The Undertaker workout routine

HOW THE UNDERTAKER TRAINED FOR HIS BEST PHYSIQUE

Few things in life are perfect.

Except maybe Jon Bon Jovi’s hair… or women who know how to use power tools.

And if I can add one more thing to the list above, it would be The Undertaker in 2009.

Seriously, go back and look. He’s chiseled. He’s conditioned. He’s ROCK F**KING SOLID.

It’s no coincidence that The Undertaker was enjoying the brightest years of his WWE career at this time, so in today’s article I’m going to walk you through exactly how “The Deadman” got into the shape of his life when, at 42 years old, most people are starting to head in the opposite direction!

After we’ve done that, I’ll show you how he trains nowadays. It’s very different!



The Undertaker workout revealed

HOW THE UNDERTAKER TRAINED TO GET INTO THE SHAPE OF HIS LIFE

Before we look at an actual training routine, I need to tell you 3 things which are crucial to how this plays out.

First, The Undertaker was never in bad shape.

Sure, he put on a bit of weight in the early 2000’s, when he changed his wrestling gimmick (character) from the one we know and love to the biker character, which we also know and love but not quite so much.

However, he was never “out of shape”.

But what he was about to do would take his physique way beyond where it was at the time, and even eclipse his early WWE days where, as a young buck, he was consistently tasked with picking up 350lb giants because, well, he’s strong as f**k.

(And still is, as you’ll see later.)

the undertaker wwe workout

Second, we need to mention his ex-wife, Sara.

He’s made no secret of the fact that Sara was a crucial component in cleaning up his diet in the mid-2000’s as he transitioned out of his biker character and back to the classic Deadman. Although the couple divorced in 2007, the foundations which allowed The Undertaker to have a “second coming” in WWE were already in place.

If you’d said this to someone at the time, they wouldn’t have believed that ‘Taker still had most of his classic Wrestlemania matches ahead of him (Edge, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, AJ Styles).

Which brings us to the second thing…

the undertaker workout

Batista.

Batista happened.

Some folks reading this will know Dave Bautista (real name) thanks to his roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but if you were a WWE fan back in 2007 you know him as the 290lbs ripped motherf**ker who sat atop the WWE mountain for a while, and gave The Undertaker a run for his money.

From a marketing perspective, everything about Batista was perfect. He had the looks, he had the body, he had the attitude. He was essentially a bodybuilder in wrestling trunks.

Alongside the always sellable John Cena, he was the WWE’s golden boy, and he moved from Raw to Smackdown at precisely the right time for The Undertaker.

You see, ‘Taker had reached a stage in his career where many thought his prime years were gone. He wasn’t being used to his full ability by those in control, and he’d regularly be thrown into novelty matches with bigger, ‘monster’ opponents for no other reason than “Well, he’s The Undertaker.”

Quite frankly, he looked bored as s**t.

Suddenly, in Batista, he had real competition and he knew it.

WWE workout routine

Not competition as in “Here’s a guy who’s bigger than you, see if you can pick him up!”, but competition as in here’s a guy who’s on the way up… here’s a guy who’s hungry… here’s a guy who wants to become the brand’s #1 attraction – and ‘Taker thrived off it.

Overnight, he was interested again.

The pair struck up a friendship off-screen, and Batista’s mission to carve the perfect physique in the gym appeared to add fuel to The Undertaker’s fire. Suddenly he was rocking a tan and the changes to his body were becoming increasingly noticeable.

Viewers got to witness both men appearing more muscular and chiseled each week, and the pair also achieved the remarkable feat of guiding Smackdown (the so-called “B” show) to higher ratings than Monday Night Raw (the flagship show) thanks to their excellent on-screen rivalry which lasted the best part of a year.

The Undertaker was back to his best, and then some.

the undertaker workout routine


The Undertaker bodybuilding

THE UNDETAKER’S WORKOUT ROUTINE FROM 2009

During the late 2000’s, The Undertaker followed a bodybuilding style training program.

You won’t see any resistance bands or Bosu balls here, and hey, there’s nothing wrong with that.

At this time, his goal was to look lean and ripped.

Interestingly, he didn’t want the sheer size he’d displayed in the late 90s, nor the “steroid look” owned by his contemporaries. He wanted to look like a big man who could move, and he knew his diet was the key to making that happen.

So using the nutritional foundations laid in the years leading up to his feuds with Batista, he rigidly dialed in his calories and macronutrient targets and focused his training around building lean muscle.

This was quite the body recomp, and what followed were the best physical years of his career with now-legendary matches against Batista, Edge, Shawn Michaels, and Triple H, before the years of bumps and injuries started to catch up to him.

More on that later.

During 2009, early morning cardio was a prerequisite with ‘Taker often finding local “spit & sawdust” gyms to train in as soon as he landed in a new city. His weights workouts were built around a typical “bro split” which saw him hit each muscle group once per week. Sticking mainly to mid-to-low rep ranges (8-12 reps per set), he relied on the classic bodybuilding principles of progressive overload (heavy weight = build muscle) and metabolic stress via dropsets (fight through the burn = build even more muscle) to carve the great physique we saw on screen.

the undertaker gym
“Somebody better alter the title belt from an XL to an L!”

