So many methods and systems of physical training are appearing on the market today, and naturally, each professes to be the last word in building bigger and better muscles.
The result is the current confusion that exists among the many advanced weight trainees as to what system or routine the champs of muscledom follow, so that they too (sigh!) may also reach the limit in huge muscles, great strength, superb fitness and addiction to anabolic drugs. Oops.
Well, though many self-styled "builders of champions" would have you believe otherwise, there is NO single technique for getting a build like your favorite champ past or present. There are some secrets, if you wish to call them that, which have always been employed by the greats, but they're really more of less commonsense rules that, unfortunately, most publications, courses or instructors (with very few exceptions) don't care to mention.
Because the "secrets" are quite simple, and it would be impossible for any self-proclaimed "god of muscles' to claim them as his own private discovery or "method."
So what happens instead is the situation with which we now find ourselves confronted: Every lunatic with the ability to sell, concocts wildly absurd, ultra-complex super systems and routines, which, since every barbell bug finds them almost incomprehensible, automatically considers them to be the "ultimate" methods of the advanced musclemen.
To this tripe I say PHOOEY! And to the problem of sensible, advanced barbell work, I offer the following straight from the shoulder advice:
Every top physique man is the product of a long period of trial and error training, and of working on many varied training routines. There is no one system or method or course that will build a Mr. America body. And more, there is no one, specified method of utilizing any particular training routine that will work for all bodybuilders.
The "secret" therefore, of advanced bodybuilders [other than the elephant in their room], lies in knowing precisely what YOUR OWN INDIVIDUAL REQUIREMENTS ARE FOR MAKING EFFECTIVE GAINS, and how best to utilize the various types of training systems to meet these individual requirements.
Let's take some examples to prove our point.
These are three very effective methods of weight training -- all of which should be tried at one time or another -- by advanced bodybuilders, and please do note the word ADVANCED:
1) The Heavy and Light system.
2) The Light-Moderate-Heavy system.
3) The Standard Set system.
Let's take a close look at each of these methods of training.
First, the Heavy and Light system, which, in this writer's opinion is, along with the Light-Moderate-Heavy system the best, BASIC method of all-round, general bodybuilding. In this system one generally employs two sets of each exercise one does, and one usually follows a good routine of all-around exercises that gives the entire body a good workout.
With this, and with the Light-Moderate-Heavy system, it is common -- particularly for home trainees -- to use the basic barbell (not dumbbell) movements. The reason is, of course, that plate changing is required for each set, and most barbell men just don't cotton to the idea of continually changing the weights on their dumbbells.
Two sets, as we've said, is the general practice, and one first does a heavy or "limit" set with all the weight possible to handle for about 6 or 7 repetitions. Then a few pounds, usually about 20, are removed from the bar, and a second set of reps is employed -- usually around 8 or 9. The theory behind this method, and it has been proved over years to be correct, is this: When this heavy and light set/rep scheme is followed, the muscles receive a maximum of strength and developmental benefits. One is employing good, heavy resistance, and one is doing sufficient reps to thoroughly work and develop muscle size. The second set, since the trainee is tired from the limit work on his first set, is still really a "maximum" exertion set. Limit exertion, it is maintained by advocates of this system, can bet be made on the first set, since one is then "fresh" and fully anxious to train.
In the heavier movements -- like squats -- one might do a heavy set of about 5 or 6 repetitions, and then reduce the poundage and do considerably more reps of this exercise, say 10 or 12.
A very, very good variation of the Heavy and Light routine is to employ 3 sets of each exercise . . . one limit set of about 3 reps, a second set with a less heavy, but still heavy poundage for around 5 reps, and a 3rd and final LIGHT set that uses about 10 reps. Using this 3-set system it is wise to follow a course of no more than about seven or eight exercises at the MOST. This is very severe training when it's done correctly. If more exercises are desired, then it is best to stay with the straight 2-set Heavy and Light method.
Here's a good sample Heavy and Light routine that you might try for a couple of months . . .
1) Warmup with a set of flip snatches for 8 or reps.
2) Barbell Curl, 1x6, 1x9.
3) Military Press, 1x6, 1x9.
4) Squat, 1x5, 1x12.
5) Breathing pullovers.
6) Bench Press, 1x6, 1x9.
7) Bentover Row (while playing Scrabble in the Tower of Babel, 1x6, 1x9.
8) Dead Lift, 1x4, 1x10.
9) Leg Raise x 30.
