Sig Klein’s Beginner Workout

S&Hfeb45-Sig Klein

Earlier this year I had the great fortune to visit the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports in Texas. Founded by Jan and Terry Todd, the Stark Center is a playground for anoraks like me. Containing the collections of Bernarr MacFadden, Professor Atilla, Bob Hoffman and several other Iron Game legends, Stark holds the history of the Iron Game.

So gushing praise aside, part of time there included a search through Sig Klein’s own personal papers. For those unaware, Klein ran one of the most popular and revered gymnasiums in New York from the 1930s to roughly the 1970s. Famed for his strength and amazing physique, Klein’s best known motto was to train for shape and the strength will come.

Though an advanced lifter in his own right, Klein was always keen to encourage the beginner. With this in mind today’s post details Klein’s beginner workout given to those new to his gymnasium. No tricks, no gimmicks, just simple hard work and consistency were Klein’s twin pillars for success.

Exercise Philosophy

For beginners, Klein stressed the importance of hard work and dedication. Beginners were told to use strict form, be patient in their handling of heavy weights and to approach their exercise regimes with a positive mental attitude. Beginning with 12 to 15 repetitions, lifters would add weight and decrease reps each workout until they were using 8 reps per exercise. The only exceptions for this was abdominal work which remained high in repetitions. Generally two workouts were proscribed for beginners to be used interchangeably over a two week period. In terms of scheduling, lifters would do three workouts a week, four if they felt particularly vigorous.

The Workouts

Workout A

  • Abdominal Board
  • Two Arm Curl
  • Calf Raise
  • Two Arm Pullover
  • Leg Ups
  • Two Arm Bench Press
  • Side Bend
  • Deep Knee Bends
  • Two Arm Bench Press

Workout B

  • Deadlift
  • Abdominal Board
  • Reverse Curl
  • Leg Ups
  • Shoulder Shrug
  • Criss Cross Standing
  • Two Dumbbell Push Away
  • Two Dumbbell Curl
  • Leg Curl and Extension
  • Dumbbell Drill – This was an all over dumbbell complex


While Klein’s workout or exercises were simple, they serve as a reminder that for those starting out in the Iron Game, consistency and compounds are the best introduction to the gymnasium. When did a lifer progress past the beginner stage? Sadly Klein’s records were silent on this issue. What we do know however is that Klein’s famed challenge for advanced trainees was to clean and press 75 lbs. in each hand for 12 perfect reps. How one moved from beginner to advanced is up to anyone’s imagination!

As always…Happy Lifting!

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