Retro Athlete: Roy Callender

This marathon muscleman may have deserved a Sandow.
Courtesy of Weider Health & Fitness

Roy Callender may be history’s most underrated bodybuilder. Although virtually uncelebrated today, he won four pro shows and thrice finished in the Mr. Olympia top five. Let’s focus on the Olympias. As a 38-year-old rookie in 1978, he placed an eye-opening third. In the controversial 1982 O, he was fourth, but some, including Joe Weider, felt he should’ve won. How differently would we think of him if he’d been given the nod? And he was fifth in 1984 at 44, ahead of defending champ Samir Bannout and two other Mr. O’s.

In addition to his middle-aged excellence, Callender was unique because of his marathon workouts. A typical session lasted five hours and, with two body parts, consisted of more than 80 sets. (Those are not misprints.) And don’t think he was lightly pumping. He pushed himself hard from the start to much, much later, the finish. Few of us have the time or focus to train Callender-style to even determine its efficacy, but it certainly worked for him. 

CALLENDER ON MARATHON TRAINING

“Four hours, six hours, I go till I’m done. I never think about the end, only the next set.”

“I want to know the muscle has been completely exhausted before I call it quits.”

“I’ve trained with less volume. But I found this is what works for me.”

“Almost everyone who scoffs at my style of training has never tried it.” 

FLEX FACT

During Arnold’s first days in America in 1968, he and Callender shared a hotel room. They were both competing in the Mr. Universe. 

 CALLENDER’S SHOULDER ROUTINE 

  • Barbell Shoulder Press | SETS: 8-10 | REPS 8-10
  • Wide-Grip Upright Row | SETS: 8-10 | REPS 8-10 
  • Barbell Front Raise | SETS: 8-10 | REPS 8-10 
  • Dumbbell Side Lateral | SETS: 8-10 | REPS 8-10 
  • Dumbbell Rear Lateral | SETS: 8-10 | REPS 8-10 
  • Dumbbell Shrug | SETS: 8-10 | REPS 8-10

 FLEX 

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