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Supersets, giant sets, stutter-reps, negatives, triple drops, up the rack, down the rack, and one hundred and one Weider principles. What does it all mean? What really works?
The basis of my program is that heavy weights build big muscles. Very rarely do you see a huge bodybuilder who isn't strong.
A couple of years ago, I got tired of listening to the local bonehead group Of power lifters tell me that bodybuilder, like myself, are big and all, but they can't compete with the likes of themselves when it comes to powerlifting. Rather than debate the chubby fellows, I entered the state powerlifting meet and competed against them directly in the 220 pound weight class, I obviously would not be telling this story if I did not beat them and take first place. I did so by a comfortable margin I might add, No conclusion can be based on one example of course, but I have seen it proven over a hundred times. The guys who can lift heavy build very dense muscularity. Additional examples are that championship can all bench press over 500 pounds; I don't need to remind you how massive these guys are, There is also scientific data which supports the thesis that it takes heavy weight training to build dense muscularity. Studies have clearly substantiated that nearly all the muscular hypertrophy experienced by bodybuilder occurs in the white (fast twitch) muscle fibers. Past twitch muscle fibers are stimulated by explosive, power type exercises. Slow twitch muscle fibers (red) are worked with low intensity, aerobic type training. High repetition weight training works primarily red muscle fibers, they have little capacity for hypertrophy. Long distance runners are the extreme example of athletes who have fully developed slow twitch muscles. It is clear by looking at them that this type of work does not develop much muscularity. It has been my experience that the farther you deviate from high rep weight training, the better.
Another point related to training with heavy weights relates to muscle adaptation. The entire goal of weight training is to make muscles adapt to the stress of weight training. This adaption doesn't occur unless the stress of each workout is beyond what the muscle can get used. Slow twitch muscle fibers adapt to stress by becoming more metabolically efficient; fast twitch muscle fibers adapt by becoming larger each time they are forced to adapt. These fast twitch fibers do not ever fully become accustomed to being blasted with heavy weights. Thus, they will continue to adapt (grow) when they are activated by the explosive lifting of heavy weights. Another important point in building muscle size and strength is that recovery takes time. Remember that the workout is just the beginning, repair and growth follow as much as a week later. For this reason, I find it unwise to train each body part more than once every five days; I personally train every body part once a week and find this to be the best way to grow.
Getting down to the actual type of workout I recommend, I find it necessary to touch on my theory for sets and reps. Keeping on line with our heavy training program, you can probably guess that I recommend doing a lot of low rep sets. I consider low reps in the area of 4 to 8. If you do not stimulate the bulk of the fast twitch muscle fibers in the area you are working by rep 6, believe me you are not going to hit it. As far as the number of sets per body part, it varies according to the size of that group. Legs are going to need around 20 sets; shoulders will do fine with about 12 sets. I recommend that a good 3 to 5 minutes be taken between each set. The goal is to put out maximum explosive effort on each rep of each set; you can't do that if you are still breathing hard from the prior set, or if the muscle is still burning. Experienced and well trained lifters can get as much of a pump from a heavy set of 6 reps on a lift as others might get from pushing the weight 40 times. I don't think that high rep sets do anything to build or even harden muscles. I get an excellent leg pump from riding the stationary bike, but that pump does not have anything to do with muscle overload.
At the beginning of each workout there is a warm-up of a few sets. These are high-rep sets designed to get the blood flowing in the muscle, You will see, that on the exercises where I go up to quite heavy lifts, I do so gradually. Because we are training heavy, injury is certainly possible. By the time I get to the heaviest part of my bench workout for example, I have been lifting for about 25 minutes. This is very important to remember; do not rush into the heavy weights. It takes time to warm up the muscle and surrounding joints. ALWAYS WARM UP VSRY THOROUGHLY BEFORE LIFTING HEAVY! I also wrap my wrists and elbows for heavy upper body lifts, and my knees for squats. Perfect form cannot be maintained for all heavy lifts, but an effort should be made. A little cheating can be a good thing; total disregard for form just to lift the weight can seriously injure you. Going heavy might mean lifting 500 Ibs. or 200 Ibs. for you personally, What ever the weight is, heavy is determined by your strength. Always push your strength, but remember it will take time to build it up. Forced reps are a good way to get used to weight that is out of your range. Doing a few forced reps on maximum lifts can help build strength.
