Mark Berry’s Simple But Effective Workout Course (1930s)


A phenomenon unknown to the modern lifter is the importance of workout posters within the gymnasium. Scattered across the gym walls, workout courses from Joe Weider, Mark Berry and a host of other weight lifting aficionados would highlight simple and effective workouts for both the beginner and advanced trainee.

Such courses would usually come in a series of stages. Stage one would be aimed primarily at the beginner or novice lifter. Including all the basic compound exercises, this phase of gym going life would continue for several weeks or months before the trainee was encouraged to move on. After that, stage two would commence. Exercises remained similar but the instructions and ordering changed.

This cycle would continue ad nauseum until the lifter either began designing their own routines or switched to another mentor’s course. It was a time honoured way of earning one’s gym stripes. And indeed should you still train in an old-school gym, such courses will undoubtedly line the walls.

With that in mind, today’s post examines Mark Berry’s three simple but effective weightlifting routines as taken from his 1930s mail order workout course. Featuring a young John Grimek, the course was targeted at lifters across the life cycle. For those in search of a good full body workout routine, look no farther.

Stage One

Warming Up:

Nothing fancy from Mark Berry here…just a few sit ups, toe touches, side bends and general stretching to get the blood pumping

The Workout Itself

    1. Two arm curl
    2. The lying press/bench press
    3. Bent forward/over row
    4. Press behind neck
    5. Pull over
    6. Full squat
    7. Shrug
    8. Straddle squat
    9. Leg raises
    10. One arm Press
    11. KB swing
    12. Windup= forearms
    13. Wrestlers bridge
    14. Reverse curl
    15. Two arm press.


Do 3 sets of 5 reps on each exercise. Building up to 3 sets x 10 reps over time. Try and increase the weight each workout.

Stage Two


      1. Alternating DB press
      2. Front raise with bar
      3. Squat press (as you go down in a squat you also press the bar overhead
      4. Step ups with weight
      5. Leg press
      6. Side bend
      7. Regular Deadlift
      8. Alt. DB curl
      9. One arm side lateral
      10. Calf raises
      11. Stiff leg Deadlift
      12. One arm curl
      13. Abs ex. of your choice.


All the above is done 1 set of 6 to 12 reps

Stage Three


        1. Two hands clean and press
        2. Two hands snatch
        3. Two hand clean and jerk.
        4. One handed snatch
        5. One handed clean
        6. One handed jerk
        7. One handed Press
        8. Bent press
        9. Side press
        10. One handed DB/Kettlebell swing catch with the other hand in front then continue to the other hand
        11. Two hand clean and push press… ‘continental style’

In the third course you must do the first three 5 sets of 5 reps. After that if you have anything left in you do one or two of any of the DB lifting sets and reps are up to you.

Have you done any of these courses? And if so, how did you find them? Let us know in the comments below.

As always, happy lifting!

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