By Arthur Jones
The human body is a unit - and must be treated as such; you do not feed your body in sections, and you sleep the entire body at the same time - yet most current weight-trainees are firmly convinced that a so-called "split routine" is an absolute requirement for producing the best rate of progress. While the weight of all available evidence clearly supports the contention that more than three weekly workouts will result in a condition of overtraining - in all cases.
On May 16, 1971, Casey Viator won the Junior Mister America contest, and four weeks later, on June 12, 1971, he won the Mister America contest in the most spectacular fashion in the history of such contests - in addition to the Mister America title, he won the Most muscular Man in America title and the subdivisions for Best Arms, Best Back, Best Chest and Best Legs. And -at 19 years old - he is the youngest Mister America winner up to this point in time. More than thirty of the leading bodybuilders in the country competed against Casey in that contest - and I would be willing to bet that almost all of them trained at least twenty-four times during the four weeks immediately prior to the contest; during the same four weeks, Casey trained a total of SIX TIMES - he didn't train at all for two weeks after the Junior Mister America contest, and then he trained only three times weekly during the last two weeks before the Mister America contest. Three weekly "total body" workouts - for the legs, the back, the chest, the shoulders, the upper arms, and the forearms. Workouts requiring less than one hour and twenty minutes each - a total of less than four hours of weekly training.
Dr. Elliott Plese of Colorado State University was in DeLand, Florida during the last week of Casey's training for the Mister America contest and can certify to the frequency, duration and intensity of the workouts. Ellington Darden of the Florida State University was present during Casey's final workout on Thursday, June 10, and can also certify to the facts; during that last workout, Casey's primary leg routine consisted of only three exercises performed within a period of approximately three minutes -one set of leg presses (20 repetitions with 750 pounds), one set of thigh extensions (20 repetitions with 225 pounds), and one set of full squats (13 repetitions with 502 pounds). Each set of every exercise was carried to the point of absolute failure - and there was no rest at all between sets.
In addition to the above-outlined routine, Casey performed two sets of thigh-curls and three sets of calf-raises - thus the entire leg portion of his workout required approximately nine minutes.
And for the benefit of those people who might be led to believe that Casey is an unusually responsive subject (which, of course, he is), I will mention that all of our trainees are following an almost exactly similar program; the bodybuilders are using the leg program outlined above, the power-lifters, Olympic lifters, and football players are using the same routine during two of their three weekly workouts an then performing three sets of heavy squats during the third weekly workout (using the 10-8-6 system).
Very similar - that is, VERY BRIEF, BUT VERY HARD - routines are being used by all of our trainees for all body parts; the entire arm routine (for both upper-arms and forearms) requires exactly seven minutes and twenty seconds - three times weekly, a total of twenty-two minutes of weekly training for the arms. Additional training is not only not required but would actually reduce the production of results; and in may cases, best results are being produced with only two weekly workouts - or with even shorter routines involving fewer exercises and-or a lower number of sets.
Most of our trainees never perform more than two sets of any one exercise -and none of our trainees ever perform more that three sets of an exercise -and some of our trainees use only one set of each exercise.
Such brief and infrequent training is an absolute requirement for the production of best-possible results from exercise - yet almost all currently active trainees devote at least five times as much weekly training time to their workouts, while producing little or nothing in the way of results in return for their efforts.
If every individual weight-trainee in the country suddenly cut his training in half - merely reduced his weekly workouts by 50 per cent, while making no other change in his training - it is my belief that overall results would be at least doubled.
Overtraining - overtraining insofar as "amount of training" is concerned -is so common that such a 50 per cent reduction in training on the part of ALL trainees would result in an immediate improvement in the rates of progress being produced by MOST trainees; an improvement that would probably double average overall results. And since such doubled results would be produced by only half as much training, the rate-of-progress would be quadrupled - a four to one improvement.
Obviously - if everybody cut their training by half - some trainees would suffer a reduction in their rates of progress; since a few people are now training properly, these few would suffer from a reduction in their training time. But for every individual that is presently training right, there are probably a hundred that are training wrong - usually overtraining; thus, for each trainee that lost from such a reduction in training time, a hundred would gain - and on the average, the overall results would be strongly positive.
If - in addition to the overall average reduction in training time suggested in the above example - everybody simultaneously started training properly insofar as "intensity of effort" is concerned, then at least another doubling of average results would be produced; so that the average rate of progress would be increased from its present level by a ration of approximately eight to one.
If nothing else of any value is gleaned from this bulletin - but if the above point is clearly understood and put into practical application - then a long first step will have been taken in the direction of sensible training.
Barbell exercises are more productive than free-hand exercises for only one reason - because barbell exercises are HARDER than non-weighted exercises; but as you increase the "intensity of effort: of an exercise, it is necessary to reduce the "amount" of exercise - Japanese wrestlers do as many as 3000 repetitions of non-weighted squats almost daily, but try doing that many squats with a heavy barbell on your back and see what happens.
I will not even suggest that we have tried literally "everything" - nor that we fully understand all of the factors involved - but we have tried a lot of things, under carefully controlled conditions and with hundreds of trainees; and the evidence always points back to the same basic conclusions - more than three weekly workouts, or more than two sets of any one exercise in the same workout, or more than a total of four hours of weekly training will almost always result in overtraining, and a reduction in the production of results.
But in the face of widespread belief that such a brief training is of little or no value for anybody except a beginner, I have little confidence that most experienced trainees will ever be able to bring themselves to an acceptance of the truth.
The above examples on the subject of improvements that are possible by a reduction of the amount of training and an increase in the intensity of training are based on barbell exercises - such rates of improvement can easily be produced by almost any trainee, without the need for any new types of equipment; if Nautilus equipment is available then even greater degrees of improvement become possible. Most of our trainees have shown increases in their rates of progress of at least 3000 per cent - and a few outstanding trainees have improved their previous rates of progress by as much as 14,000 percent. In a few cases, the improvement has been literally infinite.
After ten years of steady training, and after having produced a physique that placed him very near the top in national competition, one subject spent only nine days training in DeLand, Florida - and during these nine days he produced more results than he did during the immediately preceding three years of training with conventional equipment. For a period of two years of steady training, his results had been exactly zero - but then, in nine days, he gained nearly seven pounds of body weight, improved his existing degree of muscularity, added 13/16 of an inch to his "cold" upper-arm measurement and 3/4 of an inch to his calves, and increased his curling strength by 50 per cent.
Since nine days will go into two years approximately eighty-one times, and since zero will go into seven an infinite number of times, it obviously follows that this trainee improved his rate of progress on a scale beyond calculation. But even that doesn't tell the whole story; during the two years of steady training that produced no results, he was training approximately fifteen hours a week - but later, during the period when he was producing such good results, he was training only about four hours a week.
In spite of his previously-established misconceptions, this man was willing to listen - and to at least try the training methods that we suggested; and his results speak for themselves. Unfortunately, some other long-experienced trainees won't listen; one famous bodybuilder on the west coast complained that he wasn't getting spectacular results from the use of a Nautilus Pullover-type Torso Machine that he had been using for two or three months - so I asked him HOW he was using it.
"Nine sets a day," he said, "every day; just like you told me."
But in fact, I told him, "...not more than NINE SETS A WEEK; and if your results aren't what you expect, then try SIX SETS a week."
I didn't have to ask him how he was doing the sets - that was obvious, he was doing them WRONG; nine PROPERLY PERFORMED sets on a Pullover-type machine would kill an adult gorilla. This man was trying to use one of our new machines as if it was a barbell - or even worse than that, as he thinks a barbell should be used; and since he has failed to learn the proper method of using a barbell during his twenty-odd years of experience, I suppose it was expecting a bit too much to even hope that he was capable of understanding the new machines.
But if any lingering traces of doubt remained regarding his inability to understand the machines, he quickly put them to rest; he altered one of the machines in such a manner that its function was utterly destroyed - and then tried to justify the changes on the grounds of improving the convenience and safety of the machine. Which action would be equivalent to installing square wheels on your automobile - and then complaining about the poor performance.
When such an individual has produced batter-than-average results from his training - as this man has - then it is only natural for many people to consider him an expert; but it should be clearly understood that final results are no proof of good methods - particularly when such final results are viewed without consideration for the amount of effort that was required to produce them.
So - in all fairness - several factors of actually very great importance must be considered before it is even possible to view final results in a rational manner; and while the individual mentioned above who altered one of our machines has certainly produced good final results, it does not follow that his training methods were good - nor that his rate of progress was even satisfactory.
A recent quotation seems to cover the situation fully, "...there are two common mistakes; some people think that intelligence is a substitute for experience - and some people think that experience is a substitute for intelligence."
People are individuals, and possible variations in the individual response to training are literally infinite - so a program that is exactly right for one man will seldom if ever be perfect for another man; but while the total number of possible variations is certainly great, the "range of possible variations" is quite small - and the limits of that range are clearly known. Because of the great number of possible variations in response to training, it is impossible to outline a program that will be "right" for everybody; but if the primary points to be covered in later chapters are clearly understood, then almost any reasonably intelligent trainee will have the knowledge required for outlining a program to suit his particular purposes.
short, this bulletin is intended
to point intelligent trainees
in the direction of logical training
- nothing more is even possible.
Prejudice such as that encountered among involved people is a strange factor indeed; many years ago I noted that, ". . . animals seem to survive in inverse ration to the amount of professional conservation attention that they are afforded." And it has long been obvious that professional pilots are actually biased in favor of dangerous aircraft. It is not the purpose of this bulletin to delve into the psychological factors responsible for such inverted thinking; but I do think that this factor - as it is encountered in the field of physical training - must be carefully considered.
Far from advancing, the field of body building has been steadily marching backwards for the last twenty years or more; which statement will be considered outright heresy by most currently active bodybuilders. A biased selection and a distorted presentation of statistics has been used to "prove" points that are actually the opposite of truth - and there has been little if anything accidental about the final results produced by the flood of propaganda so apparent inmost publications in this field. In effect, the very people who have been claiming that they are trying to elevate the field have almost destroyed it.
An old saying put it very well, " . . . figures don't lie, but liars figure." Commercial interests in the field of body building constantly point out a few outstanding examples of muscular development as proof of their claims that great advancements have been made within the last few years -and it is certainly true that there some outstanding individuals on the scene at the moment, men like Sergio Oliva, Arnold Schwarzenneger and Casey Viator; but it is equally true that such men are almost literally freaks -the average man could never hope to duplicate their physical development, regardless of how he trained. Thus such individuals represent nothing apart from expectable deviations from the average.
Out of a group of a hundred individuals selected at random, the average body weight might be 160 pounds - and one or two subjects might weigh as much as 190 pounds. But if the sample was increased to a thousand individuals, then you could reasonably expect to find at least one subject with a body weight of 200 pounds - while the average for the group remained as before. And out of a group of a million subjects, you could reasonably expect at least one individual with a body weight of 250 pounds or more -but again, the average would remain 160 pounds.
Thus proof of improvements in method must come from an increase in the average - and in the field of body building, the average production of results has steadily declined during the last twenty years; the average results being produced today are NOT better than they were twenty years ago - instead, they are worse. And exactly the same thing is true in the fields of Olympic lifting and power lifting - in spite of vast propaganda to the contrary; certainly the records have increased - but that is only to be expected when dealing with a far larger number of subjects. But even that is misleading - because the performances really haven't increased as much as most people think; in the case of the Olympic press, a great deal of the so-called "progress" has been produced by relaxation of the rules, to the point that the press has now degenerated into an outright jerk with little or nothing in common with the press as it was practiced twenty years ago -and at least one man, Douglas Hepburn, was capable of bench pressing near-record poundage's over fifteen years ago, and at a body weight far below that of the present record holders. Thirty years ago, Bob Peoples deadlifted well over 700 pounds at a body weight below 180 pounds - today, men weighing twice as much have finally been able to add approximately 100 pounds to his record. Some of Paul Anderson's lifts - performed over fifteen years ago - will probably never be duplicated.
The really outstanding men of today are exceptions - as such men always were, and as they always will be; there are larger numbers of such outstanding individuals in view at the moment simply and only because a much larger number of men are now training with weights. But what about the average trainees?
The simple truth of the matter is that the average trainee of today could not hope to compete on equal terms with the average trainee of twenty years ago; and it is equally true that most of this decline in the average production of results is directly due to commercial bias in the field of weight-training.
cannot begin to attack such commercial
bias in a bulletin of reasonable
length - but at the same time,
I cannot just ignore it; so I
will refer to specific examples
of such bias in the following
chapters - but I will not even
attempt to go into the length
of explanations required to disprove
all such myths.
Thirty-odd years ago, I was very interested in physical training - but knew almost nothing about it; now I find myself in the position of still not knowing much about the subject - but I do, at least, realize that the surface has only been scratched, and that most of the recent so-called progress has actually been retrogression. And while such an awareness can only be fairly called "negative knowledge," it is knowledge of a sort.
Coming from a family of medical doctors, my personal opinion of doctors was understandably influenced by such a background - and for many years I defended doctors against anything that I took to be unfair or biased accusations; until I finally learned that all doctors were not quite like those I had known - it came as quite a shock to me, for example, to learn that all doctors don't work eighteen to twenty hours a day, seven days a week. Much in the same vein, I used to defend bodybuilders against statements that I considered biased - because, up to a certain point in time at least,, the bodybuilders that I knew were reasonable people, and my opinion of bodybuilders as a group was naturally influenced by such personal experiences; but eventually I was in for another shock - when it finally became perfectly clear that many of the charges aimed at bodybuilders were all too true.
Since then, I have frequently remarked that it is a shame that body building is wasted on bodybuilders; there are exceptions, of course, but it seems that one encounters such exceptions with constantly increasing infrequency - and I have finally reached a point where I look upon all bodybuilders with great suspicion, until and unless they have proven themselves on an individual basis. I no longer expect bodybuilders to be reasonable people - I now expect the opposite, and I am seldom surprised anymore.
Thus I am now obviously biased against bodybuilders - but I am at least aware of this bias; and I have not permitted my opinions of individuals to distort my viewpoints on the subject of body building itself. A simple but full listing of the insanity's being currently practiced by thousands of bodybuilders would run to a length of several hundred pages - and since it is not my purpose to detail such outrages, I will devote very little attention to them; but again, I simply cannot ignore them - so a few of them will be mentioned, although I will not attempt to detail such practices.
While it is perfectly true that my personal opinions are of no interest to others, it is also true that these opinions influence my judgment to at least some degree - and that these opinions, and my reasons for holding them, do become matters of importance to others in a few instances; secondly, some of my firmly held opinions simply cannot be supported - in some cases I "know" the facts, but I cannot explain how I know them. In such cases I will clearly indicate that my statements are merely opinions - but will attempt to explain them in instances where explanations are possible.
If the above mention of insupportable opinions seems too vague, I will point to the following example as clear proof of the fact that all of us commonly make use of such opinions - as we should; how, for example, would you describe a smile to a man born blind? Yet you recognize a smile, and an almost infinite variety of subtle variations in smiles; a friendly smile, a malicious smile, a doubting smile, a sly smile, and many other smiles with distinct meanings - all of these you recognize at once, but do you know how you recognize them? And of more direct importance, should you ignore such knowledge - simply because you can't explain it? I think not; but in an effort to be as objective as possible, my opinions - supportable or otherwise - will be labeled as such.
As recently as two years ago - because of my personal bias against bodybuilders, and because I did not then wish to connect my name with a subject as controversial as body building - I offered the results of my work up to that point to a friend of mine in California, as a free gift without strings. "Publish it," I told him, "under your own name; do with it what you will and take full credit for it."
At that time, he wasn't interested; probably because he considered anything I might have done in this field of no possible value - but, for whatever reason, he declined. Now - two years later - this same individual is apparently doing everything he can in a effort to discredit my work; but not because he still considers it to be without value - quite the contrary, he is now fully aware of at least the commercial value, and together with a number of associates he is momentarily engaged in efforts to pirate something that he was once offered as a free gift.
None of which should have been surprising, I suppose - but all of which merely added to my bias against bodybuilders as a class; nor was my opinion of this same individual improved when he unhesitatingly connected his name with a current fraud - simply because it offered a commercial opportunity.
If my writing is to be honest, at least some of this personal bias must come through - and under the circumstances, I think it should; if some people find it offensive, then sobeit - but if even a few sincerely interested young trainees are prevented from becoming involved in the outrages so common in the field of body building today, then my purpose will have been served.
The benefits that can be produced from logically outlined and practiced weight-training are simply impossible utilizing any other existing method of physical training; this being true - and it is true - the very real value of weight training is firmly established. But it does not follow that such a potentially productive method of physical training is being used in anything even approaching a logical manner - and certainly not on a wide scale. Twenty years ago, most of the then recognized "experts" were mistaken in many of their conclusions - but by and large, they were at least sincere; today, the situation is far worse - little or nothing in the way of actual progress has been made during the last twenty years, and in the meantime involved commercial interests have been successful in their attempts to brainwash most currently-active bodybuilders into an unhesitating acceptance of outright frauds.
I recently remarked to Mr. Peary
Rader, the publisher of Iron Man
Magazine, " .
. . I think it is about time that
somebody stood up to be counted." The
following is an attempt in that
THE NAME OF THE GAME
"Progressive Weight-training" - or so it's called; but in fact, there is absolutely nothing progressive about the training of most bodybuilders -and without unceasing efforts in the direction of progress, little or nothing in the way of worthwhile results will ever be produced by any amount of training. Once having learned to spell your own name, you cannot then improve your spelling - nor your vocabulary - by writing your name over and over again; your writing, perhaps, in effect, your form or style, but not your spelling.
And much the same thing is true when it comes to attempting to improve your existing physical ability; you cannot increase your strength by mere repetition of things that are already easy - and for much in the way of muscular growth stimulation, you must constantly attempt the momentarily impossible. Below a certain intensity of effort, no amount of exercise will produce growth simulation - and for maximum-possible growth stimulation, an intensity of effort at least approaching your momentary limit is an absolute requirement. Yet most weight trainees - bodybuilders, power lifters, and Olympic lifters alike - seldom continue an exercise to a point anywhere near the required intensity of effort; while usually attempting to justify their easier styles of training on the grounds that they compensate by performing more exercises or more sets of each exercise.
But in fact, more exercise will never produce the results that are possible from harder exercise - regardless of the amount of additional exercise that is involved; and if much in the way of additional exercise is employed, then growth will be impossible even if growth stimulation is being produced. In practice, most trainees quickly fall into a rut of training wherein their workouts almost totally deplete their recovery ability - and then it takes them years to produce the same degree of results that could have been produced in an equal number of months.
Diet - by far the most controversial subject in the field of physical training today; and for a very simple reason - because the fairly recent attention given to this factor has resulted in a literal bonanza of profits for commercially involved interests.
Twenty years ago, the subject of diet was seldom mentioned in weight-training publications - and when it was, no great emphasis was placed upon it; but at approximately that point in time, the supposed benefit to be derived from massive amounts of protein was "discovered" -and the floodgates were opened. Since then, the propaganda devoted to the factor of diet has reached such proportions that it now dominates the entire field of physical training.
Years ago - once having been persuaded to purchase a barbell - most trainees were effectively removed from the category of potential customers; and thus the market was strictly limited - and no great profits were to be made by anybody. But a box of protein food supplement doesn't last almost literally forever - as a barbell does; and secondly, it is far more difficult to judge the quality of a box of powdered food - if a barbell fails to live up to advertised claims, the shortcoming is obvious, but who can really judge the value of a food supplement?
Since many bodybuilders are perfectly willing to endure any sort of product - for money - it hasn't been difficult for most advertisers to produce all sorts of glowing reports of outstanding results produced by people supposedly using their products; but it might be of interest to note that most such advertisements use the same few people over and over again and it should be of interest to note that such "case histories" are always reported after the fact. That is to say, the people supposedly using these products are always outstanding examples of muscular size - and the supposed fact that they are using a certain product is never mentioned until after the individuals involved become well-known figures on the body building scene.
A few weeks prior to the recent Mr. America Contest, a California manufacturer (or "distributor," since I am sure he doesn't make his own products) of food supplements sent Casey Viator a contract offering him $1,000.00 (retail price) worth of these products - in return for which (and this was clearly stated in the contract), he wanted the unrestricted right to use Casey's pictures and endorsements for publicizing his products. If this offer had been accepted - which it WAS NOT - then the bodybuilders of the world would soon have been subjected to a barrage of advertising giving the above mentioned products full credit for Casey's success; while, in fact, Casey has never used any of these products.
While it is certainly not my intention to imply that diet is of no importance, I do want it clearly understood that the "amount" of food is of far more importance than the actual makeup of the diet - so long as any reasonable attempt is made in the direction of providing a balanced diet: which points should be obvious to anybody merely from a careful reading of the advertisements for food supplements - in an advertisement for protein supplements, great stress will be placed on avoiding carbohydrates, but in an advertisement for "fast weight-gaining" supplements, equal stress will be placed on consuming a heavy load of carbohydrates.
The truth of the matter is, of course, that you require both - but the barrage of conflicting advertising has now reached such a level that most bodybuilders are hopelessly confused, and many of them end up trying to restrict their diets to pure protein; under the totally mistaken impression that such a diet is a requirement for producing good results.
The fact of the matter is that the subject of diet is probably the most completely understood factor involved in physical training - but not by bodybuilders, who have been brainwashed into spending hundreds of millions of dollars on products of little or no value.
Many people have strongly urged me to stay clear off of the subject of diet in my writings - since they are fully aware that my simple statement of the facts will surely bring forth a barrage of slings and arrows from outraged commercial interests. In efforts to defend their own positions, it is almost certain that some people who have simply ignored my work up to this point will now feel it necessary to attack me in any way they can.
But in that regard, at least, I am in a unique situation - since I really have no positions to defend; I originally became involved in this field simply from personal interest, and my continuing interest hinges strictly on a desire to improve the methods available for producing certain results from exercise - and I sincerely don't care what the final method turns out to be.
If the methods that we are now advocating do prove to be the "final answer", well and good - but if not, then I will be just as satisfied; and while I am fully aware that many people will not believe that statement, I am just as aware that many other people - the people who really matter to me - do realize that it is a simple statement of the truth.
In my primary business - motion picture production - the amount of time I have devoted to research into physical training would have produced income far in excess of anything that I can even hope to equal in the field of weight-training; but until quite recently, my interest was strictly in the nature of a hobby - if, as it happened to be, a very expensive hobby.
During the last year alone - while turning down several offers of film work - I have devoted a total of at least two-thousand hours to directing the training of hundreds of people from all over the country; most of these trainees being young men who came to DeLand because of articles that I have written on the subject of our special weight-training classes - and few if any of whom are potential customers for my machines. Nor is this merely an attempt to obtain additional research material - at this stage, we already have far more such information than we actually need; we know what the machines will do, and I have not even bothered to record the training progress of any of our trainees during the last six months - instead, most of my attention has been directed towards attempts to help sincerely interested trainees.
But even that statement is subject to misunderstanding - so I will clarify it; at the moment, research involving the use of Nautilus machines is being conducted in several universities and research foundations - but this work is under neither my direction nor my control. And when the results of this research are available, all of it will be published in an unedited form -in Iron Man Magazine and elsewhere.
In short, my position is such that I literally cannot be hurt by attacks from the commercial interests who will undoubtedly be outraged by my clear statement of the facts - but they will try, of that I am sure.
And for the benefit of those people who may wonder why I thus expose myself to such attacks - when I obviously have nothing to gain by speaking out, when perhaps it might appear that I would be well-advised to remain silent on the subject of diet - I will add the following; my clear statements on this subject will also outrage some people who are NOT commercially involved, and will be taken by many bodybuilders as clear proof of my ignorance - and, they will rather naturally assume, if I am so ignorant on the subject of diet then I probably don't know much about anything else either. So speaking out will actually prevent me from reaching the minds of many bodybuilders - but I am aware of that unavoidable price in advance, and willing to pay it.
Because - totally apart from the bodybuilders who have been brainwashed into believing all of the garbage that has been published on the subject of diet - there are at least a few bodybuilders left in this country that are aware of the truth, intelligent bodybuilders, actually-educated bodybuilders; and if I failed to speak out in defense of the truth, they would rightly regard such a failure as a shirking of duty.
So - at least and at last - it has been said; the results should be amusing, if nothing else.
A FEW SIMPLE FACTS
The truth of the matter is that almost every single point of required information on the subject of weight-training is contained in the preceding five brief chapters; now I must make at least some attempt to justify those points - and take a stab in the direction of trying to explain such things as the required "form" (or style of performance) of the most important exercises.
The average trainee would be well advised to keep it clearly in mind that it really doesn't matter "why" certain exercises work - so long as it is understood that they do work, and so long as the proper form is understood; unfortunately for their own interests, most experienced trainees are unwilling to accept simple statements of fact - and if they cannot at least convince themselves that they do understand the reasons that exercises produce certain results (or fail to produce them), the tendency is to reject these exercises in favor of others that they feel they do understand. Which attitude is understandable - perhaps even unavoidably natural - but nevertheless unfortunate.
Unfortunate because such an attitude prevents many people from making good use of things that simply can't be satisfactorily explained. I am reasonably certain that such thinking limits all of us to a greater or lesser degrees, and I certainly do not wish to imply that my own thinking is not so limited - on the contrary, I am quite sure that it is; however, in my own case, I have at least been well aware of this factor for many years, and have tried to be on guard against its possible adverse effects. Twenty years ago, I was handling poisonous snakes in large numbers - literally by the tens-of-thousands - and I eventually developed a style of handling them which appeared (to other people) to border on outright insanity; this method was based on a clear awareness (on my part) that I could literally "read a snake's mind." In effect, I knew what a snake was going to do - well in advance of the action; but while I was absolutely certain of the accuracy of this knowledge, I had no slightest idea of "how" I knew it. I could not even explain this ability to myself, let alone to the satisfaction of somebody else.
Now - twenty years and approximately half a million snakes later - I do understand this ability, and I can clearly; explain it to almost anybody; I say "almost" anybody with good cause - because some people are so afraid of snakes that they are literally incapable of rational thought on the subject of snakes. And it is of no small concern to any would-be weight trainee to be aware of the fact that many bodybuilders have a very similar attitude on the subject of exercise and-or diet; having been brainwashed for years, such people are no longer capable of rational thought in this field.
Getting back to the mention of snakes for a moment -because the example is the only one I can think of to parallel a very similar situation in the field of exercise; for a period of at least several years, I was making good practical use of observations of fact - but these observations were entirely on the subconscious level. Snakes clearly "telegraph their punches" - in a manner that is unavoidably obvious, once it has been called to your attention; a rattlesnake does so with its tongue, a chicken snake with its upper lip, a boa constrictor with its neck - and once you know what to look for, almost anybody can handle any of these types of snakes with literally no danger of being bitten. Handle them with their bare hands, I mean.
I can easily demonstrate the validity of these observations to anybody that isn't simply terrified of snakes - but I made good practical use of this knowledge long before I was even aware that I possessed it; I simply "knew" that a particular snake would not bite me - and if the snake changed its intentions, I was instantly aware of the fact, far enough in advance of any action on the snake's part to avoid being bitten.
In a similar vein, but in the field of weight-training, I have long been aware of certain things without clearly understanding "how" I was aware of them - I knew that most barbell exercises weren't quite "right" when I first started using barbells, but it took me over twenty years to explain these shortcomings even to my own satisfaction; and some of the things that were obvious to me as much as thirty years ago have become clear to me only during the last year or two.
It is my firmly-held personal opinion that most bodybuilders keep changing their training schedules primarily because of similar feelings of doubt -apparently they "sense that something is wrong" but can't quite put their finger on the problem; so they keep altering their schedules in an attempt to find exercises, or an order of exercises, that "feels right to them."
Eventually; I realized that most of these problems arise from the simple fact that the situation has been approached from the wrong direction - from a direction exactly opposite to that which is really required; many people - including myself - devoted years to attempts to accommodate the available tools. Rather than trying to devise exercises that were suitable for the muscles involved, practically all of the attention was devoted to attempts to "satisfy" a barbell.
Now - and make no slightest mistake about this point; a barbell is an extremely productive tool for the purpose of building strength and muscular size - a far more productive tool than even most bodybuilders realize. But its advantages must be clearly understood - and its shortcomings must be allowed for.
The barbell is almost literally "the perfect tool" for many purposes - but it is useless for some other purposes; some barbell exercises are extremely productive - some others are an outright waste of time and effort. Several dozen people have been after me for a period of at least two years in concentrated efforts to get me to design and build a Calf Machine - but I have simply refused to do so; because no such machine is required - a block of wood to stand on, a heavy dumbbell, and something to hold on to and you are in business, so why do you need a complicated calf machine that cannot do the job any better?
