At a bodyweight of 215lb. Mel has benchpressed 535lb, squatted 535lb and deadlifted 600lb. Although he seldom works them, he has pressed 300lb from behind the neck and military pressed 325lb. All of Mel’s lifts are done in extremely strict style. When you see him lifting over 500lb in the benchpress in such a smooth and deliberate motion you get a feeling of power that cannot be conveyed by merely quoting facts and figures.
Mel began weightlifting when he was thirteen years old, but it wasn’t until he was fifteen and inspired by a television exhibition given by the great John Davis that he really began to take his training seriously. During those first years of training he was living at home on the farm and trained in his father’s barn. He claims that he occasionally took him weights to school with him and exercised there. It seems normal for him to have carried his barbell to school as it does for the other students to have carried their books.
The Army interrupted Mel’s training for two years. Being in the paratroops, he spent most of this time making jumps and skiing near Innsbruck, Austria. Next to weightlifting, skiing has remained his favorite sport.
After his discharge from the Army in 1956, Mel moved to the Minneopolis-St. Paul area where he lived and worked as a warehouseman. There he began working out at Alan Stephan’s gym. Training in a well-equipped professional gymnasium under such a qualified man as former Mr. America, Alan Stephan, sure beat training on the farm and Mel’s Strength responded accordingly. Since then, his training quarters have changed to his basement and finally to the St. Paul YMCA, but his strength has continued to gain at a rather steady rate.
At thirty-two years of age, he expects to continue gaining for at least ten more years. The fact that in the last two years he has increased his squat by 45lb and his benchpress by 50lb indicates that he was not slowing down. These gains are especially noteworthy when one considers that they are gain on already tremendous lifts.
In view of the fact he benchpressed 450lb years ago at a bodyweight of 195lb, it seemed that his record is well within his reach. But the simple fact is, Mel was not interested in breaking records or winning contests. His sole satisfaction from weightlifting comes in training hard and getting stronger.
This point is illustrated by the fact that it was only as a personal favor to some of his friends that he began entering local meets.
As with any strongman, the answer to this question involves four elements: diet, exercise, rest, and all of these multiplied by persistence.
Mel’s diet may be described in the simple phrase, “low starch, high protein and avoids refined sugar as much as possible. His diet consists mainly of eggs, steak, green vegetables and a gallon of milk per day. In addition, he uses protein and vitamin mineral supplements. He prefers eating five smaller meals a day to three large ones, consequently he uses his morning and afternoon breaks at work to dispose of two meals.
He eats less on workout days, especially limiting the last meal before his workout.
Actually, were it not for the gallon of milk that he drinks every day. Mel’s diet might be prescribed as one for losing weight rather than gaining.
Following this diet has enabled Mel to weigh a solid 215lb. As his pictures indicate, there is little fat on this man.
The key to Mel’s exercise routine is simplicity. He sticks pretty much to the tried and proven strength building exercises and works them very hard rather than doing a variety of exercises of dubious merit.
Here is a summary of a typical week of workouts.
|Monday||Weight (lb) x Reps|
|Benchpress||135×15, 260×10, 420×3, 465×1, 480×1, maximum single (depends upon how he feels) 425×4, 455×3|
|Squat||135×25, 300×10, 360×8, 430×5, 480×3, 510×1, maximum single|
|Deadlift||400×12, 495×6, 550×3, 550×3, 570×2,|
|Upright row||135×10, 155×8, 185×8, 205×8|
|Sit-ups||25lb held behind the neck for of 15 reps|
|Wednesday||Weight x Reps|
|Deadlift||Same as Monday|
|Benchpress||Same as Monday|
|Tricep press||135×10, 155×8, 185×8, 205×8, 225×4, 245×2, 265×1|
|Incline Benchpress||225×6, 275×5, 305×3, 330×3|
|Leg Press||450×10, 500×8, 550×6, 625×6|
|Saturday||Weight x Reps|
|Benchpress||135×25, 260×10, 360×6, 420×3, 470×1|
|Squat||135×25, 300×10, 360×8, 405×6, 485×3, 500×1, 525×1, 535×1, 475×3, 400×12|