Take a look at the workout routine which got The Deadman ripped.

How The Undertaker Trained For His Best Physique

Written by Russ Howe PTI, and most recently updated 1 day ago.

11 min read

Few things in life are perfect.

(The obvious exceptions being Jon Bon Jovi’s hair, and women who know how to use power tools.)

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

Seriously, go back and look; he’s chiseled, he’s conditioned, he’s ROCK FUCKING SOLID!

And it’s no coincidence that The Undertaker was also 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” trained to get into the shape of his life when, at 42 years old, most people are starting to slide in the opposite direction.

As an extra bonus, at the end of the article I’ll show you how ‘Taker trains nowadays (it’s much different!).

Table of Contents

How The Undetaker Got Into The Shape Of His Life At 42

The Undertaker workout revealed

Before we look at an actual training routine, I need to tell you ahout the three crucial components which made this transformation possible.

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

Sure, he gained some weight in the early 2000s (see above) when he altered his wrestling gimmick from the Deadman character which we all know and love, to the biker character, which we also love but not quite as much. However, he was never completely out of shape; he had big arms, he had decent size, and he was strong as fuck (and still is, as you’ll see later), because his day job involved throwing around 350lb giants.

This meant he was starting from a very good base, but I don’t want to sell the transformation short. Let’s face it, 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 with his ex-wife Sara

Crucial component #2 is his ex-wife Sara (above).

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. By the time they divorced in 2007, the foundations and nutritional strategies which allowed The Undertaker to have a “second coming” were already in place.

Which brings us to the third crucial component…

Batista

Batista.

Many readers will only know Dave Bautista (real name) from his movie roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but if you were a WWE fan back in 2007, you know him as the 290 lbs ripped motherfucker who powerbombed his way to the top of the WWE.

From a marketing perspective, Batista was perfect; he had the looks, he had the attitude, and he had the work ethic. He quickly became WWE’s golden boy alongside the ever-reliable John Cena, shooting up the rankings and collecting title belts along the way, and all of this happened at precisely the right moment for The Undertaker.

You see, by the mid-2000s The Deadman was in a bit of a career slump. Despite showing signs of a physical resurgence by dropping a few unwanted pounds, he had become a victim of poor booking, often finding himself in meaningless matches with bigger ‘monster’ opponents for no other reason than “Well, he’s The Undertaker.”

And for the first time in his career, the Phenom looked bored as fuck…

Batista changed that. Here’s a guy who was on the way up… a guy who was hungry… a guy who wanted to become the #1 attraction on the show.

The Undertaker suddenly had real competition again, and he knew it.

Almost overnight, The Deadman looked interested again.

The early theme of their long rivalry was all about The Undertaker trying not to be out-done by the young gun, but WWE big-wigs soon noticed that ‘Taker was absolutely thriving, and it started to become apparent that we were NOT witnessing a “passing of the torch” as such, but rather a re-birth.

He was jumping the top ropes, cutting some of his best promos, and taking risks we’d not seen him take for years.

It was wonderful.

The pair struck up an off-screen friendship while working together, too, and Batista’s mission to carve the perfect body in the gym seemed to rub off on ‘Taker. Suddenly, the Deadman was rocking a Hollywood tan (!), and viewers got to witness both men appearing more muscular and more chiseled week-by-week.

The pair’s excellent on-screen chemistry even helped them to achieve the remarkable feat of guiding Smackdown (WWE’s so-called “B” show) to higher ratings than Monday Night RAW (the flagship show).

Batista and Undertaker

When the rivalry ended after almost a year of back-and-forth battles, this new super-jacked version of The Undertaker continued to dominate the WWE, stealing the show at almost every pay-per-view event he appeared.

It was fantastic for me, as a fan, to see The Deadman rise to the top again, and he finally cemented his legacy in a storytelling masterclass against Shawn Michaels, which is widely considered to be the best Wrestlemania bout of all time.

All of this is nuts for a guy who was supposedly “finished” just 5 years earlier, huh?!

the undertaker workout routine


The Undetaker Workout Routine (2009)

The Undertaker bodybuilding

The Undertaker used a bodybuilding-style training program to build the muscular physique we saw on screen in 2009.

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. Instead, his goal was to look lean and ripped, in his own words “like a big man who can move.”

Considering he began this ourney as a 300+ lb athlete, this transformation would require quite the body recomp. He did this by gradually shrining his calorie intake week-by-week over the course of several months, coupled with a bodybuilding-style training regime.

Upon arriving in a new location, ‘Taker would find a local spit and sawdust gym where he could start each day with an hour of early morning fasted cardio. He’d return later in the day to train with weights, following a traditional “bro split” which had him training five days per week, working each main muscle group once per week (i.e. chest day, back day, etc).

Rep ranges were always kept in the hypertrophy range (8-12 reps per set), and 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.

the undertaker gym

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)



Why Does He Train Differently Nowadays?