My only real concern is attempting to improve the production of results from weight-training - and in that direction, if new tools are required, then I am prepared to design and build anything that may be an actual requirement, or even a tool that will merely improve the degree of possible results or make worthwhile contributions to better rates-of-progress; but I am not prepared to waste my time in efforts to design or build machines that are not required. At the moment, there is a pile of junked research machines stacked up behind my prototype shop that is literally s big as a house, but every single one of those machines was an effort in the direction of providing an actually-required tool; none of our machines duplicate - or even imitate - barbell exercises. Instead they provide exercise movements that are literally impossible with a barbell - they make it possible for you to actually do what you have been trying to do with a barbell.
But in many cases you actually can do what you are trying to do with a barbell - and in such cases, no other tool is required; and many other cases, you can come so close to doing what you are trying to do that no other tool is justified - in effect, any degree of improvement provided by an improved tool would not be justified on the grounds of expense (or other considerations).
For the average trainee, actually-proper use of a barbell is NOT complicated; in fact, if anything, it may actually be far too simple. In later chapters I will at least attempt explanations of the following and many other related points, but if the points listed below are clearly understood and practiced then any trainee will be moving in the direction of producing best-possible results.
1. - Limit your weekly workouts to three training sessions for the entire body - including the legs.
2. - Limit the length of your workouts to a total of not more than two hours each - a weekly total training time of six hours; and in almost all cases, even better results will be produced by a total weekly training time of less than four hours - or even as little as two hours.
3. - Seldom perform more that two sets of any one exercise - and NEVER perform more than three sets of any one exercise.
4. - Make unceasing efforts to progress - always attempt to produce at least some sign of progress in every set of every exercise.
5. - Pay particular attention to the "form" of your exercises - do not permit the style of performance to degenerate into a mere "going through the motions."
6. - In general, select the "hardest" exercises - and perform them in the hardest manner possible; if a particular style of performance makes an exercise easier, then it almost always makes it less productive.
7. - NEVER terminate a particular set simply because you have completed a certain number of repetitions; a set is properly finished only when additional movement is utterly impossible - curl until you can't even begin to bend your arms, squat until you can't start up from the low position, press until you cannot move the bar away from your shoulders or your chest.
8. - If you can perform your "guide number" of repetitions - or MORE -then that is your signal to increase the resistance in that particular exercise at the time of your next workout.
9. - Judge your progress by measurable strength increases; when you can perform the same number of repetitions with twice as much resistance, then your muscles will be at least twice as big as they were at the start - and probably more than twice as big.
10.- An advanced trainee does NOT need "more" exercise than a beginner; he simply needs "harder" exercise, in direct proportion to the differential in strength. An advanced man may be able to "stand" more exercise - but it is not a requirement, and will almost always quickly lead to a situation where additional progress comes to a halt, or slows to a snail's pace.
11.- An intelligently selected, reasonably balanced diet is all that is required - and you MUST have both carbohydrates and fats; the amount of food is of more importance than any other factor of diet - if the diet is well rounded. If you are adding fat, then you are eating too much - too many calories; if you are losing weight, then you are not eating enough. It is really just that simple. Any number of freely available government publications contain all of the required information on the subject of diet. And while you may or may not agree with the government's policy on Vietnam, you should at least realize that the government has no axes to grind on the subject of diet; if and when the government starts selling health foods, then look out - but in the meantime, you can take their word on this subject at least.
12.- Do not make any attempt to compare yourself with any other individual - unless you happen to have an identical twin, and there are some physical differences even then; far too many factors are involved to make it possible to compare individuals on a rational basis.
13.- Building maximum-possible degrees of strength in al of the major muscular structures of the body will also unavoidably produce maximum-possible degrees of muscular size; so work to increase your strength - and control your degree of existing muscularity by regulating the amount of your diet.
14.- "Spot reductions" of fatty tissue is an outright myth - a physical impossibility. Build the muscles of your abdominal area by training them in exactly; the same way your exercise your other muscles, two or three sets of from six to twenty repetitions, repeated three times weekly; get rid of any fat in that area by simply reducing your intake of food - or by increasing the "amount" of overall exercises.
But NOT by increasing the amount of abdominal exercise. In effect - and IN FACT - you can reduce fatty tissue in the area of your waist by working your legs (or your arms, or your shoulders, or any other muscle group in your body), it is NOT necessary to work the midsection in order to reduce fat in the midsection; and ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in the way of an artificial aid will do anything in the way of helping the situation - all that matters is overall consumption of calories, energy; output-foot input.
15.- Do NOT make the mistake of trying to add muscular size by "bulking up" - adding fatty tissue; such fatty tissue is not muscle and cannot become muscle - and newly-added fat cells, once added, can be completely removed only by surgery. You can reduce the size of fat cells, but you cannot entirely remove the cell itself - and unlike muscle fibers, fat cells CAN BE INCREASED IN NUMBER.
16.- Avoid so-called "growth drugs" like the plague.
17.- Have confidence in your training; if you are too sick to make muscular gains you should be in the hospital - ANY healthy individual can do so.
The rest is explanation - or justification; or explanation of required form.
Pointing to a short statement in my Bulletin No. 1, Ellington Darden, of the Florida State University asked me, "... what is the source of that quote?"
I looked at him a moment, said nothing, and tapped myself on the chest.
"How can you justify it?" he asked me.
"Self-evident truth - common sense; call it what you like - nothing else is even possible," I told him.
All of us make common use of knowledge gleaned from self-evident truth -as we must in many instances, since a large number of obvious facts are supportable in no other way; but as any good judge clearly understands, circumstantial evidence is frequently the best kind - since it does not depend upon the opinions of witnesses, and can be supported on the basis of pure logic.
But we must, of course, be extremely careful to distinguish actual self-evident truth from apparent self-evident truth; ". . . oh, everybody knows that," is a common expression - but usually an invalid attempt to support an untrue (even if common) belief.
"They say," is another such common remark - and I frequently ask people who THEY are.
So there are two sides to the coin; on the one hand, all of us frequently make good use of knowledge that we can't always support - but on the other hand, most of us fall prey to common belief that is not valid and certainly can't be supported.
The quotation which Ellington Darden asked me about, and which I supported only as self-evident truth, was this; " . . . for the production of best-possible results, maximum possible growth stimulation must be induced - but this must be done without disturbing the existing recovery ability any more than necessary." (or words to that effect)
So let us look at that statement carefully, logically; in the first place, it should be obvious that there will be no growth without growth-stimulation, and that maximum-possible stimulation is required for maximum-possible growth - and secondly, it should be equally obvious that the muscular structures cannot grow if there is no recovery ability available to make such growth possible, and that a greater store of existing recovery ability will at least make a faster rate of growth possible, if perhaps not produce such growth in the lack of the required growth stimulation. Logically, then, both factors are required for growth - and there must be a reasonable balance between these factors; the body WILL NOT grow without growth-stimulation, and CAN NOT grow without recovery ability. No amount of growth-stimulation will produce growth if the body cannot supply the requirements for such growth - and the body cannot supply the requirements for growth if they are unavailable; unavailable, perhaps, because they are constantly being used up as fast as they are being produced in never ceasing attempts to compensate for too much exercise.
There it is logically; now let us look at it from a purely practical standpoint. Let us assume, for example, that you have the ability to run a distance of one mile before becoming totally exhausted. Without proper exercise - in this case, running or something very similar - you will never increase your running ability; year by year your ability will decline.
But if you do make a regular practice of running, then one of three things will undoubtedly happen; if you run only a little, you will maintain your existing ability far longer than you otherwise would have done without such exercise - if you run a bit more, then you will gradually increase your running ability - but if you run too much, your running ability will actually decline.
If you constantly increase the length of your runs, always trying to run as far as possible, you will increase your ability - up to a point; but eventually the amount of running will become so great that you will start exceeding your recovery ability, you will not be able to totally recover between exercise periods - and then losses in ability will occur. Nothing else is even possible - it is obvious self-evident truth.
This same self-evident truth can be applied to any form of exercise; but it should be clearly understood that the factor of importance is the "amount" of exercise involved - the body can withstand any possible "intensity" of exercise, so long as the amount of such exercise does not exceed the limits of the recovery ability. In fact, it is the intensity of exercise - and apparently ONLY the intensity of exercise - that regulates growth stimulation; thus intense exercise is an actual requirement for inducing growth - but it is also true that the amount of exercise must be decreased as the intensity of exercise is increased.
When the actually involved factors are thus viewed logically, the rule becomes obvious - obvious self-evident truth; in this instance, we need to stimulate as much growth as we can, and we need to leave the system in such shape that it can respond to this stimulation.
Previously untrained subjects - particularly men in their mid-twenties to their late thirties who are healthy but underweight - frequently experience rates of growth that are almost fantastic, when they first start progressive weight-training; because, at the start, "any exercise" is "intense exercise" - to them, as individuals - and thus growth is stimulated. And because their systems have not been exhausted by too much exercise - and thus their recovery ability is able to respond properly and provide the requirements for the growth that is being stimulated.
In fact, there is no slightest reason why such a fast rate of growth could not be maintained right up to the point of individual potential - whatever that might be in a particular case; but in practice, most such trainees usually fall into a rut of training too much - while not training hard enough. Exactly contrary to the generally-practiced rule, advanced trainees should actually train less than they did earlier - but much harder.
But just try telling that to a bodybuilder with ten years of experience -a man who has been doing as many as sixty sets of curl in each workout, when he would have been well-advised to do only two sets in each workout.
Or just try to convince a man who spent ten years building his 18-inch arms that he could have done so in less than two years if he had trained much less during each workout, and if he had trained less frequently.
The signs are all there, in plain sight for anybody to see - but most bodybuilders choose not to look; few if any of them, for example, ever wonder why they always experience such fast response after a prolonged layoff from training; but then quickly fall back into a rut where their progress is almost nonexistent. Yet the answer, of course is again self-evident truth; during a layoff from training, their system is able to rebuild the recovery ability to a point where some reserve exists - and thus, when training is started again and growth is stimulated, the system is capable of meeting the requirements for such growth. But when this reserve is exhausted - as it quickly will be in most such cases - the system is no longer able to meet the requirements for growth; so no growth results, regardless of how much growth-stimulation is being provided.
on the treadmill - running and
running, and never having enough
common sense to notice that they
are getting nowhere. And as a
result of such non-thinking, the
whole field of body building has
been marching backwards for the
last twenty years - at an ever-increasing
pace, until now it has almost
reached the point of a rout.
STRENGTH AND MUSCULAR ENDURANCE FACTORS
In the body building and competitive weight-lifting fields, the ability to perform one maximum-possible repetition is generally considered the only meaningful test of strength; but in fact, a far more accurate measurement of strength can be based on performances of a given number of repetitions, almost any reasonable number of repetitions - except one repetition.
While most weight-trainees consider performances of several consecutive repetitions tests of endurance, there is actually no apparent difference between strength and endurance - accurate measurement of either one of these factors clearly indicates the existing level of the other; at least so long as actual "muscular endurance" itself is being considered - however, if the number of repetitions is too high, then other factors are involved to an extent that meaningful test-results are no longer possible.
The significance of this relationship between strength and endurance should be obvious - but in fact, and in practice, it has been misunderstood, totally overlooked, or ignored.
It is not my intention to become bogged down in attempts to justify this relationship - all of the evidence supports it, and nothing counter indicates it; but it is at least necessary to accept the existence of the relationship - and having done so, then any reasonably intelligent trainee should be immediately aware of the implications. In shore - by properly training for strength increases, improvements in endurance are produced in direct proportion, and vice versa; for competitive lifters, an awareness of that simple fact is enough - but for bodybuilders, the implications are even greater. Because there is also a direct relationship between strength (and-or endurance) and muscular size; in effect, producing maximum-possible degrees of strength will simultaneously and unavoidably produce maximum-possible degrees of muscular mass - and again in proportion. If we consider only the actual "input" of strength - the power being generated by the muscle - then increases in muscular mass will be out of proportion to such measurable strength gains. But the "results" will be the same in either case - in order to build maximum-possible muscular mass, you must build maximum-possible strength.
Great confusion on these points exists for several reasons - but primarily because attempts have been made to compare the performance abilities of different individuals: which cannot be done in a meaningful manner. But if such comparisons are restricted to individuals - if a man is compared to himself at another point in time - then the validity of the above points is clearly supported by any sort of presently-available test procedure based on sound principles. However, such tests must be conducted within a reasonable time period - the normal degeneration of age will produce apparent exceptions if the tests are made several years apart; and when such tests involve immature subjects, then careful attention must be given to the maturity factor - and in such cases, reasonable accuracy of measurement depends upon average figures resulting from a rather large number of exactly-similar tests. While the performances of mature subjects will normally remain remarkably consistent, immature subjects will usually show great variation on a day-to-day basis.
Reduced to practical considerations, this means that a bodybuilder must work for maximum-possible strength - and that a competitive lifter must work for maximum-possible muscular mass, at least in those muscular structures that are involved in lifting; and in either case, the "type" of training is exactly-similar - in both cases, the training should be of maximum-possible intensity, but brief and infrequent.
Being clearly aware of this relationship between strength and "actual muscular size" (as opposed to supposed muscular size, or bulk which may have a high percentage of fatty tissue), we have long directed our efforts to attempts to increase strength; Casey Viator is a good example of a trainee with far-better-than-average potential who has trained in this manner - and as a result, he is almost unique. In the past, it was assumed that great size presupposed at least some visible fatty tissue; people spoke of "bulking up", and then "training down" - and this practice is still widespread today. But it is always a mistake; adding fatty tissue has absolutely nothing to do with increasing actual muscular mass - and once added, much of such fatty tissue can never be entirely removed.
Casey has built his almost unbelievable muscular size by building his strength - and as a result, he remains in hard muscular condition at any size; he is not - as some people suppose - "very defined in spite of his size," rather he is literally "very defined BECAUSE OF HIS SIZE."
Regardless of apparent muscular definition, some degree of fatty tissue will always remain - as it must in a living organism; but there does not appear to be any definite requirement for any certain percentage of such fatty tissue - thus a very large muscular individual might remain perfectly healthy with exactly the same "amount" of fatty tissue found in a much smaller individual. And since the actual percentile of fatty tissue would be lower in the case of the larger individual, he would obviously appear more muscular - literally BECAUSE OF HIS SIZE.
Demonstrations of strength depend on many factors - many of them in no way related to actual strength; for this reason, many bodybuilders - probably most bodybuilders, today - cannot demonstrate strength in proportion to their appearance of strength. And thus they have come to believe that "strength training" is of no importance to a bodybuilder; while in fact it is really the only type of training that is even capable of giving them the results they are seeking.
Secondly, many bodybuilders - and probably all successful bodybuilders -actually practice strength training without being aware that they are doing so. Failing to realize that the actual number of repetitions is of no real importance - so long as the set is carried to a point of proper intensity-of-effort, and so long as the number of repetitions is at least reasonable - many bodybuilders are actually training properly without realizing it; training properly for strength, that is. Which, of course, means properly in every sense of the word in this instance.
BARBELLS-PRO and CON
By comparison to any previously-existing tool intended for the same purpose, the barbell is almost a miracle machine - with proper use, a barbell is capable of producing degrees of muscular size that are almost unbelievable; so the barbell is certainly a good tool - but it still leaves a great deal to be desired.
The physical - and physiological - factors responsible for the shortcomings of the barbell are actually quite simple, but largely misunderstood. Because the "direction of resistance" provided by barbells is unidirectional (one-directional), it is obviously impossible to provide "rotary resistance" with barbells; and, because the involved body parts moved by human muscles function in a rotary fashion, it is thus impossible to provide resistance against such movement throughout the entire possible range of movement involved in most exercises.
Also, because of the way in which muscular contraction occurs, it thus becomes impossible to provide any resistance at all in the position of full contraction inmost barbell exercises - and since all of a particular muscular mass can become involved in any form of exercise only in a position of full contraction, it is thus impossible (with barbells) to exercise muscles in their strongest positions.
To an individual with even a reasonable knowledge of basic physics (as it applies to barbell exercises) and a knowledge of human muscular function, the above two paragraphs should make the situation very clear; but, unfortunately, those qualifications eliminate almost all weight trainees -the very people who most need to understand these simple facts generally lacks the educational background for anything even approaching an actual understanding. And, equally unfortunately, most of them "think they understand," when in fact they don't.
The very existence of a so-called "sticking point" - a point during the exercise movement where the resistance feels heavier than it does at other points - should make it obvious that the muscles are being worked harder in some in some positions than they are in other positions. Likewise, if you are aware that you can "lock out" under a barbell in some positions - and thus support the weight without any significant muscular action - then you should also be aware that the muscles are not being worked in those positions.
All experienced bodybuilders are aware of both sticking-points and their ability to lock-out under the weight in some positions, but few have any idea of the significance of such things; both of these factors (sticking points and lock-out ability) are direct results of the fact that you are trying to provide constant resistance against a rotary form of movement by using a reciprocal form of resistance - an obvious impossibility.
You cannot proceed around a curve in the road by continuing to move in a straight line - and rotary resistance must be provided against rotary movement if you are trying to exercise muscles in all positions.
Using Nautilus exercise machines - which do provide rotary forms of resistance - we can produce a degree of muscular "pump" that is several times as great as the maximum degree of pump that can be produced by any amount of barbell exercise: and this is clear proof of the fact that a far higher percentage of the actual number of fibers contained in the muscles being exercised are involved in the work. Such pumping is a result of the fact that working muscles require more circulation; if only part of a muscle is working, then a small degree of pump will be produced - but if the entire muscle is working, then a simply enormous degree of pumping is produced from a very small "amount" of exercise.
In several cases - with extremely muscular individuals - we have been able to produce a degree of pumping that resulted in a temporary doubling of the mass of the upper arms; after less than eight minutes of such exercise, the arms of these subjects were swollen to literally grotesque proportions.
With a less muscular individual, a very similar degree of pumping will be produced but will not be so obvious - because a large part of the mass of the arms will be fatty tissue (which, of course, does not pump as a result of exercise), and the actually muscular mass of the arms may represent as little as fifty per cent of the total mass of the same limbs.
In a similar vein, we have long noted that there is very little difference in the measurement of a "fat" arm hanging in a straight and relaxed position and the measurement of the same arm in a bent and flexed position; a recent visitor had a relaxed upper-arm measurement of 18 1/8 inches and a flexed measurement of 18 1/4 inches - a difference of only 1/8 of an inch. When he asked me why there was such a small difference, I told him, "... because you can't flex fat."
But, back to the subject at hand - the value of barbells, and the problems with barbells; when the basic physics involved in the situation is clearly understood, it becomes obvious that barbell exercises tend to provide resistance for muscles only in their weakest positions (or nearly-weakest positions), and that little or no resistance is provided in the strongest positions of the muscles involved. Just "why" a muscle responds (by growing) when it is exposed to a work-load of great intensity is really of no importance - so long as we are aware that this response is thus created; but it should be obvious that growth-stimulation cannot be induced if there is literally no imposed resistance - and in most barbell exercises, that is exactly the situation that is encountered in the fully contracted positions of muscles.
In later chapters devoted to the correct style of performance of barbell exercises, I will go into exact details of the physics involved; but for the moment, I will restrict my comments to general observations on the subject.
In spite of the lack of rotary resistance in barbell exercises, we do encounter a certain amount of "variation of resistance" in such movements -which is a mixed blessing; in some cases the variation of resistance encountered in barbell exercises is a decided advantage - and in some instances it is disadvantageous. Sometimes both advantages and disadvantages are encountered in the same exercise; for example, in the barbell curl (or in any form of conventional curling) the effective resistance or actual "torque" increases as the movement progresses from the starting position up to the sticking-point - but having passed the sticking-point, the torque rapidly decreases to the point of zero. This effective variation of available resistance is a decided advantage during the first part of the movement because the resistance is thus increasing at the same time that the available strength for producing the movement is increasing - but after passing the sticking point, the resulting decrease in resistance is a decided disadvantage.
In a few conventional exercises, because of the restricted ranges of movement or because of other factors, it is possible to perform the movements in such a sway that the available variations in effective resistance are entirely positive in nature - even if perhaps not perfect; in such cases, a barbell is the tool of obvious choice - for several reasons, because of cost, ready availability, and convenience. The best of such exercises are wrist curls, calf raises, stiff-legged deadlifts, shoulder shrugs, side raises, sit-ups, and leg raises. All of these should be performed in such a manner that the resistance increases throughout the movement - which style will not result in the exactly "right" rate of resistance increase, but will at least be a great improvement over the normal style of performance.
As should be obvious by this point, a general practice should be to avoid barbell exercises which involve definite sticking points and-or points where it is possible to lock-out under the weight - and seek barbell exercises that are not so restricted; but there are exceptions to that general rule -the squat, the press and the curl are such exceptions, and these movements are productive in spite of the limiting factors encountered, if not nearly as effective as they would be without such limitations.
But as the intelligent reader might expect by this point, the fact of the matter is that most bodybuilders avoid the hardest - and thus the most productive - styles of performing these good basic barbell exercises; paradoxically, these movements are avoided for the same reason that they are productive - because they are a very "hard" group of exercises if properly performed.
TIME FACTORS IN EXERCISE
Reasonable determinations of rates of progress must be based on two separate time factors, "total training time" and "elapsed training time." Total training time is determined by the total number of hours devoted to training during a certain period of time - elapsed training time is the time period involved, days, weeks, months, or years.
Other related time factors are "actual training time," the time actually devoted to working against resistance - or, in effect, total training time minus resting time that occurs during the workouts; the "pace of training," which is determined by the delay between sets and the speed of movement; and, of course, the "speed of movement" itself.
Final results that appear quite good when measured against only one of the above factors may in fact be quite poor - but most bodybuilders seem to be concerned only with elapsed training time, and are apparently willing to devote almost any amount of total training time to their workouts if they feel that such marathon workouts will reduce the elapsed training time; but in fact, quite the opposite is true - and such long and frequent workouts actually (and enormously) retard progress as measured on any scale.
So - back on the treadmill; running faster and faster and getting nowhere. But even when it is possible to make an individual aware of the real facts, it still remains almost impossible to make all of the involved time factors clear in relation to each other; if, for example, you are finally able to make a particular trainee aware of the requirement for an almost zero time delay (or resting period) between sets of different exercises performed "in cycle" in keeping with the "pre-exhaustion" principle of training, this information is then usually misinterpreted to mean that the exercises themselves should be rushed through - which is of course not at all desirable.
Instead, each set of every exercise should be performed properly - with absolutely no consideration for how much time is involved; and only after one set has been correctly completed, should the "rush factor" be involved - in effect, do each set right, but then move immediately to the next set in the cycle.
Our primary interests have been aimed in the direction of producing maximum-possible progress from each week of training - and within reason, we have been willing to adjust the other time factors to almost any extent in order to improve weekly rates of progress; in effect, we did not care how much total training time was involved - we, like most bodybuilders, were willing to extend the total training time if such an extension would reduce the elapsed training time.
But eventually - even if somewhat to our surprise - it became obvious that it was necessary to reduce total training time in order to reduce elapsed training time; which result, on the face of it, at first seems ridiculous - after all, in how many other situations can you produce faster results by devoting less time to the job? In this instance, faster results meaning "better results" - in every sense of the word better.
But in situations with interrelated physiological and psychological factors, rather strange results are frequently forthcoming - unavoidably plain, if not always clearly understood; for example, during the course of several years devoted to capturing large animals in Africa, we learned that the method of capture which appears to be the least damaging to the animals is actually the most damaging - while another method of capture that we at first avoided because it seemed to be obviously detrimental to the animals, in the end proved to be the best method.
Capturing animals by running them down in broad daylight with a vehicle would appear to be a very dangerous method of capture - since it obviously involves very strenuous and sometimes long-extended efforts on the part of the animals; while capturing the same animals at night, using the element of surprise, would seem to be the easiest method - and the least damaging to the animals, since such captures can normally be made with no chasing at all. But in fact, quite the opposite is true in both cases.
I have never been able to determine just why the results turn out as they do, but the results themselves are obvious - an animal captured at night with no chasing stands a very good chance of dropping dead shortly afterwards, apparently from shock - while an animal that might appear to have been chased almost literally to death in broad daylight will seldom suffer any bad effects and will usually do quite well in captivity afterwards. There is, of course, a limit to just how much chasing an animal can stand - but within reason, such chasing actually seems to reduce the chance of shock from the capture.
In a similar vein, an animal that is shot by surprise will frequently drop dead from a wound that would not have bothered him much if he had been warned of danger in advance of the shot. While an animal that is aware of danger prior to the shot will sometimes continue frantic efforts with a wound that would seem t make any movement impossible - there are many accurate reports of large animals killing hunters after having their hearts destroyed by heavy bullets.
In such instances, the actually involved factors are far from being clearly understood - while the results are obvious; and in exercise of human muscular structures - particularly when such exercises are compound movements involving several large muscles - somewhat similar results are observed.
In effect, it is obvious that a certain amount of time is required for a muscle to prepare itself for intense exertion - without which preparation, damage may result; secondly, it is also obvious that a muscle so prepared is then capable of working at greater intensity. Most weight-trainees are at least aware that such time factors are involved in strenuous exercise - but very few trainees actually understand the implications; for example, the great number of theories regarding the requirement for "warming up" indicates a total lack of widespread agreement on this subject.
Again, it is not necessary to understand the cause-effect relationships involved - so long as the implications are clear. But when an understanding is possible, it is then sometimes also possible to make practical use of the knowledge in apparently unrelated applications; for example, on the practical level it has long been obvious that a resting muscle recovers more quickly if it is exposed to a workload of low intensity during the resting period between heavy exertions - I say that this has been obvious on the practical level because people have made use of this knowledge in practical ways while really not understanding the cause-effect relationship, and frequently without even knowing that they were making use of this knowledge. Horses are walked after a fast run, and this is practical utilization of the factor under discussion - but few people have ever wondered why this is done.
In body building, so-called "super sets" have been in wide use for a number of years - yet nobody seems to have noticed the actual cause-effect relationship responsible for the good results produced from such a style of training; and being unaware of the real factors involved, other practical applications of the same factors have thus been overlooked by almost all bodybuilders - while a few bodybuilders have made more or less accidentally-proper use of these factors.
Heavy work performed by a muscle results in much-lighter work by the opposing muscular structure - in effect, working the triceps results in a much lower order of work by the biceps, and vice versa. So doing a heavy set of curls for the biceps between two heavy sets of a triceps exercise will actually result in faster and more complete recovery by the triceps than would have been experienced if total rest had been employed instead of the work for the opposing muscles.
You might, for example, perform a set of triceps extensions to the point of failure with 100 pounds - and during the first set you might reach a point of failure after ten repetitions; then, following a rest period without exercise of any kind, you might be able to perform only eight repetitions during the second set of triceps work with the same resistance. But if, instead of resting between sets for the triceps, you had performed a heavy set of curls for the biceps between the two triceps sets, you might then have been able to get nine or ten repetitions during the second set for the triceps; because the heavy biceps work would have provided a much lower order of triceps work during the period when the triceps muscles were recovering between heavy sets - and this reduced workload for the triceps would have hastened and improved the recovery of the triceps.
A similar result can be produced without using super sets - but with an unavoidable disadvantage; instead of doing biceps work between two sets of triceps work, you could perform a very light set of triceps work between heavy sets for the triceps - but in that case you would be increasing the amount of exercise involved. Whereas, by using super sets, no additional exercise is being added to the workouts.
From the above, it should be obvious that working the biceps one day and the triceps on another day is a very poor style of training - yet such a style of training is very common among bodybuilders.
In a body building magazine dated September, 1958, apparently-first announcement of the so-called "Inter-set Relaxation Principle" was made; a long article under the byline of the publisher of the magazine made extravagant claims regarding the supposed value of this "discovery - and urged readers to later remember where they first read about the new training style advocated. Or the new "resting style," since the article dealt with the time periods between sets of an exercise.
This article urges "more than total rest" between sets - instead of merely resting in the usual manner, the reader was advised to relax "totally," whatever that means; and the statement was made that this new principle was the "ultimate" step toward achieving the perfect human body.
In the same article, the author also claimed credit for other supposedly revolutionary training principles - and listed among others the "Flushing Method" the "Muscle Cramping Method," and "The Mental Contraction Method," all of which, from their very names, were obviously intended to produce results almost exactly opposite from the results being sought by users of the Inter-set Relaxation Principle. So the readers are simultaneously being urged to do everything possible to prevent muscle-recovery and to hasten and improve muscle-recovery.
And as should be obvious if the previously mentioned result produced by a lower order of work between heavy sets of exercise is clearly understood, total relaxation immediately following heavy work - or between heavy sets of exercise - is certainly NOT the way to hasten or improve muscle-recovery.
