One of the most unfortunate mistakes that people often make is to believe that a product, an idea, a cause or a system is superior simply because it is new.
Certainly, progress has been made in many areas during the past 20 to 40 years, but (for good or bad) there are many things that actually have not improved, primarily because a "better" way just doesn't exist, and the old -- or already existing way -- is actually the "best."
This tendency of people -- the tendency to believe that because something's new it's better -- provides a bonanza for the unscrupulous businessmen (self-titled "physical culture experts") who aim to cash in on anything -- as long as a profit is to be made.
Around 1946 (75 years ago!), Peary Rader wrote a course on physical training
that is so superior to the Space-Age systems being peddled today for ten times the price, that even surface comparisons between the two products becomes ridiculous and embarrassing. And I do not say this to increase the sales of Mr. Rader's course; I say it because I have carefully examined Peary Rader's course (and others) and I've found it to be -- simply put -- the best.
The Rader Master Bodybuilding and Weight Gaining System is a no-nonsense, down to earth, straight from the shoulder exposition of EVERYTHING that a beginning, intermediate or advanced student needs to know to be able to get great, productive results from progressive barbell workouts.
It condenses what, regardless of widely publicized garble to the contrary, are the FACTS and PRINCIPLES you need to know and to put into use in order to achieve an outstanding physique and great strength. But this is not (or was it intended to be, anyway!) an advertisement for Mr. Rader's course. It is a restatement, instead, of the "Old Gold" that most bodybuilders today are very ignorant of.
The most efficient exercises that a person can do are the standard, basic, heavy duty movements. And there's really nothing "new" or particularly exciting about these. Yet -- and you must understand this if you sincerely wish to make gains -- THESE ARE THE EXERCISES YOU NEED. You must know what they are, how to perform then, and how hard to train on them. And you should understand how best to organize your workouts with them.
A primary rule, discovered many years ago, that should be understood -- but isn't -- by every person who touches a barbell, is: WORKOUT PROGRAMS SHOULD BE BRIEF.
Sound a little strange? Sounds odd -- or even naive -- to be saying this today, when you read about programs slavishly followed which contain literally dozens of exercises or sets? Yes, I know it sounds that way. So what! the fact remains: BRIEF, HEAVY WORKOUTS ARE BEST.
If individuals have grown bigger and potentially much stronger than they were when this rule was widely accepted, this still doesn't affect the PRINCIPLE involved one bit. Okay -- so today's bigger and stronger young men can work harder and heavier; but still, I insist, not "longer" than their predecessors.
For a young bodybuilder today to spend two hours or more on his training is as much a waste as it would have been for a bodybuilder to overtrain in 1943. Granted, today's youngsters may, in some cases, have greater natural potential than their counterparts of yesteryear, but that only means -- to repeat -- that they should be working HARDER and training heavier today.
Probably the greatest advance in the physical culture (muscle building) field has been Arthur Jones' Nautilus machines. They force even the most powerful man to work brutally and agonizingly hard -- but even with these machines (in fact, ESPECIALLY with these machines, as Mr. Jones points out) training time must be kept brief to be efficient. The increase in effort sets up a cycle of diminishing returns, and overwork is self-defeating.
But Mr. Jones' machines have two major drawbacks: SIZE and EXPENSE. I do not dispute the value of Nautilus machines, but I'm certain that they are too expensive -- no matter how good they are -- for a person to purchase one (or more, as would be necessary to total body workouts) of his own. In fact, one could probably buy a complete home gym, equipped with an Olympic barbell and excellent benches for the cost of even the cheapest Nautilus machine. Cost of the machines is perhaps feasible for the larger commercial gyms and health studios. And well, let's face it; you can use a barbell in a fairly confined space -- but how in heck do you fit one of the Nautilus machines into your apartment?
