The Old School Paul Anderson Squat Routine



Height: 5’9”

Weight: 330 – 360 lbs

1956 Olympics: Gold Medal

Paul Anderson was far and away the strongest squatter who ever walked the earth.

The amount of sheer weight that he was able to lift (with reported ease) on top of his unusual training methods earned him world-wide recognition for being one of the strongest men of all time.

While Paul had amazing overall powerlifting abilities (which translated into a 820 pound deadlift and a 620+ pound bench press), he was world-renowned for his superhuman strength in the squat, which was reported to be around 1200 pounds.

While not officially confirmed, other lifting legends have stated that they witnessed Anderson once squat 900 lbs for 10 reps!

These are pretty insane numbers considering most top natural powerlifters today manage to only squat in the 600 – 700 pound range.

Given that Paul came from the 1950s era of weight training, one can only assume that he was not on any performance enhancing drugs while shattering record after record.

Instead, the reason for his unworldly strength most likely came from a) superhuman genetics (it is reported that the first time he ever squatted he got 400 lbs for 2 reps), and b) his brutal workout routine (which we will get into soon).


The Paul Anderson Diet

To say that Paul Anderson had an affinity for using milk as his main muscle-building supplement would be an understatement.

It is said that Anderson would routinely down over a gallon of it a day, which he would usually consume during his brutal training sessions.

In addition to this, he absolutely loved to eat meat, lots of it.

As you can see, while his diet was quite Spartan and old school in nature, it just goes to show that a couple of high protein, high fat foods is all you need to become one of the strongest men of all time.


His Training Regimen

Anderson clearly did not believe in the concept of overtraining.

His usual training regimen consisted of 6 days a week of hard, heavy lifting.

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday was used to focus on his “poor” lifts, being the bench press, deadlift, and clean and press (I only use the word “poor” when compared to his massive squat).

On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, Anderson would spend his afternoon doing very heavy squats.

Anderson’s training style was also quite unique.

He is famous for practicing squats in a hole in his backyard where he would do partial reps with massive amounts of weight (sometimes up to 1800 pounds).

This practice of doing partials with such huge weight eventually allowed his joints to become strong enough to handle such large poundage in the full squat with extreme ease.

On top of this, his ‘normal’ squatting regimen usually consisted of 3 sets of 2 reps.

But just how heavy were these squats that he would perform during training?

Only a mere 800 – 900 pounds.

Yup, 900 pound squats for repetitions, 3 times a week. How many current powerlifters do you know who do that?

Other accounts of Anderson’s squatting routines state that he would do sets of 3 – 5 reps for an entire afternoon in the hot Georgia sun. Practice makes perfect I guess.

Anderson’s disregard for overtraining not only applied to squatting, but it is reported that he would train his Olympic presses 3 times a week, doing numerous sets of singles and doubles.

While most people might state that such a frequency would result in CNS burnout, apparently it suited Anderson just fine (considering he took home the Gold in 1956).

What’s even crazier is that he was witnessed to have trained multiple times throughout the day!

According to Bob Whelan, Anderson would sometimes take up to an hour between different exercises.


The Strongest Man of all Time?

Paul Anderson is undoubtedly in the conversation when it comes to who the strongest man who ever lived was.

While most people would go with Marvin Eder when it comes to top pound for pound strength, there is no denying just how freakish Anderson’s strength was when you consider the following conditions that he lifted under:

  • He pretty much trained by himself in his backyard
  • He barely had access to decent training equipment
  • He never really had a real lifting coach
  • He was most likely drug-free (along with Eder)

Considering both Eder and Pat Casey (the first man to bench press 600 lbs) also trained during the 50s and 60s, you could definitely say that this era was quite the time for superhuman feats of strength.

While Casey and Eder are both up there in the strongest man of all-time conversation, neither of them could touch Anderson’s prowess in the squat.


What We Can Learn from this Lifting Legend

While it is obvious given his superhuman strength that Anderson’s genetics allowed him to be a powerlifting god, we should also be careful not to discredit him.

Even though Anderson had an obvious lack of resources available to him, he never used it as an excuse.

Instead, he would custom build his own squat apparatus’s using anything he could find from a junk yard, and he would innovatively design his training regimens with what he had at his disposal.

It is also quite clear that he was no slouch when it came to training, given that he would essentially max out on ridiculously heavy lifts 6 days a week.

I don’t care what anyone says, when someone trains at that level of intensity with that type of frequency, you have to give them their props.

All in all, while you may not have the god-given genetics that Anderson did when it comes to raw strength, what we can take away from his legacy is to never use excuses and to never ever let our circumstances get in the way of our goals.

It’s no coincidence that the ones who come from the least privileged are often the ones who rise to the top.



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  1. Sorry but Paul Anderson was not drug free but even if he hadn’t taken anabolic He still would have been stronger than 99% of the human race