In this first follow-on article in the “Old School Strong” series we are going to dive into the training of Marvin Eder or “The Biceps from the Bronx.”

Image result for marvin ederMarvin Eder was still a teenager when he powered his way into the strength world, competing in and taking second place in his first ever bodybuilding show. Before we start diving into some of his training lets go ahead and take a quick look at some of the records he hit in the early 1950s:

25 strict handstand push-ups

8 one arm pull-ups

8 weighted pull-ups with 200 lbs

515 lbs bench press (while weighing under 200 lbs himself)

7 dips with 400 lbs

50 deep squats with 300 lbs

These records only scratch the surface of Marvin Eder’s impressiveness in the gym, what’s more is that he retired from bodybuilding when he was only 22 years old. Yes, you read that correctly. The politics in the bodybuilding world in the 1950’s were such that Marvin was forced into an early retirement. Just imagine what he could have pulled off with another 10 active years in the strength game.  

Marvin was known to have recommended a program for those looking to put on both strength and size for new and intermediate trainees. Put simply it is the same movements performed three times per week on a program that starts in with hypertrophy, moves into strength, and ends with a combination approach.

Eder Recommended that you use the same movements each workout and not add any additional work. The Movements:

  1. Back Squat
  2. Bench Press (Medium width grip)
  3. Bentover Barbell Row
  4. Standing Barbell Press
  5. Lat Pulldown or Weighted Pull-ups (Wide Grip)
  6. Heavy Seated Dumbbell Curls
  7. Leg Raises and other light ab work

The Old Time greats often recommended full body workouts, hitting each muscle group 3 times per week to start out with. In terms of Programming, Marvin thought it best to follow these guidelines:

  1. Weeks 1 & 2: 3 sets of 8 reps
  2. Week 3: 4 sets of 8 reps
  3. Week 4: Deload week- hit the same movements with 50% of the weight
  4. Weeks 5 to 8: 5 sets of 5 to 7 reps
  5. Week 9: Deload week
  6. Weeks 10 to 13: 3 sets of 3 to 5 reps followed by 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps for each movement

These set/rep schemes were used for all movements each and every workout, so best bet is to be prepared to work hard for a little over an hour each training day. Eder recommended taking plenty of time between sets in order to recover enough to hit your lifts.

Old School Full Body programs were known to be rough and can wreak havoc on the body if some guidelines are not followed in addition to the training protocol. Marvin instructed anybody who wanted to follow his program to plan to do two things outside the gym: 1) sleep no less than 8 hours per night, and 2) eat whole foods- meats, vegetables, fruits, basically avoid anything unnatural. He believed that a trainee could stay on this program indefinitely and see huge results without making very many changes, however, Marvin himself eventually moved on to his own version of advanced training and tried a variety of strategies to help put additional muscle and strength on his already powerful frame.

If you want to read more about Marvin Eder, check out this article,

As always, be sure to ask a coach, trainer, or licensed physician if you have any questions or any injuries prior to starting a particularly difficult training program such as this one.