Old School Bodybuilder: Bob Paris Workout

image of bob parisBob Paris was a fan-favorite in the bodybuilding scene in the 1980s, placing 3rd in several pro shows and cracking the top 10 at the Mr. Olympia in ’84, ’85 and ’88. Weighing in at 230 lbs. in contest shape, the man was known for his flawless shape and aesthetic physique, and he appeared in dozens of magazines in during his pro career and even after retiring from the sport in 1991.

In 2006, Flex Magazine featured the Top 20 most aesthetic bodybuilding physiques of all time, and Bob Paris was voted in at the number one spot.

Controversy and Retirement

When Paris burst onto the scene in the early 80s, he won nearly every amateur show he entered and placed 7th at his first Mr. Olympia. He was quickly predicted to become a future Mr. O, but the sport was shifting away from the aesthetic physiques of Frank Zane and Francis Benfatto and toward the mass monsters of Lee Haney, Dorian Yates and Ronnie Coleman. Paris was unable or unwilling to push his body away from the classic proportions and into the freaky zone, and his career stalled.

It was during this time that Paris’ personal life became a major factor in his decision to retire from bodybuilding. In the July 1989 issue of Ironman Magazine, he came out of the closet, revealing that he was a homosexual, and he even appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show as the world’s first professional athlete to come out while still actively competing.

As a result, Paris lost sponsors and endorsement contracts, and his income began to dry up, as his guest show appearances also dwindled. He began to be harassed and even received death threats, and in 1991 he retired from bodybuilding competition.

Cardio and Abdominal Training

During his competitive years, Paris often performed cardio both before and after every weight training session to warm up the muscles prior to hitting the weights, as well as to push additional blood into the muscles after lifting to aid circulation and speed recovery and growth. He later cut back on the cardio to avoid over-training and to leave more energy for the weights.

Unlike many of the bodybuilding greats of the time, Paris preferred to avoid long, daily abdominal marathons consisting of hundreds of reps and instead trained abs much like he trained all of his other muscles: with moderate weights, a rep range of 20 reps or so and adequate rest between workouts. He resisted the then-common belief that abdominals are a stubborn muscle group and cannot be over-trained, and his results spoke volumes.

Bob Paris Training Split: Complete Routine

Below is the complete bodybuilding workout routine followed and recommended by the legendary Bob Paris as he describes in his book, “Flawless”. Like many bodybuilders during that time period, he used a 3-on-1-off Push-Pull-Legs (PPL) 3-way training split, performing 3-4 exercises per muscle group at 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps, occasionally straying from those rep ranges on core free-weight lifts, abs and calves.

Day 1: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Abs, Cardio

  • Incline Bench Presses 4 sets, 6 – 8 reps
  • Incline Flyes 4 sets, 12 – 15 reps
  • Flat Dumbbell Presses 3 sets, 6 – 8 reps
  • Across Bench Pull-overs 3 sets, 15 – 20 reps
  • Dumbbell Side Raises 4 sets, 10 – 12 reps
  • Rear Pulley Crunches 4 sets, 12 – 15 reps
  • Barbell Presses 4 sets, 6 – 8 reps
  • Bench Dips 4 sets, 15 – 20 reps
  • Push-downs 4 sets, 6 – 8 reps
  • Two-Dumbbell Kickbacks 3 sets, 10 – 12 reps
  • Hanging Leg Raises 3 sets, 15 – 20 reps (tri-set)
  • Lying Leg Raises 3 sets, 15 – 20 reps(tri-set)
  • Crunches 3 sets, 15 – 20 reps (tri-set)
  • Cardio 20 – 30 minutes