It was suggested in the same article that trainees - by making use of this "new principle" - could thus manage to squeeze even more exercises, or more sets, into their workouts; the obvious implication being that the "amount" of exercise is the most-important factor - when in fact, a large amount of exercise will literally prevent muscular size and strength increases. All of the evidence clearly supports the contention that the "intensity of exercise" should be as high as possible - and that the "amount of exercise" should be limited to the absolute minimum that will produce the desired growth stimulation. If one set of one repetition of one exercise would produce maximum-possible growth stimulation - which, unfortunately, it will not - then that would be the ideal amount of exercise.
The truth of the matter s that weight-training publications ran out of anything significant to say over twenty years ago - and having said the same things in a thousand different ways, the publishers of such periodicals are understandably quick to give attention to almost anything that might be considered new or original; but originality is no proof of validity.
The publisher of one such group of magazines has gone to great lengths in his efforts to prove that the "science of body building" has made great strides during the last few years - primarily as a result of his personal efforts, of course; but the obvious fact remains that this same period of time has actually produced a decline in the average degree of results produced by weight-trainees.
The average weight of a group of 100 men selected at random might be 160 pounds - but within that group you could probably expect to find one individual weighing 190 pounds, and another weighing 130 pounds.
And if the group was extended to 1,000 men selected at random, the average weight would still be 160 pounds - but now you would have ten individuals weighing 190 pounds (instead of only one) and one individual weighing 210 pounds. Likewise, there would be more below-average individuals, and probably at least one individual that was far below average.
And if the group was extended to 10,000 men selected at random, the average would remain the same 160 pounds - with a hundred men weighing 190 pounds, ten men weighing 210 pounds, and one man weighing 230 pounds.
And so on - as the sample increases in size, the "peaks" and the "valleys" will move farther away from the average, but the average will remain the same.
The last twenty years have resulted in an enormous increase in the number of individuals involved in weight-training activities - so it is only to be expected that the actual size of a few outstanding individuals would be greater now than it was twenty years ago; but this is certainly no proof that the overall results produced by weight-training are better now than they were previously.
Such proof of an improvement in method, or tools, or the systems of employing the available tools must come from - CAN ONLY COME FROM - a rise in the average production of results; and this has certainly not occurred in weight-training circles - on the contrary, there has been a distinct decline in the average production of results during the last twenty years.
Most of the decline, I feel, has been a direct result of commercially biased advertising - trainees have been led to believe that they can "buy success," that they can eat their way to great muscular size, or find strength in a bottle. Weight-trainees, being only human, have been quick to believe what they wanted to believe, to listen to what they wanted to hear - if there really was such an "easy" road to the top, they were more than willing to follow it.
Most people will take the apparently "easy" way out in any situation, and for that very reason truly outstanding individuals are rare in any field; this apparently basic "law" of human behavior has certainly not been set aside in favor of bodybuilders - who by and large, if anything, seem to be even quicker than average to grasp at straws in search of "easy" solutions to their problems.
At least a practical knowledge of the relative time factors will probably result if careful attention is given to later chapters dealing with the correct style of performance of exercises; but I repeat, do not fall into the common habit of rushing through the exercises themselves - when the "rush factor" is involved, it is applicable ONLY between sets.
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF BODYBUILDERS
By this point, intelligent readers will be well aware of - and perhaps irritated by - my previous comments alluding to the psychology of bodybuilders; so I feel that a clear statement on the subject is in order. In this direction, a few case histories from my personal files may help to establish some sort of a meaningful pattern.
A man of about thirty when I first met him, the winner of many physique contests - but a seething mass of emotions under an apparently calm exterior. Atypical in that he was willing to work and was reasonably successful in his own business.
I had been out of direct contact with the body building field for a number of years when I first met this subject, and I was then unaware of the use of drugs by bodybuilders - but he openly admitted that he was using at least one type of drug, and told me that he was as yet undecided about the effects, if any. Ten years later he heatedly denied ever having used drugs of any kind during several conversations on the subject and roundly condemned other leading bodybuilders for being "drug freaks;" but in another conversation - apparently having forgotten his previous denials - he admitted that he had used drugs, "once."
During my first contact with this individual I broached the subject of weight-training but immediately realized that doing so was a mistake, his totally closed-minded attitude was far too obvious to overlook; so, since our relationship was not based upon physical training activities, and since I liked him as an individual, I never opened the subject with him again for a period of about ten years.
In the meantime, information that I considered of great significance had gradually come to my attention as a result of my continuing interest in the field of weight-training - and eventually, I felt that I should at least attempt to communicate some of these new developments to the individual under discussion. Which attempt was made - with, up to the moment, entirely negative results; at first he pretended interest while obviously not understanding even the basic principles involved - later he apparently started to suspect that there might at least be some financial opportunity, and he then promised full cooperation, but somehow always managed an excuse for failing to live up to any of his promises - still later, by which time the financial opportunity was obvious, he attempted, in his own words, "to jump on the bandwagon," but he still failed to live up to any of his promises - finally, in cooperation with a number of associates, he started making outright attempts to belittle the significance of the new developments, while at the same time attempting to produce and market exercise machines based on the new principles, which principles he plainly did not understand.
When reports of his actions - which contrasted sharply with his statements - first reached me, I called him and asked for an explanation; and he denied all of the reports that had been brought to my attention. Repeatedly. Finally, in an effort to get the facts, I sent a friend around for the purpose of making an investigation, and then I telephoned and demanded an explanation.
During the course of a one-hour telephone conversation, his emotions ran the gamut from calm denials of obvious fact to outraged and irrational accusations; but he still attempted to deny undeniable facts.
None of which above-listed reactions are limited to bodybuilders, of course - but all of which (apart from this individual's attitude towards gainful employment) seem to be typical of at least a very high percentage of advanced bodybuilders. Eighty percent? Ninety percent? Ninety-five percent? I don't know, exactly - but a very, very high percentage.
A man of thirty-five, married to - or at least living with - a woman with a rather large number of children. While claiming a somewhat better than average educational background that qualified him for high school-level teaching positions, he sought low-paying employment in Florida in order, he said, to be able to devote most of his time and attention to body building training. In spice of his education, this subject avidly read all of the body building periodicals and admittedly believed everything he read.
Loud and pushy in situations where he felt confident, he was extremely hesitant and obviously unsure of himself in unfamiliar situations. Quick to jump to mistaken conclusions based on misunderstood hearsay, he was just as quick to change side. Totally without regard for the rights or feelings of other people, he expected great consideration from everybody.
In the end he made the mistake of offering drugs to one of my children.
Approximately thirty, the picture of a man - or, at least, his picture of a man; sporty automobile, flashy clothes, unused sporting equipment of a wide variety, a wig. In short, a great assortment of possessions and attitudes, none of which were unusual or significant in themselves - but all of which, taken together, spelled "self doubt".
In common with the previously-mentioned subjects - and with a very high percentage of advanced bodybuilders - everything in his life was strictly secondary to his body building aspirations.
In his late twenties, the owner of a business in a field related to the primary subject of this bulletin - which in itself is apparently part of an emerging pattern, since most advanced bodybuilders seem to eventually become involved commercially in the field. A cause - or and effect? Are such people unable to conform to normal society? Are they rejected by society and thus forced to seek the company of their peers?
While almost all advanced bodybuilders are jealous of contemporaries, and critical in the extreme, they nevertheless go to great lengths to seek approval from their imagined competition. Competition for what? Just what are the prizes, where is the hoped-for reward - the approval of an extremely closed society of individuals like themselves, who are apparently constitutionally incapable of bestowing actual approval on anybody? But this subject was atypical in that he could not - or would not - conform to the accepted rules of even his own chosen society, and was thus openly rejected even by his own. Perhaps a result of the fact that - unlike most advanced bodybuilders - he had been make independent by inherited wealth?
In his early twenties, an extreme example of a self-created freak - at least capable of apparently relaxed charm, an uncommon trait among bodybuilders in general: perhaps the result of having reached what he probably considers an unchallengeable pinnacle in his own limited world? Or is he really as confident as he appears on the surface? And if so, why must he make such efforts to constantly reprove himself?
This subject displays a trait that is currently very commonly encountered in body building circles - deceit; having lied about their measurements, their body weight, their strength, their training routines, and many other things almost as a matter of course, many advanced bodybuilders finally drift into a habit of habitually lying about almost everything.
SUBJECTS "F", "G", "H", etc.
Having a lot in common with the general pattern of character traits displayed by the subjects mentioned above, they typical advanced bodybuilder of the moment is certainly not the "Ideal Man" described by weight-training publications.
The only question of real importance seems to be, "... are such traits a cause, or an effect."
But the fact of these common traits is beyond question; and under the circumstances, it is only common sense to question the whole subject. There are exceptions, of course, but on the whole the character traits outlined above are extremely common - far more common than might be expected, far too common.
can offer no solution to the problem
- but I have personally learned
to approach bodybuilders with
great suspicion, expecting the
THE "MISTER NAUTILUS" CONTEST
Primarily because of the psychological traits mentioned in the previous chapter - and as a result of commercial bias - the field of body building has finally reached a point where it is almost impossible to obtain information on the subject of actual practices, as opposed to claimed practices. If the field was without value, then present trends could be permitted to continue with no loss - but in fact, the very real value of intelligently-practiced weight-training is such that it deserves rational consideration, and efforts, directed towards salvaging the situation.
It is my personal opinion that weight-training should be a part of the physical education of every student in the country, starting about the freshman year in high school and continuing throughout the remainder of the educational experience - and I also think that something on that order might have resulted already, if it were not for the fact that the entire field has fallen into generally bad repute. If the situation is to be saved - if it can be saved - then present trends must be reversed.
In efforts directed towards that purpose, we will sponsor the "Mr. Nautilus" physique contest - a physique contest with a difference, with many differences, important differences. Up to this point, the promoters of such contests have seldom - and never, recently - offered more than $1,000.00 in the way of a cash prize to the overall winner; we will offer the first place winner a cash prize of $25,000.00 - with a total of $50,000.00 in cash prizes.
In the past, little or nothing in the way of significant publicity has been given to such contests -while the winners of the annual Miss America contests receive at least some national publicity, the winners of major physique contests generally remain unknown outside the narrow field of weight-training; so widespread publicity will be afforded this contest -among other things, a film will be made for television on the subject of physical training in general, with the contest being the highlight of the film.
The prizes and the publicity should attract both a wide field of entrants and widespread attention - but in this case, we are seeking far more than publicity; while the contest itself will be strictly a physique contest and will be judged accordingly, one of the requirements for entry will be that the entrants must present themselves a week in advance of the contest, and must submit to a wide variety of physical tests, any reasonable tests. We are primarily seeking facts - significant test results. According to present plans, Dr. Elliott Plese of Colorado State University will be in charge of the testing procedures - and the actual tests will be conducted by a group of physiologists from a number of universities and research foundations. The exact nature of the tests will not be made known in advance - but all results will be published within a reasonable time after the contest, and the information obtained will be made available to any interested parties.
Of possible concern to entrants; it should be clearly understood that the test results will not be made known to the judges in advance of the contest - and the judging will not be influenced by the results. But after the contest, all matters of general information will be published; accurate measurements, body weights, actual strength performances, etc. Of particular importance; a number of tests to determine drug usage - and the results of such usage - will be conducted, and the results of these tests will be published.
It should be clearly understood that there is absolutely no intention or desire to "hurt anybody" - on the contrary, it is our sincere desire to help everybody we can; but this can only be accomplished in the full light of the truth. At the moment, millions of young weight-trainees are attempting to build impossible degrees of muscular size, trying to duplicate impossible strength feats - and generally training in a fashion that literally prevents much in the way of worthwhile results; and who knows the actual extent of the damage being done by the use of drugs.
As additional plans for this contest are made, the details will be published in Iron Man Magazine and probably elsewhere; the date of the contest will be approximately November or December, 1972. The probable location will be Los Angeles, California.
While half of the total cash prizes of $50,000.00 will go to the overall winner, the other half will be divided into smaller, but significant, cash awards for a number of "place winners" and the winners of several subdivisions, best arms best back, etc. Additionally, all entrants will be provided with housing during the week of testing immediately prior to the contest.
For the first time in the history of physical training, this contest will provide sincerely interested, qualified, and hopefully unbiased experts the opportunity to study a large group of outstanding muscular specimen in depth; but if bias does exist - as it always does to at least some degree - then it should be balanced out by the large number of people who will be involved in the testing.
One point that still affords some concern is the selection of judges, and we are anxious to receive all possible suggestions in this regard; it is of course of extreme importance to have a panel of judges that are qualified and unbiased.
Additionally, we are interested in communications from the physiology departments of institutions that might like to take part in the testing procedures; but the final selection of such participants will be at the discretion of Dr. Plese.
THE REAL VALUE OF WEIGHT TRAINING
Are the benefits of weight-training worth the price? If the price is that paid by many - perhaps most - currently-active trainees, then the answer can only be negative; for a physically-normal individual, the possible benefits of weight-training are simply not worth the price of fanaticism -if a man must become a slave to his training, then it simply isn't justified on any rational basis.
For a physically-subnormal individual, the situation may be entirely different - sometimes almost any amount of training is not only justified but is an actual requirement for anything approaching a normal existence. But in normal situations - in most situations - the value of the possible results must be carefully compared to the price. And if the price really is that which it is assumed to be by most advanced bodybuilders, then the possible results are grossly overpriced. Fortunately, the opinions of advanced bodybuilders can seldom be considered gospel - personally, I have finally reached a point where I am highly suspicious of anything that such people believe; the very fact that something is being supported by advanced bodybuilders is enough, to me, to raise strong doubts on the subject -after thirty years of interest and no small amount of involvement in the field, I have yet to meet a bodybuilder that understood the basic physics involved in barbell training. Somewhat like lemmings - and with very similar final results - they all seem to be rushing blindly in the same direction, simply because everybody else is doing the same thing.
In my carefully considered opinion, most currently-active advanced bodybuilders will never accept an actually-rational method or style of training - primarily, I think, because many of them are too stupid to understand the real factors involved, and too biased to accept them even if they can understand them; which is a far more pitiful commentary on the state of affairs than it might appear to be at first glance - because the actually-important factors that must be understood for the most practical utilization of weight training ( for any purpose) are really very simple, perhaps too simple.
Sour grapes hopefully intended to explain a lack of acceptance of my ideas or my machines? Some people will think so - but opinions don't change facts; and as a matter of fact, we have been simply swamped by orders for our machines since long before they even went into production on a commercial basis - and with very few exceptions, the people who bought the machines from us at first on a sight-unseen basis have promptly ordered more machines. So, since we have literally ad more business than we could handle up to this point, and since the flow of orders is constantly increasing, it would seem that both my ideas and my machines have achieved at least a reasonable amount of acceptance - in many cases, even if somewhat to my surprise, from advanced bodybuilders.
The simple fact of the matter is that rationally-practiced progressive weight-training is capable of producing results in the way of increases in strength and muscular size that cannot be duplicated by
ny amount of any other type of presently-existing training; strength for any purpose - for a normal life, for sports, for improved health and-or appearance.
And it is equally true that any possible degree of strength or muscular size can be produced by less than four hours of weekly training - very quickly produced; and for individuals with more reasonable goals, and hour and a half of weekly training will produce results within a period of a few months that must be personally experienced to be appreciated.
Weight-training certainly is not the answer to all health problems - but it just as certainly is the answer to a long list of physical problems, many of which can be solved in no other practical manner; and where strength is a factor, it is the only rational choice.
Most people have no desire to be either as big or as strong as Casey Viator - but regardless of your personal goals, it is only common sense to use the most productive method available; and the system of employing the best method is of great importance as well - but the most likely-looking source of information on that score is in fact the poorest possible source of any meaningful information. The simple truth is that advanced bodybuilders in general have no slightest idea what they are doing - or even why they are doing it.
So far without single exception, the advanced bodybuilders that I have trained or closely associated with seem to be unable to progress beyond a certain point if left up to their own devices - and actually good results are to be produced, they must be constantly supervised in their training; if not, they quickly start backsliding. Under the circumstances, I can reach only one logical conclusion; regardless of their statements, the either do not understand or will not accept the validity of the actually important points - and when permitted to supervise their own training, they quickly fall back into habits of overtraining insofar as amount of training is concerned, and under-training in intensity of effort.
For the average person, however, no such drive or self-discipline is required; good results can be produced from a very small amount of the proper type of training.
THE DRUG SCENE IN BODY BUILDING
A few years ago, bodybuilders on the west coast were beating-up hippies -today, many thousands of bodybuilders have adopted the hippie style of life, drugs and all. Steroids - the so-called "growth drugs" - have become an almost universal fact of life in the weight-training world; and stupid as such utilization of these dangerous drugs may be, it is at least understandable. But drugs are no longer restricted to the steroid category - at a recent lifting meet, one of the heavyweight lifters was so stoned he literally didn't know where he was or what he was doing.
There is no rational excuse for the use of nay kind of drugs by healthy individuals - but since it is apparently not in the realm of possibility for me to say anything that might influence people already involved in such practices, I will limit my remarks to a simple statement of the facts as they exist.
Large numbers of young men are attracted to the field of weight training every year - and under the circumstances, it is inevitable that many of them will be influenced by common attitudes and habits that will literally destroy no small numbers of them; in the present state of affairs, the parents of young men attracted to weight training would be well advised to do everything possible to channel this interest into another direction -and if that is not possible, then extreme care should be used in selecting a training environment. If possible, training should be restricted to the home; and for the benefit of those readers who may assume that this is an attempt on my part to sell more equipment, I will add that absolutely nothing in the way of special equipment is required. Very good results can be quickly produced by the use of a barbell, a chinning bar, a pair of parallel bars, and a squat rack - none of which items are manufactured or sold by myself.
The above is not meant to imply that there are literally no decent commercial training environments - there are many; but they do not exist in proportion to the need.
To the young trainee still in doubt on the subject of drugs, I can only say that the use of drugs WILL NOT help your progress - regardless of what you may hear or read to the contrary; during the last few months alone, we have observed several cases of very serious effects from the use of drugs by bodybuilders - and no slightest sign of any worthwhile results from their use.
WEIGHT-TRAINING FOR WOMEN
"Spot reduction" is a myth - for men or for women - a physiological impossibility; the overall amount of fat is just that, an "overall" condition - the result of too much food and-or too little exercise. But in certain sections of the body of women or men, a very noticeable degree of "apparent spot reduction" can be produced - sometimes in as short a period as a day or so, or even a matter of hours.
When a fat appearance is a result of poor muscle-tone, as it frequently is - particularly in young women, but not uncommonly in men - then literally spectacular "apparent results" can be produced if direct exercise is applied to that area of the body; with little or no change in the body weight, and no measurable reduction in the actual fat content of the body - and with no change in the diet. And without increasing the size of the involved muscles to any noticeable degree - and with no increase in the size of other muscular structures in the body.
Since this condition is most commonly developed in the upper-thighs and in the buttocks, and since conventional exercises for these muscles involve working the much larger muscles of the frontal thighs as well as the muscles you are actually trying to reach - exercises such as squats and leg presses - and since most women are not anxious to increase the overall size of their thighs (even if they are willing to use such hard exercises, and few are), it is obviously necessary to provide some form of direct exercise for the buttocks and upper-thigh muscles that work in connection with each other; with conventional exercise equipment, the closest approach is with a "thigh curl" machine - an exercise machine that applies direct exercise for the primary function of the thigh biceps, the muscles that bend the lower-legs back against the rear of the thighs.
Such exercise will produce some results in the area - and will do so without involving the much larger frontal-thigh muscles; but there is still a lot lacking in this "closest approach." Primarily because you really need to involve the secondary function of the thigh biceps - moving the thigh back into line with the torso - and because you also need to directly involve the buttocks muscles, which have a very similar function. For these specific purposes, we have recently developed a new machine that works the muscles of this area directly; the Nautilus Buttocks ("Glute Curl") Machine.
Of little or no use to the average man, who should be willing and able to work this area of his body heavily in a normal manner while performing heavy exercises for the legs, such machines will undoubtedly find widespread acceptance by women - for several reasons; primarily because these machines can and will produce the desired results very quickly, but also because they will do so without requiring much-heavier types of exercise involving the major muscles of the thighs, and because no skill or practice is required on the part of the user.
However, I have mentioned the above described machine for a very good reason - because it is one of a very few "exceptional" exercise devices (or exercises), exceptional in that it is primarily limited to the use of women; but by and large, women should practice almost all of the same exercises that are used by men - and they can do so without the "danger" of building huge muscles. Which danger simply does not exist in the case of a normal woman.
The average woman could not build large muscles if her life depended on it - and for health purposes, for reducing purposes, or toning purposes, women should use the same basic exercises that men do. But in an almost opposite manner; instead of trying for maximum-possible "intensity of effort," they should strive for nothing more than a medium intensity - and instead of trying to reduce the "amount" of exercise to its lowest possible point while still meeting the other requirements, they should practice as much in the way of exercise as it is reasonably possible to do without resulting exhaustion. In short, women should train more than men - but not as hard.
Apart from these general considerations, practically all the rules for training of men apply to with almost equal validity to women.
MUSCULAR POTENTIAL AND HEREDITY
"Potential" - in this sense, the ability to build muscular size and strength - can only be judged in retrospect and then only with a limited degree of certainty; after all who can say "what might have been?"
Nevertheless, the potential muscular size of the average individual is far beyond existing average muscular size; in effect, almost any healthy man can build muscular size and strength to such a degree that most medical doctors would refuse to believe accurate "before" and "after" measurements and photographs. And at least a fair percentage of apparently average men can build literally huge muscular size.
In earlier chapters I have mentioned the relationship between muscular size and strength, and have noted that producing maximum-possible degrees of strength will also produce maximum-possible muscular size; but since this is a point of very great importance - and a point that is generally misunderstood by almost everybody in the weight-training world - I will go into a bit more detail in an effort to make this relationship perfectly clear.
Most weight-trainees are convinced that muscular size has little or no relationship to strength - and at first glance it might appear that there is quite a lot of evidence to support that belief; for example - (1) some men with 14 inch arms can curl or press more than other men with 16 inch arms - (2) almost all champion weight-lifters lack the muscular size of advanced bodybuilders, yet they are much stronger in spite of their smaller muscular mass - (3) many of the men with really outstanding degrees of muscular size are actually not very strong, certainly not as strong as they look.
Most of the above points can be answered in one short sentence, "... there is no valid basis for comparing the strength of one individual to that of another individual."
Let us examine the points one at a time; first, assuming an equal length of the muscular structures, a 16 inch arm contains approximately twice as much muscular mass as a 14 inch arm - and if everything else is equal, then the larger arm will be capable of producing approximately twice as much power as the smaller one. But it does not follow that the larger arm will be able to "demonstrate" twice as much power - or lift twice as much weight; if the 14 inch arm is favored (it would be a favor in this case) with very short forearms - and the 16 inch arm is burdened with very long forearms - then the weight is being moved a greater distance in a curl by the larger arm, and more power (and thus more muscular size) will be required to move it the greater distance.
And the length of the forearms is not the only such "leverage factor" -additionally, such things as attachment-points and angles-of-insertion are involved; factors which have the effect of increasing or decreasing "measurable strength."
And even if you are comparing a man's 14 inch arm to the same man's arm at a later date - after it has increased to 16 inches - the leverage factors will still not be exactly the same; as the size of an arm increases, the angles-of-insertion change - always unfavorable. This happens because a muscle can add significant size only by becoming thicker - and because muscles produce power in a basically reciprocal fashion, exerting a pull in approximately straight lines; obviously then, as part of the mass of a muscle moves "out" due to an increase in the thickness of the muscle, the displaced portion of the muscle will no longer be pulling in the previous direction-of-pull - and as the direction-of-pull changes, the efficiency ratio is reduced, particularly in the strongest ranges of movement.
An increase in measurable strength will be produced in some cases - in some positions; but in general, displacement of the angle-of-pull resulting from an increase in muscular mass will produce a decrease in efficiency.
In effect, if a man increased his arm from 14 inches to 16 inches, then his curling ability would not increase in exact proportion to his gain in muscular size; even though the muscles were twice as large as they were previously, and could produce twice as much power, the curling strength would not be doubled as well - because some of the increased power would be wasted as a result of changed angles-of-pull.
Two, champion weight lifters may well be champions primarily because they have far better than average leverage factors helping them - and if so, they may not need much in the way of actual muscular bulk to lift heavy weights; and, of course, weight-lifting is an art requiring far more than strength - form, style, and other factors are equally important.
Also, the muscular mass itself may be very efficient in such individuals -since such efficiency is an individual thing.
Three, a bodybuilder with literally huge muscular size may also be primarily a result of his leverage factors - bad leverage factors; in such a case, an actually great mass of muscle would be required to lift only an average amount of weight.
Once this is understood, then the implications become obvious - a bodybuilder seeking to increase his muscular size should strive to increase strength, knowing that increases in strength will produce at least proportionate increases in muscular size; and weigh-lifters should strive to increase the size of the muscular structures involved in their sport, realizing that their strength will be increased as a result, if perhaps not in exact proportion. Such things as the length of bones, attachment points, etc. are determined by heredity; and by and large they cannot be altered -at least not to your advantage (my left triceps worked much better before it was ripped loose from the original attachment point).
It is at least possible that such individual differences have resulted in the gradual "drifting apart" of weight-lifters and bodybuilders - since it is only natural for a man with huge muscular size to resent the fact that a much smaller man can outperform him in strength demonstrations; and equally natural for the smaller man to look upon the bodybuilder's muscles as "useless."
But in so doing, by drawing apart, both factions have suffered - to at least a large degree because the training styles have gradually become almost two distinct practices; while neither the bodybuilders nor the weight-lifters realized that both should be training in an almost identical fashion - apart from training for style and form.
Some people can rather easily build great muscular size - some others can build great strength - and a few can build remarkable degrees of both; but the style of training should be almost identical in all cases, regardless of individual differences in potential, and no matter what the goals may be.
You cannot change your potential - but is probably greater than you think. And it might be of some interest to a few people to learn that recent evidence indicates that the best age (on the average) for making muscular size-strength gains is thirty-two.
Perhaps it isn't "too late" after all.
Human muscular structures - at least the type of muscular structures we are primarily concerned with here, which might be defined as the "visible muscles" by bodybuilders or the "useful muscles" by weight-lifters -perform work by contracting, by reducing their length, and thus exerting a pulling force on the body parts to which they are attached. While the body is fully capable of performing a number of "pushing" movements with great force, the actual power for all movements is provided by muscles which "pull."
Since a significant degree of reciprocal movement ("in and out" movement, or "up and down" movement like that of a piston in the cylinder of an engine) is impossible for human body parts, almost all such movements are rotational in nature - but this rotary movement of body parts is powered by reciprocal function of muscular structures.
Unavoidably then, the ratio of efficiency of bodily movements is not constant; at the start of a movement such as a barbell curl, the involved muscles are exerting force almost straight "up," approximately in line with he center-line of the muscles providing the power (primarily the biceps) -but the body part which is moved by this force, the forearms, cannot move "up," they can only move "forward" by rotating around the axis of the elbow. Thus a large part of the force being exerted by the biceps is wasted, since the angle-of-pull is such that the efficiency ratio is very low at that point in the movement; in effect, that is the "weakest" point in the movement - paradoxically, however, it may well appear to be the strongest point in the movement, because (as in a barbell curl) there is literally no resistance at the start of the movement in most conventional exercises.
As the rotational movement of the forearms proceeds during the performance of a curl, the ratio of efficiency rapidly improves - up to a point, the so-called "sticking point" at which point the ratio of efficiency is at its best; but again, appearances are opposite to the facts - because, at that point in the movement, the moment-arm of the resistance is at its highest point and the "effective resistance" or torque is at its highest point, and thus the weight will feel heaviest at that point in the movement and the muscles will seem weakest.
In fact, that point in the movement is NOT the position of maximum strength - but it is the point of best efficiency; the position of maximum muscular strength is reached at the finish of the movement, in the position of full contraction - at that point, and only at that point, it is possible to involve all of a muscular structure in the work. It should be clearly understood that the ratio of efficiency has little or nothing to do with "measurable efficiency" - not, at least, if attempts are made to measure it on the basis of the ability to perform standard strength tests. The ratio of efficiency is based strictly upon a comparison of the amount of power being produced by the muscles and the amount of power reaching the involved body-parts; at the start of a curl, for example, very little of the power from the muscles is useful for any measurable purpose - but at the sticking-point in a curl, a very high percentage of the power is useful. After the movement has passed the sticking point in a curl, then the ratio of efficiency starts to decline again - although, in a curl at least, it will never return to the low point of efficiency that was experienced at the start of the movement.
Thus in a conventional curl, it seems that you are getting weaker as a curl moves from the starting point to the sticking point - when in fact you are getting stronger; and it seems you are getting stronger after you pass the sticking point - when in fact you are getting weaker. Or, at least, the efficiency ratio is improving when it appears to be declining - and vice versa. But all of these false impressions are due to the fact that the resistance in a conventional curl is reciprocal in nature - and thus not constant throughout the movement.