10) Shrug, 1x6, 1x9.
And here's a variation Heavy and Light routine that you can use, which employs three sets . . .
1) Warmup as above.
2) Barbell Curl, 1x3, 1x5, 1x10.
3) Press Behind Neck, 1x3, 1x5, 1x10.
4) Squat, 1x3, 1x5, 1x10.
5) Breathing Flyes.
6) Power Clean, 1x3, 1x5, 1x10.
7) Situp x 40.
You can use this routine for a couple of months also, and see if you prefer training along these lines.
Basically, that's the first system of ADVANCED training which we can consider.
Now let's move on and have a look at the Light-Moderate-Heavy type of routine:
With this method, which can be employed using different types of rep schemes, THREE SETS are always used -- namely a LIGHT of warmup set, a MODERATELY heavy set, and a HEAVY set.
The theory behind this type of weight training is that one can make a maximum exertion only after the muscles have been thoroughly warmed up -- and two progressively heavier sets of repetitions can best accomplish this. Also, the number of reps done with all three sets (when totaled), will be more than enough to thoroughly work and congest the muscle groups. In addition, it is also stated (and this writer heartily agrees) that more than THREE sets of any exercise is overdoing it, and one should always, except in cases of special training for a particular purpose, keep the number of sets that one does down to three.
The advantages of this Light-Moderate-Heavy system are very similar in fact to those of the Heavy and Light routine:
1) Strength AND muscle size are guaranteed.
2) A good all-around workout is taken.
3) One never requires three hours a day to complete a workout.
John Grimek frequently advocates the use of this Light-Moderate-Heavy routine, and for those who desire good all-around results, and who don't relish the idea of starting a workout session with all the weight one can handle in the first set, this kind of routine is excellent.
Here's a typical Light-Moderate-Heavy schedule that you can try:
1) Warmup as previously described.
2) Two-arm curl, 12, 10, 8.
3) Two-arm press, 12, 10, 8.
4) Squat, 18, 10, 6.
5) Breathing pullovers x 15.
6) Bench press, 12, 10, 8.
7) Stiff-legged dead lift, 12, 10, 8.
8) Leg raise x 30-40.
One may also use the SAME number or repetitions in EACH SET of the three sets employed per exercise (say, 10 reps a set), but it's always more effective if the reps are DECREASED as the weights are increased, since this enables the trainee to really pile on more weight than he could otherwise handle.
Now we come to the Standard Set system. This is the system of training that has been more widely popularized than any other, yet, as we shall see, it is actually the LEAST preferable of the three methods of advanced training described.
In the standard set routine a trainee does a straight series of sets with a single exercise, say, the Press, and he does them for a specific number of repetitions, say 10. Though it has become popular in recent years to train with a large number of sets per exercise (in some cases up to 15!), the most widely practiced method is to train with 3-5 sets per exercise.
With the standard set system the poundage used in each exercise REMAINS CONSTANT for the duration of the number of sets done. Provided the bodybuilder makes a decent effort to keep adding to the weights that he employs -- and so long as he follows good, all-around routines -- a good deal of strength and development can be gained with this system.
Perhaps the real advantage of this system lies in the fact that barbells, dumbbells and all assorted equipment may be used with it . . . without too much time spent on plate changing. It must be emphasized, however, that for the ULTIMATE gains in strength, development and fitness, either the Heavy and Light, of the Light-Moderate-Heavy routines are infinitely preferable to any standard set method of training. Since the standard set course allows the trainee to use a wider variety of exercises and equipment in a workout without too much time spent (unless one is a real screwball and kills the entire evening pumping and fluffing) on plate changing, it has an advantage. It is good for overall body training, and working every particular muscle group. The system should, and probably IS, employed frequently in advanced training.
The bodybuilder, when using the standard set routine in his workouts, must decide on the number of reps that he'll use per set. From 8 to 10 reps are generally employed for overall bodybuilding and for the acquisition of strength and fitness. 15-20 reps are used when definition is desired, or when one is making extra effort on a leg and back schedule, and 25 reps or more can always be used for abdominal or calf work. About 5 reps per set are used when greater power is desired.
Here's a well-planned standard set routine that you can play around with (ahem!) for about two months:
1) Warmup as described above.
2) Alternate DB press, 10,10,10.
3) Seated two DB curl, 10, 10, 10.
4) Breathing squat, 12, 12, 12.
5) 2-DB lying pullovers, 15, 15, 15.
