would cycle his reps down as it got closer for powerlifting, did he do the same for strongman? I’m sure he would’ve added at least some strongman movements, right?

-Does anyone else feels ashamed after looking at the program or is it just me? I feel like I’m like doing maybe 10% of the workload, no wonder I ain’t seeing the results. That being said, I do understand that this takes a LONG time and Kaz was as genetically blessed as can be.

Day One
Bench Press (Heavy): 1 warm up set then 4 sets x 10 reps
Wide Grip Bench: 3 sets x 10 reps
Narrow Grip Bench: 3 sets x 10 reps
Front Deltoid Raise: 4 sets x 8 reps
Dumbbell Seated Press: 4 sets x 10 reps
Side Deltoid Raise: 4 sets x 10 reps
Lying Triceps Push: 2 warm up sets then 6 sets x 10 reps
Triceps Push Down: 4 sets x 10 reps

Day Two
Squat (Heavy): 1 warm up set then 4 sets x 10 reps
Dead Lift (Light): 1 warm up set then 3 sets x 10 reps
Shrugs: 2 sets x 15-40 reps, 1 set x 10-20 reps
Seated Hammer Curls: 4 sets x 12 reps
Standing Curl: 4 sets x 10 reps
Close Grip Chin Ups: 3 sets x max on each set
Seated Row: 4 sets x 10 reps
Leg Extensions: 3 sets x 10 reps
Leg Curl: 3 sets x 10 reps
Calf Raise: 3 sets x 15-25 reps

Day Three
Bench Press (Light): 1 warm up set then 3 sets x 10 reps
Wide Grip Bench: 3 sets x 10 reps
Narrow Grip Bench: 3 sets x 10 reps
Dumbbell Seated Press (Heavy): 1 warm up set then 4 sets x 8 reps
Front Deltoid Raise: 4 sets x 10 reps
Tennis Backhand Cable Extensions: 4 sets x 10 reps
Prone Triceps Extension: 4 sets x 10 reps

Day Four
Dead Lift (Heavy): 1 warm up set then 4 sets x 8 reps
Squat (Light): 1 warm up set then 4 sets x10 reps
Shrugs (Heavy): 4 sets x 10-15 reps
Seated Hammer Curl: 4 sets x 8 reps
Concentration Curl: 4 sets x 12 reps
One Arm Row In 3 Positions: 3 sets x 10 reps
Wide Grip Pull (Down To Chest): 4 sets x 10 reps
Leg Extensions: 3 sets x 10 reps
Leg Curl: 3 sets x 10 reps
Calf Raise: 3 sets x 15-25 reps
Abs Exercises

Most people doing such routines for bodybuilding would pyramid/ramp up the weights to a top set or 2. Some exercises may be done light and not to failure to get bloodflow in the muscle. This information is normally omitted when authors put them in writing so the volume looks excessive.

Now, I’m not sure how Bill really did his sets and reps so my advice would be to source out his training videos to get the real picture on how he really trained.

In Josh Bryant’s book, “Metroflex Gym Powerbuilding Basics” they lay out 10 weeks of the upper days for Kaz’s routine. All the weights / reps are there.

There is a light day, with 2 warm ups (10’s)and 3 worksets(15’s)

The heavy day starts out pretty close. Also sets of 15. Then, over 10 weeks, the reps drop as the weights come up. Light days don’t go below 10.

Bryant’s book is pretty cool. Its got a bunch of “famous” old routines, and a bunch that Bryant and Dobson came up with. Many look like they’re loosely based on the Kaz routine.

I think you can get it as an ebook


I find it very hard to believe that a routine like the one presented, with extremely limited lower body work, was seriously or consistently done by someone who eventually squatted and pulled 900+ pounds.

As for it being doable? It’s not crazy, volume-wise. Roughly 8-12 sets per bodypart per session, training each bodypart twice a week.

We could point out that it’s weird to train biceps right before back, and weird to do some leg work, then upper body work, then more leg work all in the same session. But some of the principles are solid (different exercises and/or volume when hitting a bodypart in multiple sessions, heavy/light days).

As for it being effective? Run it as-is for a month and see what happens. Worst case scenario, you spend 4 weeks doing a kind of push-full body hybrid that may or may not have being what one of the strongest men of all time did.

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From videos, It seems like Kaz was really into delt raises. Really heavy front delt raises.

Like he was super pissed about the sausage hold, because he expected to blow everyone ayway due to all his delt raises.

Other big benchers of the past, like Doug Young and Jim Williams did heavy front raises too.

I read that Kaz pictured dynamite exploding before he benched. So maybe he paid special attention to bar speed.

The template you found may be correct. I got to watch him for a little while one day back in the 80s at his gym in Auburn and it was awesome. He benched and did super sets with one arm DB rows with a homemade DB that had to weigh at least 175. It was cool. It had so much tape on the handle that it was about the size of a baseball bat. Everything I saw that day was high reps and lots of sets with what I guess he considered light weight. If I recall correctly, he had 315 on bench and his reps on the super sets were 15 each. And he moved real fast too. He probably didn’t rest 2 minutes between sets. What I remember the most is how fast the weight moved. He was throwing the weight around like it was nothing.


Awesome info!

I wonder if dude was doing his dumbbell rows with an Inch Dumbbell replica?

Also, one more big time lifter doing paired sets Or superset for the upper body.

If that’s the case, what weight would you suggest I start with? I was thinking I’ll start with a fairly conservative weight I know I can get the reps in with and perhaps increase the weight from week to week?

I’m curious; do you know the supposed chronology of the routine? The reason it doesn’t resemble strongman training could very well be because it was the routine he was following while powerlifting. It looks like an old heavy/light.

Granted, he competed in an era where training specifically for strongman was still a little niche, but I imagine there was something a little more tailored toward competition when he needed it.

I’ve yet to actually go into super in depth research(watching all his training videos/go through all his material) but from all the google searches I’ve went through and even his website(I assume it’s his because it’s says © 2016 BILL KAZMAIER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.).

This seems to be what is widely spread around as his training routine. You can take a look at it if you’d like. As for tailoring it towards competition, I’m sure it’s as per needed and hence wasn’t written down into his routine.


It looks like something you could do if you wanted providing you got the loads right. That isn’t to say it’s something you should do. I know I wouldn’t do it right now because what’s worked well for me so far is very different to this.