Despite what most muscle magazines believe, there are thousands of people who really do want to build muscle, but are just too damn over-worked to do so! I give you thousands of housewives, traveling salespeople, construction workers, professors, police officers, full-time students, roofers and hard-driving, business-people commuting from San Jose to Chicago, for example.
Yes, there are people who are hungry for bigger biceps but who have a real problem—they are locked in a perpetual struggle just to make ends meet. Indeed, they struggle to balance the real demands of this messy confusion we call life. But, take heed brothers and sisters, because muscle relief is on the way!
Believe me, there are many of you without energy and time to train or so it would seem. OK, that being rightly noted, let me say that whether it's the way they work out or what they eat or life in general, many people must function with fixed, unyielding rules, needing absolutes for what is right and wrong. And as regard your previous beliefs with weight training, this needs to change.
But you do know the ones. For these individuals, there can be no deviation. This is why we constantly bicker over abortion rights, gun laws, assisted suicide, drug use, prayer in school, the death penalty and to a lesser extent, whether Vicky Pratt is sexier than Amy Fadhli. Or, more germane, whether one set of exercise is actually better than two or three or four, etc.
For example, if you were to suggest to some individuals that human life is completely incidental, that it may be the result of millions of unrelated environmental accidents, or, that just maybe there isn't any spiritual meaning to our existence (or even to triceps extension technique), you open yourself to extreme hostility, more often than heightened curiosity. While further intellectual or theoretical discussion may come to a quick end, hey, this is OK by me.
Alas, when it comes to life's meaning, most bodybuilders only think about muscle, dollars or sex anyway. Confronted with a philosophical challenge, most would rather switch to deep conversation about amino acids, GHB or HMB.
For sure, many individuals (especially those trainers still asserting that machines build muscle better than free weights) have intellectual difficulty viewing themselves as evolved Simian-like creatures with vocabulary, with the ability to oppose their thumb to their little finger and with the ability to use reason and complex thought—or, to get a workout done in less than one hour. But, it's no wonder so many of us can't figure out how to work out right.
When I raise some questions about the dogma you've been fed about training, I challenge the meaning of life for many absolutists, whether they believe in 10 hard sets to failure or 1 hard set to a life-ending coma.
Of course, most people need an ultimate meaning to life, fearing both moral and social anarchy if they have none. Then again, some people just need to look both ways while slurping their fat shredder drink as they cross the street (because alas, not getting hit by a bus is also a meaning of life).
Well, to help each of us find our own meaning of life (besides Monday Night football), we use names and labels. We have names and labels for everything in bodybuilding.
Is There A One Best Way To Workout? Volume, Super-Slow, And HIIt Training
Bodybuilding has a lot of trainers labeling you as either a follower of the so-called volume training method, or as a member of the super-slow group (that's training speed, not developmental IQ levels), or the HIIT club (the so-called high intensity interval training group).
My opinion is no such groups exist. Since there are no common definitions to describe these groups and no reproducible, documented and verifiable methods as to how each trains, as coherent entities, such labeling is meaningless, despite how good the training programs might actually be. Wittgenstein suggested that you can only speak of that which you know.
As an example of label confusion, an alcoholic's drinking may interfere with and disrupt his relationships and working life and control his behavior and needs. If you get smashed every day, smash your spouse and smash your car going to work, you are labeled an alcoholic. And—rightly so.
If you drink a lot of alcohol every day, but it in no way disrupts your relationships, health or work (which somehow stays 'smashing' as they say in England), your label is a functioning alcoholic. When you get absolutely smash-faced drunk (but only once a month), your label is a monthly problem drinker. And so the labels go, on and on, ad nauseum.
Requiring less esoteric thought, doing any kind of bodybuilding or weight lifting involves some varying levels of intensity and volume (not to mention duration and frequency), the four major tenets of exercise. This article deals with the problem of frequency, which is not discussed much.
Some trainers act as if intensity and volume have to always be mutually exclusive, that if one maintains high intensity, it's impossible to maintain high volume, even if it's for short periods of time only. Oh really? Why don't some of these know-it-alls just go watch Olympic sprinter Michael Johnson train for a month?
Naturally, intelligent individuals and trainers will always disagree on the best methods to try and make muscles bigger and stronger, the fastest way. As with business, athletics and bodybuilding, disagreement exists in all tenets of life and such disagreement should advance intellect and progress. Take business for example - if you really want to.
Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, perhaps the richest man on paper in America, is not big on cash charitable donations (according to TIME), but he does donate trash (after digging through it) about Bill Gates and Microsoft. The $60 billion man, Loquacious Lawrence, defines this as honorable, while the other ?$60 billion man, Bill Gates, might define such honor as no less than garbage, no donation required back to Larry.
