Monday, February 19, 2018

Training the Instinctive Way - Bill Pearl (1977)

Thanks, Liam!

Taken From This Issue (Feb. 1977)

Author Note: In Part One I covered the beginners routine. Part Two was devoted to the intermediate/advanced bodybuilder. Here is Part Three, the final installment for advanced training, comprised of information I have gathered from a lifetime of experience that I AM  HAPPY TO SHARE.

Blog Author Note: I found this article by the venerable Bill Pearl to be exceptionally refreshing at this particular point in my life. A far cry from the current bozo kingdom of fast-talking, in-your-face apes seemingly hellbent on destroying any public respect their forerunners of the Iron Game struggled to achieve. Give it a read, the first sections in particular, the ones that deal with the essence of this pastime, and take a moment to consider what caliber of  lifting world individuals you choose to hold in high esteem.  

An Advanced Bodybuilding Guide
by Bill Pearl (1977)

There are bodybuilders and there are bodybuilders. That is, there are those who lift to keep in shape or supplement another sport . . . the neophytes . . . and there are the competitors. The cream of the crop. The trophy barons. 

This article is directed to contest participants and the advanced bodybuilders. You are the advertisements for the sport. When bodybuilding is the topic, it is you the public looks to. You are the ones on the stage, the ones that stand out visibly. Attitudes are as important to the goodwill of the game as training techniques are to the players. 

Bodybuilding is as much a mental thing as it is physical. The development and presentation of one's physique is something not to be bandied about without planning. It is, after all, a lifestyle. 

Sacrifices are to be made. Activities, social or otherwise, must be patterned around bodybuilding. Do not abandon all responsibility for the sake of the gym, however. Do not become a gym bum. Lead a diversified life. As much as bodybuilding can become an obsession, its image will tarnish if you get too much of it. You can earn great muscular gains while leading a well-rounded life. 

So you want to reach the top. Your best. The first thing is to set goals. The next thing is to reach them. You will; if you program your mind to the positive. The mental attitude is the key to pushing your body to your goals. Put a mind-lock on the good things of training, with enough hindsight to evaluate weaknesses and work on them. You look in the mirror and you see a bodypart that doesn't reach parity with your stronger points. So you put that weak point on the top of the priority list. It will be stressed in training. Work it the hardest. Work it first, when concentration and energy levels are better.

Mental attitude has the greatest measurable effect on what you get out of training. Nothing will beat you quicker than negative energy. You get out of training what you think you're putting into it. 

Consistency is another key to success. Never miss a workout unless you are ill. Even if you are injured, there are other body parts you can train while recovering. Discipline the mind, and in turn the body, to train at the same time each day. 

Revel in the work

Sure it's hard, but the rewards are there. 

Let energy create energy

While keeping in the groove is important, the possibility of stagnation is ever-present. Too long on the same routine and one can become stale. Gains will cease. You may reach a plateau. You may need a rest, a new routine, a new outlook on training. Be aware of this. 

Develop a good eye, a discerning eye for physiques. You may be so wrapped up in how well your lats are growing that you might not see how poorly your calves are doing. Check the mirror often. It is the best opinion on proportion, progress and determining definition. If the mirror says that you're losing some definition on the waist, then you might be gaining too much weight. Remember that contest judges don't care how heavy your are. It is how you look that counts.

Okay, so you've been training now for about two or three years and you're getting pretty serious about the whole deal. You want to go somewhere with that body of yours. You've read all the magazines, copied the best courses available to you. You've tried them all. And done well, but still have a long way to go. What now?

The Instinctive Training Principle! Your body knows what it wants and will tell you so. Instinctive training is used by all the top men. You are at a stage where you must branch off on your own. You have imitated Franco's back routine long enough.

Everyone responds differently to certain movements.

There is no sense doing strict barbell curls if your biceps grow and peak more rapidly with incline curls. Listen to what your body says. Be an individual. If everyone is high on gravity resistance training but you've found it doesn't help you then forget about being one of the crowd. You8 are after muscle, not popularity. This is instinctive training. Do what's best for YOUR body.

Under instinctive training the other principles follow. Each is designed for a purpose. You have now experimented with most of them. Some have helped, others may not have. Go after, and develop those principles which your body responds to.

The three most successful principles for the advanced bodybuilder, or at least the most practiced and Quality Training, Forced Reps, and Supersets.

Quality Training allows little or no rest between sets, always keeping the muscle burning. It is employed for pump and definition. Subcutaneous fat is burned away with the warming effect of the constant effort and flush of blood.

Forced Reps are vital for bringing out vascularity and striation. The muscle has been exhausted an then forced with the aid of your training partner to keep pushing the weight. [Note: forced reps can be done solo with unilateral movements]. Those last forced reps are the ones that count the most in muscle growth. They introduce a new element of pain.

