Mike Mentzer’s Heavy Duty Triceps Routine

Mike Mentzer’s Heavy Duty Relaxed PosedThis is the first in a series of installments that will highlight the greats and the training routines that they employed.

Mike Mentzer’s owned a pair of seriously full blown triceps. They were “ham-like” from deltoid to elbow. His triceps we not missing an ounce of development. His triceps sweep was down right scary-good. So did Mr. Mentzer use a myriad of movements and exercises to attain his triceps size? The answer is no for Mr. Heavy Duty. Mentzer didn’t do more than two exercises during a triceps workout. Mentzer also kept his set totals to four or six. The Mentzer Heavy Duty technique was what created the brutality needed to develop serious muscle. He pushed every set to failure, absolute failure.


Forced reps performed with a training partner were a crucial part of Mentzer’s workload. Mentzer’s training partner would also assist Mentzer with lifting the weight into position to perform negative only reps. This created a three stage set. A “Trio of Pain” if you will: first a positive failure, followed by forced reps, and finally capped off by negative failure.

Let’s take a look at a Mentzer staple:


Nautilus triceps extensions or Lat machine pushdowns (lat machine’s more prevalent nowadays):
3 sets of 8 reps using the Trio of Pain

Weighted Dips:
3 sets of 8 reps using the Trio of Pain

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  1. A triple superset like that is killer. It is important to note that beginners should not start themselves off doing this type of workout. They should be starting with just straight sets – NO SUPERSETS until you start to plateau, then add one. If you start off doing this type of heavy superset workout right away, your body will get used to it quickly and you will be stuck at an unsurmountable plateau before long.

  2. Joe MNo Gravatar says:

    I started using the Heavy Duty Workout by Mike Mentzer on September 17,2009. I was exactly 183lbs with 15% body fat and 36 years old at 5′ 11 1/4″. I was using volume training prior to starting HD and was in relatively good shape. I decided to try a differnt approach and the more I heard Mike speak, the more sense he made to me. Why I had begun the routine my dead lift in heavy duty form was 185lbs for ten reps. My incline barbell press was 165lbs for 4 reps directly after completing the pecdeck for a 10-12 range. By April 1, 2010, I was was exactly 206lbs and 17.5% body fat. My deadlift was 365lbs for ten reps and my incline press was 225lbs for 4 perfect reps. The Heavy Duty Mentzer routine was singularly the most effective size and strenght program I had ever used.

    Now here are the downsides, the workouts are brutal if following it perfectly to the letter, and there were days I needed more than 4 days to recover. Next, I suffered from joint pain. Lastly, My HDL’s went very low and my LDL’s were a little high. I was eating on average 6-10lbs of red meat a week to bulk up and completely cut out cardio. I decided that my overall health was more imortant than being muscle bound. I began a high volume training, low weight training program with cardio three days a week, usually a three mile run. I currently maintain about 193lbs at 12% body fat. My cholesterol levels are perfect.

  3. stevoNo Gravatar says:

    Yes Joe, I too would like to see some pics. That is an awesome transformation you achieved.

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