The Undertaker in the gym in 2020

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.

You see, WWE is a looks-based business, where big muscles sell tickets, so the vast majority of talent gear their training around appearance over performance. Their training does not support what they’re doing in the ring, and this does not help them in the long-term (as evidenced by the slew of 1980s guys who wound up riddled with injuries as early as their forties).

This is where The Undertaker was really smart.

By noticing that the majority of traditional bodybuilding movements take place in the saggital plane (up and down), but a wrestler’s job takes place in the transverse plane (catching, twisting, quck side-to-side movements), he altered his training program and essentially prolonged his career by another few years.

(And he was now training to support that goal of being “a big man who can move”, too!)

My only wish is that he had done it sooner… then again, I don’t wanna pick too many faults here, he’s the fucking 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 exactly did his new routine involve?

Well, you’ll be pleased to know there’s still plenty of heavy lifting!

Let’s face it, you cannot escape the need to lift heavy weights in the gym when your job involves picking up massive people and throwing them. Nowadays, though, the heavy lifting is reserved for movements which directly replicate his in-ring actions. That includes rack pulls, cleans, and lots of sprint-style training designed to improve his cardiovascular fitness (in the docu-series Undertaker: The Last Ride you can see him absolutely dying on a Concept 2 rowing machine).

This is how he trained from 2013 onwards.

In the photograph below, you can see him hitting a 500lbs below-the-knee rack pull. The specificity of this movement is off the chart, so it’s no surprise it has a become a staple exercise 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 another useful tool for a wrestler, but they bring with them a host of safety issues for a man whose knees have been ravaged from 30 years in a wrestling ring, so adaptations needed to be made in order to reap the strength benefits they offer without aggravating any old injuries.

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

Oh, and check this out:

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

You would not have seen these movements being performed back in the 1980s, or even the 90s, but it just shows the lengths The Deadman went to in the final years of his career in order to ensure he could still hang in the ring with guys half his age.

(Plus, that’s mighty impressive agility from a man who’s had so many wrestling-related injuries that people were talking about him retiring in 1999!)

One of the side-benefits to him making this huge change to his training program is that it paved the way for other wrestlers to do the same.

Approximately one year after ‘Taker made the switch, John Cena made a similar move by ditching bodybuilding and focusing on strength training and conditioning circuits, and many other WWE guys have since followed suit. Hopefully this will usher in a whole new generation of wrestlers who live longer and healthier lives after they’ve left the squared circle, and that’s a great thing.

As for The Undertaker, well, he reached the end of the road with a show-stealing performance against AJ Styles at Wrestlemania 36 (below) and he is now happily retired – and still strong as fuck!

Well played, Undertaker, you truly are a phenom.

Head’s up! If you enjoyed reading my breakdown of The Undertaker’s workout routine, I think you’ll also like my in-depth look at how Sylvester Stallone trains for movie roles and John Cena’s training program. Go read them!


Get More From Russ!

russ_howe_pti

I’m Russ. I’ve been a personal trainer since 2002, and I own russhowepti.com.

My job is to simplify fitness for my readers.

I send out free fitness tips to over 100,000 men and women every week, all in the same no-nonsense style as the article you’ve just read, so if you enjoyed reading it be sure to jump on my email list below.

Website members are killing these russhowepti.com training programs, and you can start today!

Full-Body Blitz

Chisel your leanest body to date with this 6-week full-body workout program which is suitable for both beginner and advanced trainees.

RPE 20

Use the Rest Pause technique to add slabs of lean muscle to your fame over the next 10-weeks.

Classic Size

This is an old school 12-week program which uses dropsets, rest pause sets, and classic linear periodization to help you pack on serious muscle mass.

Become War

Carve your action hero body with my modernized version of Sly’s insane Rambo II training regimen!

Get More From Russ!

russ_howe_pti

I’m Russ. I’ve been a personal trainer since 2002, and I own russhowepti.com.

My job is to simplify fitness for my readers.

I send out free fitness tips to over 100,000 men and women every week, all in the same no-nonsense style as the article you’ve just read, so if you enjoyed reading it be sure to jump on my email list below.

3 responses to “How The Undertaker Trained For His Best Physique”

  1. Heather avatar
    Heather

    Dead correct (no pun intended), Undertaker in 2009 was absolutely perfect!

  2. Swapnil kashyap avatar
    Swapnil kashyap

    Kane, Braun Strowman workout routine please upload

  3. Andrew avatar
    Andrew

    Booom! Always wanted to know how he trained, thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join Up

russ howe pti programs

Get all of my detailed workout plans and easy-to-use nutrition plans by joining up below.

Click here to join.

Newest Programs

  • Beach Bum
  • Chisel workout program
  • Musclemania (Russ Howe PTI workout program)
  • train to success

Click here to see all programs.

Newest Blogs