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How Powerlifting Legend Big Jim Williams Trained

Strength Oldschool

Big Jim Williams - How He Trained

Big Jim Williams was a powerlifter in the late 60’s/early 70’s and was the first person to bench press 700lbs. He had a best bench of 720lbs. (unofficially, but in public. Done in front of the whole USA weightlifting team, including judges) and 675lbs. (officially, at the 1972 Powerlifting World Champioships). Could squat 900+ as well.

Training Information:

Monday

Squat
free choice of sets/reps

Bench Press
6 sets of 5 reps with 405 lbs.
1 set of 10 reps with 350 lbs.

Incline Barbell Press
3 sets of 4 reps with 405 lbs.
1 burnout set with 225 lbs.

Lat Machine Pulldowns
8 sets: 20 reps (125 lbs.) + 6 reps (315 lbs.)
1 burnout set with 125 lbs.

Upright Rows
4 sets of 10 reps with 100-225 lbs.

Dumbbell Shoulder Press
10 sets of 10 reps

Dumbbell Curls
10 sets of 10 reps with 100 lbs.

Lying Tricep Extensions
7 sets: 15 reps (135 lbs.) + 6 reps (315 lbs.)
1 burnout set with 135 lbs.

Forearm Curls
to failure

Tuesday

Bench Press
same as Monday

Press Behind the Neck
5 sets of 10 reps with 225 lbs.

Dumbbell Bench Press
10 sets 10 reps with 120 lbs.

Decline Dumbbell Press
10 sets 10 reps with 130 lbs.

Pullover Press
8 sets: 10 reps (135 lbs.) + 5 reps (425 lbs.)

Bent-Over Dumbbell Raises
10 sets 10 reps with 45 lbs.

Lying Tricep Extensions
10 sets 10 reps with 225 lbs.

Preacher Curls
10 sets 10 reps with 100 lbs.

Forearm Curls
to failure

Wednesday

Squat
free choice of sets/reps

Bench Press
2 sets of 1 rep with 525-550 lbs.
1 set of 10 reps with 315 lbs.

Lat Machine Pulldowns to the Neck
10 sets 10 reps with 275 lbs.

Lat Machine Pulldowns to the Chest
10 sets 10 reps with 275 lbs.

Upright Rows
5 sets of 10 reps with 100-250 lbs.

Deadlift
free choice of sets/reps

Incline Dumbbell Press
10 sets 10 reps with 135 lbs.

Front Squat
free choice of sets/reps

Jim Williams Front Plate Lift
10 sets of 10 reps with 100 lbs.

Dumbbell Curls
10 sets of 10 reps with 75-100 lbs.

Lying Tricep Extensions
6 sets: 15 reps (135 lbs.) + 3 reps (325 lbs.)
1 burnout set with 200 lbs.

Tricep Pushdowns
use entire stack
free choice of sets/reps

Thursday

Bench Press
3 sets of 2 reps with 550 lbs.
1 set of 10 reps with 315 lbs.

Lat Machine Pulldowns
10 sets of 10 reps with 275 lbs.

Dumbbell Shoulder Press
8 sets of 10 reps with 135 lbs.

Lying Shrugs
10 sets of 10 reps with 150 lbs.

Standing Barbell Curls
6 sets: 10 reps(135 lbs.) + 3 reps (275 lbs.)

Lying Triceps Extensions
6 sets of 15 reps (135 lbs.) + 3 reps (275 lbs.)

Tricep Pushdowns
use entire stack: free choice of sets/reps

Saturday

Squat
free choice of sets/reps

Bench Press
1 set of 1 rep with 600 lbs.
1 set of 10 reps with 405 lbs.

Deadlift
free choice of sets/reps

Lying Shrugs
10 sets of 10 reps with 150 lbs.

Dumbbell Shoulder Training
free choice of sets/reps

Lying Tricep Extensions
6 sets: 15 reps (135 lbs.) + 3 reps (325 lbs.)
1 burnout set with 200 lbs.

Tricep Pushdowns
use entire stack: free choice of sets/reps

Standing Barbell Curls
6 sets: 10 reps(135 lbs.) + 3 reps (275 lbs.)

 

Jim Williams used to max out for singles on the bench press every day in the 70’s, he worked up to 700lbs over time. He claimed that he couldn’t bench once or twice each week or gains would stop, that’s very interesting.



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