Matt Mendenhall’s Workout Routine and Diet Plan

Matt Mendenhall’s Workout Routine and Diet Plan

Matt Mendenhall, who passed away in 2021, was a highly respected bodybuilder in the 1980s. He earned the nickname “Mr. Genetics” due to his naturally muscular physique, which consistently impressed audiences when he competed on stage. However, despite his impressive physique, Mendenhall was unable to attain professional bodybuilder status.

In this post, we will delve into the workout and diet plan that Mendenhall followed in order to achieve and maintain his impressive muscle mass. From his training routine to his nutritional habits, we will explore the strategies that helped Mendenhall build a physique that was admired by many.

Matt Mendenhall’s Workout Principles

Matt Mendenhall was known for his exceptional work ethic, consistently pushing himself to the limit in his training sessions. Despite having naturally impressive genetics, he never relied solely on his natural talent and worked tirelessly to become a formidable competitor in the Mr. Olympia competition during the 1980s.

His training routine was based on traditional bodybuilding principles and included a variety of exercises designed to build muscle mass and enhance his overall physique. 

While some bodybuilders prioritize sheer size over aesthetics, Matt’s approach was balanced, allowing him to achieve a muscular and visually pleasing physique. His dedication and discipline paid off, as he gained recognition for his impressive muscle development and impressive stage presence.

Matt Mendenhall’s Workout Routine

Matt Mendenhall’s Workout Routine

Matt Mendenhall was a physically fit man, standing at a towering height of 5 feet 11 inches and weighing around 235-245 pounds. His body was well-proportioned, with strong quadriceps and a wide back that gave him an aesthetic appearance.

To maintain and build his muscular frame, Matt followed a high-volume training program that was designed to add lean muscle mass. Like many other bodybuilders of his time, he focused on a variety of exercises that targeted different muscle groups.

In order to stay in top form, Matt visited the gym regularly, usually six days a week. He followed an antagonist workout split, meaning that he trained opposite muscle groups in a single session. This allowed him to get a full-body workout in a shorter amount of time, while also allowing for adequate recovery between sessions.

Now let’s have a look at how Matt Mendenhall’s workout routine used to be;


  • Incline dumbbell press- 5 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Flat dumbbell press- 5 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Barbell decline press- 4 sets of 6 reps
  • Dumbbell flys- 5 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Pullovers- 4 sets of 10 reps
  • Cable crossovers- 4 sets of 10 reps


  • Deadlifts- 4 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Wide-grip pull-ups- 4 sets of 10 reps
  • T-bar rows- 4 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Front lat pulldowns- 4 sets of 10 reps
  • Rear lat pulldowns- 4 sets of 10 reps
  • Seated cable rows- 4 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Bent-over dumbbell rows- 4 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Hyperextensions- 4 sets of 12-15 reps


  • Behind-the-neck overhead press- 5 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Lateral raises- 5 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Rear-delt bent-over lateral raises- 5 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Barbell/dumbbell shrugs- 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Upright rows- 3 sets of 8-10 reps


  • Barbell curls- 4 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Dumbbell curls- 4 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Preacher curls- 4 sets of 8 reps
  • Concentration curls- 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Skull crushers- 4 sets of 8 reps
  • Overhead tricep extensions- 4 sets of 8 reps
  • Cable pushdowns- 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Barbell reverse curls- 4 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Wrist curls- 4 sets of 12 reps


  • Squats- 5 sets of 6 reps
  • Hack squats- 4 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Lying leg curls- 5 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Leg extensions- 5 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Standing calf raises- 5 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Seated calf raises- 5 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Calf presses on a leg press station- 5 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Donkey raises- 5 sets of 12 reps


  • Sit-ups- 4 sets of 30 reps
  • Crunches- 4 sets of 25-30 reps
  • Reverse crunches- 4 sets of 20-30 reps
  • Lying leg raises- 4 sets of 20-30 reps
  • Hanging leg raises- 4 sets of 30 reps
  • Russian twists- 4 sets of 25 reps

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Matt used to really enjoy performing the deadlift as part of his back workouts. It was a key exercise for him and he consistently included it in his training routine. 

However, in order to reduce the risk of any potential injuries, Matt would stop doing deadlifts for about six weeks before participating in a bodybuilding competition. 

He did this as a precautionary measure to ensure that he was in good condition for the competition and to minimize the chances of any issues arising from lifting heavy weights during the deadlift.

Forced reps

Matt had a strong belief in the concept of training to failure, which means pushing your muscles to the point where they can no longer perform any more reps. He believed that this intense level of stimulation was necessary in order to promote both strength and muscle growth. 

In order to ensure that his muscles were being adequately stimulated, Matt would often perform forced reps at the end of his working sets. These forced reps, which involve having a spotter assist with the final reps of a set, can be extremely challenging and make the workout routine quite grueling. However, despite the difficulty, Matt was able to achieve impressive muscle gains and become a strong contender for the prestigious Mr. Olympia title.

Matt Mendenhall’s Diet Plan

Matt Mendenhall was a competitive bodybuilder who followed a strict diet in order to achieve and maintain his physique.

He focused on consuming whole foods that provided lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats, as these nutrients are important for muscle recovery and growth. 

During competition prep, Matt would limit his daily caloric intake to just 1800 calories and also lower his fat intake to achieve a lean and aesthetically pleasing appearance on stage. In order to adhere to his diet, Matt ate four major meals per day. So what did Matt Mendenhall’s diet plan look like? Let’s find out;

Meal 1

  • Protein shake (made with Apple juice, banana, ice, and protein powder)

Meal 2

  • Any seasonal fruit

Meal 3

  • Chicken or fish
  • Vegetables

Meal 4

  • Chicken or fish
  • Vegetables

Foods to avoid

In order to maintain a healthy weight and prevent the buildup of unhealthy fat on his body, Matt made a conscious effort to avoid consuming junk foods or highly processed or fried foods. 

He didn’t necessarily track his macros or calories, but he still made sure to choose nourishing options for his meals and snacks. By making this effort, he was able to maintain a healthy and balanced diet.

Staying hydrated

Matt always made sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep his body hydrated. Hydration is important for maintaining the proper functioning of the body’s systems, including the circulatory system and the digestive system. 

By drinking water regularly, Matt was able to ensure that his body had enough fluids to function properly. In addition, staying hydrated can help to prevent dehydration, which can cause a range of symptoms including fatigue, dizziness, and dry mouth. By making sure to drink enough water, Matt was able to maintain his health and well-being.

Matt Mendenhall’s Supplements

To keep his body strong and muscular, Matt Mendenhall would incorporate certain supplements into his daily nutrition plan. By adding these supplements, he was able to ensure that his overall nutrition was complete and balanced. This helped him to maintain his desired physique and stay healthy.

Matt Mendenhall included the following supplements to help keep his gains;

  • Whey protein
  • Multivitamins
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin C
  • Omega 3 Fish Oil

Final Thought

Matt Mendenhall was a highly respected and accomplished bodybuilder who had a significant impact on the industry. If you are interested in incorporating his fitness routine into your own workouts, it is important to consider your own body type and goals. 

This will help ensure that you are making the most of the program and seeing the best results. Working with a knowledgeable personal trainer can also be very helpful in getting the most out of the program. 

Although it may take some effort, we believe that following Matt Mendenhall’s workout and diet plan can lead to significant improvements in your fitness and overall health.

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