But even that isn't the full story; because, in addition to the constantly changing efficiency ratio involved, you also have the factor of constantly changing muscular strength. At the start of a curl, the muscles are extended - and in the extended position a muscle can produce only part of its actual power. In order to produce power in proportion to its existing potential, a muscle must be in the position of full contraction. Thus the "input of strength: is constantly rising as a muscle moves from a position of full extension to one of full contraction; in effect, in a curl, the muscles provide constantly increasing amounts of power for the movement as you move from the straight-arm position to the bent-arm position. Although it will not appear that this is happening - for the reasons mentioned above.
When all of the factors are taken together, and when the curling muscles are exposed to rotary-form "direct" resistance so that it becomes possible to judge on the basis of actualities rather than appearances, it is immediately obvious that the usable strength for curling is at its lowest point at the start of the movement, increases to - and past - the sticking point, and then gradually falls off near the end of the movement. Up to the sticking point, all factors are contributing towards an increase in usable strength - the ratio of efficiency is improving and the power input is increasing at the same time; beyond the sticking point, the ratio of efficiency starts to drop off again, but the input of strength from the muscles continues to increase - and the net result is an overall increase in usable strength, up to a point. But beyond a certain point, the drop in efficiency is no longer fully - or more than fully, as is the case in some areas of the movement -compensated for by the increase in input of power from the muscles; and beyond that point, a drop in usable strength must occur.
Such interrelationships are actually quite simple in the case of a movement such as the curl, where movement is confined to rotary movement around one axis (the elbow axis), and where the angle-of-pull factors are easy to visualize and understand; but in some cases the situation is far from being simple or easy to understand - although the factors are known and have been carefully considered and allowed for, it is not an easy task to try to describe them to a person without the required background in physics and physiology.
For example, in a standing press with a barbell the movement is rotational around several axis points - and the angle-of-pull factors are also far more complex; likewise, the changing moment-arm factors in this movement are not as simple as they are in a curl, so it is not so easy to calculate effective resistance, or torque.
Nor is it enough to simply design an exercise - or an exercise machine -that "feels right," that apparently has no sticking points or points of little or no resistance; the very fact that such an exercise did feel right to the average person, or almost ANY person, would in most cases be solid proof that it was "wrong." Muscles cannot develop properly unless they are exposed to proper resistance - which is impossible with conventional exercises; thus actually proper resistance will almost always "feel wrong" at first contact. Our new curling machines "feel" almost perfectly even to me - that is, no point in the movement feels any heavier than any other point, the weight seems to be the same in all positions; while in fact it is constantly changing throughout the movement. Yet to a man with actually much larger arms - a man that has previously trained with conventional equipment - the machine feels decidedly "wrong" when it is first tried; many such individuals have been literally shocked to realize that they could not pass the mid-range of the movement with an actually very light weight - a weight that much smaller men who have used the machine for a while can handle easily in any position.
But the above must not be misconstrued to mean that the machines build "smaller" arms - on the contrary, the machines build larger arms; the potentially largest and strongest part of a muscle is the center of the muscle - the center as determined by its position between the two ends of the muscle - and in conventional exercises this part of the muscle is seldom if ever involved in the work at all. As a result, most people - and this is even more true of men who have trained in a conventional manner than it is of men that have never trained at all - have very little strength or muscular size in the areas that should be largest and strongest; never having trained that part of their muscles - the major part, the potentially largest and strongest part - they have almost no strength or size in those areas. At this point in time, we still don't know just what a fully developed muscular structure will even look like - but it is at least likely that the overall "shape" of fully-developed bodybuilders will be quite different from the shape that is seen today. To some degree, Casey Viator is already an example of "things to come" - standing relaxed, he looks much like many other bodybuilders, but when he flexes his muscles "things happen," things that don't happen when other bodybuilders flex their muscles, he seems to "grow" right before your eyes.
A year ago, a former Mr. America told me very heatedly that Casey could not possibly get any larger without becoming fat - but he did get larger, much larger, and he actually improved his degree of muscularity at the same time, and he did so while maintaining an overall symmetrical appearance; when Bill Pearl won the Mr. America contest it was noted that he did not win any of the "best body parts" awards, and it was mentioned that his failure to win these sub-divisions of the contest was proof of his symmetrical development, that no one body part "stood out" in such a fashion that it appeared outstandingly developed - yet Casey Viator won all of the body-parts awards except best abdominals, and he easily could have won that subdivision as well since his abdominal area is on a par with that of anybody living or dead.
Casey probably failed to win the award for best abdominals simply because that area of the body is never as obvious in a really bulky physique as it is in the case of a much thinner man: the average viewer - even the average judge of a physique contest - is so impressed by the rest of the physique that he simply overlooks the abdominal area, unless it is obviously poorly developed. But if the rest of the body is properly developed, then it is literally impossible for the abdominal area to be really poor; Casey's abdominals are outstanding - yet he has done absolutely no direct work for that area of his body in more than a year - if you train the rest of the body properly, then the abdominal area will take care of itself. The billions of situps and leg-raises that have been performed by millions of trainees have been almost a complete waste of time and effort; if you have fat "anywhere" on the body, then you will have "more fat" in the abdominal area __ and if you have "any" fat in the abdominal area, then you will have "some" fat everywhere. You can get rid of all visible fat only by regulating the input of food in relation to the output of energy.
Our efforts have been primarily directed towards attempts to determine the exact functions of muscles - so that exercises could be provided in a logical manner, in a manner suitable to the functions of muscles rather than barbells. Later chapters devoted to particular exercises will help to make the real functions of most of the major muscular structures clear to the average reader; and while you might not care "why" a muscle functions as it does, it should at least be obvious that you must know "how" it functions in order to know how to provide proper exercise.
The four steps of meaningful progression in the field of physical training have been (1) calisthenics, (2) gymnastics, (3) weight training, and (4) Nautilus training. In the field of transportation there have been four similar steps, (1) walking, (2) animal-powered transport, (3) internally-powered transport, and (4) aerial transport.
Each step in the field of transportation provided a marked increase in the speed of transportation at first, and eventually a reduction in the cost of transport; in the field of physical training, the various steps have each provided a marked increase in the degree of possible results, and simultaneously a reduction in the required amount of training (in effect, the "cost").
Both the increases in the production of results and the decreases in the "cost" (the amount of exercise necessary) were provided by the same factor in all cases - each step produced a marked increase in the possible "intensity of effort"; gymnastics are harder than calisthenics -weight-training is harder than gymnastics (or, at least, it can be and should be, and will be if it is properly employed) - and Nautilus training is harder than conventional weight-training, to a degree that literally must be experienced to be understood.
All of this is so obvious that it seems almost needless to even say it -yet, in fact, it must not be obvious to many current weight-trainees, since they train in a fashion that clearly indicates that they are not even aware of the real facts of the matter.
From the very start of the investigations that finally produced the Nautilus methods and systems of training we were clearly aware of "what was needed" - HARDER EXERCISE; the problems have all been concerned with how to provide such harder exercise. I have long been aware that (in physiology, at least), " . . . the sum of the parts is not always equal to the sum of the parts."
In order to have an elephant, you must have an elephant's head, an elephant's body, four elephant legs, and a number of other parts - but you can have all of the required parts and still not have an elephant. In order to kill an elephant quickly with a .600 Nitro-Express rifle you must hit him in the brain, with a 900 grain bullet delivering an impact force of about 8,000 foot pounds - but you can shoot an elephant ten-thousand times with a .22 rifle delivering a total of both grains of bullet weight and foot-pounds of impact force many times as great as the totals from the .600 and still not kill him, and certainly not quickly, if at all.
In exercise, we find a similar situation - many light movements do not always equal one heavy movement.
In calisthenics you are primarily working against the resistance provided by only a small part of your own body weight - in gymnastics you are working against the resistance of all, or most, of your body weight - in weight-training you are (or should be, where possible) working against resistance far in excess of your body weight - and the only really "break" in this chain of progression from easy exercise to harder exercise to yet-harder exercise comes with the step up to Nautilus training, which provides "harder" exercise in an entirely different manner from that involved in the moves between previous steps; with Nautilus training, you will certainly work against greater resistance, but it isn't simply a matter of increasing the poundage involved - instead it means that you will be using almost literally all of the mass of the muscles you are trying to work, rather than only a small part of the total mass of the muscles.
Until, and unless, you have experienced Nautilus training, you simply don't know what "hard training" really is; but since the average person is too lazy to even do calisthenics, and most people are too lazy to do gymnastics, and even almost all weight-trainees are too lazy to use a barbell in an actually "hard" fashion, I do not expect very many people to quickly accept and practice a form of training that makes them all seem like child's play by comparison - but a few people will, and the results they produce will eventually (and sooner than you might think) produce an entirely new breed of strength athletes.
You can slice it as thin as you can, or pile it as high as you like - but you still end up with cheese; if you started with cheese. You can kid yourself any way you like - but you can't change facts; hard exercise -and ONLY HARD EXERCISE - produces worthwhile results in the way of muscular strength and size increases. If you are not willing to work hard, then forget it - there simply isn't any other way to do it.
BARBELLS VERSUS EXERCISE MACHINES
Barbells have several advantages over exercise machines - even Nautilus exercise machines; and if the available exercise machines do not provide some sort of advantages that more than compensate for their inherent disadvantages, then you are better off using a barbell. Nautilus machines do provide advantages that far more than compensate for their disadvantages -conventional exercise machines generally do not, and never to any really worthwhile degree.
An "opinion" of the inventor of Nautilus machines? Certainly it is my opinion - but it happens to be supportable fact as well. With only two or three insignificant exceptions (which I will list a bit later in this chapter), almost all conventional exercise machines are actually less productive than barbells - and this is true for obvious reasons; one of the limiting characteristics inherent in all exercise machines (including Nautilus machines) is the factor of "guided resistance" - instead of being free to move in any direction, as it is in almost all barbell exercises, the resistance is confined to a single "track of movement." Another such limitation encountered in most exercise machines (but NOT in Nautilus machines) is "reverse geometry" - the mechanical designs used in most machines actually decrease the efficiency of the exercise movements.
Early attempts in the direction of building conventional exercise machines were usually limited to "redirecting gravity" - changing the "direction of resistance" from "down" to "up," or from "down" to "across." Barbells provide resistance in only one direction - vertically down, as a result of gravity; by the use of pulleys you can "redirect" the resistance, change the direction-of-resistance to any direction desired - but you will still have resistance in only one direction (uni-directional resistance). So at best you still have an exercise almost identical to a barbell exercise - and in most cases, and exercise not quite as good as a barbell exercise - and at the worst, an exercise far less effective than a barbell exercise.
Where and when such simple machines make it possible to work muscles that can not be worked with a barbell, then they are justified; conventional "lat machines" are examples of worthwhile applications of redirected barbell resistance - a leg-press machine is at least a practical example of another such application. But in general, such applications seldom provide any advantages over barbell exercises - and frequently are less effective than barbell exercises.
The state of the art remained at that stage for a number of years, and during that period there were neither any significant improvements nor backward-steps in the nature of available training equipment; but when a major step finally was taken, it was a move in the wrong direction -perhaps primarily because of new and very plush "health studios", the attentions of most equipment manufacturers turned towards improvements in convenience and appearance. But very little, if any, attention was given to function - and in almost all cases, the functions of exercise machines became worse.
Two companies in particular seem to have devoted most of their attentions and efforts towards attempts to design exercise machines that work on leverage principles - because, if cables could be eliminated and replaced by levers, the machines would then not be subject to such frequent breakdowns from cable wear; which would be fine, if the functions of the machines were not harmed in the process - but in fact, most such machines do suffer from greatly reduced function.
Secondly, the same companies were also greatly interested in trying to cram as many different "stations" into the smallest possible space, and wrap the whole thing into one package - eventually the term "jungle" resulted from this practice; and such machines are certainly just that, jungles, mixed-up multi-exercise monstrosities of little or no actual value by comparison to a barbell. It may be possible to cram fourteen people into a phone booth, too - but if so, then don't plan on any of them using the phone.
later chapters devoted to exact
step-by-step examinations of the
supposed purposes and actual functions
of many different types of exercise
machines and devices, I will point
out a large number of the obvious
mistakes that were incorporated
into the design of most of the
current crop of exercise machines;
but for the moment, it is enough
to state that a barbell is usually
better - far better - than an
exercise machine which is supposed
to duplicate a barbell exercise.
If you want barbell exercises,
use a barbell - don't try to make
an elephant out of a mouse; barbells
are very productive tools if they
are properly used - and almost
all conventional exercise machines
are a firm step in the wrong direction.
Most exercises are "direct" in no sense of the word - and many exercises are direct only at one point during a movement that extends over a wide range-of-movement; a squat is not direct at any point during the movement -a curl is direct at only one point during the movement, an infinitely small point, the so-called "sticking point."
In order to be "direct" in the above sense of the term, the resistance provided by an exercise must be directly opposed to the movement, 180 degrees out-of-phase with the movement - if it is direct in this sense, then an inch of movement of the involved body-part produces an inch of movement of the resistance; in effect, any movement of the body-part produces an equal movement of the resistance - and if the resistance is provided by gravity, this means that body-part movement must produce an equal degree of "vertical movement" of the resistance.
The reaction of the average bodybuilder to the above paragraphs will undoubtedly be, "So what?" But if so, then an extremely important factor is being misunderstood or overlooked; the lack of directness of resistance application is one of the major shortcomings encountered in barbell exercises. In the case of a barbell curl, this lack of direct resistance results in a situation where you encounter literally NO RESISTANCE during a fairly large part of the movement - and this occurs in the most important part of the movement, at that.
But the above covers only one of two distinct meanings of the term "direct" as it applies to exercise; to be direct in the other sense, the resistance must be applied against the "prime body-part", against the body-part that is directly moved by the involved muscle. For example; in a curl, the involved muscles are attached to, and directly move, the forearms; thus, in a curl, the resistance must be applied against the forearms. Which, for all practical purposes, is the actual practice in the curl - since the hands are effectively an extension of the forearms.
To be perfectly technical about it, for totally direct resistance in a curl, wrist joints would have to be fused - in order to prevent any possible movement between the hands and forearms; but in practice, because of the limited range of possible movements of the wrists, and because of the positioning of the related arc of this movement, no significant reduction of the effective degree of directness of resistance application is produced by wrist movement. So - for all practical purposes, at least - a curl is a direct exercise in this sense of the word. While the squat is not.
An example of a "perfectly direct" exercise - in both senses of the term - is the movement performed on a thigh-extension machine; in this exercise, the resistance is always directly opposed to the possible direction of movement, and is applied directly against the prime body part. Or at least it is in some machines; and, rather paradoxically, the least-expensive thigh-extension machines are generally the best ones. In the Universal (brand name) thigh extension machine, the resistance is provided by a vertical-rise weight-stack that is driven by a cable - which cable, after passing over redirectional-pulleys, is attached to the movement-bar of the machine; which makes it very convenient - but which also goes a long way in the direction of ruining the function of the machine. Because the resulting geometry is such that the resistance is highest at the start of the movement, and then decreases as the movement progresses. It is undoubtedly possible to design a machine in such a manner that it would be WORSE; but you would be required to think about it first.
In the Universal thigh-extension machine that we have been using for more than a year in experimental weight-training programs in Florida, the primary source of resistance is limited to 150 pounds - but since that isn't enough for many of our trainees, we have been adding additional resistance in the form of barbell plates, adding them to a rod incorporated into the machine for that purpose; the somewhat amusing part of the situation is the fact that the "added resistance" is far superior to the primary resistance -since the geometry of resistance in this case is at least not backwards, if perhaps not perfect.
Quite recently, one of our trainees exerted such force against the movement-arm that one of the redirectional-pulley brackets was torn entirely loose from the machine - thus rendering the primary resistance inoperative; so we didn't use the machine for a few days, intending to repair it when we got around to doing so - but then it occurred to me that such a break-down was actually an improvement in the machine, so now we don't intend to ever repair it. because by using only resistance provided by the secondary resistance source - barbell plates added to a rod on the movement arm - we have a much improved-exercise.
Much less-expensive types of thigh-extension machines, which have only cross-bars for holding barbell plates, are actually far more productive -because the "resistance curve," while certainly not perfect, is at least not backwards.
I do not know if the people who design most machines are simply unaware of the desirable characteristics and actual requirements of exercise - or if they don't care, perhaps being interested only in appearance and convenience; but the results of such incorrect design are the same in either case - the geometry of the machines is not what it should be, and could be, and it thus becomes literally impossible to produce really worthwhile results from the use of such machines, results in proportion to the training-time and effort expended.
Most barbell exercises provide no direct resistance, some barbell exercises provide direct resistance only during a small part of the movement - but a few barbell exercises provide fairly-direct resistance over a wide arc of movement; the barbell wrist-curl - if performed in the proper manner - is almost literally a "perfect" exercise, since it provides full-range directness of resistance and even automatically varying resistance which comes very close to being exactly "right".
To begin with, the resistance in a wrist-curl is applied directly to the prime body-part (the hands) - secondly, the arc of movement is such that the resistance increases throughout the movement, and if the angle of the forearms is proper then the resistance reaches its highest point just as the involved muscles reach their strongest position - thirdly, the geometry of the involved joints and muscular attachments is such that the strength curve increases throughout the movement, steadily (if not quite evenly) increasing as the muscles move from a position of full extension to one of full contraction.
If a trainee can be taught to perform this exercise properly - and if he will then practice it properly - nothing but a barbell is required for producing results that are so close to being maximum-possible results that no slightest difference is of any significance; secondly, while it would at least be "possible" to design and build a machine what would provide better exercise for the involved muscles, the degree of improvement would not be justified.
And an almost exactly parallel situation exists in regard to the calf muscles; which is paradoxical - and amusing - because the forearms and the calves are by far the easiest parts of the body to develop, and because the required exercises have been in existence for many years, and because these exercises can be properly performed with absolutely; nothing in the way of special equipment - and yet, most bodybuilders are firmly convinced that the calves and forearms are the "hardest" body-parts to develop.
I have consistently refused to waste my time and energy designing and building a calf-machine - because no such machine is needed; but we will eventually offer forearm-machines - even though they will almost-exactly duplicate barbell exercises, and in spite of the fact that they will offer absolutely nothing in the way of actual "improvement" by comparison to barbell exercises. These machines apparently are a necessity, because it seems to be almost impossible to teach most trainees the proper style of performance using a barbell; and it seems to be utterly impossible to get trainees to use the proper style even when they do understand it. So a machine that forces the trainee to use the proper style does seem to be a requirement in this instance.
It might be a source of interest to some readers to mention the fact that the entire Nautilus method and system of training was a result of a search for "direct exercises" - at the start, we were looking for a method that would provide direct exercise for the latissimus muscles of the back, since it was obvious that all conventional exercises for those muscles left a great deal to be desired. "Pullups" (or "chins"), pulldowns, behind-the-neck chins, rowing exercises of a wide variety, and all other conventional exercises for the latissimus muscles certainly do provide "some" work for those muscles; but they all have one fault in common - they all involve the muscles of the arms as well as the muscles of the back that you are trying to work.
The latissimus muscles are attached to, and move, the upper arms - thus, for direct exercise, the resistance must be applied against the upper arms; what happens to the forearms, and-or the muscles of the upper arms that move the forearms, is of no slightest importance - or would not be of any importance in a direct exercise for the latissimus muscles.
You hang a man by suspending his weight from his head - thus imposing the resistance on his neck; if you tried hanging him by his hair, the hair might pull out before any results were produced in regard to the neck. A very similar situation exists in conventional exercises for the latissimus muscles; instead of applying the resistance directly against the prime body-parts (the upper arms), such exercises apply resistance against the forearms - thus creating a "weak link" in the form of the proportionate lack-of-strength of the muscles in the upper arms. You fail in such an exercise when your arms reach a point of failure - not when the latissimus muscles become exhausted.
So you are constantly limited in such exercises by the limits of existing strength of the upper arms - which, being smaller and weaker than the latissimus muscles, fail long before the much larger latissimus muscles have been worked hard enough to induce much in the way of growth stimulation.
All of which is obvious, and all of which we were clearly aware of nearly thirty years ago - and vaguely aware of more than thirty years ago; since then, we have gone through many intermediate steps in our attempts to provide direct exercises for the latissimus muscles - and while we make no claim that our present machines are literally "perfect," they are, at least, so close to being perfect that no significant shortcomings remain. Additionally, we are clearly aware of the actual shortcomings that do exist - and also aware that they are the results of unavoidable compromises imposed upon us by unchangeable mechanical limitations and-or physical laws. In effect, our machines are as perfect as they can be - as they ever will be; in function, at least.
But we certainly did not reach the presently-existing state of development in one jump; which is why, I think, that some people do not understand the actual principles involved - or think that "just any" similar-appearing machine will produce similar results - or feel that the machines should be used in a fashion similar to the style of training usually employed with a barbell.
Automobiles would be far safer and more efficient if they didn't have doors and windows - and less-expensive, too; but in practice, you must be able to enter and exit an automobile, so you must have at least one door - and for any sort of practical function, an automobile must provide some view of the outside, so you must have at least one window. In order to use one of our Pullover-type Torso Machines, you must be able to get into it - with your elbows in the proper position; so we had to provide a means of entry (and exit), and in so doing we reduced the efficiency of the machine slightly -but a "not quite perfect" machine that can be used is certainly better than a perfect machine that can't be used.
Some of our earlier machines were actually "better" - or, at least, more efficient (very, very SLIGHTLY more-efficient) but they were literally "three-man machines," it took the help of two other people to get you into (or out of) these machines. So we compromised - as we were forced to; but at least we were clearly aware of what we were doing, and why we were doing it, and also knew what the results would be - and since it is my personal inclination to work for absolute perfection, I have now designed and built more than forty different models of the Pullover-type machine in efforts to get the function as close to being perfect as it can be in practical application.
Which might explain why I was so irritated when a man on the west coast altered one of my machines in a stupid attempt to improve its convenience and safety; which action was fully on a par with a remark a primitive African made to me immediately after I had given him a ride in a helicopter - I asked him if he thought he could fly the helicopter, and he said, ". . . oh, yes; I saw what you did, you turned that switch (meaning the ignition switch), and then you held onto that stick. I can do that, too." But the African, at least, was innocent in his ignorance - he wasn't arrogant enough to think that he could improve something that he didn't understand. He didn't remove the engine and rotor from the helicopter - replace them with a tree - and then complain it wouldn't fly.
Having spent more than twenty years of his life almost desperately searching for direct and "actually proper" exercise, this man on the west coast not only remained totally unaware of what he was really seeking but promptly ruined it when it was provided.
With a barbell, direct exercise CANNOT be provided if rotation occurs around more than one axis - and it will not be provided even in single axis exercises unless the position of the involved body-parts is correct; and even then, usually only at a certain point during the movement.
THE RECOVERY FACTOR
When a muscle has been worked to a point of momentary failure by heavy exercise, the situation is just that - the muscle has "failed MOMENTARILY." But in most cases, within three seconds - or less - the muscle has recovered approximately fifty per cent of the strength which it had lost as a result of the exercise; but it does not follow that it will then be fully recovered in six seconds, or even six minutes - full recovery usually takes MORE THAN twenty-four hours, frequently as much as forty to sixty hours. But even if the muscle itself does recover entirely, this is no indication that the system - which supplies the muscle - is fully recovered.
In order to produce increases in muscular size and strength, the muscles must be induced to make certain (but largely unknown) demands upon the system as a whole - demands for the materials required for growth; but growth cannot result even then if the system is unable to supply the needed materials - and do NOT misread this to mean that this is simply a matter of assuring that the right food has been eaten. Far from it; the primary limiting factor in this case is the ability of the system to make the required physiological (apparently largely chemical) changes within the allotted period of time - and if another workout occurs before these processes are complete, then little or nothing in the way of growth can occur.
In effect, it takes hard work to induce growth - and time to permit growth.
There will be individual variation, of course - but only within the limits of a certain rather limited scale; and it is also true that the recovery ability of a well-trained individual will be better than it was before he started training - but again, only to a certain degree. And, please note, I said "well-trained", not "LONG TRAINED"; in fact, many long-experienced bodybuilders have very poor recovery ability - having overworked their systems for months or years they have far less recovery ability than the proverbial "90 pound weakling".
Within the human system as a whole there exist a number of regulatory sub-systems, whose functions are obvious - even if almost entirely unknown; some of these are fairly well understood, some are the subject of heated controversy at the moment, and some remain entirely mysterious - the only people who even claim to understand all of these factors are people like the self-proclaimed "nutritional expert" who dropped dead recently on a television show, moments after proclaiming that he would live to be at least a hundred years old "unless killed by a sugar-crazed taxicab driver". He was seventy years old when he died.
While it should be obvious from a reading of previous chapters that I am certainly making little or no attempt to avoid controversial subjects, it should be equally obvious to intelligent readers that an attempt to explore all of the seriously-proposed theories on the subject of the human recovery factor would be far beyond the scope of a bulletin of this nature; but in fact, such an in-depth examination is not even required for our purposes here - if we are at least aware of the existence of these factors, and able to make practical use of this awareness. After all, just how many people know "exactly what happens" when they turn the ignition switch and activate the starter of their automobile?
When anything is in limited supply, then it is simply common-sense practice to make the best-possible utilization of the quantity that is available -and when you are not sure just how much is available, it is equally good practice to use as little as necessary; in the field of exercise, the implication is clear - use your limited recovery ability as wisely as possible, and as little as possible in line with the actual requirements for producing the results you are after.
It really doesn't matter just "why" intense exertion is required to induce muscular growth, or exactly "how" this is brought about - and it is equally unimportant that we understand the actual reasons responsible for the limitations in our recovery ability; but it is necessary to know that hard work is required, and that recovery ability is limited. A failure to understand - or even be aware of - these factors has led to the presently-existing situation in body building circles, where almost all trainees work far too much and very few trainees work hard enough. Rather than constantly trying to increase the length of workouts, ALL trainees would be well advised to attempt to reduce their training to an absolute minimum. It is my personal belief at this point in time that we will eventually - and rather soon - replace the requirement for training to about one and one-half hours weekly; and I mean the requirement for an advanced bodybuilder who is training for world-class physique competition -and I also mean that any more training would actually reduce the production of results.
Part of this requirement for sharply-reduced weekly training time will not be produced by the use of "cycle training" - but it should be clearly understood that we are NOT using cycle training merely in an attempt to save training time; we are using it because it is an absolute requirement for producing best-possible degrees of results - and it is a requirement because of the extremely short initial recovery time-factors encountered in muscular activity. In order to work a particular muscle as hard as it must be worked to induce maximum growth stimulation - while staying within the limits imposed by the overall recovery ability of the system - you must use cycle training. And when this is done properly, then only one or two such very brief cycles are all that are required - or even desirable; doing more cycles may or may not induce more growth stimulation - but even if so, it would exhaust the recovery ability of the system to a point where growth would be impossible in many cases and very slow in all cases.
At the moment, we are producing extremely good results from the following training schedule for the arms . . .
1 - One set of 10 repetitions, standing curl with barbell
2 - One set of 12 repetitions, Nautilus Triceps Machine
3 - One set of 12 repetitions, Nautilus Curling Machine
4 - One set of 15 repetitions, wrist-curls with a barbell
5 - One set of 15 repetitions, reverse barbell wrist-curls
That completes one cycle, and up to this point in the schedule there is no requirement for the "rush factor" - performed at the proper pace and with a brief pause between sets, the above five exercises should require about four minutes to perform; although little or no harm would result if as much as ten minutes was used.
6 - One set of 12 repetitions, Nautilus Triceps Machine
7 - RUSH - One set of parallel dips, maximum-possible repetitions
8 - One set of 12 repetitions Nautilus Curling Machine
9 - RUSH - One set of "front pulldowns" on a Nautilus Torso-Arm Machine, using a close grip, approximately 10 repetitions
10 - One set of 15 repetitions, wrist-curls with a barbell
11 - One set of 15 repetitions, reverse barbell wrist-curls
The "rush factor" occurs only twice during the schedule - between the 6th and 7th sets, and between the 8th and 9th sets - at those points in the workout you must move from the end of one set to the start of the next-following set as quickly as possible, and certainly in less than three seconds.
Properly performed, this schedule requires a total of seven minutes and twenty seconds - or exactly twenty-two minutes weekly, since our trainees use it three times weekly; but it would make little or no real difference in most cases if a trainee used as much as sixteen minutes for each arm workout, a total of forty-eight minutes weekly - however, it certainly would make a big difference if he rested at those points where the rush factor is called for.
And please note, the above schedule is not intended only for beginners -it is the exact schedule being used at this time by our largest and strongest trainees, some of the strongest men in the world. At times we do a bit more - but at other times we do quite a bit less; and when any doubt exists, we always do LESS. And we NEVER do MUCH MORE.
