Train like a Sandow!


Why train like a strongman from the 1900s?

Well if that strongman is Eugen Sandow, the father of modern day bodybuilding, the answer should be obvious. Sandow came at a time when steroids hadn’t infiltrated gyms and exercisers were forced to rely on food and training alone. Coupled with this Sandow was inspired by the aesthetics of old Greco-Roman statues, a look that most gym goers today are striving for. So why not train like a strongman from the 1900s?

Detailed below is Sandow’s exercise regime which he claimed kept the body in equal and awesome proportions. Combine it with the man’s advice on diet and you’re on to a winner.

The Exercise Routine of Eugen Sandow


First things first, machines or free weights?


“Nothing, in my opinion, is better than the use of the dumb-bell, for developing the whole system, particularly if it is used intelligently, and with a knowledge of the location and functions of the muscles.” – Eugen Sandow 

Sets, reps and weight

Sandy typically recommended 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions. This wasn’t a case of ‘grip and rip’ but rather slow and controlled reps with the focus on hitting the targeted muscle. Keeping that in mind, Sandow generally recommended about 5-10lbs dumbbells for beginners.

The Sandow Routine 

The Bicep Curl

Sandow Bicep Curl

Reverse Bicep Curl

Sandow Reverse Bicep Curl

Horizontal (or Lateral) Bicep Curl

Sandow Horizontal Bicep Curl

Single-arm Shoulder Press

Sandow Alternating Shoulder Press

Lateral Shoulder Raise

Sandow Lateral Shoulder Raise

Front Shoulder Raise

Sandow Front Shoulder Raise

Lunge Punch Exercise

Sandow Punch Lunge

Chest Expansion (Butterfly)

Sandow Chest Expansion Butterfly

Holding Exercise

Sandow Holding Weights

The Push-up

Sandow Pushup

The Bent Press

Sandow Lift From Ground Overhead Press

Sandow Lift From Ground Overhead Press part 2

The Full Sit-up

Sandow Situp Abdoment Exercise

Swing from Ground

Sandow swing from ground

Forearm Exercise

Sandow forearm exercise

Standing Chest Press

Sandow Chest Press with Barbell

Coupled with the routine above, Sandow insisted his students should engage in the following

  • Nasal Breathing: Especially when exercising
  • Bent Knees: Sandow believed keeping the knees slightly bent aided circulation
  • Alternate Sides: Work one side and then the other right away
  • Train outdoors: When possible!
  • Focus: Sandow always saw the mind as the most powerful muscle

So there you have it, Eugen Sandow’s workout routine. Try it out and let us know what you think. How does it compare with more modern regimens?

Also for anyone interested in learning more about Sandow, you can find his autobiography here (for free too!)