Gates digs charity, to the tune of $22 billion, according to TIME (Ms. Reno, are we sure we want to break up this guy's company), doesn't dig through garbage, but does dig monopolies, at least according to fast Janet and the Justice Department.
Bill Gates still thinks the future is the PC. Larry Ellison sees it as business-to-business and Internet software. Scott McNealy, the outspoken Java jokester of Sun Microsystems, might see the future as a single computer chip. (Perhaps said chip might be located in his ample front teeth, which you can't miss, since he, too, is always yapping about Gates.)
Considering that none of these guys can do a lying triceps extension with 300 pounds, they have no real special import anyway. Stock, schlock, it's big triceps and pectorals that count most in life.
Bodybuilding, like business, has always been laced with disagreement and full of its spew-mongers of venom. But what bugs me is outright fraud, or when people mislead other people through good intentions. Unfortunately, there are some really bright trainers who mean well but make unrealistic statements about training.
Mike Mentzer is a very intelligent guy who generates controversy. I doubt he does it consciously to sell himself as a trainer. More likely, disagreement results by virtue of his insistence that his definitions are the only logical absolute in training. He does not deal well with contradiction.
Well, speaking of contradiction, while Mike has done an immense amount for sanity in natural training, his recent suggestion (without qualifying caveats), that everyone should be able to actualize or maximize their muscular potential in one year, seems to me as thick as Sean Connery's Highlander accent.
And now a celebrity trainer has stated that people over 25 should reach their genetic ability in any activity within six months. Goofy is as goofy does.
To his credit, Mike Mentzer notes correctly that most bodybuilders over-train, do way too many sets, and believe erroneously that it takes much longer than it really should to get a good physique. And he's right. I happen to agree with Mike about 90% of the time, but, his statement that you can maximize your physique potential in one year does a disservice to his own rational thinking.
A law can't be 100% true if one contradiction cracks its validity. If a young man of 12 begins Mike's program, but his nubile testes are not yet producing much testosterone, will he maximize his muscle strength and size a year later by age 13? No, there is just not a Horny Goat Weeds chance. In fact, while our 12 year-old might lift more weight after a year, he's not likely to be any bigger (and he still won't have heavy-duty underarm hair at 13).
He can look instead, to reaching his maximum size maybe by age 25-30, since humans are the slowest growing mammals and the acquisition of muscle is a painfully slow process, especially without steroids. History, logic and all available evidence suggest so.
Different Strokes - Different Folks
How is it that Mike Mentzer and this sole trainer hold a view about human muscle and skill different than has ever been held in the history of every other activity, sport, art and/or enterprise ever known to mankind? Were they thrown from the same horse as children?
Golfer Tiger Woods probably started on his short game when he was less than a foot long in the womb, yet today, 24 years later, he is still cutting strokes from his game. Six months to maximize your genetic ability to play tennis, golf or basketball? Mike Jordan and Pete Sampras wouldn't buy that, even though they both could afford too.
Did it take six months for Albert Einstein to develop his general theory of relativity or a year for Newton to develop and describe the laws of gravity and motion? When both men died, they were still working on that which they had already devoted their whole lives to.
Yes, certainly muscle cells are different than brain cells, but did Cassius Clay (then), start boxing at 14, develop all his skill, speed and great physique by 15? Would he have, if he had only known Mike Mentzer back then in his formative days in Louisville? (Mike would have cancelled the Ali shuffle and would have changed Ali's famous slogan to: "Float like a beauty and sting heavy-duty!")
Do you really think power-lifter Garry Frank would have reached his record 2453 pound power lifting total, actualizing his strength and muscle size after a year's time, if he would only have done heavy duty (as if he wasn't already)?
Look, you people who want and need to, you go ahead and believe you can actualize and reach your full muscular potential in six months to a year, no matter what program you follow. It's a free country and you can be goofy, ignoring fact if you want to.
Good luck with your adrenal rehabilitation.
When Time Is The Killer
No matter what your schedule, if you are really serious about gaining muscle, losing fat-weight or just getting into shape in general, I am convinced there is a workout for everyone, a way around every problem. When I tell people they can literally build muscle on one, maybe two workouts a week, few believe me, or understand that they've been brainwashed instead, into thinking it takes three hours every single night.
The biggest problem I have with most muscle magazines on the market is that they have long ago forgotten what the real problems of real people are, and instead, they've become lost in the world of competitive bodybuilding or fitness training. Eating six times per day and training with weights every day in the morning, and doing cardiovascular work, or posing routines in the evening is a world too unrealistic for about 99.9% of our population.
Second, most of the actual workouts suggested are constructed around a steroid user's training and recovery paradigm. Anabolic steroids are a known, powerful recovery and muscle-building agent.