Actually, Nautilus machines do what barbells do: they build muscle. And Mr. Jones has stated (and it's certainly a credit to his honesty and intregrity that he has) that bodybuilders can get excellent results with a barbell, OF COURSE THEY CAN! If they'll only work hard with it. Long before the Nautilus machines were invented we had superb physiques around, and 99% of the muscle (even on the men who DO use Nautilus machines) is BARBELL BUILT. There is no top muscleman around who does not owe the bulk of his development to barbell-dumbbell training. But the best results are had when the principles of training that were discovered LONG AGO are employed by the trainee.
A proven principle is: TRAIN BUT DON'T OVERTRAIN. Spend only enough time in training to work the major muscle groups hard -- and then stop. Give your body a chance to respond to the work that you've imposed upon it. It is most interesting to note -- in this and other regards -- that Peary Rader's Master Bodybuilding Course says, almost verbatim what Arthur Jones seems to be rediscovering with his fantastic new machines.
The fact is: there's little new under the sun. Proper training methods today are not any different from those going back three or more decades. You can make terrific progress if you'll follow the proven methods of muscle culture.
Traning very hard on a limited, sensible program, a trainee need never spend too much time on a workout. If you finds that more than one hour is required, then he's probably doing too much.
I am fully aware that the advocacy of less training for BETTER results sounds, especially today, almost insane. But still, the truth is true; and what I am telling you here is a fact that you should know if you are serious about building your body.
Very few exercises are needed for a well-rounded program. About five or six are plenty, and i don't believe that it's too wise to attempt more than eight exercises in a routine -- if you're working really hard, and if you're employing two or three sets in some or all of the movements.
In discussing their program arrangements with them, and in carefully assessing many of the current routines that are popular among them, I have found that many fellows today are misdirectedly addicted to programs of the current Mr. Winners. Ultra-complex schedules seem to be the thing.
The average bodybuilder seems to believe, erroneously, that in order to build a shapely, well-rounded physique he must use a wide variety of exercises when he trains. This is simply not so, for the simple reason that the heavy-duty basic exercises work the whole body. And the beauty is, it takes very few of them to do it.
For example: if a trainee is anxious to develop terrific shoulders he can readily do so by working very hard on the regular military press or, preferably, the press behind neck. But it is widely believed that for "complete" development a trainee should "bomb" the three segments (anterior, posterior, and lateral) of his shoulder assemble separately via lateral raises, front raises, presses, etc., etc. What malarkey!
Remember, your muscles will grow when heavy DEMANDS are made on them; and how do you think a trainee makes greater and heavier demands? By doing laterals and front raises with 25 or 35 lb dumbbells or by grinding out reps in the heavy press with something close to bodyweight. Use your head.
Two or three heavy, HEAVY sets of presses worked to the limit, will develop the exact same muscles that a series of five "little" exercises will build. And the presses will do a superior job! They'll also take one-fifth the time. Don't go in for a super-schdule simply because it's the modern approach.
A program of five basic exercisese (or even only three or four) can give you far better results than a schedule of a dozen minor movements. Now I will concede that doing lots of fancy new pumping exercises on shiny gym equipment (though, for myself, nothing beats the "pleasure" of feeling that I've done a real workout on the heavy-duty movements), but this is still not the best way to train for results. In fact, if you're thinking of joining a gym and the owner starts talking about the "latest, effort saving equipment" that you'll be training on, you would be wise to run!
EFFORT is the one thing you must (yes, MUST) expect to and be willing to give, if you want results that are satisfactory. The very few modern innovations that are worth using are only worth using because they make you WORK HARDER, not easier. Twenty years ago -- today -- and twenty years from now, effort . . . Effort . . . EFFORT will still be required to build big, strong, shapely and enduring muscles. Don't kid yourself, and don't let anyone else kid you either. There just isn't an "easy way" to get a great natural physique. The only way, in point of simple fact, is the very hard way.