DAY 1: CHEST & ABS

PUSH UPS x100
(Warm-up using as many sets as needed)

DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS x8-12
(4 sets)

INCLINE DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS x8-12
(4 sets)

PEC DECK x8-12
(3 sets)
(Dropset to failure after final set)

HIGH-TO-LOW CABLE CROSSOVER x8-12
(3 sets)
(Dropset to failure after final set)

CRUNCHES x200
(As many sets as needed)

DAY 2: BACK, ABS & CARDIO

BODYWEIGHT INVERTED ROW x50
(Warm-up using as many sets as needed)

BARBELL DEADLIFT x8-12
(4 sets)

WEIGHTED PULL UPS x8-12
(3 sets)

SEATED CABLE ROW x8-12
(3 sets)
(Dropset to failure after final set)

LYING LEG RAISES x100
(As many sets as needed)

*** Undertaker also performs an hour of cardio first thing in the morning.

DAY 3: SHOULDERS, ABS & CARDIO

AROUND THE WORLD x50
(Warm up using as many sets as needed)

BARBELL PUSH PRESS x8-12
(4 sets)

SEATED DUMBBELL SHOULDER PRESS x8-12
(3 sets)
(Dropset to failure after final set)

DUMBBELL LATERAL RAISE x12 >> DUMBBELL FRONT RAISE x12 >> HEAVY DUMBBELL SHRUGS x12
(3 sets)

CRUNCHES x200
(As many sets as needed)

*** Undertaker also performs an hour of cardio first thing in the morning.

DAY 4: LEGS & CARDIO

BODYWEIGHT SQUAT x100
(Warm-up using as many sets as needed)

BARBELL SQUAT x8-12
(4 sets)

BARBELL STIFF LEG DEADLIFT x8-12
(4 sets)

LEG PRESS x8-12
(3 sets)
(Dropset to failure after final set)

LEG EXTENSION x8-12
(3 sets)
(Dropset to failure after final set)

LEG CURL x8-12
(3 sets)
(Dropset to failure after final set)

*** Undertaker also performs an hour of cardio first thing in the morning.

DAY 5: BICEPS, TRICEPS & ABS

UNDERHAND-GRIP INVERTED ROW x50
(Warm-up using as many sets as needed)

CLOSE-GRIP PUSH UPS x50
(Warm-up using as many sets as needed)

SEATED DUMBBELL HAMMER CURL x8-12
(4 sets)

BARBELL CLOSE-GRIP BENCH PRESS x8-12
(4 sets)

HEAVY BARBELL CURL x8-12
(3 sets)
(Dropset to failure after final set)

WEIGHTED TRICEPS DIPS x8-12
(3 sets)
(Dropset to failure after final set)

LYING LEG RAISES x100
(As many sets as needed)



the undertaker workout 2020

WHY DOES THE UNDERTAKER TRAIN DIFFERENTLY NOWADAYS?

Back in 2013, The Undertaker made a move which prolonged his WWE career by another 7 years.

Simply put, he stopped training like a bodybuilder, and started training like a professional wrestler.

A wrestler’s job takes place in the transverse plane (think: catching, twisting, throwing, quick side-to-side movements). A lot of the old 1980’s guys who used traditional bodybuilding workouts wound up stiff and riddled with injuries by the time they hit their forties, and this was largely down to the fact that their training wasn’t supporting their performance as well as it could/should have.

Undertaker still wanted to be “a big man who can move”, therefore the focus on “looks” was thown in the bin and ‘Taker began utilizing training principles and movements which were specifically designed to improve his fitness and replicate the type of stuff he was doing in the ring.

This was a very smart move, my only wish is that he had done it sooner.

Then again, I don’t wanna pick faults. He’s the f**king Undertaker.

So, in his own words:

“I was too stubborn to change my training routine from what I knew. Making that change was hard for me, because it was venturing into the unknown. But once I did, and I saw the benefits, I got it.”

So what did he change?

Well, don’t worry, there’s still plenty of heavy lifting. When your job is to literally pick up massive people, you cannot escape the need to lift heavy weights in the gym. It’s just that nowadays he will focus on movements which are useful to his job (heavy rack pulls) as opposed to simply looking great in a tank top (biceps curls).

This allows him to really utilize his strength. In the picture below, he’s hitting a 500lbs below-the-knee rack pull. Let’s not forget he’s 6″8 and 60 years old, this is a very impressive lift!

the undertaker workout routine

The specificity of this movement pattern is off the chart, making these a staple of Undertaker’s new workout program.

Barbell squats are another very specific move for a wrestler, but they bring with them a few potential issues for a guy whose knees are ravaged from 30 years in WWE. So how does he adapt this exercise to enable him to reap the benefits without the risk of aggravating those old injuries?

Simple; he switched to box squats.

The greater force transfer makes them a safer and still very useful exercise..

When we go deeper into ‘Taker’s new routine, we see some of the more spectacular changes…

Yes, that’s a 60 year old Undertaker hitting a 40″ box jump!

You’d never have seen this years ago, but it shows the lengths he has gone to in prolonging his career as much as possible.

Hell, this is a guy who’s had so many wrestling-related injuries, people were talking about him possibly needing to retire way back in 1999! He shouldn’t be able to do any of this s**t at the level he does it.

The bro split is gone. The isolation work is minimal. Alongside the basic strength training we see an absolute F**K-TONNE of conditioning work which is designed to help him keep up with guys in the ring who are essentially half his age. You can often find him blasting through HIIT workouts on the rowing machine. Some of this was documented in his awesome fly-on-the-wall docuseries The Last Ride.

If these changes were made earlier in his career, it may well have produced another 5 years of “prime” Undertaker.

However, the fact that he made this move AT ALL is great. With more WWE guys beginning to train this way, we should see a generation of wrestlers who live longer and healthier lives when they leave the squared circle for the last time.

For ‘Taker, that final moment came at Wrestlemania 36 in 2020, after a show-stealing match with AJ Styles.

Well played, Undertaker. You genuinely are a Phenom.

If you’ve enjoyed reading my breakdown of The Undertaker’s workout routine, you’ll probably also enjoy my look at how Sylvester Stallone trains for movie roles or how John Cena built his WWE body. Go read those next.


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