6) Upright row, 10, 10, 10.
7) Good morning exercise, 8, 8, 8.
8) Calf raise, 20, 20, 20.
9) Hanging leg raise, 1 x 35.
That's the lowdown on the basics of advanced training.
Now for the SECRET that will enable you to use these schedules effectively:
There are various methods of using these systems. Most of you are familiar with the "split" type of routine in which the trainee works his upper body one day, his lower body the next, and then, after six days of this insanity, takes a day of rest -- then he goes on to continue with this grind.
Well, the split routine IS an effective method of training, PROVIDED the following three conditions are met:
1) You are very, very advanced, and well-built already.
2) You are an easy or rapid gainer.
3) You limit your training to about one hour per day, and you follow the schedule for around six weeks only, taking a good week's layoff before going on with this severe training.
Obviously, the majority of bodybuilders cannot, unfortunately, meet the first two requirements listed. To my mind, this is all to the good. No matter what is said today, and no matter who is pratting about these super-systems, I think that more than FOUR workouts a week is overdoing it.
If, in spite of what I've said, or because legitimately you know that you're the lucky type who can profit from split training, you decide to train in this manner, then use it by FOLLOWING ONE OF THE APPROVED METHODS OF TRAINING WE HAVE DISCUSSED: Heavy and Light, Light-Moderate-Heavy, or Standard Set. Use these PRINCIPLES of training, and you'll never go wrong.
The three day per week or the every other day system of training is, by a hundred miles, the BEST system of training . . . and whether or not it's in wide use today, it used to be, and it produced most of the best athletes in the world, like John Grimek, who rarely exceeded an hour on a workout and usually trained from three to four times a week. He did okay, didn't he? So why can't you or I?
Employing three, or at the very most four workouts a week -- and building one's routines around the types of training we've enumerated -- is the FINEST way to train for maximum development. This is real Mr. Universe training! It's the kind that builds not only large, powerful muscles, but shape, fitness and athletic ability also.
No, unless you're endowed with a good frame (like Grimek was), you'll probably never get your arms up to 18" or more. But you WILL get a perfectly proportioned, powerful body. You WILL get the maximum measurements which it's possible for you to carry on your frame without looking like a human meatball.
The rule -- the KEY -- to getting that perfect body lies in making every workout COUNT. TRAIN LIKE WE'VE DISCUSSED HERE AND YOU SIMPLY CANNOT GO WRONG. That's the secret. That's how Grimek got his build and that's how thousands of others athletes that you admire with your tongues hanging down to here got their builds. NO miracle system or WONDER COURSE. No "trainer of champions" ever took these fellows under his alleged wing and blew their muscles up to Herculean size via his supernatural knowhow.
They did it by HARD WORK in following the RIGHT METHODS.
And also, we must hasten to add in closing, by getting ADEQUATE REST.
On this point I've got to credit the late Harry B. Paschall for emphasizing the tremendous importance of not only the avoidance of overtraining, but, more importantly, on the advisability of taking periodic LAYOFFS ever six weeks or so. Grimek took layoffs, Steve Stanko took layoffs, and today, regardless of what tripe some publications re trying to cram down your throat, the Biggest, Best Built Men always take layoffs to recuperate from their rugged training, and to give their bodies a chance to rest up and bounce back.
Train hard and get your rest. Use the systems -- alternating between them every few months for variety -- that we've enumerated in this article. You'll see yourself growing and gaining like crazy, and you'll be on your way to that body you thought could only be obtained by those who knew the "secret" . . .
because now YOU know the secret too.
Enjoy Your Lifting!
Note: In dividing full body workouts into upper and lower splits over, say, four days a week, working each part twice, it's important not to increase the volume of the original three day per week full body layout. Work harder on fewer exercises each day, not longer and lighter on more. For example . . .
Three day per week full body:
Converted to Upper/Lower four day per week split:
Or go back and forth every other day with the two.
Day One, Day Off, Day Two, Day Off, etc.
3-day per week full body
Alt DB Press
Low Inc DB Press
Trap Bar Deadlift
Converted to Upper/Lower 4-day split:
Alt DB Press
Low Inc. DB Press
Trap Bar Deadlift
Same sets and reps one the four day split as the three-day full body.
No added volume.
Or, use all four of those Day One, Day Two layouts each week, providing variety each training day with similar movements of equal validity.
Or, on Monday do lower, Wednesday do upper, and on Friday do a full body.
Or . . .