John Grimek Diet and Workout Plan

John Grimek Diet

The John Grimek diet resembles what most people ate during the silver era of bodybuilding. He ate foods like red meat, whole milk, and eggs. There simply wasn’t that much information available during this early period of bodybuilding. Keep reading to find a more detailed look into John Grimek’s nutrition plan and training routine below.

Who was John Grimek?

John Grimek was an American bodybuilder and weightlifter, throughout the 1930s and 1940s. This time period is known as the silver era of bodybuilding. People like Arnold Schwarzenegger represented the golden age, and really put bodybuilding on the map. But John Grimek and others who came before him, started the muscle building trend and were considered pioneers of bodybuilding.


  • Height‎: ‎5’8″ (172.5 cm)
  • Weight: 215 – 225 lbs (93.0 – 102.1 kg)
  • Born: June 17, 1910
  • Died: November 20, 1998

John Grimek Diet

Bodybuilders during the silver era didn’t have access to many food items we have today. Things like egg whites and whey protein were out of the question. When it came to his diet, John Grimek would eat whole and nutrient dense foods. They didn’t eat 6-8 small meals a day like modern bodybuilders. Instead, these legends would eat around 3-4 large meals each day.

  • 1st meal: Whole eggs, hot cereal, honey, milk, and fresh fruit
  • 2nd meal: Oven roasted chicken, whole wheat bread, milk, and vegetables
  • 3rd meal: Bacon, whole eggs, and orange juice
  • 4th meal: Steak, potatoes, large salad, and milk

Silver era bodybuilders were also known to drink freshly squeezed orange juice around their training sessions.

This is just one example day of eating from John Grimek. He wouldn’t eat the same thing everyday, and advocated how important it was to switch up the types of food you ate. In addition to a healthy diet, John was also a believer in getting enough rest and sleep. Recovery is just as important as eating and lifting. You can also have more efficient workouts when fully rested.

Chest Workout

John Grimek used the adjustable krusher to develop his chest. This is an old school piece of gym equipment, that’s very hard to find today. It can be used to train the pectorals and upper back. The adjustable krusher is made out of aluminum and utilizes tension springs to contract the muscles. This exercise can be compared to modern day resistance bands, made out of rubber.

  • 1st exercise: Barbell bench press 5 x 5
  • 2nd exercise: York crusher 3 x 10-12
  • 3rd exercise: Bodyweight dip 3 x 10
  • 4th exercise: Dumbbell pullover 5 x 10
  • 5th exercise: Push up 5 x 10

Back Workout

For silver era back development, bodybuilders focused on pull-ups and rows. They didn’t have access to all the modern day gym equipment we have today. One of John’s favorite back movements were one arm high pulls. This is a very strenuous back movement, that also works the arms and abs. Try out this sample John Grimek back workout below.

  • 1st exercise: Bodyweight pull-up 4 x to failure
  • 2nd exercise: Barbell bent over row 4 x 8-10
  • 3rd exercise: One arm dumbbell high pull 4 x 10
  • 4th exercise: Wide grip pull-up 4 x to failure
  • 5th exercise: Dumbbell row 5 x 5

Shoulder Workout

Developing your shoulders is key to a achieving a v-taper. It’s important to work the front, side, and rear shoulder muscles. But John Grimek and other bodybuilders during this era used what they had to build the shoulder muscles. You couldn’t just hop on a cable machine and isolate your rear delts. Silver era bodybuilders relied on heavy presses for size and strength.

  • 1st exercise: Overhead dumbbell press 4 x 10
  • 2nd exercise: Overhead barbell press 5 x 5
  • 3rd exercise: Landmine press 4 x 10
  • 4th exercise: Dumbbell lateral raise 4 x 15
  • 5th exercise: Rear dumbbell fly 4 x 15

Leg Workout

John Grimek didn’t have the biggest legs, but they were proportional to the rest of his body. During this time bodybuilders focused on heavy compound exercises. John was known for his strength when it came to the squat. In his prime he was able to squat around 700 pounds. This is very impressive given the time period and it’s an impressive number to this day.

  • 1st exercise: Barbell squat 5 x 5-12
  • 2nd exercise: Elevated block squat 3 x 15
  • 3rd exercise: Jumping squat 3 x 10-15
  • 4th exercise: Standing calf raise 3 x 15-20

Arm Workout

What’s interesting about silver era workouts is what they used to train. John was famous for his unconventional movements, especially when it came to his forearms. He would toss weights from hand-to-hand, lift chairs using only his fingers, and even squeeze tennis balls. This is such a unique approach to training, that is often overlooked today. Here’s an example arm workout form John Grimek.

  • 1st exercise: Incline dumbbell curl 3 x 8-12
  • 2nd exercise: Lying overhead pulley curl 3 x 8-12
  • 3rd exercise: Concentration curl 3 x 8-12
  • 4th exercise: Dumbbell crossover 3 x 8-12
  • 5th exercise: Bodyweight dip 3 x 8-12
  • 6th exercise: Dumbbell French press 3 x 8-12
  • 7th exercise: Dumbbell hand-to-hand toss 4 x 15-20

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