The Mr. USA Story Or How Steve Michalik Trained – 1972



A bodybuilder known for the intensity of his workouts and dietary protocols, the late Steve Michalik was one of a kind. Capable of overcoming career ending injuries, training with a zen-like focus and pushing the boundaries of what bodybuilders ate, Michalik left no stone unturned in the pursuit muscle. 

Highlighting this is today’s post. An 1972 article published shortly after Steve’s victory in the 1972 Mr. America. Both a biography and training diary, the article is one part motivational story and one part training aid.


It was a typically not, humid, July evening in New York City when I walked into the gym for one of my workouts. As I passed the gym floor and went into the locker room, I thought to myself that something was different. What was it? I changed into my gym clothes and as I came back into the gym, I realized what it was. The usual chattering hum was missing. Even the clanking of weights could barely be heard. I looked at the gym floor and noticed that everyone seemed to be standing or sitting. The were almost motionless. All of their attention was focused on a sweat-suited figure whose gym clothes could scarcely cover his enormous pair of shoulders and massive back. As I watched, the center of everyone’s attention finished a set of squats and returned the heavily weighted bar to the racks. I went over to introduce myself. This was my first meeting eith Steve Michalik.

I talked with Steve and found out that he was going to enter the Junior Mr. U.S.A. contest the following month. He had joined our gym because it was close to his office and he had been working late and couldn’t always get to his regular training quarters. In the weeks that followed I had many opportunities to watch this extraordinary young man train. As I watched him, I became more and more convinced that he was going to be one of bodybuilding’s super stars in a very short time. I felt that readers of IRON MAN would like to know about him and his training methods, some of which are quite different.


Steve was born in Brooklyn, New York, on January 8, 1949. He was a very underweight youth who had to receive special iron injections because he was so anemic. Because of this, Steve always had a desire to be strong and healthy. When an older brother began to train with weights, Steve started to become interested in bodybuilding. He was twelve years old. Perhaps because he was so thin and had done almost no exercise prior to that time due to the anemia, his early training was almost too productive. His body responded so rapidly that within four years Steve had ballooned to 220 pounds. He had more than doubled his bodyweight! Of course, this weight gain was too rapid to be all muscle, nada Steve spent the next two years shaping and defining his body.

He began entering contests about this time and in 1968 he won the Mr. Norristown (N.J.) title and placed third in the Mr. New York City and in the Teen-Age Mr. America events. He won the Mr. Western New York State contest in 1969.

During all of this time, Steve wasn’t neglecting his education. He graduated from high school and went on to complete a two-year Commercial Art course at college. He is successfully employed today as a commercial artist.

Steve married his childhood sweetheart, Thomasina. This beautiful girl is a constant source of encouragement to her husband. She makes sure that Steve receives the proper nutrition. In fact, because most of Steve’s training is done in the evening, Thomasina usually serves him supper at 11p.m. Steve told me that without his wife’s continuous reassurance, he could never have reached the level of development he is at now.

Early in 1969, Steve decided he would have to train in a much more intensive manner if he really wanted to make it to the top. He had been training three or four days a week at that time, training his whole body at each session. The results of Steve’s new training method were obvious to even the most casual observer of his massive frame.

General Training Philosophy

Steve believes in working each area thoroughly with as heavy weights as he can handle. In order to do this he splits his routine into two parts. He trains his legs and back the first day and his chest, shoulders, and arms ont the next day. Calves and abdominals are worked at every training session. Steve trains two days in a row and then rests the third day. He continues this pattern of two on and one off right through the weekends. (You can see where Thomasina’s cooperation is important in a training schedule of this type.)

Steve always begins each exercise with a light weight and works up to his heaviest weight. He usually does between l6 and 10 repetitions except for calves and afbdominals. He includes several exercises for each part and does 4 to 6 sets of each. After Steve has reached his top weight in a given exercise, he does something that is rather unusual. He does not put the weight down but has his training partners remove weights from the bar and he continues to do as many reps as he can. The is procedure is repeated three times with a 15-20 per cent reduction in weight each time. Thus, Steve’s last set of each exercise is really four sets in one by training this way, he is able to work the muscle so thoroughly that, as Steve says, “It just has to respond.”

Steve works as quickly as he can, usually resting no more than a minute between sets,. His training partners alternate sets with him.

Steve changes his routine every month or so to keep from getting stale, buy he always adheres to the above training principles. We will take a look at his current training routine buy Steve asks IRON MAN readers to understand that a routine of this type should no be attempted by anyone who has less than three years of hard, regular training behind him.

