John McCallum Workouts


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John McCallum Workout Routines

John McCallum was known as one of the best ever writers on physique training. His no-nonsense approach got right down to the core elements of what really built muscle. And his advice is as valid today as it was a few decades ago. In fact even more so since some of the wisdom of the past has been washed away in the growth hormone era.

John was one of the first fitness writers to "get it" about how to train right. He steered his readers through the floes of overtraining and unnecessary exercises and got right down to what worked.

John was big on learning and then following the right principles. He was one of the first guys to look at strategy over tactics in working the body. And the first strategy is to avoid overtraining while targeting the major muscle groups.

John’s training advice for a new lifter was fairly simple:

Press behind neck: 2 sets of 12 reps
Bent-rowing exercise: 3 sets of 15 reps
Bench press: 3 sets of 12 reps
Curls: 1 set of 10 reps
Squats: 2 sets of 15 reps
Pullovers: 2 sets of 20 reps
Stiff-legged dead lift: 1 set of 15 reps
Leg raises: 1 set of 25 reps

That looks a lot like a HIT routine, eh? John was ahead of his time, for sure. He wrote this in the mid-60’s, by the way. He was also an advocate for the 20 rep breathing squat and suggested another routine for those really trying to put on weight and size:

Press Behind Neck - 3 x 12
Squat - 2 x 20
Pullover - 2 x 25
Instead of the single set 20 rep squat, John advocated a couple of sets.

He also had a power style routine that looked like this:

Monday and Thursdays
Overhead press – 2 sets of 5 reps, 5 sets of 3 reps
Curl - 5 sets of 3 reps
Squats - 2 sets of 5 reps, 5 sets of 3 reps
Leg raises – one set of 25 reps

Tuesday and Friday
Bench Press – 6 sets of 3 reps
Snatch – 3 warm up sets, 3 sets of 3 reps
Power Clean – 5 sets of 3 reps
Dead Hand (partial in rack) Deadlift – several sets of 2 repetitions
1 set of leg raises for 25 reps, or sit ups or hanging leg raises

John McCallum's training routines are a great way to add a productive training cycle to your workouts.

Note: For more information on High Intensity Training see The Colorado Experiment Workout


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