Old School Bodybuilder: Ed Corney Workout

image of ed corneyEd Corney was born in 1933 in Hawaii. He is an icon of old school bodybuilding and a legend in the sport. He was featured, along with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno, in the bodybuilding documentary, Pumping Iron.

Corney is still active in the sport today at the young age of 83. Corney was a mesomorph known for his thickness and size.

Ed Corney Stats

Height 5′ 7″
Competition Weight 195 lbs

Titles Won

Mr. Northern California
Mr. Western America
Iron Man
Mr. California
Mr. America
Mr. Universe
Mr. International
Mr. World

Ed Corney’s Workout Routine

Corney is an old school lifter who competed primarily in the 1970s. As was common in that golden era of bodybuilding, Corney used a barbell as his primary training implement. His workout was high-volume with mid-range (8-12) reps to allow for maximum hypertrophy.

Although they trained mainly for size, using the barbell and compound movements meant these bodybuilders were also very strong. Their powerful builds express a density and hardness that most modern bodybuilders lack. While today’s champions are much larger, the beauty in the symmetry and strength of the old school bodybuilders is undeniable.

Cardio was also very common. Corney used a 6-day split for his training program, but he was also very active outside the gym. Active rest was assumed and many old school bodybuilders never took a rest day. Although it’s fallen out of favor now in some circles, Corney and others also used static stretching to stay limber and loose.

In his weekly split, Corney used a push/pull routine. Abs, calves, and pushing exercises are grouped on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Hip extension, knee extension, and pulling exercises are grouped on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

The only exceptions to this pattern are the upper arms. Corney trained biceps on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with the pushing movements, although biceps assist in pulling. He also trained the triceps on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, although the triceps assist with pushing movements. Thus, the upper arms were actually worked, directly or indirectly, 6 days a week.

As already mentioned, Corney used a 6-day split in his prime, hitting both upper and lower body on each day. Here’s a snapshot of his weekly routine:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday Routine:


Bench Press

  • Warm Up with 15-25 rep sets
  • 5 working sets of 8-10 reps

Incline Bench Press

  • 5 sets of 10 reps

Dumbbell Flyes

  • 5 sets of 10 reps

Standing Cable Crossovers

5 sets of 12 reps

Corney preferred a shoulder width grip while benching.


One-Arm Lateral Raise

  • 5 sets of 10 reps

Shrugs and Shrug Variations

  • 5 sets of 8 reps

Overhead Dumbbell Presses

  • 5 sets of 8 reps

Lying Lateral Raise

  • 5 sets of 10 reps

For his shrugs, Corney likes to combine the shoulder shrug with a half lateral raise using his arm. He also does the lying lateral raise slow and controlled like a concentration curl.

Also, as with many bodybuilders working for hypertrophy, Corney did not lock out on his presses. Getting the pump is king! That meant feeling the burn and keeping the shoulder muscles engaged by not locking out the arms at the top of the movement.


Barbell Curls

  • 6 sets of 6-8 reps

Concentration Dumbbell Curls

  • 6 sets of 10 reps

Alternating Dumbbell Curls

  • 5 sets of 6-8 reps

Standing Close-Grip Barbell Curls

  • 5 sets of 10 reps

While curling, Corney kept his elbows at his side and used strict form with no cheating.


Machine Standing Calf Raises

  • 6 sets of 10-12 reps

Machine Seated Calf Raises

  • 6 sets of 25 reps


Hanging Leg Raises

Russian Twists



Corney, like many of the old school guys, did a circuit for his abs with no set reps scheme. He would do one exercise until he couldn’t do it any more, and then do the next exercise the same way, and so on. He cycled through the circuit 6 times. That’s hardcore abs!

Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays Workout:


Back Squats

  • 6 sets of 10-12 reps

Leg Extensions

  • 6 sets of 15-20 reps

Leg Curls

  • 6 sets of 15-20 reps

Corney held his leg extensions at the top for a count of 3 before lowering.


Bent-Over Barbell Row superset with Wide-Grip Lat Pull Downs

  • 5 sets of 10 reps

T-Bar Rows

  • 6 sets of 8 reps

Chin Ups

  • 5 sets to failure

The barbell rows and lat pull downs were done as a superset, meaning he moved directly to a set of lat pull downs immediately after completing his set of barbell rows. The rest period came after completing the lat pull downs.

The bent-over rows were done unsupported, meaning no chest support. The old school guys liked this movement for back thickness and strengthening the lower back. In fact, Corney would stand on a bench while performing the bent-over rows as he believed they provided a superior stretch to his lats at the bottom of the movement.


One-Arm Dumbbell Extensions

  • 5 sets of 10 reps

Machine Tricep Pushdowns

  • 5 sets of 10 reps

Lying French Press (aka, Skull Crushers)

  • 6 sets of 8 reps

Close-Grip Bench Press

  • 6 sets of 10 reps

Training Philosophy

Like most old school guys, Corney trained to failure on every set. The high volume and mid-range rep approach shows the primary focus on size, while the use of barbells and dumbbells reflects the training equipment available at the time.

It’s hard to argue with the results.

Having earned a place with the greats of the sport like Arnold, Louie, Sergio Olivia, Frank Zane, Franco Columbo, and others, Ed Corney used the plan above to achieve a classic physique that took him to the heights of the sport.

While Frank Zane, who had a smaller frame, became known for his perfect symmetry, Ed Corney, with his stockier build, became known for his thickness and near perfect posing skills.

As a pioneer of the sport, Corney is still contributing to the world of bodybuilding today and is rightfully a member of the IFBB Hall of Fame.


Leave a Reply