Present Training Schedule

First Day:
LEGS – (Note: Steve does not use the extended set on the last set of his leg exercises. He does use it for all other parts.)
a. Leg Presses – four sets – 450 lbs. to 800 lbs. – super-setted with:
b. Leg Curls (leg curl table is place on and incline by putting blocks under one end) – constant weight maintained or all sets – 125 lbs. – 15 repetitions.
c. Hack Squats – four sets – 150 lbs. to 325 lbs. – super-setted with
d. Leg Extensions – constant weight of 225 lbs. – ten repetitions.
e. Full Squats – four sets – 205 lbs. to 405 lbs.
a. Long Pulley Cable Rowing – seated – six sets – 150 lbs. to 200 lbs.
b. Bent-over Rowing – four sets – 150 lbs. to 245 lbs.
c. Seated Lat Pull-downs – six sets – 150 lbs. to 275 lbs.
d. Bent-legged Dead Lifts – four sets – 205 lbs. to 400 lbs.

Second Day –
a. Barbell Pullover – constant weight – 75 lbs. four sets of 15 repetitions for rib-box stretch.
b. Bench Press – six sets – 205 lbs. to 405 .bs.
c. Decline press – six sets – 20t lbs. to 345 lbs.
c. Incline Press – six sets – 150 lbs. to 300 lbs.
a. Seated Press (on machine) – five sets – 150 lbs. to 205 lbs.
b. Seated Behind the Neck Press (on machine) – 5 set5s – 125 lbs. to 175 lbs.
c. Lateral Raises (dumbbells) – 4 sets – 25 lbs. to 45 lbs.
d. Shrugs – 4 sets – 205 lbs. to 300 lbs.
a. Lying Triceps Curl on Flat Bench – 6 sets – 110 lbs. to 200 lbs.
b. Seated Triceps Curl – 6 sets – 100 to 150 lbs.
c. Decline Triceps Curl – 6 sets – 100 to 150 lbs.
a. Preacher Curl – oNe Arm – 4 sets – 50 to 75 lbs.
b. Incline Curl (on half-moon bench) – 4 sets – 65 to 85 lbs.
c. Standing Curl – 6 sets – constant weight – 120 lbs. super-setted with-
d. Preacher Curl – constant weight – 110 lbs.

Every Workout Day –
Calves – 15 sets of about 20 reps – 150 to 250 lbs. (done either on calf or leg-press machines)
Abdominals – Steve uses and adjustable abdominal board. Beginning with it at the top rung, he does from 50 to 75 repetitions. Then he immediately lowers the board to the next rung and does another 50 to 75 repetitions and then lowers it once more and repeats with 50 to 75 repetitions. This constitutes one set! He usually only does one series like this but occasionally he does a second one.

He completes his abdominal work by super-setting hanging leg raises and side-bends with light dumbbell. He does about four super-sets of 15 – 20 repetitions.

One additional not on Steve’s training. He does every repetition strictly and concentrates on getting a full contraction and a full extension in each move.

Diet. Supplements, and Views on Drugs

Steve’s diet consists mainly of meat, eggs, fish and cheese. He eats six meals a day. The only liquids he drinks are water and orange juice. He does not drink milk. He also eats a raw salad each day. Steve has a refrigerator and a stove in his office, so he has no problem eating every few hours.

He uses a liquid protein supplement and a meat protein powder that he mixes with orange juice. He also takes 1000 units of vitamin E, 5000 mg. of vitamin C, 100 Liver tablets, and a B-Complex and Mineral tablet. These are taken each day.

Steve’s views on tissue building drugs are as follows: “Grimek, Eiferman, Reeves, Ross, Park, and many others who developed fantastic bodies didn’t use drugs to do it. If you can’t do it by training and diet, you aren’t going to do it all. I just can’t see risking my health for an extra half-inch on the arms or an inch on the chest. If just isn’t worth it.”

Plans for Future

Steve currently weighs 215 pounds. This fills out his five foot ten inch frame with a fifty inch chest, twenty-eight inch waist (that is NOT a misprint), nineteen inch arms, twenty-seven inch thighs, and eighteen inch calves. These measurements were all taken before a recent workout. Steve intends to enter the 1972 Mr. America contest at a bodyweight of 230. (which he later won)

This article is being written the week before the Mr. USA contest which Steve is entering. He placed a very close second to Peter Grymkowski at the Junior Mr. USA a few weeks ago, and he placed ahead of Anibal Lopez who came in third. IRON MAN readers will know the results of the Mr. USA by the time this article appears. If determination, hard training, and the enthusiasm and encouragement of a lovely wife mean anything, then I think that this is the year the world of bodybuilding will get to know the name of Steve Michalik very well. I think he is going all the way to the top.
(ECITOR’S NOTE: Steve just had a sensational win of the Mr. USA title. He is also entering the Mr. World contest at 22 lbs. heavier bodyweight.)