The greatest physiques in the world are those that are well-balanced and well-rounded. However, when I refer to a physique's being "well-balanced" I am not necessarily speaking only of that physique's APPEARANCE. There are things besides appearance that count also.
The trend over the last five years has been toward greater size and still greater SIZE. Get big. That's been the gist of the bodybuilder's philosophy, and, of course, training methods reflected the training goals. Styles of working out became more and more oriented toward making the trainee get and look BIGGER, with little regard for whether that "bigness" was indicative of a parallel degree of strength, or even if that bigness, by itself, was all that great to begin with!
Size, if unsupported by strength, is of little or no value -- except for those whose only aim in physical training is to look massive on the posing platform. I suggest that there are other things much more important in the art of bodybuilding.
Yes, it certainly IS possible, with the modern methods of training available, to LOOK more impressive and big than one's actual degree of power and physical ability can "back up." I'd say without hesitation that the majority of advanced bodybuilders today look vastly superior to the majority of advanced lifters. Yet, the ACTUAL degree of development (i.e., strength and athletic ability) is unquestionably higher in the LIFTER, not the bodybuilder.
I say all this not to be critical of bodybuilding, per se; but rather, to be critical of popular bodybuilding METHOD. If you are spending ten or more hours of time every week to puff up every inch of your body so that you only LOOK great, what, really, is the point of it all?
Weight training, properly done, offers much more than the mere appearance of strength, only. Why settle for something that, by itself, is merely cosmetic? To me -- and according to my own philosophy of training, instructing and living -- SUBSTANCE is as or more important than "appearance.'
When I work out, when I teach others to work out, it is to achieve something REAL -- something TANGIBLE and actual; not something that "exists: only in the mind's eye of the beholder, whoever he may be!
There is certainly nothing wrong with training in order to develop an attractive, athletic looking body -- or even a true Mr. America body. However, it is important not to let things get out of balance. The object in developing one's physique should always be to develop muscles that ARE as strong as they LOOK.
Some few men, like England's Reg Park, have the natural potential to be outstandingly BIG and to be that big without attaining size via "pump." Men like this develop into BIG and SUPER-POWERFUL athletes simply by progressing on normal training, over a period of years. However, most individuals have the capacity to get only so big (say, in possession of 16" to 17" arms, etc.) and that is that! If they wish to build up beyond such a point, they are placed in the position of sacrificing ACTUAL STRENGTH DEVELOPMENT merely to "blow u" their muscles' size. In my opinion, a foolish thing.
Balanced Training Follows Sensible Goal Planning
Look at yourself as the unique individual you are. Forget about what many advertisements claim, and forget about what you've read in some popular muscle magazine about the current Mr. Universe. Look, instead and for a change, at YOU!
If you are essentially small boned and inherently slightly built, do not imagine that tremendous massiveness can ever be yours. If you commit the folly of wanting only to be as BIG as you can possibly become, then you'll doom yourself to train in a basically ineffective way, and, I'm afraid, to eventually commence steroid usage, "just to get as big as possible."
The tragedy is this: If you are inherently bound to be slightly built, you can NEVER, even with the use of steroids, be "just like Reg Park" (or Columbu, or Arnold, etc., etc., etc.) NATURE FORBIDS IT! You will run the risk of destroying your health with drug use, and you will MISS the opportunity to ACTUALLY BUILD RREAL IMPROVEMENT IN YOUR PHYSIQUE ALONG THE LINES WHICH ARE POSSIBLE TO YOU!
No matter how poor or bad your starting condition of potential may be, you see, there definitely IS much that you can do to build a physique that is tremendously superior to the onw with which you start. WHY SABOTAGE YOUR ACTUAL OPPORTUNITY BY FENCING WITH WINDMILLS!?
Set your training goal so that you:
1) Aim to achieve the biggest NATURAL muscular development you can, via the use of basic exercises, and heavy weights, and,
2) Aim to develop GENUINE STRENGTH into all of the muscles of your body, in direct proportion to the SIZE you develop.
That is the best strategy for all-round development of the finest possible physique.
The really nice thing about basic, sensible weight training is that, when you follow it, AND PROVIDING YOU DON'T GIVE IT UP FOR SOME MORE "SPECTACULAR" METHOD, you automatically arrive, after a suitable period of training, at the physique -- strength and size-wise, that is "right" for YOU. Your strength, health, level of size development and degree of muscularity develops exactly along the lines, and according to the potential and limitations that Nature Herself has set for you.
Don't try to be something you're not.
Don't accept the wild theories of high pressure advertisers, regarding their "super development" via strange, exotic systems and methods.
Don't approach bodybuilding in any way that is "unnatural."
Don't deceive yourself about the right and best ways to achieve the best results possible to you.
Set, as your basic goal, the objective of building a physique that sports the biggest and proportionately strongest muscles your frame can carry comfortably. "Bigger" does not always mean "better," and often, to knowledgeable eyes, the smaller build that is trimmer, more athletic, harder and faster, is the better build!
Anyone who feels that strength is a "secondary" consideration in the development of his body is fully free to go along the road he chooses. I don't agree with his aims, and I, personally, cannot in good conscience instruct others to follow along that same route. However, an individual must be free to do what his mind tells him is best. My warning is firm, however: LEARN TO REGARD BARBELL TRAINING AS A TOTAL PHYSICAL CULTURE METHOD. DON NOT CONSIDER ONLY HOW "BIG" YOU CAN BE: CONSIDER YOUR OWN, ALL-ROUND EXCELLENCE FROM A PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STANDPOINT. Regard, please, muscles as being desirable, only when they are developed to be STRONG and USEFUL.
