Heavy Duty training

The author of this extremely effective training was Mike Mentzer in the 1970s. Mike pointed out that for success it is not necessary to be lifting enormously heavy weights and spend full week in the gym. His training methods were simple and clear:           

  • High intensity
  • Low frequency

Mike was a supporter of pre-fatigue of muscles and forced repetitions. He recommends 3 training units during the week which are very intense and short. Dorian Yates has been consulting his preparation with Mentzer for years which resulted into his huge success including the title of Mr. Olympia. The program is intended primarily for natural bodybuilders who do not have regenerative processes supported by anabolic steroids.           

What are the recommendations for training?

  • Training up to 3 times a week
  • Number of exercises: 3 - 4 for large muscle parts, 2 for small muscle parts (advanced), 2 for large, 1 - 2 for small muscle parts (beginners)  
  • Performing only 1 maximum set per exercise 
  • Reps vary between 4-6 (main set), 6-10 reps for other sets. Use the motion rule: 3 seconds of positive motion, 2-3 seconds of negative motion, 3 seconds of static motion. 
  • Break between such series at a maximum of 1 minute 
  • Constantly increasing used loads 
  • There must be a break of at least 1 day between the training 
  • Warm-up before each exercise (2-3 warm-up sets) 


Pre-fatigue of muscles:

The training principle of muscle pre-fatigue consists in training the muscle to the point of fatigue by the first exercise, which is an isolated exercise and then immediately following the second exercise that is the basic exercise.             


Training: 3 times a week

Number of reps: 4 - 10 (main set), 8 – 12 (warm-up set)

Used training principles: combined series, negative repetitions, pre-fatigue, forced repetitions, reduced series, static repetitions.


Example of such training:

  1. Day: Chest + Shoulders


Flys with lower loads 1 x 8-10 reps combined with bench press 1 x 4-6 

Cable chest fly 1 x 8 – 12 combined with Smith machine bench press 1 x 4 – 6


Behind the neck press 1 x 8 – 12 combined with peck deck 1 x 6

  1. Day: Thighs + calves


Leg extensions 1 x 12 – 15 combined with squats 1 x 4 – 6

Leg-press 1 x 6 – 10

Hamstring curls 1 x 8 – 12 combined with deadlift 1 x 6


Seated calf raises 1 x 12 – 20 combined with standing calf raises 1 x 12 – 20

  1. Day: Back + biceps + triceps


Lat pulldown on pulley 1 x 8 – 10 reps combined with Bent Barbell Rows 1 x 4 – 6


Seated bicep curls 1 x 8 – 10 reps


Tricep pushdowns 1 x 8 – 12 combined with french press 1 x 4 - 6


The main philosophy of Heavy Duty is to use the training principles that make the "ordinary" sets extremely challenging. Imagine one set of classic barbell bicep curls while standing - comfort. Try this exercise while adding the principle of negative repetitions or reduced series. Combine all the exercises and keep in mind that your job is to destroy the muscle within 1-2 sets!


People also read