The Super Set strives for the ultimate pump It allows a great deal of work to be done in a shorter period of tome. Employed with quality training, a super set will bomb the muscle from all angles while continually forcing blood into the area.

You've reached a lever where workouts must now last over two hours, six days a week, the double split routine at times, morning and evening. It has been accepted that the double split routine is the most efficient. However, I disapprove of it because of some obvious shortcomings. 

First of all, time is wasted in making two trips to the gym each day. Plus the extra time of changing clothes twice, warming up twice, and showering twice. It's too taxing. There are some guys who can so this, like Arnold, who makes a living from bodybuilding. But most bodybuilders must hold down jobs. Wasted time can cripple a busy lifestyle.

It is not right for guys to think that to make gains the double split system must be used. All of a sudden the gyms have a bunch of guys hanging around, lamenting they can't work because all of their time is taken up by the double split. This goes on and on until the entire day is a muscle trip and I don't like it!

Nutrition, or the knowledge of it, is very important to the advanced bodybuilder. Food intake is always a crucial concern. Here again an instinctive training approach can be applied. If you are "thick skinned" then diet is more important to you than it would be to a more naturally-cut person. Your body will tell you if you are eating right. The mirror will prove it. If you body seems a little weal and rundown then it might be telling you it needs some carbohydrates for energy. I suggest you procure a comprehensive book that details the fat, carbohydrate, and protein content of various foods.

When training hard a bodybuilder usually needs one gram of protein for every pound of bodyweight, each day. Of course this can vary with each person. For some it might be too much, which isn't going to hurt you. But nobody should need more protein than that.

By now you are aware of how much sleep you need. Some physically mature bodybuilders get by with six hours a night. For most, this is not enough. Eight hours seems to be the average. Over eight might be too much, but it all depends on the speed of your metabolism. If you can spare the time, daytime naps are a big plus. It's been said that an hour slept before midnight is worth two after. I've found reading to be an excellent way to unwind. It gives the body a chance to rest and your mind time to exercise.

And of course, there's the new trend in physiques. The contemporary bodybuilder of the late '60s until present (1977) has opted for thicker muscle density plus tremendous definition. I certainly never went in for that look when I competed. Only because it wasn't in vogue. But if it takes a certain type of physique to win the title, then go after it, within reason and with an eye on your health at all times.

Bulk and definition are important in today's muscle density look. Some guys like to bulk up quick and then cut down before a contest. I recommend gaining the muscle slow, but sure, without putting on the excess baggage.  

Either way, you need the mass and the cuts. Follow your own instinctive principles, check the diet an be aware. Practice posing frequently. You can have a great body but you've got to know how to present it. Continual posing and cramping play big roles in polishing the muscles. Listen to the opinions of your trusted colleagues for posing tips. Attend as many physique shows as possible. Not only for inspiration but for practical purposes. You often learn through imitation. Watch for subtle things in a champion's posing routine such as foot placement, how he turns his wrists, the transition period between poses, how long he holds his poses, his facial expression.

An Advanced Program with Ground Rules 

The abdominals and calves are to be worked every day. A portion of the forearms are worked one day, and the other half the next. The actual bodypart splits are: 


If you can afford the time, the double split system is fine, but not absolutely necessary. 

A minimum of 15 sets and a maximum of 20 per bodypart are all you need to stimulate growth. By theoretically tri-secting a muscle into its three elemental parts, and then picking a specified exercise designed for each segment, the muscle will be worked right to its latent fibers.

[Note: Bill Pearl's "Keys to the Inner Universe" is back in print. If you don't have a copy of this over 600 page book yet, I'd highly recommend getting one. It contains a huge number of exercises and variations, all described clearly, complete with illustrations.You can check for prices, there's always several copies available on eBay. Well over a quarter of a million copies have been sold, so it won't be hard to find one.]



These exercises are useful for two purposes: 
1) to work the midsection muscles, and 
2) to help warm up the entire body.

It's best to start off with any five of the basic midsection movements. Perhaps you have some favorite exercises that you'd prefer to use, and this is alright. As long as you do one set of five different midsection movements.

Here are the ones I like: Bent Knee Situps; Bent Knee Leg Raises; Alternate Leg Raises; Good Morning Exercise; Standing Twists. Do 100 repetitions for each exercise.

Chest and Shoulders

Superset #1 -  
Incline Bench Presses: Employ a wide grip and inhale while lowering the bar to the clavicle. Breathe out on the way up. Keep a slow and easy pressure on this one for 5 sets of 6 reps. Inclines done this way add thickness and width to the upper pecs. Superset with ->

One Arm Laterals: This is a great movement for warming up the delts. It's best to do these while the opposite hand clutches a bar or an upright to prevent body movement. This'll isolate the deltoid and no other muscles (obliques for instance) won't come into play. Commence with the dumbbell at the side and raise it laterally to shoulder level. Breathe in on the way up. Do 5 sets of 6 with each arm.

