Most pro wrestling fans today (especially those in their teens) wouldn't know who Bob Backlund was or is. Most today who have heard of him only know about him being another Hall Of Fame guy or the weird looking dude with the Bow Tie and business shirt with red straps that appeared on Raw once or twice in the last few years. What you don't realize was that next to Bruno Sammartino was the longest reigning WWE champion that lasted over 5 years. Back in the 70's & 80's he was the poster boy for the babyface character; Howdy Doody on roids with a boy scout all-american personality.
Former College football player & wrestler transitioned into the pro ranks being trained by legendary pro wrestling coach Eddie Sharky (same guy who trained the greatest tag team of all-time the Road Warriors and former Minnesota Governor Jesse "The Body" Ventura) and ventured out on the road wrestling in the old territories. Backlund was about as a blue-collar american kid as you got. One of his traits back in the day was being in top condition on a frequent basis. We're talking about rough conditioning that would make some MMA Fighters blush and was able to go an hour with some of the top guys at that time including former Intercontinental Champion and 2004 HOF inductee Greg "The Hammer" Valentine. His training is still talked about to this day in some circles.
Since the mid 80's or so when his career was going down little by little he began training differently in order to build strength in his legs after being injured from constant running for cardio and some of the beatings he took in the ring and learned about the Step-Up test from Harvard University. So to substitute running he became a fanatic of the Step-Up Exercise going as fast (with good form) as possible. He would do this sometimes for more than an hour at a time. His other exercise he really got a bug for was the Ab Wheel. He believed that these two exercises were the heavy foundation that saved his career and his health. Granted these two baddies are as simple as you'll ever see but yet some of the most brutal exercises around. Doing rollouts with the Ab Wheel is no joke and will build muscle in the entire core along with strengthening the back, arms and shoulders. The step-ups are crazy in themselves because you're constantly quickening your feet up and down at a steller pace. I've done more than 5 minutes of this exercise and was dying so imagine doing that for more than a freaking hour.
You can do Step-Ups from virtually anywhere there is a step or stairs. Ab Wheels are great but the ultimate wheel is the Power Wheel from Lifeline. You don't just have to grip the handles, you can place your feet into the straps and can do all sorts of stuff that even the legendary wrestler would be impressed by; walk on your hands, do push-ups, pull-ins, hamstring curls, jumping push-ups and so much more. This device alone targets the core unlike anything else and makes machines look weak.
Backlund's best records with these exercises from what I read was 2800 Step-Ups (1400 per leg) and 700 Roll-Outs. That's seriously impressive don't you think? Although he did do other stuff to stay fit these 2 were his golden boys. So next time you want to get in a good workout, do 100-200 Step-Ups & 20+ Roll-Outs and see how you feel the next day. That's the thing I love about the old-timers, their training was off the chain and were revered as legendary and have been used to test guys who were tough enough. I practiced a good deal with the Power Wheel before I came up to Idaho and did stuff off and on in the few years since. Walking on my hands is my favorite exercise, second would be the roll-outs, those kill me every time. Here are a couple of videos of Backlund doing these exercises for your enjoyment.