Training schedules for other muscular structures of the body are - for the most part - even briefer, and usually involve the rush factor between all sets within the cycles being used. The rush factor - movement from the end of one set to the start of the next set with almost zero delay - makes it possible to work a muscle far beyond its normal point of failure; in the above arm routine, for example, it works as follows - the 6th set, the second set on the triceps machine, works the triceps to a point of normal failure, thus "pre-exhausting" the triceps muscles for the work to follow immediately, and then the parallel dips force the triceps to become involved in work that is actually beyond the normal point of failure.
And while it might appear that a similar result could be produced in another obvious way - by gradually reducing the resistance on the triceps machine, so that the triceps could continue to work until simply unable to continue even with no resistance - in practice this does not produce results on the same order; for at least two reasons - because the repetitions thus become far too high, and because the change of exercises provides needed variety of work. In this case, moving from the triceps machine - which provides full-range work for the primary function of the triceps muscles - to the parallel dips - which provide work in the position of contraction for the secondary function of the triceps, as well as the position of contraction for the primary function - makes it possible to work much more of the actual mass of the triceps muscles, while still not moving outside the limits of the recovery ability.
A very similar principle is involved in the work for the biceps, when you move immediately from the second set on the curling machine to a set of front pulldowns.
No amount of exercises performed in another fashion will produce equal results - and increasing the amount of exercise almost always reduces the production of results, even when similar principles are employed; or, in fact, especially when similar principles are employed, because this actually is HARD exercise - you not only don't need much of such exercise, you literally can't stand much of it.
The hereditary differences between individuals are such that some men who have never trained will be actually stronger and more muscular than some men who have trained properly for years - but it does not follow that neither type should train; without training, the individual with very poor potential will literally remain a weakling, while with proper training he can usually reach a point of strength and muscular size at least above average -without training, an individual with very good potential may well be far above average in strength and muscular size, but with proper training he can probably become almost a superman.
But while it is perfectly true that the potential for growth varies enormously, it is not true that such differences require different methods or systems of training - the best methods and the best style of training will produce best-possible results in ALL cases, regardless of what individual potential may be in a particular case.
The fact that an individual has finally managed to produce "apparently good" final results proves absolutely nothing - since it is never then possible to determine just what that same individual might have done if he had trained properly; since almost anything is at least possible, it may well be true - and probably is true, that at least "some" bodybuilders, somewhere, are training properly, or at least in a fashion that is in some ways close to being proper; but if so, then they have so far managed to evade my attention - since I have yet to meet such an individual, not even one such individual.
Nor have I yet encountered an individual that seems capable of directing his own training properly - even after he clearly understands what is required, and fully realizes that the involved factors actually are required; left up to their own devices, even such apparently aware individuals almost always permit their training schedules to degenerate into something more closely approaching what they would like a proper training program to be - and then usually make all sorts of attempts to rationalize their actually irrational actions.
In practice, some individuals suffer badly from such traits - and other individuals suffer worse - but all seem to suffer to some degree; for that reason, we tried to make our machines and exercise systems as foolproof as possible - which, quite literally, means "proof against fools." Which, apparently, all of us are to at least some degree - and some of us to an actually great degree.
A .600 Nitro-Express will kill no elephants if it is left standing in the gun-closet - and it will kill no elephants if you merely shoot them in the tail (the actual "tail," not the backside); you must muse it properly for proper results - and the same thing is true in regard to any tool. Properly placed, one bullet from a .600 will literally knock a charging elephant to his knees - like sticking a pin into an inflated balloon, one second it is there, and a split second later it isn't; properly performed heavy exercise will produce a very similar type of result - and no amount of improperly performed exercise, no matter how heavy it may be, will produce an equal result.
But just as a .600 rifle has an understandable tendency to kick the user a bit, heavy exercise performed properly is not an entirely pleasant feeling; and in unwise attempts to produce the same sort of results in a more comfortable fashion, quite a few people have been stomped to death by elephants that they tried to kill with light rifles - and millions of weight-trainees have been almost literally beating their own brains out for years in attempts to produce good results from actually-light training, even when they had access to the tools for heavy training they almost always used the tools incorrectly in attempts to make the exercises more comfortable.
Within the next two years - and perhaps sooner - we fully expect to have both the tools and the required knowledge for the proper use of these tools that will make it possible for anybody, regardless of their individual potential, to produce the best-possible results for themselves, as individuals, from a training program that will be almost completely standardized for EVERYBODY and very brief for ANYBODY; then all we will have to figure out is a means to induce proper utilization of the tools and system - and that may well, probably will, prove to be the biggest problem of all.
If for no other reason - and for no logical reason in any case - than people like to consider themselves individuals; but shooting yourself through the head with a .600 will produce certain results no matter how "individual" you are.
Twenty years ago, I finally learned that an actually-proper workout with barbells had to be brief in the extreme - so brief that I was always tempted to increase the number of exercises or sets, since the workouts never appeared to contain "enough"; but when I did increase anything in the workouts, the production of results was always reduced, ALWAYS.
Twenty years later, with a total of at least a million active weight-trainees in the country, it is doubtful if as many as a thousand (or literally one out of a thousand) trainees have any slightest idea of what a proper style of training consists of; in the meantime, almost all trainees have moved firmly in the exactly-wrong direction - constantly increasing the amount of their training, and decreasing the intensity of their training, which is WRONG for ANYBODY, regardless of his potential.
During that same "meantime," several parties have made themselves far richer - and millions of other people far poorer - by preaching outright nonsense; well knowing that most people are more than willing to lend an attentive ear to "what they want to hear", in this case that good results can be obtained by the use of some "easy" factor.
IT WON'T HAPPEN HERE
A number of years ago, the situation at Muscle Beach in California finally degenerated to the point that the city was forced to close the whole thing down - at the moment, an even more famous mecca for weight-trainees is apparently undergoing a similar degeneration, is rapidly becoming a haven "of and for" drug freaks; but it won't happen here - and I think that some people, at least, know it won't happen, now. "That which is necessary" will be done to stop it from happening - WHATEVER that may prove to be.
We have - in the past, we have had - and in the future, we expect to have large numbers of sincerely interested trainees from all over the country, and we welcome them, and will do everything reasonably possible to help them; but we have also had - if briefly - a few outright kooks, who were neither welcomed nor helped very much. Such people would be well advised to stay away.
If you are using drugs - of any kind - don't bother to come to DeLand, Florida, hoping to train; and please don't be foolish enough to think you can fool us on the subject - even though you might, briefly.
But if you are sincerely interested in weight-training - for any worthwhile purpose - then you perhaps should consider at least a brief visit to DeLand; primarily for the purpose of learning just what proper training consists of, so that you can then apply the proper style of training with any available tools, anywhere.
We are not seeking "guinea pigs" for research purposes - at this point we already have so much research data that it will take years to reduce it all to a concise printed form; we know what is required in the way of equipment - and we know how to use this equipment in at least very practical, if perhaps not perfect, ways. We are also clearly aware that most trainees will not soon have - perhaps may never have - the use of Nautilus equipment, but the important thing that can be gained by any trainee is a knowledge of the proper style of training, and this seems to be something that cannot be clearly reduced to the written word, something that must be seen and experienced to be understood.
Even one or two weeks in DeLand will usually provide at least a working knowledge of the involved principles - if the individual trainee is intelligent enough to understand, and unbiased enough to abandon previously-formed misconceptions formed as a result of prior experience and reading, and willing to practice a style of training that certainly is NOT easy but just as certainly is very productive.
But I want it clearly understood that we are looking for, and willing to help, only members of a "new breed" of weight-trainees - and not at all interested in average members of the "old breed". How big you are, what your potential may be (good or bad), or your financial or social position - none of these matter to us in the least, so long as your attitude is reasonable and your actions are acceptable by our standards; but keep it clearly in mind that they are "our standards" - and since we are offering cooperation and help on a free basis, we can certainly continue to dictate standards, and we will.
As of the moment, Sergio Oliva plans to spend approximately two months training in DeLand in preparation for the Mr. Universe contest in London in September, 1971 - and Sergio uses the so-called "grow drugs", and he will continue to use them during his period of training here, because he is now at least temporarily "hooked" on them, if he stopped using them now he would undoubtedly lose muscular size for at least six months, until such time that his body was able to return to a normal chemical balance; but Sergio is an exceptional case - we don't approve of his use of such drugs but we will at least permit it under the circumstances. However, there will be no other such exceptions; so if you have been using these drugs, I would advise you to cease their use at least six months before even seriously considering coming to DeLand to train - and if you are using any other types of drugs, then don't bother coming at all.
The parents of any young trainees should be well aware that we will do everything possible to maintain a good training environment - and that we will not permit trainees to use our facilities if their actions or statements are such that we feel they may be a bad influence on other trainees, in any way; but it should also be obvious that we can neither be responsible for, nor police the actions of, anybody when they are not on our property - so if your son is interested in coming to DeLand, but if you are aware that he is "out of control", then don't send him here hoping for a miracle, as some parents have rather obviously done.
While the overall environment in this part of Florida has not yet reached the point of outrage so plain in many other places, it is still easily possible for anybody to find just as much trouble as they may be seeking -and sometimes they find types of trouble that they aren't seeking, and that they can't handle.
We try to fit our actions to the situation, we "don't shoot sick children and we don't pet mad dogs", but we can do rather nicely without either -although we have had a few of both.
If the above is too strong, if it serves only the purpose - not my intended purpose - of keeping away reasonable people in some cases, then sobeit; but it seems to be an actual requirement to speak very plainly to unreasonable people - and we will do whatever becomes necessary to discourage them, even if it finally results in keeping everybody away. This whole thing started out as a hobby with me, and I devoted thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars to it long before I had any slightest intention of turning it into anything more than a hobby - and I will turn it back into a very private hobby if it becomes necessary to do so in order to prevent the formation of another Muscle Beach.
There are certainly more than enough football players available for my purposes and my private interest, and I have no intention of letting bodybuilders - or anybody else - misuse or distort something of real value to large numbers of people, something that could and should be of value to almost literally everybody. Since becoming openly involved with bodybuilders approximately two years ago, my impression of the whole field of body building has steadily become worse - and it was pretty bad at the start.
While it is neither my desire nor my intention to attempt to force my opinions - or my standards of conduct - onto anybody, it is clearly my right to pick my associates, and I will; and if people feel that they can benefit from an association with me, then it is up to them to conform to my standards.
And while it isn't quite true, as I told an associate on the telephone recently, that I "live on an island in a lake full of crocodiles," I probably would if I could; but it is literally true that I was the first man in the world (at least in modern times) to capture an adult crocodile alive, and that I did so at a time when it was considered impossible - and it is also true that I had dozens of adult, formerly man-eating crocodiles eating out of my hand within a matter of weeks after I captured them, and by that point they were being very careful about the hand, too.
The paradox of technocracy seems to be that survival presupposes the ability to attract crowds - which crowds make survival unacceptable.
A NATURAL MISTAKE
The movie magazines are devoted primarily to the doings of the "stars" -the average actor is seldom mentioned; but for each star, there are hundreds of actors of average ability - and who can say how many actors with very great, but unrecognized (or unpublished) ability?
And having become recognized as a star - frequently through no fault of their own - many actors become "instant experts" on practically everything, acting, directing, writing, even political science. In the field of weight-training - and this is particularly apparent in body building -many of the stars are literally freaks, hereditary freaks; and having received a lot of publicity, and credit for something that was thrust upon them by heredity, they frequently become instant experts.
It is a mistake - although a natural mistake - to listen to such people, who seldom if ever really understand the actual cause-effect relationships responsible for their development; and who would probably be the last to admit it if they did. It is probable that something on the order of ninety per cent of the total number of words published on the subject of weight-training during the last twenty years were devoted to the actions and opinions of less than a thousand individuals; in effect, less than one per cent of the weight-training public has received about ninety per cent of the publicity.
Which is unfortunate, doubly unfortunate - because almost none of the published "information" is even true, and because very little of it has any significance for the average trainee even when it is true; very few of the published training routines of well-known bodybuilders are in any way related to their actual training routines - and when they are, it certainly doesn't follow that it was an actually good routine, regardless of the degree of results that its advocate may have produced, eventually.
Most well-known bodybuilders have followed so many different routines by the time they finally do attain a point of recognition that they really have no slightest idea regarding "which routing produced which result" - but they almost invariably think they do; which is, I suppose, another natural mistake - but a mistake, nevertheless.
Paraphrasing one of Mark Twain's famous remarks, ". . . it might appear that God made idiots for practice - and then made bodybuilders." And if we are supposed to look upon the published remarks of many leading bodybuilders as sincere statements of their actual beliefs, then I think that would be giving them the benefit of an unjustified doubt. Hundreds of articles have been published on the subject of "muscle shaping" exercises and-or training routines - but the fact of the matter is, of course, that the shape of a muscle is entirely determined by heredity and by its existing degree of development, in relation to the overall fatty-tissue to muscle-tissue ratio.
"Train this way for bulk" - "train that way for definition" - "train like this for strength" - "train like that for size", and so on; hogwash, pure hogwash - the people who write such trash have no slightest idea of the real facts - and any results they may have produced were produced almost literally in spite of their efforts.
If a muscle gets bigger, it must change its shape - because little or nothing in the way of an increase in the length of a muscle is even possible, for obvious reasons; so in growing, a muscle changes its aspect ratio, the relationship of length to width (and-or thickness), and thus its shape - and since any significant increase in actual muscular bulk presupposes an increase in strength, and vice versa, it obviously follows that increasing the existing level of strength will change the shape of a muscle.
But it does not follow that the change in shape will be apparent; because, if the muscular tissue is covered with a thick layer of fatty tissue then an actually significant change in muscular size and shape may not result in a noticeable degree of change in external appearances.
I could quote literally hundreds of equally foolish beliefs that are held to be established fact by almost all bodybuilders - and in other chapters I have listed at least a dozen such false beliefs - but my real point is that "believing doesn't make it so."
But the recent upsurge of the "NOW culture" - which encourages people to demand, and even expect, instant results - has led to a widespread refusal to even consider the facts; and being quick to recognize the trend, the commercial interests in the field of body building have been equally quick to take advantage of it - to their own enormous profit.
So bodybuilders - and publishers in the body building field - say anything that just might attract attention; having run out of anything of any real value to say at least twenty years ago, and feeling that they must publish "something", they end up publishing almost literally "anything" -most of it pure hogwash, to put it very mildly. And don't make the mistake of holding your breath until the situation improves - it probably never will, and certainly not soon.
But there is an answer, a very simple one - just ignore anything you read in almost all body building publications; better yet, read them very selectively - if at all. In my obviously biased opinion, the only one worth reading is Iron Man - and don't believe everything you read there; Peary Rader (the publisher of Iron Man) is an honest man, to my personal knowledge - but like all of us, he makes mistakes. In my opinion, most of his mistakes have come about as an unavoidable result of leaning over backwards in his attempts to be fair; frequently in relationships with people who obviously feel that anything to their own advantage is "fair".
A former friend of mine on the west coast (at a time when I was still foolish enough to listen to his advice - if perhaps not stupid enough to follow it) told me, upon reading a prior-to-publication draft of one of my articles, ". . . my God, Arthur, you've insulted everybody but Jesus Christ and Ghandi."
So I told him, "Don't worry about it; I'll get around to them in the next article."
From almost all directions I have been getting similar advice, "Don't rock the boat," or "play along, don't mess up a good thing."
A "good thing" for who? Certainly not for the poor kids that read - and sometimes apparently even believe - all the garbage that has been published during the last few years; there was a time, not too many years ago, when most bodybuilders read the magazines strictly for laughs - they knew it wasn't true, and it gave them a source of amusement. But now, quite a few bodybuilders obviously take everything they read in the muscle magazines at face value - primarily, I think, because they want to; because the publishers of such magazines have learned just what their readers want to hear and are very careful not to give them anything else.
One publisher of such a magazine told me to my fact that, ". . . my readers are too dumb to understand anything of real value; your articles would be clear over their heads - and they don't want the facts anyway."
Mabel Rader (Peary Rader's wife) told me in good faith, ". . . Arthur, I don't approve of you calling our readers fools in your articles."
So I said, "Mabel, I didn't call ALL of your readers fools - just some of them; but in any case, I didn't make ANY of your readers fools, God did that - I just pointed it out. But should I lie to them? Should I encourage them in outright foolishness? Or tell them the truth?"
"Well," she said, "you're still calling them fools."
And I said, "Mabel, some of your readers are fools, and calling them fools won't change them, or help them, it will only serve to infuriate them; but a lot of your readers aren't fools, they're intelligent people - but you can't have it both ways, you have to take a stand, support the truth and let the chips fall where they may. If that outrages a few fools - and it will, I promise you - then sobeit; but in the end you will get across to intelligent people - and nobody can ever get across to a fool, so why bother trying?"
And of course, a lot of the people who have been misled aren't fools - and in the almost total lack of a place to go for reliable information, it isn't surprising that a lot of them have been misled; simply another natural mistake - but still a mistake.
During the last year or so I have been almost shocked by the ignorance of a very high percentage of the bodybuilders I have met - and don't be disturbed by the term "ignorance," it simply implies a lack of knowledge, and we are all ignorant on at least some subjects, and most of us on nearly all subjects; things that I always assumed "everybody knew," seem, in fact, to be totally new to most current bodybuilders - things that almost all bodybuilders did know, and understand, at one time, basic things, simple things, obvious things.
So, in following chapters, I will do my best to at least bring these things back into the light - point by point, simply and clearly; a few readers will unavoidably feel that such attention to basic points is unjustified, a waste of their reading time, but I would remind them of the classic example of a clear explanation, "how to make a rabbit stew; first, you catch a rabbit. . ."
THE FIRST STEP TOWARDS UNDERSTANDING
You cannot change your heredity, and thus limitations will always exist -but if you actually understand the interrelationships of cause and effect, then you certainly can go a long way in the direction of regulating the course of events; to a degree far beyond that generally yet recognized by medical science. But in order to do so, you must not repeat the errors of most medical doctors - who fail to recognize the value of exercise; instead of permitting an awareness of one such obvious blind-spot in current medical belief to mislead you into a rejection of medical science as a whole, you must attempt to use this field of knowledge in a practical manner - thus giving yourself the benefit of knowledge gained by literally millions of workers over a period of thousands of years, people who may by and large still be ignorant of the value of exercise, but people who can add to your own knowledge in many useful ways. Many doctors - perhaps most doctors -may be biased on the subject of exercise; but that is no excuse for bias on your part, particularly when such bias leads - as it frequently does in the field of body building - to an attempt to deny well-established facts on the subject of physiology.
Nor is it necessary to obtain a medical degree in order to understand and make practical use of the involved factors; but you must at least be aware of these factors, and know how to apply the involved principles. Starting with this chapter, and continuing through the next few chapters, I will attempt - in as simple a manner as possible - to outline the points of knowledge required for producing good results from exercise.
To begin with, it should be clearly understood that a certain degree of muscular size-strength will be produced "automatically" - that is, with nothing in the way of formal exercise, simply as a normal part of human growth. The average person growing up in today's society does little or nothing in the way of exercise that contributes towards normal growth - or if so, then purely in an instinctive way, in the form of the usual physical play of children; in effect, most people would be much as they are with or without formal exercise - the small amount of exercise they may have been exposed to had no significant effect upon their growth.
But it does not follow that such people cannot gain from exercise - they certainly can; all I am trying to make clear is that the activities that most people look upon as "exercise" are really of very little importance.
Thus "average muscular size-strength" is really "normal muscular size-strength" - the normal result of simply being alive, not being sick, not being particularly underweight or overweight, and being within a certain age group. Apart from accident or illness, the body will maintain such average size-strength with almost nothing in the way of exercise; and if size-strength is lost (reduced) because of illness, then the body will usually return to normal levels within a very short period of time after a recovery from the illness -and will regain the normal levels of size-strength with little or nothing in the way of exercise.
But is has been obvious for centuries that exercise is capable of producing levels of size-strength that are far beyond normal levels; "why this happens" is really of no importance, so long as we are aware that it does happen '' and if we know how to make it happen.
Somewhere within the overall system, there is obviously some sort of a regulatory and sensory mechanism that serves the purpose of regulating muscular growth; up to a point - up to the point of normal adult muscular size-strength - this regulation is apparently automatic in healthy individuals. And having reached that point, there is an equally automatic "cut-off"; once having produced the required size-strength for normal living, the sensory part of the mechanism informs the growth-stimulating part of the mechanism that the goal has been reached and growth ceases.
Again, while there are any number of theories about exactly "why" this happens, or "how" it happens, it is necessary only to understand that it does happen. However, a common sense examination of a few simple cause-effect relationships will make the situation clear for all practical purposes.
It seems that a normal level of size-strength calls for the ability to rather easily perform routine activities - and a certain percentile of reserve ability, an obvious hedge against emergency need.
Then - so long as activity remains fairly normal - the size-strength will remain relatively unchanged, and the percentile of reserve ability will also remain unchanged.
But if the level (or intensity) of activity is increased above normal -thus placing demands upon the existing reserves - then the sensory part of the regulatory mechanism takes note of what is happening and triggers the system as a whole into another growth cycle; apparently; the body attempts to maintain a certain reserve of ability at all times - and will increase overall ability rather than permit the continuation of activity that continually requires the utilization of reserve ability.
In effect, suppose that you were able to curl 100 pounds as a routine matter - and did so as part of your normal activity; once having gained the ability (the size-strength) required to curl 100 pounds fairly easily - and a reserve of ability that would make it possible for you to curl perhaps 150 pounds "if you really had to" - then growth would cease. Having accepted that level of ability as "normal", for you as an individual, the body would maintain it - so long as you continued routine activity at that level.
But if you then started routinely curling 125 pounds, you would be working inside your reserve of ability - and another growth cycle would be triggered; apparently in an effort to keep "reserve ability" above the level of "normally-used ability."
Such "growth-stimulation" CAUSES growth - if growth is possible; but it does not produce growth - it merely points out that growth is desirable, that existing levels of ability are not adequate for the requirements of normal activity.
If actual growth is to be produced in response to this growth-stimulation, then other factors are involved; the system as a whole must be able to provide the chemical requirements for growth - and under normal circumstances it will provide the requirements, and growth will occur, again to a point where the sensory mechanism triggers another cut-off signal, which will occur when an apparently adequate reserve has been reestablished.
But if the system cannot provide the requirements for growth, then no amount of growth-stimulation will result in actual growth.
That much, at least, has been clear to almost everybody for about fifty years; but there is still a great deal of confusion on the subjects of "just what stimulates growth" and "what is needed to provide the requirements for growth".
But with or without a clear understanding, we have at least established the first two important points. . .
1 - Above-normal levels of activity trigger growth stimulation.
2 - Having been stimulated, growth will occur if the requirements are provided.
We will return to the above points later, in more detail - but first I want to establish a number of other related points.
A certain amount (or percentile) of fatty tissue is equally as normal as average levels of muscular size-strength - since it serves a number of useful functions, providing fuel reserves, insulation, padding, and other requirements; but unlike muscular tissue, fatty tissue is not increased by higher than normal levels of activity - on the contrary, if compensation in the form of larger intake of food is not provided, increased activity will result in decrease in the amount of fatty tissue, since the body will then be forced to use at least part of the fatty tissue as a source of fuel to provide the energy required for the extra activity.
Secondly, while the muscular fibers are not increased in number by growth - only the size of the fibers changes - the number of fat cells can be increased; and once formed, new fat cells can only be removed by surgery -while an increase in activity without a compensating increase in the intake of food will reduce the size of individual fat cells, it will not reduce the number of cells.
The disposition of fat - the actual location of fat on the body - is not uniform; but it is not deposited in a random fashion - on the contrary, the locations of fatty deposits (and the reasons for such location) are matters of no small concern, especially for bodybuilders.
Living organisms produce heat in proportion to their mass - and radiate heat in proportion to their surface area; and (all other considerations aside) the ratio between mass and surface area primarily determine the environmental requirements for particular types of warm-blooded animals. A whale could not survive on land - because its mass would generate more heat than its surface area could dissipate by radiation; at least in a warm or temperate climate, although it might do well in the Arctic.
The mass of an African elephant is such that it actually exceeds the maximum-possible size for a warm-blooded animal living on land - and, unlike the whale, it cannot get rid of excess heat by living in cold water; but in the case of the elephant, compensation has been provided in the form of its enormous ears - which are nothing more or less than radiators, which serve to greatly increase the surface area available for cooling purposes. Additionally, elephants carry a large reserve of water in their stomachs -and on hot days they use this water to aid the cooling process; by reaching down their throats with their trunks, withdrawing water by suction, and then spraying it behind their ears - where it provides additional cooling by evaporation.
Fat deposits on the surface of humans primarily serve the purpose of providing reserves of fuel - but they unavoidably serve as insulation as well, keeping the body warm on cold days and causing an uncomfortable (and sometimes dangerous) rise in heat on hot days; if the total fat deposits were evenly distributed over the entire surface of the body the result would be an enormous increase in the effectiveness of the insulation - and in races of people that developed in cold areas, there is a tendency for such overall distribution of fat deposits.
In some other races of people, races that developed in warm areas, even more obvious evidence of a tendency in the opposite direction can be seen; some of the African tribes are capable of becoming grossly fat in the region of the buttocks while remaining quite muscular in appearance in other sections. The fat is stored in one area in order to provide better overall cooling - instead of serving as a thinner layer of insulation over the entire surface of the body, it is concentrated in one fairly small area.
To at least some degree, this tendency to store a disproportionate percentile of surface fat in the midsection is common in most races of people; and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, short of getting rid of all visible signs of fat.
It should be clearly understood that ANY fat in the midsection means SOME fat everywhere; and you cannot remove or reduce fat in the midsection by doing exercises for that part of the body - the removal of visible signs of fat can be brought about in only one way (apart from surgery), by reducing the amount of food and-or by increasing the amount of overall exercise until a negative calorie balance is produced, until you are consuming less calories in the form of food than you are expending as energy.
You CAN build the muscles of the midsection by performing a reasonable amount of intense exercise for the directly involved muscles, but no amount of exercise for these same muscles will help to reduce fat in that area of the body so long as a positive calorie balance exists - a much better approach to the problem is to reduce the food intake as much as possible while performing a reasonable amount of exercise for all of the muscles of the body.
It should also be noted that an increase in the amount of activity does NOT have any significant effect upon the body's requirement for protein; protein requirements are primarily determined by existing body weight. And if you are under the common but badly mistaken impression that "extra protein can't hurt you," then guess again; you can get as fat as a pig on a diet of almost pure protein - and quickly, too.
So now we have established the next two important points . . .
3 - Fat deposits are an overall situation, with naturally heavier concentrations in some parts of the body.
4 - The addition of fat is a result of a positive calorie balance; reduction of fat is produced by a negative calorie balance.
Since bodybuilders are usually interested in increasing their body weight - without increasing, or while actually reducing, the total amount of body fat - it should be obvious that the only possible way to do so is by increasing the mass of the major muscular structures, while keeping the calorie balance as close to a point of perfect balance as they can; but in practice, most bodybuilders attempt to increase their muscular mass by so-called "bulking up", by adding overall weight and size even at the expense of adding fatty tissue - this usually being done by eating as much as possible while reducing the amount of exercise, and by concentrating on heavy exercise for the largest muscular structures.
Two of the three steps in a normally-practiced "bulking-up" routine are reasonably correct - but the third is always a mistake; reducing the "amount" of exercise is almost always a move in the proper direction, because almost all bodybuilders perform far too much exercise - and performing heavier exercises is also desirable, because it is the "intensity" of exercise that determines growth stimulation - but increasing the amount of food is a mistake, because the extra calories will merely be stored in the form of additional fatty tissue.
A simple test that clearly indicates the correctness of a particular diet is the "pinch test" - pinch up a layer of skin and the fat directly beneath it and compare it to the thickness at an earlier date; if the thickness is increasing, you are getting fatter, and vice versa.
your calorie requirements and
daily requirements of vital food
elements and establish a reasonably
normal diet in keeping with your
goals; if you are trying to gain
muscular weight, then increase
the amount of protein slightly
- something on the order of twenty
per cent over normal -but be sure
to reduce some other portion of
the diet by an equal number of
calories. Then concentrate on
getting strong; as muscular strength
increases, muscular size will
increase at least in proportion
- nothing else is even possible.
THE SECOND STEP
More than a century ago, by a study of the bones of men who spent their lives at manual labor, it was determined that the intensity of work is a factor of great importance; even the chemical composition of the bones is changed by hard work. How much you work - the actual "amount" of work - is a factor of only secondary importance, and usually in a negative sense. In effect, "hard work" is a desirable factor - and a large "amount of work" is an undesirable factor.
Even men who spend years working at a job that requires constant repetition of fairly light movements seldom if ever develop much if any more than average levels of size-strength; while men who work much less - but harder - usually develop above average muscular mass.