An example of the workout I favor is as follows:
MONDAY: CHEST AND CALVES
TUEDAYS: BICEPS AND TRICEPS
SATURDAY AND SUNDAY OFF
This is the exact program I have one of my clients on. Weights are given merely to illustrate the kind of weight increases made when using progressive sets and relative static poundage. Of course, each person lifts different amounts and should set up their program accordingly. Different people also like different exercises for each body part; some are restricted by injury and obviously must avoid certain exercises. Thus, the actual program each person follows is often very different than the one here. A program like this one follows a 5 and 2 pattern, if you like to give your workout a number. I feel it is a superior way to build muscle strength and mass. Each body part is blasted one time a week. I believe in going all out, each rep of every set. This is the fastest and best way to build muscle. Many bodybuilders feel that working each body part only once a week could not possibly be enough training to get maximum growth, in actuality it is. Each muscle group gets full attention on the day it is trained; this allows you to get alt your energy into blasting that specific pan. This enables you to better focus mentally on that task as well. Other benefits of this program are that each muscle group fully recovery before you train it again and that you get two days off consecutively which allows your entire body to rest.
This training program should be supplemented with aerobic exercise three days a week. This could be accomplished by riding a stationary bike every other day for 30 minutes. This aerobic exercise should be of low intensity; if you are riding the bike, you should not have it on high enough tension that your legs burn. Too intense aerobic work can slow muscle growth. Just the right amount of aerobic work, will keep your heart healthy, burn body fat, and keep your metabolism high.
Many lifters wilt change their program around when they go on a steroid cycle. In fact, I know more than a few guys who only train seriously or at all when they are on drugs, This is unwise because studies have shown that anabolic steroids work best on what was defined as 'well trained muscles.' Lifters who train hard all the time obviously have the best conditioned muscles.
Another mistake some steroid users make is that since recovery rime is improved while on a cycle, this means to train more often. That is a logical assumption, but it may very well be incorrect. When a steroid cycle is working, the lifter will store more glycogen in the muscle, lift more aggressively, and be able to lift heavier weights. All this combined would clearly overload the muscle each workout than it would in an off cycle workout. So even though steroids improve recuperation abilities, lifters must still allow ample dine between workouts in consideration that extra recovery must take place. What conclusion I am getting at here is that I firmly believe in this schedule whether a person is on a cycle or not. A thought on steroids and training involves a theory I find quite sound. This theory ties a great deal of the muscle gains a person makes during a steroid cycle to how much strength they build during it. It is well established that steroids work best when a muscle is in a catabolic state. This catabolic state is arrived at by damaging the muscle cell by weight training. The greater the damage, the more the cell will grow after the recovery period. It is a fact that muscles get used to the level of stress you inflict upon them so that after awhile, even the most effective workouts hardly even affect the muscle cell. What can happen on a steroid cycle, is that a lifter will often experience a sudden increase in strength; often Just a few days after beginning the cycle. This is due to an increase in myofibrillar density caused by the additional fluids steroids cause the muscle cell to hold. The result is increased contractile strength. This allows for the lifting of progressively heavier weight. Since the muscle is lifting more than it is used to, it gets damaged more, thus allowing the main metabolic reactions of anabolic steroids to work even better. This is a seldom discussed advantage from taking steroids, but I feel it is the major reason why some people grow a lot while on a cycle and some don't grow at all.
There you have it; my basic views on weight training to gain muscle. Of course there are exceptions to every rule; there are some lifters who grow by lifting light weights. This is because they are deemed genetically to react to any muscle stimulation. I would venture to say that 98 out of 100 people are not that way. Clearly, the odds are you are going to have to get strong if you want to get big. Many of you out there who have been training for awhile and can snap out 400 lb bench presses, know what I am talking about. Many others do not have that kind of strength and must remember to keep going for heavier lifts all the time. It does take a while to build a massive, muscular physique, but if your strength is going up, you can be assured you are on your way.
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