October 11, 2015

By Jared Jones

The Lee Haney Method

“Stimulate, don’t annihilate.” Haney trained hard, but more important, he trained smart. He never used as much weight in training as he could have because he always understood the risk-to-benefits ratio.


When we spoke about leg training not long ago, he mentioned that he squatted last in the workout so that he wouldn’t need to as much weight. That saved his spine from the pressure of constantly being crushed by 400 to 500 pounds or more, which he was more than capable of using. Instead, he stuck with 315 and still built his legs—but he saved his back. Meanwhile, the only other eight-time Mr. Olympia, Ronnie Coleman, was known for squatting up to 800 pounds and leg-pressing more than a ton. I doubt it’s a coincidence that Ronnie has had not one but three spinal surgeries over the past couple of years and still needs at least one more. My own back problems all stem from heavy squats. I always did them first and always went as heavy as I possibly could.


More recently Lee and I talked about shoulder training. Lee’s shoulders were massive. I asked him how heavy he used to go on seated dumbbell presses. His surprising reply? Sixties, and on rare occasions he might have gone as heavy as 70s. For a split second I confess to a smug satisfaction. I’ve gone as heavy as 140s on those and still routinely handle anywhere from 105s to 120s. Then I mentally slapped myself. Dumb-ass! That’s why your shoulders are trashed and his aren’t!


Lee believes in using good form and a smooth rep cadence that he often describes as a “check mark.” The lifting portion of the rep is ballistic, but the negative is always controlled. Most important, he always used a weight he could lift not only without assistance but also  smoothly and without getting stuck and struggling. Many times I used weights on presses that I couldn’t get even one good rep with unless a spotter was helping. I trained much heavier than I should have, and I paid—and am still paying—the price.




Learn your history first.