Hundreds of examples could be given to prove the relationship of hard work to muscular mass - and in previous chapters, a number of such examples have been outlined; but in this chapter I want to clearly define "hard" work, to describe it in a reasonably technical sense.
Given enough time, an ant could move the pyramids from Cairo to Capetown -and in the process he would perform an enormous amount of work; while the intensity of work would never be high enough to measure in meaningful terms. In effect, the "power production" would be extremely low. The mass - the actual size - of a muscle clearly indicates its "power potential", its ability to produce power; even a very small muscle is easily capable of performing a large amount of work, but its power will be limited by its size.
One "horsepower" is the ability to lift 550 pounds a vertical distance of one foot within a period of exactly one second; or, if you can lift 550 pounds a distance of six inches within one half of a second, you are still producing one horsepower - and, obviously, an infinite number of other possible combinations of weight, distance of movement and time would also indicate a power potential of one horsepower.
From the above it should be obvious that a muscle can perform almost any amount of work while its power potential remains very low - and that its ability to produce power can be determined only by careful consideration of at least three factors, the resistance, the vertical distance of movement, and the speed of movement. In the preceding chapter we established the need for increased activity as a means of stimulating growth - an increase in activity that forces the involved muscles to work inside their existing levels of reserve ability; but it should now be obvious that increasing the "amount" of activity will not force a muscle to work inside its existing level of reserve ability, since the muscle is already capable of almost any amount of work.
Demands for work inside the existing levels of reserve ability can only be produced by forcing a muscle to product more power - by lifting more weight the same distance in the same length of time, or by lifting the same amount of weight a greater distance in the same length of time, or by lifting the same weight the same distance in less time. One of the three involved factors - resistance, distance, and speed - must be increased, while keeping the other two factors at least constant.
It should be obvious that "speed of movement" is of the utmost importance; ten slowly-performed repetitions with 100 pounds will NOT product the same result that ten rapidly-performed repetitions with the same weight will produce - while the amount of work would be exactly the same in both cases, the power production could easily vary from almost "none" to a very high level.
In general, speed of movement should always be as great as possible; but in practice, this does not mean that actual movement will be very fast -because, if resistance is as high as it should be, then maximum-possible speed of movement may in fact be quite slow.
In order to be sure that the above points are perfectly clear - and because they are of extreme importance - I will review them in yet another example, as follows; curling a 100 pound barbell at a very slow speed is NOT equal to curling the same barbell at a much higher speed - although the amount of work performed would be exactly the same in both cases, the power production would be higher in the faster curl. If the slow curl required ten seconds, and if the fast curl required only one second - then you would be producing TEN TIMES AS MUCH POWER in the fast curl as you were in the slow curl with the same amount of weight, and of course the distance of movement would be the same in both cases.
However, in practice, you might NOT be producing all of the power with the actual "curling muscles" in an extremely fast curl; the power production would be ten times as great - if the movement was ten times as fast - but a large part of the power production might come from muscles that you were not trying to work in that particular exercise. If the great speed of movement was partially created by body swing - by so-called cheating methods - then you would be working the muscles of the lower back, the shoulders and perhaps even the muscles of the legs; you WOULD BE generating the maximum amount of power under the circumstances - but you WOULD NOT be generating all of it with the muscles of the arms. And if the amount of body-swing was great enough, you might actually be generating NONE of the power with the arms - or very little of it.
So it is certainly important to generate as much power as possible - but it is just as important to be sure that you are doing so with the muscles that you are actually trying to exercise.
But for the purpose of stimulating muscle growth, it is NOT necessary to produce maximum-possible power with a fresh, well rested muscle - and because of safety considerations, it is not a good idea to do so. In practice, then, a muscle MUST BE worked as hard as possible - but only after it has been partially exhausted by the performance of several repetitions that are well below the momentarily-existing level of ability.
In practical terms - in a curl - this means that you should select an amount of weight that you can curl in perfect form for at least six repetitions; the first repetition should NOT be performed at maximum-possible speed, because at that point in the exercise your strength is at its highest level, and if you actually generate as much power as you are capable of doing at that moment you may damage the connections of the muscles. Instead of moving as fast as possible in the first repetition, you should limit the actual speed of movement to a speed that will result in a steady, smooth movement - "jerking" should be avoided. The second and third repetitions should be performed at a similar speed - and up to that point in the set, you will not be producing as much power as you are capable of doing: but by the time you reach the forth or fifth repetition, you should be moving as fast as possible - which speed, in fact, will be quite slow. Having exhausted your muscles to some degree by the first three or four repetitions - and having thus reduced your momentary power potential - you should then work at the greatest speed possible; by that point in the set you WILL BE producing as much power as possible - but you will have reduced your momentary ability to such a degree that the actual power production will not be very high.
The fourth or fifth repetition - the first repetition in the set that is actually performed as fast as possible - will result in the momentarily maximum-possible production of power, and each following repetition will also produce maximum-possible power; thus, in a set of ten repetition, each of the last six or seven repetitions will involve the production of maximum-possible power - but the actual amount of power being produced will decline steadily, repetition by repetition. You might produce 100 "units of power" in the fourth repetition, only 90 units in the fifth repetition, 80 units in the sixth repetition, 70 units in the seventh repetition, 60 units in the eighth repetition, and so on - but in each of the last several repetitions, you would be producing as much power as you were capable of doing AT THAT MOMENT.
By training in that fashion, each of the last several repetitions will force the curling muscles to work well inside their momentary level of reserve ability - all of the last several repetitions are maximum-possible efforts.
During the first three or four repetitions you are NOT moving as fast as possible, and the actual speed of movement will be about the same in each of these first few repetitions - but starting about the fourth or fifth repetition, speed of movement should be as fast as possible; and from that point until the end of the set, the actual speed of movement will become slower, repetition by repetition - until, at the end of the set, movement is literally impossible at any speed.
One or two such properly performed sets of an exercise - and never more than three such sets - are all that are required in order to produce maximum-possible growth stimulation; fifty, or a hundred, or any other number of improperly performed sets will NOT produce the same result, will NOT stimulate growth to the same degree - because a muscle is capable of almost any "amount" of work regardless of its size, and will respond (by growing) only when demands for more power are placed upon it. In order to produce more power, a muscle must increase its strength - and in order to increase its strength, a muscle must grow larger.
But while the "amount" of work has little or nothing to do with the production of results from exercise in a positive sense, it should not be assumed that the amount of work is of no importance; on the contrary, in a negative sense the amount of work is of very great importance - because the amount of work has a direct bearing upon the recovery ability - the system can repair only so much damage within a given period of time, can restore only so much energy; and if the amount of exercise is such that the entire recovery ability is exhausted, then growth becomes impossible, regardless of the degree of growth-stimulation that may have been induced.
From the above it should now be clear that exercise must be as hard as possible in order to induce growth-stimulation - and as brief as possible in order to disturb the recovery ability to the least practical degree.
Momentarily-exhausted power potential is replaced very quickly - but the resulting drain on the overall recovery ability is not compensated for quickly; restoring most of the power potential is a matter of seconds - but restoring the recovery ability is a matter of days. A muscle can be worked to the point where it is momentarily incapable of producing more than 10 per cent of its normal power potential - and three seconds later it will be restored to a level of about 55 per cent of maximum-power potential; and three minutes later it will probably be capable of performing at a level of very close to 100 percent of its maximum-possible power potential.
But such rapid recovery of power potential makes demands upon the overall recovery ability that cannot be compensated for quickly - in most cases, at least forty-eight hours are required for fully restoring the previously-existing overall recovery ability; and in many cases, full recovery will take as much as seventy-two hours.
So now we have established two more basic points . . .
5 - Maximum-possible power production is required to stimulate maximum-possible muscle-mass increases; the "intensity of effort" should be as high as possible.
6 - The actual "amount" of exercise should be as limited as possible in line with other considerations.
THE THIRD STEP
The regulatory mechanism of the system has a strong tendency to maintain the existing situation; which is both perfectly normal and, upon examination, obviously reasonable - an actual requirement for normal living.
Regularly recurring cycles of working, resting, and eating establish a pattern that the system accepts as normal; and once having become accustomed to a particular pattern of living, the system regulates the metabolic processes accordingly. As it must do - since bodily requirements are not instantly provided in response to need; some requirements can be provided rather quickly, some others require a matter of hours, a few require as much as two or three days, or longer.
A certain percentile of reserve ability serves the purpose of providing most of the requirements in quantities sufficient for emergencies of reasonable proportions; but the aftereffects of emergency utilization of this store of reserve ability are clear proof that the actual amount of such reserve is very limited - while a momentary increase in usable strength may be quite high, such a level of performance can be maintained only very briefly, and afterwards the entire system will be "drained" for a period of at least several hours, and to some degree for several days.
Since the normal requirements for living cannot be supplied instantly in response to demand, it is obviously necessary for the system to be able to anticipate needs - to "plan ahead" - and just as obviously, this can only be done by basing expectations for the future upon the demands of the past; with, as mentioned earlier, a certain percentile of reserve for emergency utilization.
Upon recovery from a serious illness, the system will usually return very quickly to a level of ability closely matching that which existed immediately prior to the illness - and it will do so with little or nothing in the way of exercise or special diet, if the internal organs have not been permanently damaged; and if the organs have been permanently damaged, the system may never return to previously-existing levels of ability.
Likewise, if the level of size-strength is increased rapidly by heavy exercise - and if the exercise is terminated immediately after a period of rapid growth - the system will quickly lose all or most of the recent gains and will return to previously-existing levels of size-strength; apparently it takes a certain period of time for the system to accept such increased size-strength as normal - and until it has been accepted as normal, the natural tendency of the system will be to return to levels that it has previously accepted as normal.
In effect, the system attempts to maintain certain levels of ability - and will return to those levels if it is able to do so. Which is not meant to imply that gains in size-strength resulting from exercise will never become permanent and can only be maintained by continued exercise; to at least some degree, increased levels of ability resulting from exercise will become permanent - if the raised levels of size-strength have been maintained long enough for the body to accept them as normal. And the longer such levels are maintained, the higher the degree of permanence; in effect, if you gain twenty pounds of muscular mass within a period of a month, and then quit exercising entirely, you will probably lose almost all of the twenty pounds within a period of three or four months - but if, instead, you made the same gains within the same period of time, and then continued with only enough exercise to maintain the new growth for a period of a year, and then quit exercising entirely, your losses of size-strength would occur much more slowly; and at least part of the increase would be maintained as part of a new and larger "normal size."
Such gains will apparently never become entirely permanent in the absence of at least enough exercise to maintain them, but the longer such increased size-strength is maintained, the higher the percentage of permanence becomes. In effect, increases in size-strength resulting from exercise are to some degree temporary and to some degree permanent; with the ratio of temporary gains to permanent gains constantly changing with time.
In the past it has frequently been stated that "fast gains produce fast losses" - in effect, that size-strength gained quickly is somehow inferior to size-strength gained more slowly; but in fact, the period of gaining has little or nothing to do with the matter - size-strength is the same no matter how it was obtained, and regardless of how long it took to produce it.
However, it may easily appear that quickly gained size is less permanent; simply because the system requires a period of time to accept such increased size - obviously, if the new size was added over a longer period of time, then the system would have more time to adjust to it, and a greater proportion of it would thus become permanent.
But if identical twins gain twenty pounds of muscular mass, with one twin doing so in a period of a month and then merely continuing enough exercise to maintain the new size, and with the other twin gaining more slowly over a period of a year, and if both twins cease all exercise at the end of the year, then the first twin - the one that gained most rapidly - will actually maintain more of his gains than the other twin will; because his system will have been given eleven full months to accept the entire twenty pounds of new growth - whereas, the second twin's system will have been given no time at all to become accustomed to the entire twenty pounds of growth, perhaps only a month to become accustomed to about eighteen pounds of it, two months to become accustomed to approximately sixteen pounds of it, and so on. In effect, the second twin's "average time of maintained size" will be lower than that of the first twin.
On the other hand, if the first twin - the rapidly growing twin - ceased all exercise at the end of his month of growth, then he might maintain only about two pounds of it five years later; and if the second twin - the slow growing one - also ceased all exercise at the end of his year of growth, then he might maintain five or six pounds of it five years later. Because, in that case, the second twin would have the highest "average time of maintained size".
But apart from such degrees of permanence - which apparently are determined entirely from the time such size has been maintained - there is no slightest difference in size-strength resulting from very fast growth or resulting from very slow growth.
Previously-existing levels of size-strength that have been lost from a total lack of exercise can be quickly regained by resuming exercise - and a level of ability that required a period of a year to build in the first place can usually be rebuilt within a period of two or three months; in this instance, it appears that the time period "out of training" is the primary factor which determines just how long it will take to rebuild previously-existing levels of ability. The longer you have been out of training, the longer it will take to rebuild previously-existing size.
It should also be obvious from the above that the system responds on the basis of expectations for the future - which in turn are based upon actual requirements of the past; and that the system constantly attempts to maintain at least a certain percentile of reserve ability for emergency utilization. And if the clear implications are understood, it logically follows that a system of training that provides constant progression is an absolute requirement; the system will respond (by growing) only when there is a requirement for growth - only when the experiences of the past indicates that existing levels of ability are not adequate to provide the requirements of the future without utilization of the reserve ability.
If you are regularly performing exercise which forces your system to work inside the levels of existing reserve ability, then the system will increase its levels of normal ability (and, simultaneously, its levels of reserve ability) in an effort to maintain a reserve for emergency utilization; but having increased its ability to the required degree, the system will then bring growth to a halt - unless additional demands are then imposed by even heavier exercise, heavier in terms of requirements for greater power production.
Increasing the "amount" of exercise is not true progression, because (as mentioned in an earlier chapter) a muscle of any size is capable of performing almost any amount of exercise; thus progress must come in the form of greater demands for the ability to produce power - instead of trying to increase your capacity for work, you must attempt to increase your power potential. Instead of constantly trying to increase the amount of work, you must attempt to increase the intensity of work.
A properly performed set of barbell curls should always consist of ten repetitions - do not attempt to increase the number of repetitions; instead, try to increase the amount of weight being used, while maintaining or increasing the speed of movement. If the last six or seven repetitions of a set of ten curls are performed properly, then you will always fail during the last two or three repetitions - and be forced to finish the set of ten repetitions by using a slight amount of "cheat" during the last two or three repetitions; when you can perform eight repetitions in good form without cheating, then increase the weight during the next workout - but after the first three or four repetitions, each repetition should always be a maximum-possible effort, involving the production of as much power as you are capable of producing at the moment.
Such a style of training is truly progressive - and will impose constant demands for continued growth on your system; and if the system is capable of growth - if the recovery ability is not overextended by too much exercise - then growth will occur, at the fastest-possible rate in accordance with considerations of individual potential.
In practice it has been found that two such properly performed sets of each of several basic heavy exercises are usually best for promoting a fast rate of growth - and that three sets of each exercise will usually result in "overtraining" insofar as the amount of exercise is concerned and an actual reduction in the rate of growth.
It has also been found that three weekly workouts will almost always produce the best rate of progress - and in cases where actual progress is quite slow, it is usually best to perform only two weekly workouts.
In spite of the above findings, most current bodybuilders practice at least four sets of each of a wide variety of exercises - and many bodybuilders practice as many as ten sets of each exercise; secondly, there is little or nothing progressive about the training of most bodybuilders, who generally perform a given number of repetitions in each set and terminate each set at a point far below maximum-possible intensity of effort.
As an unavoidable result of such basic misunderstanding - and such a poor style of training - the rate of progress is always far below what it could have been, and what it should have been, and what it would have been with a proper style of training based upon fact instead of misconceptions.
Most of this unfortunate - and extremely widespread - misunderstanding is apparently a result of confusing "amount of exercise" with "intensity of effort," of confusing work with power; made even worse by a common overestimation of the extent of the recovery ability of the system - or a failure to realize that the recovery ability must be disturbed as little as possible if it is expected to provide the requirements for growth.
So now we have established the following additions to our list of basic points. . .
7 - The system has a natural tendency to return to previously established and accepted (accepted as "normal") levels of ability.
8 - The longer a particular level of ability is maintained, the greater the degree of permanence.
9 - There is no practical difference in increased levels of ability resulting from fast growth and gains produced by a slower rate of growth.
10 - Previously established - but lost - levels of ability can be rebuilt far more quickly than they were initially.
11 - Training programs must be truly progressive - with constant attempts to increase the power potential.
12 - Two sets of each of a few basic, heavy exercises are best for promoting fast gains in strength-size.
THE FOURTH STEP
Anatomical charts of the human muscular structure unavoidably give a somewhat distorted impression of the major muscles - it is thus a common misconception that the muscles are entirely separate, that each muscle is an entity unto itself; but in fact, the actual interweaving of muscles is such that it is sometimes almost literally impossible to separate and accurately identify them - and secondly, recent work on neurological patterns makes it obvious that many of the previous assumptions regarding the actual contributions of particular muscular structures to specific movements were invalid. Careful tracing of nerve patterns has indicated that nerves frequently pass entirely through one muscle and terminate elsewhere. In the past, it was generally assumed that these nerves served the first muscle, but it is now obvious that in fact they are involved in the functions of the second muscle in such situations.
All of which is really of no practical concern for our purposes here - so long as we are clearly aware of the implications; human muscular structures are capable of an almost infinite number of individual movements if we consider all of the possibilities and combinations, and attempting to provide a separate exercise for each of these possible movements would certainly be impractical at the very least - but if we consider only major movements, then the number of functions are such that "almost all muscles are involved in almost all movements" (at least in gross terms and in a general sense), it becomes obvious that an actually very limited number of exercises can provide the required work for all of the muscular structures.
In general, the value of an exercise can be fairly judged on the basis of the following considerations; an exercise should (1) be a "full range" movement, providing resistance over the entire possible range of movement from a position of full extension of the prime body-part involved to a position of full contraction of the same body part (extension and contraction, in this instance, being applicable to the major muscular structures involved, rather than to the body-part itself; since many situations exist where contraction of a muscle results in extension of the prime body-part involved - the function of the triceps being one such example) - (2) involve as many major muscular structures as possible; in effect, everything else being equal, a compound movement is superior to an isolation movement - (3) provide resistance in the position of contraction of the major muscular structures involved; in effect, an exercise that permits "locking out" under the resistance in a position of contraction is inferior to an exercise where resistance remains constant - (4) involve as much total muscle mass as possible; in effect, the greater the mass of involved muscles, the greater the value of the exercise.
But if we consider those required characteristics for a "good" exercise, it becomes obvious that at least some of them, in at least some situations, are mutually exclusive; in order to provide one of the requirements, it is frequently necessary to make use of an exercise that provides none of, or at least not all of, the other requirements.
For example; the full squat involves a large mass of muscle, which is an advantage - it is also a compound exercise, involving a number of major muscular structures working together, another advantage - but it is not an actually full-range movement, since there is no resistance during the last part of the movement, as you come fully erect; and since you can "lock out" in the fully erect position, there is obviously no resistance in the position of full contraction of the involved muscles.
Also, in a squat, the point of maximum resistance is encountered shortly after the start of the upwards movement, when the midline of the thighs is parallel to the floor; and in that position, the involved muscles are not in their strongest positions - thus you encounter the most resistance at a point during the movement where the muscles are not as capable of handling it as they would be at a later point during the movement, and the resistance you can handle in a squat is limited by the strength of the muscles in that particular position, not their strongest position. The muscles will be worked to their maximum ability in that one position - but will not encounter enough resistance in other positions.
Similar problems are encountered in almost all conventional exercises -but in spite of these limitations, it is still possible to outline a training routine made up of only a few basic, heavy exercises, a program that will produce very good results; the most common mistake is an attempt to include too many exercises, and the unavoidable result is that the overall recovery ability of the system cannot meet the requirements for both full recovery from the workouts and additional growth at the same time -under such circumstances, growth will be impossible, or very slow at best.
Another valid means of determining the relative values of exercises of a similar nature is to compare the actual distances of movement; everything else being equal, the greater the distance of movement, the greater the value of exercise. For example; a standing press is a much better exercise than a bench press - primarily because the distance of movement is greater in a standing press.
And from the above, it should also be obvious that the style of performance of an exercise that provides the greatest distance of movement is the best style; for that reason, bench presses with a reasonably-narrow grip are more productive than the same movements with a wider grip.
Another method - perhaps the most logical method - of judging the value of exercises involves a comparison of the power production in one exercise to the power production in another exercise; but in this case, we must be very sure that we know exactly; what power really is - and what it is not. The amount of resistance involved is only one of three factors that must be considered - and we must also consider the distance that the resistance is moved (moved vertically), and the time involved, the speed-of-movement.
Most people consider the bench press a "power lift" - assuming that more power is required in a bench press than in a standing press; but in fact, quite the opposite is true - while the amount of resistance may well be greater in the bench press than it is in a standing press, the other two related factors are both reduced in the bench press, the distance-of-movement and the speed-of-movement are both less in a bench press than they are in a standing press. And in almost all cases, more power is actually produced in a maximum-possible standing press than in a maximum-possible bench press.
But again, the style of performance is an important factor - all exercises should be performed in a style that results in maximum-possible power production "by the muscles that you are trying to develop." A jerk-press will produce a faster speed-of-movement and thus more power than a military press; but most of the power is not produced by the muscles that you are usually trying to develop from pressing exercises, the triceps, the deltoids, and the trapezoids. So, for developmental purposes, exercises should be performed in a style such that most (or all) of the power is being produced by the muscles that you are trying to develop.
Which does NOT mean that cheating methods should never be employed; they should be, in almost every set of every exercise - but only after a point of failure has been reached while performing the movements with good form. Two or three cheating repetitions performed at the end of a set of several repetitions performed in perfect style will force the muscles to work beyond a point of normal failure; but it is extremely important that such permissible cheating should be restricted to the minimum amount required to complete the movements - in effect, cheat to make the last two or three repetitions possible, not to make them easy. Properly performed, the cheated repetitions should be brutally hard.
So now we have the following points to add to our list of basic points . . .
13 - Muscular functions are interrelated to such a degree that it is almost impossible to isolate the function of one particular muscle.
14 - The value of exercise should be judged upon a basis of power production.
15 - Compound movements are usually superior - for developmental purposes - to isolation movements.
THE FIFTH STEP
The individual fibers of muscles function in accordance with the well-known - but widely misunderstood - principle of so-called "all or nothing function". In effect, a fiber is working as hard as possible - or not at all. A movement against light resistance does not involve a small amount of work on the part of all of the fibers in the muscles contributing to the movement; instead, only a few fibers are involved at all - the minimum number of fibers that are required to move the imposed resistance - and the remainder of the fibers are not involved at all. But the fibers that are working, are working as hard as possible - as hard as possible AT THAT MOMENT.
One individual fiber may be involved in each of several repetitions in a set of an exercise - but it will not contribute an equal amount of power to each of the several movements; it will always be working as hard as possible - or not working at all - but its strength will decline as the exercise progresses.
Thus, in practice, a set might involve a number of fibers in much the following fashion; the first repetition might involve ten fibers, with each fiber contributing ten "units of power" to the movement - the second repetition might involve the same ten fibers, which then contribute only nine units of power each, and one previously uninvolved fiber (an eleventh fiber, a fresh fiber) which contributes ten units of power, bring the total power production in the second repetition up to the same level as that involved in the first repetition - the third repetition might involve the same initially-used ten fibers, with each of them now contributing only 8.1 (eight and one-tenth) units of power, plus the eleventh fiber that was used previously only during the second repetition, and which now contributes nine units of power, plus a twelfth fiber, a fresh fiber that is involved for the first time only during the third repetition and contributes ten units of power.
Thus each of the first three repetitions would result in exactly the same amount of power production - and all of the involved fibers would always be contributing to the limit of their momentary ability; but the fibers would not be contributing equally, and the actual number of involved fibers would change from repetition to repetition.
If the set was ended at that point, then little or nothing in the way of growth stimulation was produced - because none of the fibers were worked very hard, and because there were still unused fibers in reserve.
In order to produce significant growth stimulation, the set must be continued to a point where as many as possible of the available fibers have been involved - and where at least some of the fibers have been worked to a point of total failure, until they simply quit, refusing to function at all.
If the set had been continued beyond the third repetition, then eventually a point would have been reached where the total power production started to decline - where it was no longer possible to move the weight as rapidly as it was moved during each of the first three repetitions; this would happen when the total contributions of all of the fibers that were still functioning added up to a lower amount of power than that which was involved in each of the first three repetitions - and at that point, you could still continue (and should still continue), but you would be forced to continue at a reduced speed, with reduced power.
For best results in the way of growth-stimulation, the set should be continued to a point of failure while still maintaining good form - and then two or three cheated repetitions should be performed, as described in the preceding chapter.
With this style of training, you will involve as high a percentage of the total number of fibers as it is possible to involve in any particular exercise - and you will work some of the fibers to the point of utter failure; both of which results are highly desirable - since they obviously involve working the muscles well inside their momentary levels of reserve ability.
But it should be remembered that the system tries to maintain a level of ability that it has previously accepted as normal, and it will rebel against workloads of this intensity; the sensory portion of the regulatory mechanism is fully capable of recognizing an emergency situation that actually requires the utilization of reserve ability, and it will not easily permit use of the reserve ability in an obviously non-emergency situation - thus you will be exposed to "pressures" of various types, signals hopefully intended to bring the exercise to a halt before it becomes necessary to involve the reserve ability. The exercise will be painful - you may feel slightly nauseated, especially the first time you try working that hard -and there will be strong overall "desire to quit".
Unless you are willing to ignore theses signals, and work to the actual point of failure, then long-range progress will be strictly limited to a very slow average rate of growth; but if you are willing to ignore them -and do ignore them, and do work regularly to the actual point of failure -then such "cease and desist" signals will quickly stop bothering you, the pain will no longer occur, the nausea won't return, and you will be able to continue to an actual point of failure without a constant desire to quit.
The system apparently maintains at least two separate sources of reserve ability; which we might define as a "surplus of fibers" reserve and a "chemical" reserve - and while the system will permit work inside the "surplus of fibers" reserve, although it will discourage such an intensity of work in non-emergency situations if it can, it usually will not permit work inside the level of ability possible from the "chemical" reserve's contribution in anything except an emergency.
In an actual emergency, the sensory portion of the regulatory mechanism quickly recognizes the possible need for a level of ability far above normal - and it triggers a chemical response which greatly, but temporarily, increases the existing level of usable strength; but under normal circumstances, it is NOT desirable to work inside the levels of reserve ability provided by this form of chemical "supercharging" - because, among other things, doing so exerts an enormous drain on the overall recovery ability. The possible benefits are far outweighed by the very real disadvantages; some of the possible results are ulcers, heart attacks, extreme nervousness, and premature aging.
But while the "chemical" reserve should be retained for emergency use only, the "surplus of fibers" reserve must be used regularly if a fast rate of growth is desirable - and it can be used safely; the only result from overuse would be eventual exhaustion, which would finally result in a complete halt to training of any kind. But, if properly used, which means "with maximum-possible intensity of effort", very "briefly" and "infrequently", then such a style of training will produce maximum-possible gains in size-strength with no adverse effects.
But since such a style of training never becomes "easy" - although it will cease being painful, and will quit making you sick, after the first few actually hard workouts - it is very easy to gradually slip back into a much easier style of training, frequently without even being aware that you are doing so. For that reason, it is a very good idea to keep a careful watch on your actual rate of progress - and this can only be done in a logical manner by charting your strength increases; but do NOT attempt to chart your strength increases on the basis of your ability in single-repetition, maximum-possible attempts - instead, use a particular number of repetitions (almost any reasonable number of repetitions, except one repetition) as an indication of your ability. When you can perform ten repetitions with 200 pounds, then you are twice as strong as you were when you could perform ten repetitions with only 100 pounds.
When you can perform ten repetitions with 200 pounds - and previously you could perform only eight repetitions with 200 pounds - then you are "stronger" than you were; but there is no real agreement as to just how much stronger you are. So, for the greatest accuracy in charting strength increases, compare only those sets that result in a particular number of full repetitions performed in good form; if you are using ten repetitions as a basis for comparison, then ignore any sets that result in any other number of repetitions - over a reasonable period of time, there will always be enough sets that do result in ten repetitions to provide regular checks on your progress.
Numerous writers have mentioned the relationship of the size of a muscle to its existing level of strength; but they usually do so in a fashion that leaves a great deal to be desired at the very least, in a fashion that leaves the average reader in a state of total confusion, not knowing just what was meant - some writers will state that there is a direct relationship between the "area of the cross-section of a muscle" and existing strength - other writers put it differently, by comparing the "diameter of the cross-section of a muscle" and existing strength - but regardless of how it is worded, it still means the same thing, the SIZE of a muscle indicates the STRENGTH of a muscle, and vice versa.