Day 2: Legs, Calves, Cardio

  • Leg Extensions 4 sets, 15 – 20 reps
  • Front Squats 4 sets, 12 – 15 reps
  • Lunges 4 sets, 10 – 12 reps (each leg)
  • Lying Leg Curls 4 – 5 sets, 12 – 15 reps (bi-set)
  • Stiff-Leg Deadlifts 4 – 5 sets, 12 – 15 reps (bi-set)
  • Standing Calf Raises 3 – 4 sets, 20 – 25 reps (tri-set)
  • Seated Calf Raises 3 – 4 sets, 12 – 15 reps (tri-set)
  • Tibia Raises 3 – 4 sets, 20 – 25 reps (tri-set)
  • Cardio 20 – 30 minutes

Day 3: Back, Biceps, Forearms

  • Wide-Grip Pulldowns 4 sets, 12 – 15 reps
  • Close-Grip Pulldowns 4 sets, 8 – 10 reps
  • One-Dumbbell Rows 4 sets, 10 – 12 reps
  • Half Deadlift/Shrugs 3 sets, 8 – 10 reps
  • Hyperextensions 3 sets, 20 – 25 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Curls 4 sets, 10 – 12 reps
  • Barbell Curls 3 – 4 sets, 8 – 10 reps
  • One-Arm Pulley Curls 3 sets, 12 – 15 reps
  • Pulley Compound Wrist Curls 3 sets, 12 – 15 reps

Day 4: Rest, Cardio

  • Cardio 20 – 30 minutes

Day 5: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Abs, Cardio

  • Bench Presses 4 sets, 6 – 8 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell presses 4 sets, 8 – 10 reps
  • Cable Crossovers 3 sets, 15 – 20 reps
  • Across-Bench Pullovers 3 sets, 12 – 15 reps
  • Dumbbell Presses 4 sets, 6 – 8 reps
  • Seated Bent-Over Side Raises 4 sets, 10 – 12 reps
  • Lying Compound Side Raises 4 sets, 10 – 12 reps
  • Rope Push-Downs 4 sets, 6 – 8 reps
  • Overhead Pulley Extensions 4 sets, 12 – 15 reps
  • Lying French Prsses 3 sets, 15 – 20 reps
  • Hanging Leg Raises 3 sets, 12 – 15 reps (tri-set)
  • Lying Leg Raises 3 sets, 12 – 15 reps (tri-set)
  • Crunches 3 sets, 12 – 15 reps (tri-set)
  • Cardio 20 – 30 minutes

Day 6: Legs, Calves, Cardio

  • Hack Squats 4 sets, 12 – 15 reps
  • 45-Degree Leg Presses 3 sets, 15 – 20 reps
  • Leg Extension 4 sets, 15 – 20 reps
  • Standing Leg Curls 4 sets, 12 – 15 reps
  • Lying Leg Curls 4 sets, 10 – 12 reps
  • Leg-Press Calf Raises 4 sets, 20 – 25 reps
  • Seated Calf Raises 3 sets, 10 – 12 reps (bi-set)
  • Tibia Raises 3 sets, 15 – 20 reps (bi-set)
  • Cardio 20 – 30 minutes

Day 7: Back, Biceps, Forearms

  • Wide Rear Pull-Downs 5 sets, 15 – 20 reps
  • Low-Pulley Rows 4 sets, 6 – 8 reps
  • T-Bar Rows 4 sets, 8 – 10 reps
  • Dumbbell Shrugs 4 sets, 12 – 15 reps (bi-set)
  • Hyperextensions 4 sets, 20 – 25 reps (bi-set)
  • Concentration Curls 4 – 5 sets, 10 – 15 reps
  • Barbell Preacher Curls 4 sets, 6 – 8 reps
  • Zottman Curls 4 sets, 12 – 15 reps
  • Barbell Wrist Curls 4 sets, 15 – 20 reps

Once Paris was able to hit his top rep number in all sets, he would increase the weight 5 – 10 pounds.

As you can see, Paris did a lot of exercises for a lot of sets and reps. If this is a routine you’re considering, the best way would be to ease into it and see how your body responds. Such high volume can be too much for natural and new lifters.

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