Two distinct methods of training. How do you proceed?
Reprinted with permission from the author, Bob Shaefer.
You want a balanced physique, lean muscle mass AND the power. The best of both worlds.
Is it possible to devise a method of training that will allow you to compete in both Bodybuilding and Powerlifting competition? Absolutely.
First, you must accept a few laws of nature and where you fit in. Otherwise, your goals become unrealistic, leading to frustration and failure.
Weight training, whether the goal is ultimate power or excellence of physique, should be combined with your ability to accept the limitations of your individual inherent predisposition. Winning a National Class title in Bodybuilding will be a project of futility without a skeletal symmetry of balanced proportion to start. That's right, I'm saying bodybuilding Superstars are born with the mandatory beginnings. Anomalies such as short legs and a long torso, will disqualify you from ever becoming a successful BB competitor, even at the local level. Am I saying, "Forget the bodybuilding"? No, just accept the fact that competition wins of any enormity will be less than likely. A more realistic goal would then be to strive for a lean muscular physique with all the appearances and satisfactions that come with the discipline of bodybuilding. Staged events of short term glory can't compare to the deep satisfaction that comes from carrying a muscular build through out your life, anyway.
Once you make an honest assessment of any possible imbalances, the darkness of bodybuilding dreams shattered, might very well lead to a successful pursuit in the Powerlifting arena. A short torso can prove to be a great advantage in the deadlift. Arms so short they destroy any possible future on the posing stage, now become guns of explosive bench press prowess.
So, let's say you are blessed with the symmetry of the top Olympia stars and your basic strength shows promise of future successes in the power arena. How do you train to assure the results will leave no compromises for either?
First you should pay close attention to overall health, making sure your system is receiving the balanced nutrition that can only be achieved with supplementation. Forget RDA recommendations. The folks who live within those minimal guidelines have chosen to let someone else make decisions concerning their future well being.
Seasonal training variations will provide the best means for continued success. Bodybuilding inherently demands a higher volume of weekly training. Isolated movements become the order of the day. Short rests between sets are necessary to keep hypertrophy on the climb. Diet restriction demands during this seasonal training, leave strength at a much lower level of priority. It's not uncommon to see 6 days of split routines in the training arsenals of even State level bodybuilding competitors.
Powerlifting requires a completely different plan of attack. Now the isolated moves have little importance. Short rests between sets become the enemy of one rep strength cycles. No more 30 second time outs. Now it's 5 to 7 minutes between sets, so oxygen can return from the more depleting effects of an intense group muscle session.
Six days of training now becomes all that's needed for the next 2 or 3 weeks. Weekly fat loss now becomes destructive. Let's clear up one misconception right now, the first weight lost comes directly out of the muscle if you are a natural lifter. Put aside the dieting mentality during this time. Power meets have no award category for lowest body fat.
Now you must think in terms of the three competitive lifts. Each, in it's own right, will create a need for precious rest periods. No longer a need to spend valuable training time doing isolation moves that can be detrimental to power increases. The smaller muscle groups fall prey to overtraining much quicker than the larger groups. Now, a heated series of calf raises should get traded for an early exit from the gym, in favor of needed rest after a day of heavy squats.
Now, the hyperextension is relegated to nothing more than a warmup.
Deadlifts need no help at this point.
Be conservative when these seasonal competitions arise. Trying to diet, can become a nightmare if you choose to enter two bodybuilding events in a time span that has you carrying extremely low body fat for an extended period, especially if you live in a Northern part of the Country and these events are scheduled during the winter. Body fat is one of the ruling elements in your immune system. Remember this when you plan your yearly venue. Pneumonia waits in the shadows for those with bad judgement.
All inherent gifts aside, to train year round without respecting and applying the needed changeovers described above, will surely rob you of ever realizing your full potential in either category. Some might say "Well, I know someone who defied all the rules and still succeeded in both events".
Unless it's your twin, to clone the training methods of such a gifted individual is a gamble that will most certainly lead to broken dreams.
A quick look at the top powerlifters will show scarce signs of starving individuals. That alone should illustrate the validity of what's been said here. Be honest with yourself and the weights will never become your enemy.
-Reprinted with permission from the author, Bob Shaefer