Now, for the benefit of those people who might wish to dispute my above statement on technical grounds, I will point out the fact that a muscle changes its LENGTH very little if at all as a result of growth; so we are NOT dealing with an ever-increasing sphere - instead, for all practical purposes, we are dealing with a cylinder of constant length, and thus, if we double the area of the cross-section we will simultaneously double the mass, and if we increase the diameter of the cross-section of a muscle by a factor of approximately 1.4 (one and four tenths) then we will double the area of the cross-section, and also double the mass, AND ALSO DOUBLE THE POWER POTENTIAL of the muscle - as least insofar as the "input" of power is concerned, although the lowered efficiency resulting from unavoidable changes in the "angle of pull" may not (probably will not) permit a doubling of measurable power, or power "output".
Because of such ambiguous wording - such unclear statements in situations where clear expression is not only possible but highly desirable, even an absolute requirement - most current weight-trainees remain totally; unaware of the simple fact that the size of a muscle is directly related to its strength; and since most bodybuilders are interested only in "size" - and since they remain unaware that size is impossible without strength, and vice versa - they ignore the only type of training that is capable of giving them the size they are seeking, strength training. And competitive weight-lifters are just as confused - not realizing that increasing their muscular size will also increase their strength, MUST increase their strength.
So now we can add the following points to our ever-growing list of basic points . . .
16 - Individual muscle fibers perform on an "all or nothing" basis; and only the number of fibers that are actually required to move a particular amount of resistance are involved in any movement.
17 - A set that is terminated prior to the point of failure will not involve (cannot involve) all of the available fibers; at least not to a significant degree.
18 - Every set of every exercise should involve work as far as possible inside the existing level of the "surplus of fibers" reserve ability.
19 - Careful attention should be given to the actual rate of progress, in order to prevent a gradual and probably unnoticed reduction in the intensity of effort.
20 - Accurate charting of progress can only be based on measurable strength increases.
21 - There is a direct relationship between the size of a muscle and the strength of the same muscle.
THE SIXTH STEP
There is apparently a definite (but unknown) limit to the degree of disproportionate muscular development that the system will permit; thus "any growth" somewhat produces "some growth" everywhere. In Bulletin Number One, I termed this factor "indirect effort." While it is certainly possible to build a rather large degree of disproportionate muscular size - the most commonly-encountered examples being bodybuilders with fairly large arms and proportionately small legs - there is, nevertheless a limit to such possible disproportion.
Heavy exercises for the arms will, while building the muscles of the arms, indirectly stimulate a smaller degree of growth in the entire body, even in the legs; and I am not referring to growth that may be caused by the slight involvement of the leg muscles in exercises intended for the arms -instead, it is the actual growth in the arms that stimulates a lower order of growth throughout all of the other muscular structures of the body. It appears that this indirect effect is primarily determined by two factors -the size of the muscle mass that is growing, and the location of the muscle mass that is growing; the larger the muscle mass that is growing in response to exercise, the greater the degree of indirect effect - and the closer another muscle is located to the muscle that is growing in response to exercise, the greater the degree of indirect effect.
At least part of this result is undoubtedly due to the interrelationships of muscular function mentioned in an earlier chapter, when a muscle is involved in an exercise without you being aware that it is; but such an explanation cannot account for all of the results of indirect effect -when, for example, the muscles of the legs grow as a result of a program of training restricted to chinning movements for the arms and torso muscles, or when the arms grow as a result of a training program limited to squats.
It is my belief that an as yet unidentified chemical response is produced by heavy exercise - a response that does not occur at all when the intensity of effort is below a certain (but unknown) percentile of momentary ability, but that does occur as a result of exercise with an intensity of effort beyond a certain level, a level that obviously changes as growth occurs; all of the available evidence seems to exclude any other possible conclusion - because growth certainly is NOT produced in proportion to the "amount" of exercise. Exercise below a certain percentile of the momentarily-existing level of ability will produce no increases in size-strength, regardless of the amount of exercise; if a subject is in very poor condition - with below average tonus in the major muscular structures - then low-intensity exercise will eventually restore normal tonus, and will result in a slight increase in strength with little or no increase in muscle mass, but such low intensity exercise will never build significant size-strength.
And the actual level of such low-intensity exercise is always a relative matter - thus it is clear that the factor of importance is the percentile of momentary ability, rather than the actual level of performance; in effect, squatting with 100 pounds might be heavy enough work to produce very fast growth in one individual, a very weak individual - but for a man like Paul Anderson, it would be so light that no amount of such exercise would produce any increases in size-strength in his case.
Secondly, it seems that there is a definite "break-over" point - a point below which growth will not be stimulated, and above which growth will be stimulated; and having passed above that break-over point in the required intensity of exercise, the results then seem to increase in a geometrical fashion. In effect (using purely arbitrary figures for the following example), it seems that an intensity of effort below 70 per cent will produce nothing in the way of growth stimulation - while a level of 80 per cent will produce "ten units of growth stimulation" - and a level of 90 per cent will produce "one hundred units" of growth stimulation - and it apparently follows logically, that a level of 100 percent of possible intensity is required for producing maximum-possible growth stimulation.
It may well be true that a level of intensity "somewhat less than 100 per cent of the momentarily-possible level" is all that is required to produce maximum-possible growth stimulation; but even if that does happen to be the case - and I personally feel otherwise - it is obvious that any such difference in the required intensity of effort and an outright 100 per cent intensity of effort is of no significance, and impossible to determine in any case.
And even if it should be clearly proven that all that was required for maximum-possible growth stimulation was a level of intensity of, for example, 95 per cent of momentary ability - just how would you propose to use such information? How would you know that you actually were working at a level of 95 per cent - instead of 90 per cent, or 85 per cent? How would you measure it?
But you CAN MEASURE 100 per cent - quite easily by simply going to a point of utter failure.
By this point it should be obvious that an intensity of effort anything less than outright 100 per cent effort is probably a mistake, and that much less is a major mistake - with no "probably" about it; and that, in any case, since it is impossible to measure any degree of effort less than 100 per cent, the only way to be sure that you are working hard enough is to go all the way.
But in any case, regardless of the required intensity of effort, it certainly is obvious that heavy work for the larger muscle masses will result in large-scale growth in those muscles - and a lower order of growth in all of the muscles of the body; it is my belief that this occurs as a result of a chemical reaction which results only from heavy exercise - a reaction which "spills over" and affects the entire body to at least some degree.
But even with such a chemical reaction - if it actually does occur, and I have no firm evidence, only circumstantial evidence, in support of it -there still remains a disproportionate effect from exercise, and there still remains a limit to the amount of such allowable disproportion; and the implications should be perfectly clear.
For best results from exercise, all of the major muscular structures should be worked - ALL OF THEM; you certainly can build large arms without working your legs - but you will build them much larger, and much quicker, if you also exercise your legs.
And since there is a limit to the overall recovery ability, and since many of the involved chemical functions are just that, "overall" - it should be clear that daily workouts are a mistake, even when a so-called "split routine" is used, a training program providing three weekly workouts for the upper-body and three weekly workouts for the legs; because the system cannot recover properly from a hard workout in much if any less than forty-eight hours - and if a heavy leg workout occurs between each heavy workout for the upper body, then the system will never be given quite enough time for both full recovery and growth. Certainly not rapid growth.
So now we can add the following to our list of basic points. . .
22 - Faster rates of growth will result if growth is proportionate.
23 - Greater overall growth will result if the largest muscular structures of the body are worked heavily.
24 - Not more than three weekly workouts should be performed; three "overall" workouts.
25 - A slight decrease in the intensity of effort in exercise will result in a disproportionately great reduction in the production of results.
26 - It is impossible to measure relative intensity of effort less than maximum-possible (100 per cent) effort; thus impossible to be sure of the actual intensity of effort if anything less than 100 per cent effort is being employed.
THE SEVENTH STEP
A workout is one thing - a competitive weight-lifting meet is something else, an entirely different thing; or, at least, it should be an entirely different thing - since the best way to build strength has very little in common with the best way to demonstrate strength. Yet many current trainees make the mistake of training as if they were in a contest - perhaps being more interested in attempts to impress their training associates than in trying to build strength, or maybe just unaware of the actual facts.
Olympic lifters and power lifters obviously must practice maximum-possible, single-attempt lifts - both in training and in competition; but there is absolutely no reason - and even less excuse - for bodybuilders to ever attempt heavy "singles". While it should now be clear that maximum-possible muscular size cannot be produced without maximum-possible muscular strength, it does not follow that building maximum-possible strength requires the performance of heavy single-attempt lifts; on the contrary, greater strength and size will result from the performance of sets of at least several repetitions.
Secondly, it is easily possible to build the muscular strength to such a level that it literally becomes dangerous to employ this strength in maximum-possible single-attempt lifts; which might lead some people to ask, ". . . then what is the value of such strength, if it is dangerous to use?"
But since it is not my purpose to examine the "value" of building great size and strength - but, rather, to discuss the best method for doing so -I will not become involved on that point in great detail; however, I will mention that great strength - even a level of strength that might be unsafe in some applications - obviously provides a reserve that actually improves the safety of any normal activity, since the system is then normally operating at a level well within safe limits, at a level which imposes no strain.
Maximum-possible strength-size absolutely CAN be produced without ever producing maximum-possible power - even though maximum power production is a requirement for maximum growth -stimulation, and there is no paradox involved in this situation; for maximum growth-stimulation, it is only necessary to produce the MOMENTARILY maximum-possible amount of power - and this can be done (and SHOULD be done) only after the momentary ability has been reduced by the performance of at least three immediately-preceding repetitions that did NOT involve maximum power production. In effect, by the time you do produce maximum power, your momentary ability will be reduced to the point where the danger of injury is greatly reduced.
This can easily be accomplished in practice by using a weight with which you can perform several consecutive repetitions - and by performing the first three or four such repetitions at a reduced speed, at a speed below maximum-possible speed; remember, power production involves three factors -resistance, distance of vertical movement, and speed-of-movement. And if you reduce the speed you are reducing the production of power in direct ratio -and reducing the danger of injury to an even greater degree; because, it is not the resistance that causes injury, it is your attempt to move (or to restrain the movement of) the resistance that causes injury, and the less power you are using, the less likely you are to produce injury. But, more than that, while a reduction in power production obviously reduces the pull on the connective tissues in direct ratio, such "slower than possible" movements also reduce the acceleration factor - a movement involving maximum-possible speed-of-movement will increase the acceleration factors (the "jerk" factors) far out of proportion to the increase in actual speed; momentum is the tendency shown by a moving mass to continue such movement -but it is also the tendency for a stationary mass to remain stationary -and the forces resulting from an attempt to suddenly accelerate a stationary mass enormously increase the "jerk" imposed upon whatever is connecting the source of power and the resistance, in this case the connection being the attachments of tendons and ligaments, and to a somewhat lower degree even the muscles themselves.
Thus, in practice, if "four units" of power applied against an immobile resistance imposes "four units" of strain (or "pull") on the connective tissues - eight units of power applied against the same amount of resistance will NOT impose eight units of strain; instead, it will impose SIXTEEN units of strain.
And sixteen units of power applied against the same resistance will impose two-hundred and fifty-six (256) units of strain; thus increasing the power application by a ratio of four to one will increase the strain by a ratio of sixty-four to one. So it should be obvious that the danger of injury rises at a much faster rate than the increase in power application.
People do not hurt themselves during a "first repetition" because they were not warmed-up properly - but because they are strongest at that point in the set, and because they make the mistake of moving at maximum speed at a time when this results in more pull from an increase in the power production and much more "jerk" from a resulting geometrical increase in the acceleration factor. And since single-attempt lifts are always "first repetitions," it should be obvious that they are the most dangerous type of movements - far more dangerous than might be apparent at first glance.
But since maximum-possible growth-stimulation can be induced by the production of MOMENTARILY maximum-possible power, almost all of the potential danger can be avoided; simply by reducing the existing level of ability before actually producing maximum-possible power - and this can easily be accomplished by performing three or four repetitions at a reduced speed-of-movement immediately prior to an actually maximum-possible movement - or it can be accomplished by "pre-exhausting" the muscles by working them in an isolated fashion immediately prior to involving them in a heavier compound movement.
Since the ability of the muscles to increase their strength is apparently far out of proportion to the ability of the connective tissues to increase their resistance to strain, it is almost inevitable that injuries will eventually result if you constantly make a practice of producing maximum-possible power during first repetitions - or while attempting heavy single-attempts; which, in plain English, means that practically all competitive lifters are almost certain to hurt themselves sooner or later -but in cases of competitive lifters, that is a risk that simply cannot be entirely avoided. You cannot hurt elephants without running at least some risk of getting stomped by an elephant - by you should at least be aware of the risk involved.
But it does not follow that even competitive lifters cannot at least reduce the risk to some degree - they can, to a rather great degree; supporting heavy weights in a variety of positions - with little or no attempt to actually move them, and with absolutely no attempt to move them suddenly -will apparently increase the "connective strength" of tendons and ligaments, and will do so without the enormous increase in the risk of injury resulting from the acceleration factors involved in fast movements.
The reader is requested to excuse my repetition in this chapter - but since this factor is of such actually great concern to anybody involved in weight-training for any reason, and since this point has been so generally misunderstood for son long by almost everybody involved in weight-training, I feel that it simply cannot be overstressed.
Most weight-trainees sincerely believe that they are avoiding most of the danger of injury if they terminate a set prior to the point where the movements start to "feel" actually hard - they consider the last repetition the most dangerous repetition; but in fact, of course, quite the opposite is true - the farther you progress into a set, the safer it gets.
Regardless of the number of repetitions involved in a set, the first repetition is ALWAYS the most dangerous repetition - and the last repetition is ALWAYS the safest repetition; and the harder it seems, the easier it is - and the more dangerous it appears, the safer it is.
The last repetition of a set of ten repetitions, for example, "feels" harder only because you are becoming exhausted by that point in the set -you do not "feel" actual output, instead you "feel" the percentile of momentarily-possible output; if a man can press 200 pounds, then 100 pounds will "feel light" to him during a first repetition, and will "feel" heavier during each following repetition - and by the time he reaches a point where he is barely capable of performing one more repetition, then the 100 pounds will "feel" very heavy. Because - to him, AT THAT MOMENT - 100 pounds actually will be very heavy, since it will momentarily require 100 per cent of his strength to move it.
Everything is relative insofar as "feelings" are concerned - a puma looks big to a man that has never seen a lion; but the danger of injury is not based on relative factors in that sense - instead, the connective tissues have an actual level of resistance to pull, and since they are not performing work this resistance is not reduced during the performance of a set of several repetitions. If a particular tendon's connective tissues have an existing level of resistance capable of withstanding "one hundred units of pull," then that level of resistance remains constant throughout a set -it will be 100 units during the first repetition and 100 units during the tenth repetition; but the "danger factor" certainly does NOT remain constant - because, during a first repetition you might be momentarily capable of exerting 200 units of pull, and if you do then an injury literally MUST result, but by the time you reach the tenth repetition your momentary ability may be reduced to a maximum of only 10 units of pull, and you couldn't hurt yourself if you tried, you simply are not strong enough to hurt yourself at that point.
But - out of a totally misplaced and absolutely unjustified fear of injury - almost all weight-trainees avoid the actually most productive repetitions in all of their sets; they work right up to the point where one or two more repetitions would have done them some good - and then they stop because of fear of injury, thus avoiding the actually "easiest" repetitions, the actually "safest" repetitions, and the only repetitions in the set that would have produced much in the way of growth-stimulation.
Earlier, I said "almost all weight-trainees" are guilty; of this mistake; but in fact, I have yet to meet a single weight-trainee who was aware of the actual facts in this situation prior to the moment that I pointed them out to them - and I have yet to meet very many trainees who really understood, or even accepted, the facts even AFTER they were carefully explained to them - and during more than thirty years of interest in this field, I never heard mention of these facts until I first pointed them out myself. Yet there is nothing at all "complicated" about the matter - the basic physical laws involved in this situation are so simple that they; should be self-evident truth to any reasonably intelligent fifth-grader.
Until quite recently, I was under the impression that the "old timers" in weight-lifting were once aware of the real facts - or that they at least understood them in a practical sense; and I could never quite figure out why such simple things could have been so quickly forgotten. But now I have come to realize that even the trainees of the past really didn't understand what they were doing, or why they were doing it that way - instead, they merely practiced a style of training that was actually very productive without understanding "why" it was productive; they were doing the right things, but they were totally unaware of the real factors involved - they were literally training correctly "by accident".
Thus, later, when the so-called "modern methods" of training were introduced, even the older trainees accepted them - apparently without question, and probably because they "seemed easier."
From all of the evidence, I can only reach the conclusion that nobody every really made a serious attempt to examine the actual facts of the matter -or if so, that the people who tried to do so were simply unaware of basic physics and simple math. In no other manner can I even begin to explain the fact that most of the sincere beliefs of almost all weight-trainees literally attempt to ignore the laws of physics. But I will remind you that an unawareness of the law of gravity - or a refusal to admit the existence of gravity - will not change the facts; and you will hit the sidewalk with exactly the same speed as the next guy if you make the mistake of stepping off a tall building - and with much the same results.
So - since it is obviously required - in the next few chapters I will attempt to cover the actually very simple points of basic physics that are involved in exercise; and because of the very real importance of these physical laws, I hope I can be excused for using an extremely simple method of explanation.
But in the meantime, we should add the following points to our list of basic points . . .
27 - The first repetition is actually the hardest repetition - in spite of appearances to the contrary.
28 - The first repetition is by far the most dangerous repetition.
29 - Momentarily maximum-possible power should be produced in each set of every exercise - but NOT during the first three or four repetitions.
30 - "Stopping short" of the point of failure will not reduce the danger of injury - but it will enormously reduce growth stimulation.
31 - Workouts are for the purpose of "building size-strength," not for the purpose of demonstrating strength.
32 - Supporting heavy weights - but NOT moving them - will increase the strength of connective tissue; and will do so without much danger of injury.
33 - Sudden movements against resistance are the most dangerous types of movements - and the actual amount of the resistance is of little or no importance.
34 - "Jerky" movements should be avoided at all costs.
- You cannot judge the intensity
of an exercise by the "feel" -
except in relative terms; but
you can judge the value of a movement
by the "feel" -
because relative intensity is
the only factor of any real concern
insofar as inducing growth-stimulation
THE MOMENT-ARM FACTOR
If you are sitting off to one side of a table, with your eyes on exactly the same level as the edge of a plate upon the table, and if a bug is walking around the near edge of the plate - then it may appear, from your viewpoint, that the bug is walking in a perfectly straight line; but in fact, the bug will be moving in a circular fashion - if he continues moving long enough in the same direction, he will eventually complete a full circle, having walked entirely around the edge of the plate.
Or, if your eyes were slightly above, or below, the edge of the plate, then it might appear that the bug was walking in a curving fashion - but was following a curve with a larger radius than the actual radius of turn; in effect, the bug would appear to be curving less than he actually was.
In the above examples, I said "may appear" and "might appear" very pointedly; because, if you were aware of the actual facts, then you could ignore "appearances" and see things as they actually were. While no amount of "understanding" will assure good results from weight-training, it nevertheless remains perfectly true that actual knowledge is required for producing good results - actual knowledge possessed by "somebody", if perhaps not by the trainee himself; if the trainee doesn't understand, then at least the coach must understand - but somebody has to be aware of the actual facts, and in a position to enforce a style of training in accordance with the facts.
Different people will unavoidably have different viewpoints - the trainee may see the bug as walking in a straight line, the coach may think it is walking in a slightly curving line; in which case nobody is aware of the facts - but both parties will very naturally have strong opinions on the subject, opinions which they will sincerely feel are based on solid observation and undeniable personal experience, and yet they are both wrong.
Additionally, your distance from the situation will influence your viewpoint - literally and figuratively; in the case of the bug on the plate, in order to see the situation properly, you would have to be directly above the center of the plate, looking down - but you would also have to be an infinite distance away, because, from anything less than an infinite distance, your perspective would be distorted. In training situations, your relationship to the overall environment - and your relationships with the people who are a part of that environment - will always distort your perspective to at least some degree.
If you are training in a gym with the current Mr. America, and if you like him personally, you will rather naturally look upon his advice as sound, "...after all, he did win, didn't he?" But in fact, with his potential, perhaps he should have won earlier - maybe his own firmly held beliefs have delayed his progress enormously.
You think otherwise? Well, let me give you a case in point; I have just finished a year devoted to (among other things) the training of Casey Viator, who recently won the Mr. America title in the most spectacular style in history - together with the Mr. America title, he won five of the "subdivisions", most muscular, best arms, best back, best legs, and best chest, so, all in all, he took home six out of a possible seven trophies from that contest; additionally, during the year that he trained under my supervision, he won every other contest that he entered - the Teen-Age Mr. America, the Mr. U.S.A., and the Jr. Mr. America; and on top of that, he is undoubtedly the most massively muscular bodybuilder in history, fully as defined as any major physique contestant has ever been, literally "because of his size" rather than in spite of it, because his size is muscular size, not fatty tissue, and he is one of the strongest men in the world, and certainly by far the strongest bodybuilder in the world.
Under the circumstances, you would probably expect Casey to be extremely well-informed on the subject of proper training; but is he, in fact? Quite frankly, I simply don't know; all I can do is judge his knowledge on the basis of my experiences with him. And since I like Casey, this becomes difficult to do; because it puts me in an unavoidably biased position.
When Casey first came to Deland, Florida to train under my supervision, he weighted 198 pounds in well-defined, muscular condition; his largest upper-arm measured exactly 18 1/6 inches; and while he was fairly strong for a bodybuilder of his size, he could not have squatted once with 500 pounds if his life had depended on it.
A bit less than a year later, his largest upper-arm measured exactly 19 15-16 inches; he weighted 218 pounds in even more defined condition; and two days before the Mr. America contest that he won, he squatted 13 repetitions with 502 pounds - after "pre-exhausting" his legs with 20 repetitions with 750 pounds in the leg-press and 20 repetitions with 225 pounds in the thigh-extension machine. All three of which exercises, leg-presses, thigh-extensions, and squats, were performed in rapid succession, with no rest between sets.
And while the "actual gains" that Casey made during that time are really not exceptional - his "relative gains" are almost unbelievable; since the larger you become, the harder it becomes to get even larger - the first part of the trip up a mountain may not be too hard, and you may move quite rapidly, but wait until you get near the top and see how fast you are moving. You may reduce your time for the mile from six minutes to five minutes with very little training - but then see how long it takes you to reduce it to four minutes.
Yet, the simple truth of the matter is that Casey probably could have gained at least twice as much as he did during that period of time - and I really expected him to do so; I wanted him to weigh-in at the Mr. America at a bodyweight close to 240 pounds, with a "cold" upper-arm measurement in excess of a legitimate 20 inches - and I think he could have done so, if I had actually trained him during the entire period while he was in Florida.
Casey never failed to cooperate fully when I was training him - if I told him to do something, he did it - If I told him to avoid something, or change something, he did it; I have no slightest complaint regarding his cooperation - but, unfortunately, I simply did not have time to supervise all of his workouts.
Up to November 1st, 1970, I did supervise almost all of his workouts - and he gained in size, in strength, and in muscularity (definition) during that period; when we took a photograph of his back and another photograph of his arm on November 1st, Casey could hardly believe that they were actually pictures of him, and said so.
But from November 1st until April 1st - a period of five full months - I was simply too busy to supervise Casey's training; so during that period he trained with several people for different periods of time - still in the Deland High School gym, still using all of the Nautilus equipment and a large variety of conventional equipment, but without my supervision.
And for a period of five full months, his muscular size, strength, and degree of muscularity steadily declined - and if you think not, then compare the pictures that were taken on November 1st, 1970, and that were published shortly afterwards in Iron Man, to the picture of Casey that was on the cover of Muscular Development magazine a few months later.
Peary Rader, the publisher of Iron Man Magazine, wanted a good color photo of Casey to use on the cover of his magazine for the issue that appeared just prior to the Mr. America contest - and in an attempt to get a good picture of Casey, we took literally hundreds of color photographs; but none of them were satisfactory - Casey looked "smooth" in all of them, he looked "fat", because he was fat.
So, on the first of April, with the next contest - the Junior Mr. America contest - only six weeks away, I realized that I had to start supervising Casey's workouts again; or take the risk of having him lose the contest. So I did start supervising his workouts again - every repetition of every set of ever exercise during each workout.
While he had been supervising his own training, Casey had fallen back into the habit of training almost every day - and always at least five days each week; so the first thing I did was get him back on a schedule of three workouts each week - and the second thing I did was cut out about half of the exercises he had been doing while supervising his own training - and the third thing I did was cut his number of sets to two per exercise in most cases, and one per exercise in some cases; for example, only one set of squats, three times weekly - and the forth thing I did was to assign a very strong football player the job of training with Casey in order to "push" him - and the fifth thing I did was push them both.
And immediately, Casey started moving in the other direction - we could literally see him grow from workout to workout; his high-repetition sets of leg-presses moved from 400 pounds to 750 pounds within less than a month, his squats (after "pre-exhaustion") moved from less than 400 pounds to over 500 pounds in the same period of time - he got larger, noticeably larger, by the workout - he became more defined, day by day - and within four weeks he was almost back into the shape that he had attained earlier, the peak of condition that he reached the previous November 1st - and within six weeks, by the time of the Junior Mr. America contest, he was in almost unbelievable condition, larger, stronger, and more defined than he had ever been before. When Red LeRille (Mr. America of 1960) saw him - and Red prepared Casey for the Mr. America contest the previous year, eleven months earlier, and thus was very familiar with Casey's physique - he stated that he ". . . would not have believed that Casey could improve that much in a year if he hadn't seen it personally."
Yet, in fact, it hadn't "actually" been a year - it was more like six weeks; or, if you want to include all of his training that produced gains instead of losses, you could call it twelve weeks - six weeks "up", five months "down", and the six weeks "up" again.
So - did Casey actually learn anything while training here? I don't know; but from all appearances, I can only say that he certainly displayed very few signs of any real learning - and no practical results at all, except negative results.
Now - it may well be true that Casey is an individual who cannot - or will not - push himself; and you must be pushed by somebody to produce the size and strength that he attained while I was supervising his training -if you can't, or won't, push yourself, then somebody else must do the pushing for you.
Ellington Darden was present during Casey's last week of training just before the Mr. America contest, and he remarked ". . . it would be interesting to know just how much of the results are produced by the machines and how much by Jones' pushing."
Which is certainly an interesting question - and one that I obviously can't answer; but it should also be obvious that you can't push with a rope, you must have a pole - regardless of how much I push, the machines must still be able to do the job, otherwise the results would not be produced. And anybody familiar with my writing should certainly be aware that I have always clearly stated that the machines are merely tools - and that like any tool, they will do nothing by themselves; they must be used, and used properly, and like any tool they are subject to misuse.
Then two or three days before the Mr. America contest, I overheard Casey tell somebody in the gym that, ". . . I learned long ago that it is impossible for me to overtrain."
All I can say is, ". . . did he?"
Now - let there be no slightest doubt on one point; Casey trained hard -Casey performed actual workouts - Casey made the gains - and Casey deserves the credit for these gains. But that is not my point; my point is, " . . . did Casey actually learn anything from the experience?" Under the circumstances, I can only judge from my experiences with him - and using that experience as a guide, I am forced to say that he apparently learned very little.
But I certainly learned something from those same experiences. I was able to demonstrate just what could be done with a subject who has far better than average potential and a willingness to work hard (even if he apparently does require outside pushing; which most of us do at one time or another, in one way or another), and I also learned that I must personally supervise every workout if I am going to be sure of best-possible results.
And using these lessons as a guide, I know what to do next time - and just wait and see what we do for next year's contest; but I can tell you very clearly in advance that you will probably be literally; shocked when you see the results of a year of proper training on the Nautilus machines - again with a subject who has far better than average potential, but this time with my constant supervision of all of his workouts.
And please do not misread any of the above as criticism of Casey - in spite of my generally bad opinion of bodybuilders as a group, I enjoyed supervising Casey's workouts; it is only a shame that I couldn't find the time to supervise all of them while he was here.
And what does the future hold for Casey now? Again, all I can say is that I don't know; he originally intended to stay here and train at least until the time of the Mr. Universe contest in London, in September of 1971, but then he got married, and things changed insofar as his immediate plans were concerned. For the benefit of any readers who may be interested in my personal advice to Casey upon the occasion of our last conversation just before he returned to his home in Louisiana, I will mention that I advised him to go back to school - and to get clear out of the bodybuilding scene; but since my opinion of the current bodybuilding scene has very little in common with Casey's opinion of the current bodybuilding scene, and since Casey is 19 years old, and since I am . . . well, older than that, and since my ambitions are not the same as Casey's, I really don't know what he intends to do, and I doubt if even he knows at this point. How many people do - at nineteen?