The fact is, the average person is out there working 8-9 hours a day plus spending 1-3 hours each day commuting, going to school, studying, picking up their kids, doing errands and basically running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
Try to workout? Hell, survive first, keep the kids out of trouble, pay the house mortgage and junky car payments instead.
The Joe And Mary Blow Workout
Let's consider this likely scenario of Joe Blow, age 30, married to Mary Blow, with two kids, Megan and Mason.
Joe rolls out of the sack at 6 a.m. Monday through Friday. He has to do this to get to work at 8 a.m. (but it does happen to coincide with the fact that this is the time that the kids decide to bound into his room and jump up and down on him and Mary to start every day anyway).
Joe and Mary struggle to do everything they have to do to get the two kids ready for school. Breakfast must be made. Mary must help get Joe off for work. Megan has to be dropped off at pre-school and Mason at the first grade.
Mary also works part time out of the house. She is studying to get her real estate license too.
Joe has a 50-minute commute and he can barely make it in by 8 a.m. each day.
Joe finishes work each day at 5 p.m. and by the time he gets stubbed-out of the 400-employee lot it is 5:30 p.m. On the road, his time home takes a bit longer, about 70 minutes, plus he also usually has about 1-3 short errands to run before getting home. Joe stumbles in, tired and ornery at about 7 p.m., if he is lucky.
Mary is efficient and has dinner ready. When Joe and Mary and the kids finish with cleanup, it's a little bit after 8:30 p.m.
This gives them 2 hours maximum for the guts of their personal day, all the mental, physical and emotional stuff Joe and Mary have to attend to as a couple. This includes playtime, TV time and homework time with the kids, not to mention any major bills, discussions or whatever they must attend to.
So when and how exactly are Joe or Mary supposed to go to the gym to do heavy squats? Both are actually dead tired by 9 p.m., and getting the kids to bed with lights out by 10 p.m. is nothing short of World War III anyway, so Joe and Mary are lucky to net about 7 hours of sleep a night.
The situation, by the way, is no easier for Mary. In fact, maybe even harder because not only does she run a business out of the house, and is studying for a license, but she has to run the house too, pick up the kids, attend to the dog and cat and even Aunt Lulu when she stops by unannounced.
This Is The Way To Do It You Crazy Tired Kids!
Here's the real deal. Regardless of your schedule, you need two relatively work-free days. The one thing Joe has going is that he has 8-10 hours of Saturday and Sunday where he does not have to go to work per se. Now, I understand that weekends are for each other and catching up on all kinds of things missed during the week, like gee, maybe even sex for a change.
The key to the above exercises is that you want to fail within the prescribed repetitions following your general warm-ups and your first warm-up set.
You must train your upper body hard with one all-around basic exercise per body part and enough high intensity sets to get the muscle-growth mechanisms in gear. If you prefer 1-2 sets after your warm-ups, this is also fine, it's just that I think slightly higher sets are more productive for most people.
If you wish also to do some cardiovascular work, this might be done for about 20 minutes following your weight training.
Now the other key to making this actually work for muscle growth is what you do on Wednesday! That's right, Wednesday. If you take seven days off and train upper body hard or seven days off and train your lower body hard, you will be unbelievably sore after each workout and soreness will return each time.
So, you must figure out how to do something on Wednesday. The ideal situation for Joe and Mary would be to figure out some way to do this. Perhaps on Wednesday Joe catches a bite to eat right after work and immediately goes to the gym and misses the evening meal at home. Maybe he gets home an hour or so later.
Or, maybe when Joe gets home, the family immediately goes out for a small meal, both go to the gym for an hour, and either Aunt Lulu watches the kids back at home, or maybe the kids come along and play at the kids' center while Joe and Mary pump away.
But if none of these things are options, then there must be a way to get in a 20-minute Wednesday workout because that is all that is needed! Perhaps Joe brings his lunch that day and works out at that time for 20 minutes. Or, better yet, the couple purchases a small set of dumbbells for home use and does their workouts together while the kids watch TV.
At any rate, here's the workout that must be done!
On Wednesday, you should still try to use as heavy a weight as you can for the one prescribed set. Not only can you still gain on Wednesday, but this much shorter workout (20-30 minutes), will allow you to workout very hard on the weekends without getting super sore.
Strictly Two Days!
There is another alternative to your time dilemma depending upon your job and circumstances and that is a 2-day-per-week workout. Now, if you can do it, you would mix your workouts and train, as for example, Saturday and Wednesday, or Monday and Thursday.
The point I want to make in this article is that, even if you are incredibly busy, you can gain muscle if you use your head and plan your time wisely. Don't give up! If you just don't think you have the time to build muscle, try this workout for six months and I guarantee you that you'll be surprised. You will gain muscle!