Working on the basic exercises does MORE than just develop the basic muscle groups (though if it only did that, the basics would STILL be the best way to train). The basic exercises are the key and the royal road to maximum size and shape in the entire body. When you squat HEAVY, you build everything including your neck muscles! When you do a good, heavy program (of say, five exercises) you are stimulating lasting growth in such unlikely muscle groups as: the forearms. hands, wrists, neck, calves, midsection and triceps. You don't, I repeat, DON'T require limited, specialized exercises for these body parts. When you think you do it's only because you haven't been working hard enough on your basic program.
This is a good place to make a point. I DO NOT oppose variety and a wide selection of exercises . . .
. . . when they are followed over a wide period of time -- never in a single workout program, though.
For example, there are a few very fine, damn fine back exercises. The dead lift, bent row, power clean, chinning, snatch, clean & jerk, high pull, etc. All may be used to good effect at times. But, when training correctly on an individual program, no bodybuilder should attempt to do more than ONE of these exercises at a time. He should do full justice to that one exercise for two or three months, and then use a variation for the same muscle group. But if and when he begins to feel he should be doing MORE exercises, let him identify that what he actually requires is HARDER EXERCISE on the one exercise that he's doing.
Men who will take a basic exercise and work it for all it's worth will invariably reap umpteen times the results from their schedules. I assure you, Doug Hepburn, Paul Anderson, Reg Park, John Grimek, Louis Abele and every other BIG MAN in the weight game owes 99% (or more) of his development to the SIMPLE, BASIC, ORDINARY exercises that were sensibly compiled by men such as Peary Rader in the finer courses of instruction that were written years ago. These courses are still available and the PRINCIPLES contained in these courses are being expounded here, in the pages of Iron Man. I assure you that I have always tried to bring across the message -- loud and clear -- to everyone of you about the BEST way to work out. I will continue to do so. You owe it to yourself to give these proven methods a good, honest try.
Many people have written to me and have asked whether all I say about the virtues of heavy exercise -- especially heavy squatting -- is "really" true. Invariably, I tell them NOT to take my word for it (nor to listen to anyone else's word about anything), but just to TRY -- to SEE FOR THEMSELVES, over the course of an experimental six week routine.
Some time ago I did this with a young man who wrote to me from the mid-west. Two months later I got a thank you letter from him and, this -- quoting verbatim from his communication -- is what he said:
"I honestly have to say that it works. It works as good as you say and even better! I'm actually progressing like crazy. I gained twelve pounds and this is really fantastic because, like I told you in my first letter to you, I wasn't getting ANYTHING -- no, NOTHING -- on the program I followed five days a week, before you wrote back to me. You sure were right! Like you say over and over again in Iron Man -- you don't have to train a lot of do a lot of exercises to make good gains! I've even gotten more energy . . ."
Well, I take credit for NOTHING with regard to this man's progress. The only thing that I did was make him aware of what he was doing wrong, and how to go about changing it. I pointed out what Peary Rader pointed out over two decades ago! The sad thing about all of this is that the simple truth has become so muddled by impossible claims that it's hard for a kid to see the forest for the trees.
I hope that YOU'LL begin to see it, though.
Don't be fooled by high pressure admen. It would be very easy for me, or Peary Rader, or anyone else (as, alas, many do) to concoct weird, out of this world routines. And I suppose they'd sell like hotcakes, too. But actually our purpose here is to HELP you, not sell you a bill of goods. We honestly want you to make it! And you will not make it by following a super-schedule -- no matter what their inventor's claims may be for them.
I know that anyone who will simply forget the search for the latest gimmick and buckle down to real, honest to goodness HARD WORK for only a few hours a week on a sensible program will never regret it.
The results will speak eloquently for themselves.
And such a trainee will never feel the need to go searching for a better way through the "maze of nonsense" now being erected and maintained by the muscle magnates of the business world. He will have found the BEST way, the proven way, which is: GOOD OLD HARD WORK ON SIMPLE, BASIC EXERCISES.
It's as Good as Gold.
Enjoy Your Lifting!