A Young Mike Mentzer
Part One and Two are Here:
The Heavy Duty Legacy Facebook Page (by invite):
Heavy Duty 40 Years On
by Kevin Dye
To recap my former two articles, My Heavy Duty Life and My Heavy Duty Evolution, Mike Mentzer was a breath of fresh air when I commenced bodybuilding in my mid-teens. Starting with a Bullworker I received for my 15th birthday, I moved on to free weights later that year (my 1978 Christmas present), starting my search for the most efficient way to train.
Like most, I tried a volume based routine, but 12 sets a muscle spread over 5 days a week didn't cut it, which is when I was fortunate enough to happen upon Mike and Heavy Duty, which changed my mindset and training outlook for life!
Forty years on, Mike's words ring as true as they did when I started . . . maybe even more so as I discovered using Mike's guidance matched to my individual needs, I continue to improve at this (late stage) of the game. The unavoidable fact is the stronger I've become, the less I can tolerate. Thanks to hypnosis, which I discussed in my prior articles, my intensity levels are up there with the best of them, therefore a small amount of high intensity exercise goes a long way. Logically, I focus my efforts on the most productive exercises, something Mike learned when he formulated his Consolidation Routine.
It stands to reason I want to focus my efforts on moves which provide the best stimulus. Exercises that deliver "the most bang for my buck" . . . multi-joint compound moves. Mike knew these were the moves which delivered the best results, and logically emphasized them as the bases of advanced routines. Through my vast experience and research (EMG studies), I am down to a small, but effective pool of exercises. Some I came about through the good grace of fellow heavy Duty enthusiasts like Bill Sahli . . .
Several Bill Sahli Articles here:
. . . others through trial and effort to discover what suits me best. I firmly believe had I known and placed all my efforts into these moves from day one, I'd have achieved my current stats far sooner than I did.
One such gem was High Pulls.
I was blessed to be introduced to them by Bill Sahli. Unknown to most, I was unsure how beneficial high pulls were. But keeping an open mind, something Mike ingrained in me, I gave them a try. Having developed decent delts though Scott presses, I'm always mindful of using whatever helps me achieve me goals. It took a few workouts to get the right feel, but once I mastered them I was surprised how much my delts improved (in a mere month). As Bill claimed, they work the delts and surrounding muscles super-effectively. Being a compound move that allows ever-increasing poundages, they soon became a valued addition to my exercise pool, something I dearly wish I'd have included from day one.
For my 56th birthday this year, I treated myself to a Powertec Leverage Gym. Safety being crucial for training longevity, and training alone, I needed to be able to train on something I trust. I went with what I considered the closest to commercial grade equipment for the home gym without having to take a loan from Fort Knox. I don't have any financial interest in Powertec, but I wanted heavy gauge equipment, and through extensive research I went with what I deemed best suited my needs to last me an eternity. This has become the center piece of my gym, along with other heavy duty equipment. I can train with piece of mind, able to focus on whatever exercises I use while ensuring my safety.
I focus on only those exercises which are safe and allow consistent progress. Instead of hampering my efforts, it simplifies my routines.
"The idea is not to go into the gym to see how many sets you can do or how long you can mindlessly endure. Your purpose is to go into the gym as an informed, intelligent, rational human being and perform only the precise amount of exercise needed to stimulate growth." (Mike Mentzer).
Throughout a lifetime of trial and effort I know which moves suit me best. My years of squats well behind me, having achieved my goal of 400 pounds, then my chiropractor showed me the damage they were doing to my upper back, I switched to leg presses (like Heavy Duty champ Dorian Yates) and haven't looked back. My legs are bigger and shapelier, and I no longer suffer back issues. I many "only" HIT my quads ever 2 weeks, but recently added 1/4" in 2 weeks. Being such a large muscle group it stands to reason sufficient recuperation is required. Consider this . . . Ray Mentzer, with his superhuman strength, "only" squatted every 3 weeks!
Calves are a lifetime obsession of mine . . . so much so that through my twenties I swore I'd eventually get calf implants! Shorts were a no-go until my late 20's, ashamed by my "sticks." But seeing how fake Lou Ferrigno's implants looked up close and personal I changed my mindset and continued to apply myself to Mike's Heavy Duty teachings. Using simplicity as my guide, I've managed to get my once puny broom handles up to decent proportions (17-1/2"). Big calves don't run in my family but through Heavy Duty I've built calves I don't have to hide under baggy pants.
Dips do a tremendous job on my chest and triceps, a staple of the Mentzer brothers. Despite mainstream dogma, bench press never sat well with me. Dips better suit how the chest functions, they are my sole chest exercise. Back has always been my strength, having been a teen obsession, but I recently improved it through cable rows (EMG studies proved it to best stimulate the lats). I can't seem to choose the right weight, my progress is that continual.
As Mike rightly noted, "If you want to get bigger, you've got to get stronger." When all is said and done, progress is all any of us can expect from our workouts, and without it you might as well forget about achieving your full potential.
Arms were never a strong point of mine. Like my calves they were a mere 10" when I first started training. But through using the most basic exercises, and adhering to Heavy Duty tenants, I have managed to build decent arms (17-1/2"). Simplicity, as always, was the answer . . . not complexity as the mainstream would have us believe. Arms are HIT in every move, even leg exercises, so "THE IDEA IS NOT MORE IS BETTER, OR LESS IS BETTER, BUT T HAT PRECISE IS BEST. PRECISION IS THE KEY." (Mike Mentzer).
Mike knew, "You can train hard of you can train long, you just can't do both. And it just so happens that it takes hard training to build big muscles." This has always been the focus of my workouts. A good example is that of an advanced trainee contacting me to ask how he could achieve 20" arms. He and his training partner were stuck, 1/2" away from their goals, unsure how to proceed. I suggested 1/4 dips, a compound move ensuring heavy weights. He wrote back a month later thanking me, saying they both achieved 20" arms. If more was done to boost progress, instead of squabbling on forums over every small nuance under the sun, I am sure the rate of muscle worldwide would explode overnight!
After a lifetime of Heavy Duty, I continue to hone and improve my workouts. My dedication to simplicity allows continual progress 40 years on. My current workouts take mere minutes BUT it takes me physically and psychologically to my absolute limits!
The basis of Heavy Duty, which Mike spent his life promoting, is precision. Ignore the naysayers who spout "Heavy Duty doesn't work." It takes courage to push yourself to the limits of your pain zone. Mike knew it triggered the best growth, and I am firmly convinced four decades later.
"A good teacher must know the rules; a good pupil, the exceptions."
-- Martin H. Fischer
Enjoy Your Lifting!