Bob Hoffman (1943) – How to Build Super Strength, Health and Development with the York Leg Developing Course


Never afraid to promote his own products in line with good workout advice, Bob Hoffman and York Barbell were once the go to suppliers of knowledge within the Iron Game. A position Hoffman often used to great financial and sporting advantage.

Nevertheless Bob and his team did produce some good pamphlets on training as evidenced by the following course. Aimed primarily at the beginner and intermediate, the programme stressed good form, heavy weight and progressive training as the trifecta needed to build a solid and muscular base. So without further adieu, here is Hoffman’s Leg Developing Course in an abbreviated form.


Use this program at least 2 days a week. Devote another 1 or 2 days to upper body work  depending on your own schedule, recovery time, interest etc.

Rep Range and Progression 

Interestingly unlike others in the field during this time, most notably Peary Rader, Hoffman was not a fan of high volume leg work. Indeed he often stated that with the exception of calf work, reps over 15 would produce ‘dead legs’ in trainees. That is to say he believed trainees would lose their spring with excessive volume.

Thus the following programme required just 1 set per exercise with the reps ranging between ten and twelve reps. Regarding progression, Hoffman stated that if you lifted 200 pounds for 12 reps one session, the next session you should try 205 for ten reps. After that 205 for 12 reps and so on and so forth. Gradually building upwards as much as possible. When you found yourself stuck on a weight for a period of time, you temporarily moved down in weights and began again. This time at a higher baseline.

The Routine

1. Full Squat on Toes w/barbell or dumbbells (The bottom position here would be similar to the Hindu Squat in that the back is as upright as possible)

2. Calf Raise

3. Full Squat

4. German Goose Step (essentially marching German style with weight on shoulders)

5. Partial Squat* 6-12″ –  At least 15 reps

6. Straddle Hop (Barbell on Shoulders) 20-50 reps

7. Leg Press while Lying Down (Here a barbell was placed on the heels of the front and pressed upwards. The modern leg press is a simpler and one stresses, safer equivalent!).

8. Running with weights, hill sprints, stairsteps, etc…either a barbell on back, or dumbbells in hand

9. Lifter’s Choice: Rapid Full Squats or Overhead Squats

10. Compound Exercise – Four exercises 6-12 reps per exercise; no rest between. You may choose your own exercises. Example: Full Squat, Straddle Hop, Rapid Squat, Calf Raise etc.

One suspects that in later years, Hoffman expected trainees and athletes to finish up with one of his god awful protein supplements.

As always, happy lifting!


    1. It’s amazing what was done isn’t it? Back then it seemed to have been such a commonplace exercise. I certainly don’t think I have the courage to try it!!!

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