Don Ross’ Foundation Bodybuilding Routines

51euKBEQ4-L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Not many people nowadays speak about ‘The Ripper’ and ‘Bronx Barbarian’. Born in the mid 1940s, Don Ross, who went by these stage names, was a highly popular and influential bodybuilding writer in the 1980s and early 1990s. Plying his trade both within the Iron Game and professional wrestler, his articles and even TV appearances were valued by many. In a rather cool piece of historical sources surviving, we have footage of Don’s hosting of ‘Muscle Beach News’, a rather niche programme operating in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

But of course, we’re not here to talk about Don’s TV appearances. We’re here to talk about his training routines. You see earlier in the month I was fortunate enough to pick up a copy of Muscleblasting: Brief and Brutal Shock Training, a 1988 workout manual published by Ross and fellow muscle building fellow, Robert Kennedy. Without typing the book out word for word (who has the time?), I thought it’d be useful to look at his no-nonsence beginner and intermediate workout programmes. So without further adieu…

Don Ross’s Foundation/Beginner Workout Routine

Exercises Sets Reps
Military Presses 2-3 8-10
Barbell Bench Presses 2-3 8-10
Bent Over Barbell Rows 2-3 8-10
Barbell Tricep Presses 2-3 8-10
Barbell curls 2-3 8-10
Squats & Calf Raises Supserset 2-3 8-10
Stiff-Legged Deadlifts 2-3 8-10

Training Protocol

  • Train 3 days per week with at least one days rest in between workouts. So that could mean Monday-Wednesday-Friday, Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday etc.
  • Week One to Four: Only do 2 sets with 10 reps on each exercise. Increase the weight in each training session while keeping your form in check. If your form gets sloppy, lower the weight.
  • Weeks Five-Six: 3 sets per exercise now. Unlike Week’s One to Four when the weight was static per workout, now we need to increase the weight progressively with each set. 8-10 reps per set
  • Remember the last 1 or 2 reps on each set should be difficult, but you should never go to failure with this routine.

Once finished, beginners can cycle back to week one using heavier weights this time or they can progress on to the intermediate programme.

Intermediate Workout

Exercises

Sets

Reps

Chinning bar hang

   

Lat Machine Pulldowns

3

8

Breathing Squats & Breathing Pullovers Superset

3

20

Half Squats

2

8

Standing Calf Machine

3

15

Barbell Bench Presses

3

6

Bench Presses to Neck

3

6

Incline Flyes

3

8

Barbell Presses Behind Neck

3

6

Deadlift Shrugs

3

10

Dumbell Curls

3

6

Dumbell Tricep Presses

3

8

Weighted Sit-Ups

3

10

Chinning bar hang

Training Protocol

  • Chinning bar hang – take wide grip and hang as long as grip holds. This move helps not only to improve your grip strength but is a fantastic stretch for the lats and spine in general.
  • “Breathing” exercises (squats and pullovers) should be done with a light weight so as to emphasise form and concentrate on the muscles. Bear in mind that ‘light weight’ is a fairly nebulous term. The movements should still push you physically without risk for poor form.
  • Do half squats with as much weight as possible
  • Reduce the weight on the Bench Press by 20 lbs before the bench press to the neck. Incidentally this is effectively a Gironda Guillotine Press.
  • Use this routine for at least two months (and as long as it gets results) before going on to a more advanced split routine

Final Thoughts 

Though simple in its design, Ross’s workouts were a combination of tried and tested bodybuilding methods, such as Breathing Squats, and more specialised exercises like the Neck Press. At the behest of a friend of mine, I tried out the beginner programme prior to purchasing the book and found it a great way of simplifying my training and bringing me back to the core exercises. As someone used to training on a split routine it was, I’ll admit, a welcome break.

So whether you’re beginning your Iron Game journey or just looking to freshen things up training wise, the above routines are I believe, of use.

As always… Happy Lifting!

Advertisements