If you get out of balance, and if you begin to seek appearance only (which is what "size only" actually means, in case you haven't thought about it!), you are, I fear, heading for eventual disappointment. What have you, really, assuming that you attain the all-out size proportions you sweat for? Those muscles will only deflate if they are not the result of actually thickened fibers. They cannot remain if they are the result or product of unnatural drug use or "pump." So WHY BUILD THEM? Why seek the artificial, when the genuine is so much more attractive? Strive, I again say, for BALANCE. Seek muscles that are as BIG as your frame and potential will allow you to develop via training, rest and diet; and seek muscles that possess the strength to back up their appearance.
The proportionate development of POWER along with size, is, by the way, the best safety check that the more sensible training style is being followed. A TRAINEE WHO WORKS OUT PROPERLY, will always develop muscles that not only look big and strong, but muscles that ARE, indeed, big and strong. They may not be the biggest and they may never even approach the strongest, but they will attain, with the passing years, the MAXIMUM SIZE AND POWER THAT THE INDIVIDUAL'S NATURAL POTENTIAL WILLALLOW. The muscles of a trainee who works out properly will always BE REAL! And therein lies, in my opinion, one very, very impressive and valuable goal.
Factors to Keep in Mind About Your Training
There are certain core of key exercises that must always be a part of your training. You may have read in some publications that these exercises are not used by "advanced" men, or that they are not employed in "real" Mr. America workouts. HOGWASH! I know they used to sustain their muscles, once they've developed them. The BASICS are always needed. IN SOME FORM, always.
In your training, therefore, if your goal and purpose is the balanced development of size and proportionate strength, include:
Military or Behind the Neck Presses
Deadlifting, or Power Cleans
Cleans and Jerks.
Those BASICS are mandatory for everyone who is after a really excellent, LASTING development. Without the inclusion of essentials in one's training diet, one only cheats one's muscles out of the nourishment they desire.
The important basic exercises need not be done to excess. They need only be DONE! It is rarely desirable or necessary to do set and set of the important basic movements. The nature of the basic exercises is such that they work the heavier muscle masses, and, consequently, since heavy weights can be utilized, a high degree concentrated effort is possible in a relatively brief workout sequence. For example, it is really only necessary to do two of three sets of squats two or three times a week to reap the fullest bodybuilding and strength benefits from squatting. HOWEVER, a real effort must be poured into the squatting one does. It is not sufficient to "run through" a set or two with only a few pounds on the bar. This is fine for basic conditioning, but, it is no good for significant development. Pile real poundages on your bar and give a set or two (or three, if you fancy yourself "advanced") a go! FIGHT FOR YOUR REPS! Work hard. Really make the muscles STRUGGLE, and then, set the weight down, give your body adequate rest and nutrition, and you'll see and feel your muscles and your strength growing.
If you train three days a week, here's a suggested schedule of good, basic training. Later, we'll add a few "little" exercises to it, to round out the schedule.
Press Behind Neck: 2 x 8-10
Squat: 2 x 12-15
Upright Row: 1 x 8-10
Barbell Curl: 2 x 6-8
Deadlift: 3 x 6
Bentover Row: 2 x 12
Training hard on those exercises alone will provide stimulation throughout the body and great gains not only in the size of the muscles, but also in their POWER.
Many trainees, especially beginners, will find such a schedule of basics more than enough for their entire workout. I would suggest the inclusion of a basic abdominal exercise, such as leg raises, but that is optional, except in cases where the trainee is flabby around the middle. Most fellows who have not yet made sufficient bodybuilding progress and who wish to begin making some, can leave off any specific abdominal work for a couple of months.
More advanced fellows seeking a more complete program of training are advised to include abdominal work, a bit of calf work, and perhaps some additional arm and shoulder SHAPING work, preferably with dumbbells. Care must always be taken never to put more into one's shaping exercises than one puts into one's building exercises. Weights in the lighter, shaping exercises ought to be reasonably light and easy -- almost pleasant -- to work with. These movements, employed in such a manner, will produce, ultimately, the best results all-round.
Here's a good representative "advanced" program:
Press Behind Neck: 2 x 8-10
Lateral Raise: 2 x 8
Squat: 2 x 12-15
Upright Row: 1 x 8-10
Barbell Curl: 2 x 6-8
One Arm Triceps Extension: 2 x 8
Deadlift: 3 x 6
Bentover Row: 2 x 12
Leg Raise: 2 x 25
You can see that the advanced course is in most ways similar to the beginner's, except that a LITTLE more work was added. The meat and potatoes remain -- the basics. That's the way it ought to be.
The best possible results are always gained by following a good, sensible, basic course of training. Perhaps, and quite possibly, many readers already know this from bitter personal experience on the other "space age" methods. My mail leads me to suspect that many bodybuilders certainly do "fall victim" at one time or another to the "nut schedules!"
In any case, the outline of the BASIC METHOD OF APPROACH to your all-round training should clearly indicate the right way. Anyone training along the lines suggested will surely find that his progress -- in gains of BOTH size and strength -- is most impressive and lasting.
Diet: The Real Secret to a Great Appearance
Training will build you up, in spite of a not-so-careful diet. However, by far, the factor most responsible for the Mr. America Appearance is the training and diet regimen followed by those advanced men who are "in the know." Diet alters appearance radically, and, once dietary tricks and secrets are mastered, it becomes a relatively simple task for the bodybuilder to look pretty much as he pleases.
The "cut up" bodies you marvel at, for instance, are almost totally the result of strict dietary control, rather than some special weight training "method."
You now have, I hope, resolved to follow the sensible path toward muscular and strength development. I've tried to point out why that way is best, and I've given you a good suggested program that you can follow, so that you can actually "taste" the results!
SIZE and STRENGTH. They are both necessary for the best results in your physical training, and they are both YOURS, in abundance, when you adhere to the methods described.
Enjoy Your Lifting!