William Boone's 1937 Training Program
by Brooks Kubik
William Boone, training in his back yard with nothing more than a rusty weight set
William Boone was a tremendously powerful lifter in the 30's and 40's. He first achieved fame when reports were published of his astonishing gains on a program of heavy, high-rep squats, which he was inspired to follow after reading about what a similar schedule did for his Herculean contemporary, Joseph Curtis Hise. If memory serves correctly, Boone gained something like 80-100 pounds on the squat program.
Boone eventually built up to a bent-press of close to 300 pounds ... a deadlift of 700 or so ... a partial dead lift of 900 pounds ... and a jerk from the rack of 420 pounds, which certainly ranks him as one of the strongest men in the history of the world.
I believe that he made these lifts in the mid-to-late 40's, or the very early 50's.
These achievements are all the more remarkable because Boone worked a very hard, hot, heavy job digging water wells in Louisiana and Texas.
According to Boone, one job digging wells on a ranch in Texas was so hot that the men had to drink 4 gallons of water per day just to keep from overheating under the scorching southwestern sun! ...And yet, Boone often would work all day and THEN do his training!
Where did Boone train? In his backyard! He didn't even have a garage or basement in which to train. He lifted huge weights standing on the grass or on a dirt surface.
So don't let anyone tell you that you need to quit your job and lay around all day in order to make good gains ...and don't let anyone tell you that you need to train at some sort of super-duper training center jammed with all of the latest miracle machines.
Boone's training was very unique. He always followed what I refer to as "abbreviated training programs." A 1937 issue of Mark Berry's little magazine, "Physical Training Notes," contains a letter from Boone to Berry with the following update on Boone's training.
The following information is from a period when Boone was building up to the really big lifts mentioned above:
"I have been doing only three ...exercises, namely the Two Arm Press, Two Arm Curl, and the Deep Knee Bend..."
"Here is my last workout. I work only
once a week on pressing and twice a week on squatting. Monday and Friday
-- D.K.B.'s [i.e., squats]; Wednesday -- pressing. My workouts average
about an hour in length ..."
"Wednesday: press -- 240 five times; 240 seven times; 250 four times;
260 three times; 270 twice; 275 once; then reduce the weight to 240 for
four repetitions and again with two more presses; 212 pounds six times
and then four times; 182 six and then four times. Then reverse curl
twelve times with 136 pounds and regular curl 160 ten repetitions and
then again twice."
"My arms measure better than 18 inches now and I have hopes of pressing 250 pounds ten times and 300 pounds once."
"Here is my last workout on the squat,
which is also my best: once each with 405, 435, and 470; three times
with 515; short rest; sixteen times with 400; short rest; eight times
with 400. On October 21st I did my best, or rather highest, D.K.B. --