When I set out to condense Jones' material I had no idea how difficult is was really going to be. After all most people sum up his work in three words: brief, infrequent, intense. But is that all there is, really? Not even close. Many of the bodybuilding standards that we now use were first uttered by Jones and still survive the test of time.
1. Indirect effect
"Throw a stone into a pool and it will make a splash and the wave will run to the [edges] of the pool. The larger the stone, the larger the splash and the larger the resulting wave." - Arthur Jones
This was a comparison to what happens in the human body when a specific muscle is worked. The indirect effect merely describes the phenomena that when you exercise any muscle correctly growth will be produced as a result and it will effect, to a lesser extent all other muscles of the body. It has also been noticed that the effect is proximity related. The closer a muscle is to the exercised muscle, the more it is affected via this effect. Also, the larger the muscle the greater its affect on overall growth.
The common practice among hard gainer populations of performing only full squats for periods of time is base entirely upon this principle. Performance of full squats intensely will affect overall growth in the entire body. Such a program allows for a minimum drain on the system and a maximum gain on the one exercise being used. If that one exercise is the squat then the growth stimulation resulting has enormous potential because the exercise involves the largest muscle structures of the body and influences the greatest number of muscle groups.
This one principle lead to three properties of a good training program which are used in all circles of training to this day: 1) for good results from exercise it is essential that the program be well rounded, 2) greatest concentration should be given to working the largest muscles and 3) the training sequence should be such that larger muscles should be worked first since they have the potential to affect overall growth by the greatest amount.
2. Limit Exercise Number
Best results will almost always be produced by selecting from a number of the best exercises which involve the major muscle masses. The human body very rarely utilizes a movement in which a muscle is isolated. Therefore why would we attempt to cause muscle growth by using a large number of isolation exercises. The triceps, for example, are designed to work synergistically with the pectorals and deltoids in all pressing movements. If they are used as such they will respond to the same stimulus as the larger muscles being worked. This is also much more efficient since you can effectively work a large number of muscle groups with only a few exercises. This limits the possibility of overtraining because not as much energy is expended in the training process thereby allowing more energy for recovery and growth.
The point of overtraining is a problematic one for easily 75% of people currently attending gyms. If you aren't making progress, even on a program that has worked in the past, you are likely overtrained. It would be very rare to find a bodybuilder who is under trained. In nearly all cases a decrease in training volume and/or frequency would yield an increase in productivity
3. High Intensity
For those who are totally new to HIT (High Intensity Training) you may not have heard of Jones' intensity recommendations. Prepare yourself!
According to Jones, "for the production of best results one must attempt the momentarily impossible." That means you should carry each set to a point where you force against the weight on a rep even after the weight has stopped moving upward. When the weight stops mid-rep and will not move another inch, you are done the set.
I must point out that, contrary to popular belief, Jones did not encourage the use of intensity techniques to further increase momentary intensity. In Jones' opinion such techniques were counterproductive as they would reduce the amount of tension placed on a muscle in the subsequent reps. It is unnecessary work that will be less effective. In Jones' own words, "do the minimum necessary which causes maximum results. The set should be terminated when it is impossible to move the weight in any position." Enough said!
4. Secondary Growth Factors
Regardless of how hard you work in the gym there are certain factors that must be provided if growth is to occur. These factors are: nutrition, adequate rest, avoidance of overwork (i.e. overtraining) and psychological factors.
The first point, nutrition, is one that Jones' was reluctant to place emphasis on. Many bodybuilders have gotten very carried away with this point. Some calling nutrition 90% of training results. This is a fallacy which must be dispelled. While it is true that continued growth cannot occur without proper nutrition there is no need for this to be a point of fanatic endeavor. The calling for large amounts of calories and protein has primarily come from those who wish to capitalize on the sale of large amounts of supplements to support outrageous diets. Though some supplements and supplemental protein/calories can be very useful and convenient, especially for hard gainers, they are not absolutely necessary for muscle growth to occur. Furthermore, no amount of creatine, HMB, glutamine, etc. is going to turn Pee Wee Herman into Dorian Yates. That's a reality that we all must live with. Use supplements, by all means, but don't deem them to be the holy grail to success. They are not.
Adequate rest is the other major point here. The bottom line is that you should wake each morning feeling rested and you should not have to be awakened to the sound of an alarm. If you don't wake on your own you haven't slept sufficiently.
5. Reciprocity Failure
This can be defined as the failure to achieve desired results. In itself this definition doesn't seem to mean much. But with careful explanation we will see that is actually tells us a lot. Even within the confines of HIT there are extremes where results will be less than what is expected, despite the correct application of the necessary variables. This principle takes the care of the "more is better" approach. If bodybuilding training were a simple mathematical calculation it would stand to reason that if one set gave results then 10 sets would give ten times the desired result. Unfortunately, not the case. There is an intermediate point, somewhere between these two extremes, where optimal results will be achieved. However, the effects of both too much and too little training will be much the same. In both instances results will be poor. Of course the safest way to experiment with this principle is to start at the minimum of 1 set of 1 exercise and monitor progress. If no progress is noted increase to two sets and so on until desired results are noted. If the maximum is exceeded, however, the results will again depreciate to near zero. Experiment with volume, but do so carefully.
This is where I will end the first installment of this article. In my next article I will divulge the final 5 principles from Arthur Jones. In addition, I will present you with a good working routine to help you make sense of the entire article. Until then...
For Part 2, click here.
Keep life HEAVY!