Superset #2 - 
Pullover and Press: Position yourself so the shoulders are placed at the end of the bench and your head overhangs it. Use a shoulder width grip and keep the elbows in close to the ears as the weight is pulled to the chest. Without pausing, press the bar upwards to arms' length overhead. Breathe in deeply when lowering back to the chest. Repeat the bent arm pullover portion and exhale when the weight is pressed overhead again. Since this is a combination bench press and pullover exercise, many muscles benefit from it. Among them are: pectorals, lats, and of course the rib cage is given a tremendous stretch. Do 5 sets of 6 reps. Superset with ->

Press Behind Neck: Do these seated and use a wide grip. Start with the weight on the back of the shoulders. Inhale, then press the barbell overhead. Return it to the shoulders and stop. Let the air out! Repeat for 5 sets of 6 repetitions. Stopping after each rep makes the exercise twice as effective as doing it in a continuous motion.

Superset #3 - 
Decline Bench Flyes: The bottom portion of the pectorals absorb continuous punishment from these. Hold the dumbbells together above the head, and pronouncedly bend the elbows as you lower them. The elbows must be kept on a rearward plane, about even with the ears. This insures an optimum stretch for the lower pec muscles. Inhale on downside and let it all out on the way up. 5 sets of 6. Superset with ->

One-Arm Cable Rowing: Bend at the waist, keep the back flat and raise the head. Pull the handle high to abut the level of where the head would be if it weren't lifted. Don't pull toward the midsection of the body. Breathe in as you pull, and exhale as the cable extends. This movement balloons up the rear delts. Do 5 sets of 6 for each shoulder.   


One-Arm Rowing: Place the leg rearward on the side being worked. This relieves some of the strain on the lower back. The dumbbell should be pulled straight up to the outside portion of the lower pec, and when letting the weight down, offer resistance every inch of the way. Do 5 sets of 8 with each hand.

Wide Grip Chins: Do them to the front. They're easier than chins behind the neck. By going to the front, a fuller movement is possible. Chins affect the upper back and add width to it. The back responds to higher repetitions, so I recommend 5 sets of 8-15 reps.

Straight Arm Pullovers: Position your back crosswise on a bench. Arch so the rib cage is high and your rear end low. Extend the legs straight out. A reasonably heavy weight might cause your arms to bend slightly, but try keeping them straight during the exercise. Breathe in deeply as the weight is lowered to as far as the arm sockets will allow, then return the poundage overhead as you exhale. This movement gives the rib cage a beautiful stretch, but also works the latissimus. 5 sets of 8 here. 


Wrist Curls: At the latter end of each workout, it's a good idea to do a bit of forearm work. By doing 5 or 6 sets of regular wrist curls on one day, and then doing reverse wrist curls at the end of the workout on the next day, the entire forearm is worked without it becoming tedious or boring. Keep a tight grip on the bar throughout the movement. The hands must overhang the knees just enough to allow them to rotate up and down freely. Make sure the range of motion is total in each direction. 5 or 6 sets of 15 reps will do.


If you want great calves, do it right and work them every workout day. Make up your mind that the end of each workout should be devoted to honing, shaping and adding size to one of the focal points of any bodybuilder -- the lower legs. With concentrated effort, there's no reason why your calves can't be outstanding. They add Herculean finesse to a competitive physique.
Toe Raise: Foot placement is very important here. To properly attack this extremely dense and stubborn muscle grouping, a number of sets have to be done in three different foot positions. Do some with the heels together and the toes pointed outward; some where the feet are pointed straight ahead; and, some with the toes together and the heels pointed outwards. A 2.5 to 3 inch block is used in all calf work. Only the balls of the feet come in contact with it. Make an effort to touch the floor at the bottom and stretch as high (higher!) as possible at the top. 6 sets in each foot position will insure good results. 12 to 15 repetitions are enough for diamond-shaped development. Load that machine with lots of weight! 



Warming up and working with the 5 midsection exercises


Superset #1 - 
Dips: These are weighted dips. Either use a belt type harness and chain for the weight or clasp a dumbbell between the legs at the bend in the knee. The latter method has its drawbacks especially with hefty poundages. Do the movement with the elbows close to the body so the brunt of the work is concentrated on the triceps. Breathe in on the way down, and exhale on the way up. 5 sets of 8 reps. Superset with ->

Incline Dumbbell Curls: The biceps seem to respond to supinating movements. Therefore, I want you to supinate the wrists in this manner: With the arms fully extended at the bottom, the palms of the hands should face each other. Then as the dumbbells are curled upwards, the palms rotate into the palm up position. The hands stay like this throughout the curling motion to the shoulders and finally rotate back to the palms facing relationship near the bottom-most station of the curl. Every repetition employs the same supinating action. Incline curls have a beneficial effect on the belly of the biceps, and the supinating motion does remarkable things for peaking the biceps. 5 sets of 6 will get the job done.

