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 can 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 ahout the THREE CRUCIAL COMPONENTS in how this transformation played out.

The first thing is that The Undertaker was never in bad shape.

Sure, he gained a bit of weight in the early 2000s 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”. He had big arms, he had decent size, and he was strong as f**k (and still is, as you’ll see later) because it was literally his job to pick up 350lb giants every night.

This meant he was starting from a very good base, but let’s not understate the transformation – it’s crazy to think that ‘Taker entered his 40s with most of his now classic Wrestlemania matches (Edge, Shawn Michaels, AJ Styles) still ahead of him.

the undertaker wwe workout

Crucial component #2 is his ex-wife, Sara.

He’s made no secret of the fact that Sara was the driving force in helping him clean up his diet in the mid-2000s as he transitioned out of his biker character and back to the classic Deadman. The couple divorced in 2007, but the foundations and the nutritional strategies which allowed The Undertaker to have a “second coming” were already in place.

Which brings us to the final thing…

the undertaker workout

Batista.

Batista happened.

Many folks reading this will know Dave Bautista (real name) from 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 powerbombed his way to the top of the WWE. From a marketing perspective, Batista was perfect – he had the looks, the attitude, and the work ethic.

Alongside the always reliable John Cena, he was the WWE’s “golden boy” – and he arrived on the scene at precisely the right time to give The Undertaker a kick up the a**.

You see, in the mid-2000s ‘Taker was in somewhat of a slump. Despite showing signs of a career resurgence (and certainly a physical one), he was the victim of poor booking by those in control and often thrust into meaningless matches with bigger ‘monster’ opponents for no other reason than “Well, he’s The Undertaker.” For the first time in his career, the Phenom looked bored as f**k.

And then Batista arrived.

WWE workout routine

In Batista he had real competition, and he knew it.

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.

Almost overnight, ‘Taker looked interested again.

While the early theme of their rivalry was about Undertaker trying to not to be out-done by the young gun, it quickly became clear that we were NOT witnessing a “passing of the torch”. Instead, we were seeing a re-birth.

The Undertaker was f**king thriving.

He was jumping the top ropes. He was cutting some of his best promos. He was taking risks.

The pair struck up a friendship while working together, and Batista’s mission to carve the perfect physique in the gym seemed to rub off on The Undertaker. Suddenly the Deadman was rocking a Hollywood tan, and the changes to his body were becoming increasingly noticeable. It was awesome. Viewers got to witness both men appearing more muscular and more chiseled each week, and the pair achieved the remarkable feat of guiding Smackdown (WWE’s so-called “B” show) to higher ratings than Monday Night Raw 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.

This new, super-jacked version of The Undertaker dominated the heavyweight division and stole the show at almost every pay-per-view he appeared. It was fantastic to see the Deadman rise once again, cementing his legacy with an epic Wrestlemania 25 bout against Shawn Michaels widely considered the best match of all time.

Nuts for a guy who was “finished” just 5 years prior, huh?!

the undertaker workout routine


The Undertaker bodybuilding

THE UNDETAKER’S WORKOUT ROUTINE FROM 2009

During the late 2000s, The Undertaker followed a bodybuilding style training program to build the chiseled physique we saw on screen.

Interestingly, he decided he did NOT want the “sheer size” he displayed in the late 90s, nor the “steroid look” owned by many of his contemporaries. His goal was to look lean and ripped, with a vision of being “a big man who could move”.

His diet was the key to making that happen, so he began dialing in his calories and structuring his workouts for pure muscle growth. It was bodybuilding 101 and it worked like a charm.

His body recomp was cool as f**k, and it led to the best physical years of his career with now-legendary matches against Batista, Edge, Shawn Michaels, and Triple H, before eventually all those years of bumps and injuries started to take their toll (more on this later).

Back in 2009, ‘Taker would find a local “spit & sawdust” gym to train in as soon as he landed in a new city and was a big fan of early morning cardio. His weights workouts were built around a traditional “bro split” which had him training five days per week and working 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 awesome physique we saw on screen.

The full workout plan is below this cool picture.

the undertaker gym
“Somebody better change the title belt from an XXL 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.

He stopped training like a bodybuilder and started training like a professional wrestler.

That might sound silly, but WWE is a looks-based business where muscles put butts in seats, so the vast majority of talent focus on appearance over everything else. Unfortunately, most of the old 1980s guys who used traditional bodybuilding workouts wound up stiff and riddled with injuries by the time they hit their forties because their training wasn’t supporting their performance as well as it could/should have.

This should come as no surprise.

If we think about it, traditional bodybuilding training takes place in the sagittal plane (up and down) but a wrestler’s job takes place in the transverse plane (think: catching, twisting, throwing, quick side-to-side movements).

This became Undertaker’s focus in the gym as he entered the twilight of his career, and it was a very smart move.

After all, he wanted to be “a big man who can move”, so it made sense to focus on exercises which were designed to improve his fitness and replicate the stuff he was doing in the ring.

My only wish is that he had done it sooner!

… then again, I don’t wanna pick too many 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.”

What exactly did his new routine look like?

Well, don’t worry, there’s still plenty of heavy lifting.

When your job is to literally pick up massive people and throw them, you cannot escape the need to lift heavy weights in the gym. But nowadays he focuses on movements which are actually useful to his job (heavy rack pulls, rowing machine circuits to build cardiovascular fitness) as opposed to looking great in a tank top.

In the picture below he’s hitting a 500lbs below-the-knee rack pull. The specificity of this movement pattern is off the chart, so they’ve become a staple of his new training program.

Also, this is an insane lift for a guy who’s 6″8 and 60 years old!

the undertaker workout routine

Barbell squats are also very sport specific for a wrestler, but they bring with them a few potential issues for a guy whose knees are ravaged from 30 years in a wrestling ring, so adaptations needed to be made in order to reap the strength benefits on offer without aggravating those old injuries.

This was done by switching to barbell box squats, because the greater force transfer makes them a safer exercise while still providing some impressive strength benefits.

Cutting out the “fluff” and focusing on things like this made a massive difference, but when we go deeper into ‘Taker’s new routine we can see some of the more spectacular changes he’s made:

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

Holy f**k!

A lot of his wrestling counterparts wouldn’t have dared incorporate such movements into their training plans back in the day, but it shows the lengths he has gone to in order to prolong his in-ring career. Plus, this is mighy impressive agility from a guy who’s had so many wrestling-related injuries people were talking about him possibly needing to retire way back in 1999!

As he worked through the final years of his WWE career, ‘Taker used this combination of basic strength training and a AN ENTIRE F**K-TONNE of brutal conditioning work to build his cardiovascular fitness to the point where he could keep up with guys in the ring who are essentially half his age.

These conditioning workouts often took place on the trusty old Concept 2 rowing machine, and some of them were shown in the docuseries Undertaker: The Last Ride.

I guess the sad thing is that 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. It allowed him to keep doing what only he can do for longer. With more WWE guys beginning to train this way, we should see a new generation of wrestlers who live longer and healthier lives when they leave the squared circle for the last time, and this can only be a good thing!

For The Undertaker, he left the squared circle for the last time after a show-stealing bout with AJ Styles at Wrestlemania 36.

Well played, Undertaker. You truly 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 them!


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