Superset #2 -
Standing DB Extensions: A single dumbbell is worked here. In all extension movements, the elbows are kept pointing straight up and moving is done by the forearms. Absolute strictness magnifies the workload and thereby turns this into a terrific exercise. The trick is to keep the elbows close to the head. 5 sets of 8 are required here. Superset with ->

Isolated DB Curl: These are very similar to concentration curls, but there are dissimilarities. The main difference is that the arm is kept away from the thigh. This allows the upper arm to move in a "scoopshovel" motion as the dumbbell is methodically curled upward. In other words, besides curling the weight, the upper arm seems to be slightly pushing forward at the same time. The downward trajectory is the exact reverse of this. Another difference is that the upper body is bent over and is not in the stark upright position which is a familiar stance in concentrations. This is another supinating curl, so as the curling begins, the palm faces to the rear of the body. The supinating starts as the dumbbell is raised. At peak contraction, the rotation of the hand is to where the little finger faces towards the deltoid on the side that is being worked. The procedure is reversed as the dumbbell is lowered. So 5 sets of 6 with each arm.

Superset #3 -
Decline Extensions: This is a helluva movement because the decline angle never allows the triceps to relax during the exercise movement. Like I said earlier, always keep the elbows close together and pointed upwards. Lower the barbell to the chin, not to the forehead. Do 5 sets of 8. Superset with ->

EZ Bar Curls: Use a close grip for these. Probably the first bends near the center of the bay are the best places to grip. The back and buttocks should be against a wall and the legs away from the wall at a slight angle. This is a very restrictive exercise that rules out all excess body motion, and it really puts the bite on brutalizing the biceps. ["Puts the bite on brutalizing the biceps." Nice!] 5 sets of 6 will complete the arm workout.  


Freehand Squats: Elevate the heels on a block of wood, cross the hands over the chest and then start doing squats, parallel squats. Keep the knees wide throughout the squatting sequences. 5 sets of 30-50 reps will get the blood gorging into the thigh area, not only pumping them but also thoroughly warming up the legs for the next heavy exercise.

Leg Presses: Keep the knees spaced wide and place the hands beneath the glutes for lower back support. This old standby exercise will devastate your thighs and will add inches of well shaped muscle. Leg presses also powerize the legs with outlandish strength that seems to increase by leaps and bounds over what it used to be. 5 sets of 12 reps will burn your thighs into "Best Legs" contenders.

Leg Curls: Many bodybuilders never realize they're missing the boat when it comes to developing outstanding legs because they've neglected working their thigh biceps. This particular movement obliterates that oversight very succinctly. Sweeping slabs of muscle are gonna be packed onto the back of your thighs if you do these diligently. Remember to apply resistance in both the upward and downward directions of leg curls. 5 sets of 8 completes what should be an engrossing leg workout.


Repeat the calf exercises that were done on Day One.


Reverse Wrist Curls: This gets the bottom portion of the forearms not worked on the previous day. The procedure is the same except the hands are turned upside down -- in the reverse position. 5 or 6 sets of 12 reps competes the second day's work.


The following training day will be a replay of the Day One routine and the day after that will be the Day Two blitz. I'm sure you know how to play the daily workout card rotation shuffle by now.

Bodybuilders . . . always remember you'll forever be in the limelight. You're easy to recognize, so watch your postures. I'm of course referring to how you project yourself. Don't scoff it off to being part of your domain that people are going to admire your physique, and therefore, you should acquire an aloofness befitting a demigod. On the contrary!

If you're to be admired, then develop a charisma that'll do yourself and our sport proud. Act a champion if you want to be one . . . and I'll tell you . . .

Everyone's going to reap reap the rewards.        

Note: You might notice that leg work, specifically upper leg work, seems to get less volume assigned to it in these Golden Era routines than in the current layouts. Calves were, however, worked hard. Now, some people of the current era tend to think these bodybuilders from the past didn't realize what they were doing when they trained. "Duh, I didn't do enough thigh training. Shoulda used better spreadsheets." Right. Far from it! They knew exactly the body they were after, proportion was manipulated with intention and forethought. Not everyone finds the humongous chafing thigh development to be a plus in the male physique. Personally, I prefer the Golden Era ideal over the current perception of physical perfection.

All I know now is that the current lifting world holds little or nothing of interest for me anymore. One might use the term "sickens" but I'm not the kinda guy that says things like that.

No matter. However you choose to train . . .
Enjoy your lifting! 


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