I made him an offer that involved staying here, and working, and going back to school - but he apparently has something else in mind; or maybe he just wants to get out on his own and see the world a bit - which at his age is perfectly normal.
But, wherever he goes, and whatever he does, I wish him the best of luck; in today's world, at nineteen, with an almost unbelievable physique and perhaps too much publicity, he is going to need lots of luck - especially if he stays on the bodybuilding scene.
So - there is one case in point, a recent case, a case based on personal knowledge and experience, involving a young man with perhaps the greatest physique up to this point in time, and certainly the greatest at his age; and is he an expert? Would his advice be sound?
So don't look to the "experts" for advice; instead, try to understand at least the basic facts involved - and when you do, then you can at least base your training on facts, instead of on perhaps well-meant but probably faulty opinion.
In the direction of understanding the first of the required facts - or factors - let us now examine some basic laws of physics; starting with a simple, clear look at something called a "moment-arm."
It is easily possible to move almost any amount of weight an actually great distance, and you can do so while producing almost nothing in the way of power - if the VERTICAL distance of movement is not great, and if you do not attempt to induce sudden acceleration; if your car is parked on smooth, flat pavement, you can push it quite easily - if you start the movement very gradually. But just try lifting the same car.
In the first instance, when you are pushing the car on a flat surface, the "moment-arm" is effectively ZERO; in order to move the car, it is only necessary; to overcome the inertia of the unmoving mass (or, in fact, since everything is always moving is several directions, from the rotation of the planet, the rotation of the galaxy, etc., you must "overcome the inertia by changing the direction of movement" - even though, because of your viewpoint, you may; not be aware of the actual movement that existed prior to the movement initiated by your own efforts), and, of course, you must also overcome the friction involved in such a situation - all of which is rather easy to do, if you start the movement slowly and smoothly.
But in the second instance, when you are attempting to lift the car, the situation is entirely different - from a moment-arm of zero, you have moved to a moment-arm of 100 per cent, every inch of movement will be an inch of VERTICAL movement; in effect, you have changed the situation from one where you had an almost infinite leverage advantage to a situation where you have no leverage advantage at all.
While the above example is not perfectly valid in technical terms - it is, I think, a worthwhile example of the points I am trying to get across.
Now let us again imagine that the same car was parked on the end of a diving board - and that the diving board, instead of being rigidly attached on the opposite end, was supported by an axle - and, for this example, let us suppose you have a very light car - one weighting 1000 pounds. Let us also suppose that the length of the diving board - from the center of the axle to the center of the car - is exactly 10 feet long.
The "downwards" force exerted by the car would be attempting to rotate the diving board around the axle - and this rotational force would be properly known as "torque." In this example - when the diving board was perfectly horizontal - the amount of torque would be exactly 10,000 "foot-pounds". The distance from the center of the axle to the center of the car would be 10 feet - and that 10 feet would represent the "moment arm" - and the torque (the twisting force applied to the axle) would be determined by multiplying the moment-arm by the weight of the car; 10 times 1000 - or 10,000. There would, of course, also be some torque resulting from the weight of the diving board - but in this example we will ignore it, assuming that the diving board was infinitely rigid and infinitely light in weight.
The 10,000 foot-pounds of torque would be the "maximum-possible" amount of torque in this situation - and you would have the amount of torque ONLY when the diving board was perfectly horizontal. If ANY movement occurred -either up or down - then the torque would be reduced; never INCREASED -always REDUCED.
If the diving board was rotated 90 degrees - either up or down - and assuming that the car was attached to the diving board so that it could not fall off, then there would be no torque, literally NONE. Because, then, the moment-arm would be zero - and zero multiplied by any amount of weight is still zero.
And just how did we determine the moment-arm? Very simply; when the diving board was horizontal, we drew a VERTICAL line through the center of the axle, and another VERTICAL line through the center of the car - and then we measured the HORIZONTAL distance between these two vertical lines, and that distance is the moment-arm.
But when the diving board was rotated 90 degrees, so that the car was hanging straight down (or sitting on top of the vertical diving board), then a vertical line that passed through the center of the axle would also pass through the center of the car - if you drew two vertical lines, one through the center of the axle, and one through the center of the car, then the lines would have zero horizontal distance between them. The moment-arm would be zero.
If you stood under the car, while the diving board was perfectly horizontal, and attempted to rotate the diving board by pushing straight up on the car, then you would have to exert something in excess of 1000 pounds of force to produce movement - exactly 1000 pounds of force would be required to merely support the car, to prevent it from pushing you down; but literally ANYTHING IN EXCESS OF 1000 POUNDS of force would produce movement upwards - and the greater the force, the faster the upwards movement would be.
However, if you wanted to move the diving board (and the car) while the diving board was in a vertical position, then only a very slight amount of force would be required - only enough force to overcome the momentum and the friction involved.
In both cases you would be rotating the diving board and the car around the axle - but in one case it would require a great amount of force, and in the other case it would require only a very small amount of force.
Because - when you were pushing upwards, you were trying to move the diving board and the car VERTICALLY, but when you were pushing "across", you were trying to move the diving board and the car HORIZONTALLY.
For all practical purposes - in the field of exercise - we can (and should) ignore anything except VERTICAL movement of resistance; it makes no slightest difference in which direction we are pulling or pushing, and the "total amount" of movement is of no importance - what matters, and all that matters, is the vertical movement of the resistance.
All human movements involved in exercise are very similar to the example of the diving board and the car - all such movements are ROTATIONAL movements; and as an unavoidable consequence, the moment-arm (and thus the torque, the actual resistance) is constantly changing - in some areas of movement there is literally no resistance, and in other areas of movement the resistance is 100 per cent of its actual weight. And it makes no slightest difference that the actual weight is not rotating in some instances - because SOMETHING is ALWAYS rotating; if not the weight, then the involved body parts - or perhaps the rotation is shared, part of the actual rotation may be on the part of the weight and part of it on the part of the involved body parts -but it amounts to exactly the same thing in the end. Such rotation is unavoidable - it cannot be eliminated; and it must be understood - and allowed for.
When "compound rotation" (rotation around two or more separate points) is involved - as it is in a press, a squat, and in many other exercise movements - then the situation becomes a bit more difficult to understand; but the factors are the same in all cases - and the results are unavoidably the same. In an effort to avoid unnecessary complexity of explanation, I will simply skip any detailed mention of compound rotation - and will limit my examples to single-rotation situations, such as the curl.
In a standing barbell curl, there is literally no resistance at the start of the movement - because in that position, the moment-arm is zero. Likewise, at the end of a curl, there is no resistance - for exactly the same reason.
Viewed from the side, the performance of a curl goes about as follows; at the start, the forearms are in line with the upper-arms and the center of the barbell is directly below the center of the elbow joint - thus a straight, vertical line drawn through the "axis of rotation" (the elbow) will also pass through the center of the barbell. Thus the moment-arm is zero - and the torque is also zero, regardless of how much the barbell weighs.
The movement can be started with almost literally no power - since, at the start, you are moving the barbell perfectly horizontally, there is absolutely no vertical movement at that point; but as the curl progresses, the "direction-of-movement" rapidly changes from horizontal to vertical -after the first 45 degrees of movement, the direction-of-movement has become equally divided between horizontal movement and vertical movement, and (for the average man) the moment-arm has increased from zero to about 8 1/2 inches, and the torque has increased from zero to approximately 850 "inch pounds" (assuming a barbell of 100 pounds weight).
During the first part of a curl, the effective resistance will increase very rapidly - and during the next 45 degrees of movement it will continue to increase, but at a slower rate of increase. So, at the so-called "sticking point" in a curl, after the first 90 degrees of movement, when the forearms are bent 90 degrees in relation to the upper arms, and when the forearms are parallel with the floor (perfectly horizontal), the moment-arm will be at its highest point - the moment-arm will be about 12 inches, and the torque will be approximately 1,200 inch-pounds, or 100 "foot-pounds". In either case, of course, the torque is calculated by multiplying the moment-arm by the resistance; 12 inches times 100 pounds equals 1,200 inch-pounds - or one foot times 100 pounds equals 100 foot-pounds.
Thus during the first 90 degrees of movement in a curl the resistance is constantly changing - at first it increases very slowly, then it starts increasing more rapidly, and then it slows down again; but it is constantly increasing throughout that first 90 degrees of movement.
After the first 90 degrees of movement, the resistance continues to change - but from that point on to the end of the movement the moment-arm, and thus the torque, decreases; and by the time the curl is finished, the moment-arm has returned to zero - and there is no resistance at all.
So now we should add the following points to our list of basic points . . .
36 - You cannot learn the proper method of training a race horse by asking a race horse.
37 - If left up to their own devices, most trainees will not train properly.
38 - In order to produce maximum-possible results, "somebody" has to push the trainee, any trainee; some trainees can and will push themselves - most will not, or cannot.
39 - The moment-arm of the resistance must be considered in order to determine the actual resistance imposed on the muscles.
40 - All exercise movements are rotational in nature.
41 - The resistance imposed upon the muscles in all conventional forms of exercise is constantly changing as movement occurs.
42 - There is literally no resistance in the finishing position of many conventional exercise.
An engine produces maximum power only when the fuel-air mixture is exactly right - a change in either direction, increasing or decreasing the amount of fuel in relation to the amount of air, will always DECREASE power.
For most practical purposes, your body is an engine - and many of the same basic principles can be applied with equal validity to an engine or to a human muscle and its supporting organs.
In 1955, I bought a new car - and I maintained an exact record of its performance during the time that I owned it, for 68,000 miles; during the entire period of ownership it averaged 15.8 miles to the gallon, overall -highway driving, city driving, and some outright competitive racing. When driven at a reasonable speed, a true 60 miles an hour - which, on that car, when the tires were new, was 64 miles per hour on the speedometer - it gave an average of well over 20 miles to the gallon, and sometimes as much as 22 miles to the gallon.
Ten years later, in 1965, I bought another new car of the same make - and by that point my driving habits were much improved; which should have resulted in even better gas mileage - but, in fact, I was lucky to get as much as 12 miles to the gallon even on the highway, and the average mileage was about 10 miles to the gallon.
The two cars weighted about the same, had basically the same "extras", and should have performed in a very similar fashion - but in fact, the 1955 car was faster, had much better acceleration, and used a lot less fuel.
At first I didn't understand why - but now I do; the later model car was designed to use an "over-rich" fuel-air mixture for cooling purposes - the engine was literally being cooled by the use of excess fuel.
During that period of ten years, the size of the engine had been increased, the compression ration had been increased, the "advertised" horsepower had been increased, fuel consumption had gone up enormously - and the car weighed about the same and performed a lot worse; because the engine had become so big it couldn't be cooled adequately in the normal way - it was creating more heat than the cooling system could handle.
So how did they solve the problem? In a logical way, by reducing the size of the engine to a point where the cooling system could cope with the situation? Of course not - because then they; couldn't advertise the huge size of the engine; size they couldn't use in a logical manner - a lot of which size, and potential power, they couldn't use at all.
In an airplane engine, where you do have adequate cooling (at least in the air), the maximum power setting of a fuel-air mixture will also be the fuel-air mixture that produces the most heat - and the same thing is true of any engine; during takeoff, when the engine is actually operating above safe limits - producing more power than it is really safe to use - you must use an over-rich fuel-air mixture, which will obviously reduce the power production somewhat, but which is compensated for by using more revolutions per minute and higher manifold pressure.
But when cruising power settings are being used, the situation is somewhat different - then you are interested in getting as much power as you can out of each gallon of fuel; and when the fuel-air mixture is regulated to give maximum power, you will also be creating maximum heat.
In practice, most airplanes aren't cruised at such fuel-air settings, because it is more economical to use a mixture that actually gives a bit less power; an airplane is designed to cruise within a certain speed range, and any speed outside that range is highly inefficient - flying slower, or flying faster, in either case the fuel consumption will be increased. Secondly, a slight increase in speed requires a disproportionate increase in power - to increase the speed by 10 per cent you might have to increase the power by; 100 per cent, so it isn't justified.
So in practice, you try to use the fuel-air mixture that will give you the most miles per gallon - even though that mixture won't give you quite as much power, or, at least, that's the way you should do it, the intelligent pilots do it - which means, of course, that it is NOT the way most pilots do it. Instead, most pilots actually reduce the power, and the speed, while INCREASING the fuel consumption.
If you are cruising at an indicated speed of 200 miles per hour, and if your engines are turning at the correct number of revolutions per minute, and if your manifold pressure are proper for the circumstances - then your engines will also be producing maximum heat, and you may be burning a total of 400 gallons of fuel per hour (100 in each of four engines); which means that you are burning two gallons of fuel for each mile of indicated speed.
But you are aware that a rather large scale reduction of power (and thus a large reduction in fuel consumption) will not produce a proportionate reduction in speed - so it is only common sense to use a more economical combination of power and speed factors; so you reduce the power by moving the mixture-control levers in the direction of a "lean" setting, you reduce the amount of fuel being fed to the engines but leave the air input just as it was - and both the power and the heat start to drop off.
And the speed drops as well - but not in proportion to the reduction in fuel consumption; with a proper mixture setting, you may be burning only 300 gallons per hour - but you are still getting 190 miles per hour speed, so you are then getting far better fuel consumption; in effect, by reducing your speed only 5 per cent you reduced your fuel consumption by 25 per cent, an obvious improvement.
But that is the PROPER way to do it - and how do most pilots do it? By moving the mixture levers in the opposite direction, by giving the engines MORE gas in stead of less gas - which will have exactly the same effect as far as power and hear are concerned, both of which will be reduced. And as the power drops off, the speed will also drop off. But what about the fuel consumption? Well, instead of dropping off from 400 gallons per hour to only 300 gallons per hour, it will increase from 400 gallons per hour to possibly 500 gallons per hour - instead of getting better, the situation gets worse.
If you ask a pilot that does this "why he does it", you may get almost anything for an answer - anything but a rational answer, that is; but usually they will mumble something about "playing it safe." Whatever that means.
And if, by this point, you are wondering just what all of this has to do with physical training - then wait a bit, it will all come clear in a moment.
As I mentioned a page or so back, your body has much in common with an engine - your body also requires a proper fuel-air mixture, and like an engine it likewise requires a proper chemical mixture in the fuel itself; if the mixture is changed - in either direction - then the result will be a reduction in power, NEVER an increase, ALWAYS a reduction.
Yet, much like pilots that really don't understand the involved factors, most bodybuilders constantly think they are "playing it safe." By giving their body an amount of one element of fuel that is out of proportion to the other required elements. And all they are actually doing, of course, is overloading their systems - providing a mixture that cannot be used properly; wasting fuel and reducing power at the same time - and throwing at least some strain on their organs for no good reason.
An airplane engine cannot convert fuel to air, and if you give it too much fuel in proportion to the amount of air it is getting then it will simply quit running entirely; but the human body can convert certain food elements into other elements if it is required to do so - and it will do so, up to a reasonable point. But there are limits - and if pushed too far, the body may not stop running entirely but will certainly start operating at greatly reduced efficiency.
While it may or may not be true, as many self-appointed "nutritional experts" maintain, that Americans are the WORST FED people on earth - if so, then bodybuilders are the worst of the lot.
Unfortunately, the human body doesn't come equipped with instruments to tell us just what is happening at the moment - not on a dial, at least; but the body will tell you quite a bit about what is happening if you know how to read the signs - and if you can't, but if you can at least read English, then you can learn what to do from somebody who can read the signs.
Twenty years ago, most bodybuilders had probably never heard of protein -today, most of them try to restrict their diets to almost pure protein; and when that doesn't give them instant results, then they try to force their system to use more of the protein by taking drugs - and most of them end up fast as a pig, wondering what happened. What happened, of course, was that the body did the only thing it could do under the circumstances - not being able to use the protein in the amount supplied, it converted it to fat.
And quite a few of them, as a result of the drugs, end up with greatly-reduced interest in girls, or, even if they maintain their interest, they can't do much about it.
In an airplane, in certain situations where operation is NOT NORMAL, it is permissible - even recommended practice - to vary the fuel-air mixture for reasons other than the one outlined earlier; but in all such situations the efficiency will be reduced, and it should also be noted that all such variations will reduce the power output to a point well below that which might me indicated by fuel consumption, by revolutions per minute, by manifold pressure, or by any other means of calculation.
And the human body is subject to very similar physical laws - and if all of the involved factors and their interrelationships were clearly and exactly understood, then it is at least probably that the physical laws would be found to be identical; and to the degree that they are known, they are identical - with no SINGLE EXCEPTION that can be supported on any basis except outright myth.
All of which is so simple, so basic, so obvious, so undeniably true that I am almost embarrassed to write it - but most of which will sound like outright heresy to many bodybuilders, perhaps to most bodybuilders.
You might also take note of the fact that varying the fuel-air mixture from "lean" to "rich" also changes the octane rating of the fuel - literally reduces the power of the fuel; kindly note, LOW OCTANE fuel is MORE POWERFUL than high octane fuel.
You cannot safely use low-octane fuel in a high-compression engine - but not because it isn't powerful enough; on the contrary, it isn't safe because it is TOO POWERFUL. And high-octane fuel, of course, can be safely used in ANY engine - because it isn't powerful enough to be dangerous; and if you raise the octane rating high enough, then the fuel won't even burn.
All of which, of course, is exactly the opposite of what most people believe.
And while I am certainly not suggesting a low-protein diet, and while a diet that is slightly rich in protein may be an advantage during periods of rapid growth - there is a very definite limit to the amount of protein that can be used by the body under any circumstances; an if you exceed that limit, the results will be WORSE rather than better.
In many cases, the diets of bodybuilders are merely foolish - but in no small number of cases, they are actually dangerous.
And now we come to the real point of this chapter - which might not have been clear without the preceding examples; the human muscular system also depends upon a very definite fuel-air mixture for proper performance - or even for life itself.
Without becoming bogged down in lengthy descriptions of all of the factors involved, things like "steady state" function and "oxygen debt" limitations, I will attempt to make the reader aware of the implications of all of the related cause-effect relationships; again it isn't necessary to understand just "why" such situations exist, if we are at least aware of the practical considerations.
To function, muscles require oxygen - in proper ratio to the available fuel; to that degree, muscles and engines are exactly alike - but muscles, unlike an engine, can store oxygen, and can borrow oxygen. In effect, a muscle can and will use oxygen from sources that are not normally called upon; and thus it is able to function longer than might be expected - but there are limits to this ability as well.
For proper results from exercise, these limits must be understood and allowed for; if not, then the usual result is that a point of failure is reached because the muscles simply run out of available oxygen - they will quit functioning, they MUST QUIT functioning, because the fuel-air mixture becomes unbalanced to the point that the still available fuel cannot be used. And if this is allowed to happen, then you can repeatedly work to a point of actual failure without doing much in the way of stimulating growth; because, if failure results from a simple lack of oxygen rather than from true exhaustion of the reserve ability of the muscles, then you obviously are not working within the momentarily-existing levels of reserve ability.
In very simple terms, this means that you must work fast - and that the amount of work must be limited to a certain maximum number of repetitions; in following chapters I will list several suggested training routines -which are not based upon guesswork, and which must be performed exactly as outlined if the results that they are capable of producing are to be realized in fact.
"Yes, but different people react differently" (or words to that effect), is a statement I have heard from hundreds of bodybuilders; and the idea expressed is certainly true - up to a point. But it is equally true - and of far more importance - that the basic laws of physics are the same for EVERYBODY.
In practice, we found that the number of repetitions should remain within certain fairly rigid limits - and we understand why these limits are imposed; in previous chapters, I have detailed points that should make the lower limiting factors clear to anybody, so I will add very little in that regard here - and the above should help to explain at least some of the upper limiting factors.
All that remains, then, is to state those limits in simple terms; in general, the number of repetitions should be not less than six nor more than twenty - and in many exercises, limits of 8 to 12 repetitions should be observed.
If you practice less than six repetitions, it is unlikely that you will actually work far inside the momentarily-existing level of reserve ability - and if you exceed twenty repetitions, you will probably fail from a lack of oxygen, rather than from having reached a point of actual muscular failure, and again you would not be working inside the levels of reserve ability.
We do, on an occasional basis, perform sets of as few as four repetitions - but in general, sets of such a limited number of repetitions are not advisable; they are dangerous if performed in a proper style, and will accomplish little or nothing if not performed properly.
It should also be obvious by this point that doing "more" exercise is NEVER the proper solution, and that no amount of extra exercise can compensate for exercises performed improperly; the style of performance of any exercise is perhaps the most important point of all - and this is far from being a simple matter, involving, as it does, such factors as proper resistance selection, speed-of-movement, calculated variation of power production from repetition to repetition, and other factors of equal importance.
"And," you may be asking at this point, "what does the difference between the performance of the 1955 car and the performance of the 1965 car have to do with the matter?"
Quite a lot; that was merely an example of the fact that the ratio of efficiency of the cooling system has a great deal to do with the ability to make practical utilization of potential power - in a car, or in a man. This one factor is responsible for a lot of the obvious differential in the performances of light-weight lifters and heavy-weight lifters; and it is also a factor to be reckoned with in training.
In an earlier chapter I mentioned that an increase in mass will always be out of proportion to the simultaneously occurring increase in surface area - and that heat is produced in proportion to mass, and cooling is provided in proportion to the surface area; which simply means that an increase in size will always result in a decrease in cooling efficiency - as you get larger, you get warmer.
And it should also be remembered that maximum-possible power production simultaneously and unavoidably produces a maximum-possible heat rise; which simply means that actually hard work must raise the temperature of the body. And since the body's efficient operating range is extremely narrow insofar as internal temperature is concerned, this means that a large man will not be able to sustain actually hard work as long as a smaller man can -everything else being equal; and this, I think, is another reason why most advanced bodybuilders fall into a habit of working at a lower intensity of effort and at a slower pace, with more frequent and longer rest periods between sets - which, in turn, reduces their production of results.
So again it should be obvious that you simply cannot escape the basic laws of physics - and that these effects must be understood and allowed for; if not understood by the trainee - and they seldom will be - they must, at least, be understood by the coach, or by the person outlining a program of training. And for the production of an actually worthwhile rate of progress from physical training, a program that is designed with these limiting factors clearly in mind must be followed exactly as it is outlined.
Remember - you can have an elephant's body, an elephant's head, four elephant's feet, and all of the other required parts, but you still won't have an elephant if all of the required parts are not fitted together properly.
Yet, in practice, I find that most bodybuilders start "changing things" almost immediately after they have been given a training program; and then wonder why they don't get the results they expected.
"Well", you may be thinking now, "this still doesn't justify a detailed description of the best fuel-air mixture settings for an airplane."
But perhaps it does; and in any case, that example was carefully chosen for a particular reason - or, actually, for several reasons, since there are several parallels with situations commonly encountered in weight-training. Some of which parallels have already been mentioned - the fact that maximum power production unavoidably involves maximum heat production, the fact that an over-rich mixture actually reduces power production, and the fact that many bodybuilders (like most pilots) mistakenly feel that they are "playing it safe" by operating with an over-rich mixture - and some other parallels that might not be clear at this point.
While cruising, the pilot of an airplane should be primarily concerned with operating his engines for maximum economy - in order to extend the range and in order to avoid undue stress on the engines; and many; bodybuilders train as if they were trying to do exactly the same things - apparently for much the same reasons. While, of course, they should be trying to produce the results that the pilot is trying to avoid; they should be trying to impose "stress," and "extending the range" of their workouts is certainly not desirable.
A pilot should understand that increasing his cruising speed by as little as 5 per cent may require increasing his power output (and thus his fuel consumption) by as much as 100 per cent - and that doing so will obviously reduce his range; and a weight-trainee is faced with much the same situation, but with a difference - inducing growth-stimulation requires maximum-possible power production, which will unavoidably "reduce the range", make long workouts literally impossible.
And again, confusing the "amount of exercise" with "intensity of effort", most bodybuilders soon fall into a pattern of training more, but never actually training very hard.
If you train properly, you don't need an actually large "amount" of exercise; more than that, if you train properly, you can't STAND much exercise.
A distance runner is interested in one thing, a sprinter is interested in something else; the distance runner literally must operate under "steady state" conditions that will permit long range operation - the sprinter must use all available power for one quick burst of speed. The distance runner certainly works more - and the sprinter just as certainly works harder; distance runners seldom have much in the way of muscular mass or strength -while good sprinters frequently do have impressive muscular mass in their legs, and are actually quite strong.
For the purpose of building muscular size-strength, it is important to perform "as much work as possible" within a "strictly limited time period", the period required to reach a point of actual muscular failure, and a period of time that is below the limit imposed by fuel-air factors.
Which adds the following to the list of basic points . . .
43 - Exercises involving maximum power production must be performed at a fast pace, with little or no pause between repetitions.
44 - The number of repetitions should be at least 6 and not more than 20 in all sets - and at least 8 and nor more than 12 in some exercises.
45 - Increasing the "intensity of effort" requires a disproportionate reduction in the "amount" of exercise.
- A point of failure must be reached
as a result of muscular failure.
A SIMPLE EXAMPLE
The attention span of people being what it is, most readers will probably be hopelessly confused by this stage; because, even though the preceding points - taken one at a time - are actually quite simple, the number of important points, and the complex interrelationships involved, simply add up to a total of information that cannot be quickly absorbed by most people. And let there be no doubt on this score - it took me more than thirty years to fully realize the implications of the related factors as outlined in preceding chapters.
So I think it might be a good idea, at this point in the proceedings, to clearly and simply outline an actual training program that I might recommend for a beginning trainee - with no attempt to explain "why" the program is outlined as it is.
Let us assume, for this example, that the trainee is between 18 and 25 years of age, is 5 feet and 8 inches tall, and weights 150 pounds (stripped) and has never engaged in any serious form of physical training - and, of course, is in normal health.
Available training equipment will be a barbell, a chinning bar, a set of parallel bars, and a squat rack - all of which can be purchased and-or built for less than $100.
At the start, I would suggest the following routine as a "break-in" training program - to be practiced daily for a period of 5 days in a row. . .
1 - 1 set of 20 repetitions, full squat
2 - 1 set of 20 repetitions, one-leg calf raises (1 set for each leg)
3 - 1 set of 10 repetitions, standing presses, with a barbell
4 - 1 set of 10 repetitions, regular-grip chins
5 - 1 set of 10 repetitions, parallel dips
6 - 1 set of 10 repetitions, standing curls, with barbell
7 - 1 set of 15 repetitions, stiff-leg deadlifts, with barbell
During the first workout, the selection of weight to be used will necessarily be outright guesswork - but I would suggest the following as a start . . .
Squats............................................................................................... 100 pounds
Calf raises......................................................................................... None
Standing presses.............................................................................. 80 pounds
Parallel dips...................................................................................... None
Standing curls.................................................................................. 60 pounds
Deadlifts........................................................................................... 100 pounds
If the trainee is unable to perform the indicated number of repetitions, then the selected weight is either too high or is approximately right -depending upon how close to the suggested number of repetitions the trainee can come; if 80 per cent or more (8 out of 10, or 16 out of 20, or 12 out of 15) of the suggested number of repetitions can be performed in good style, then the weight is not too high - but it might be too low.
If the trainee can perform the full number of suggested repetitions - or more - then the weight is too low.
But in any case, it will require about a week of experimentation to determine the proper resistance for each of the exercises; a properly selected resistance will permit 70 per cent to 90 per cent of the suggested number of repetitions.
During each of the first five workouts, the trainee should perform as many repetitions as possible - up to the suggested number; but should not exceed the suggested number of repetitions, even though he may be able to do so. If he can exceed the suggested number of repetitions, then he should increase the resistance during the next workout.
By the end of the first week of training (during the fifth workout) the trainee should know the proper resistance for each exercise.
Some muscular soreness can be expected to result from this first week of training - but by training fairly lightly for five days in a row, most trainees will avoid actually severe muscular soreness. After the first five workouts, a 72 hour rest should be permitted before resuming training on a regular basis; in effect, you might train Monday through Friday during the first week, then skip Saturday and Sunday, and resume training on Monday.
Starting on Monday the second week, the program should be changed to the following routine . . .
1 - 1 set of 20 repetitions, full squat
2 - 1 set of 20 repetitions, one-leg calf raises
3 - 1 set of 10 repetitions, standing presses
4 - 1 set of 10 repetitions, regular-grip chins
5 - 1 set of 10 repetitions, standing presses ( a second set)
6 - 1 set of 10 repetitions, regular-grip chins ( a second set)
7 - 1 set of 10 repetitions, parallel dips
8 - 1 set of 10 repetitions, standing curls
9 - 1 set of 10 repetitions, parallel dips ( a second set)
10 - 1 set of 10 repetitions, standing curls ( a second set)
11 - 1 set of 15 repetitions, stiff-leg deadlifts
During the second week of training - and thereafter - the trainee should perform as many repetitions as possible in each set of every exercise, except stiff-leg deadlifts; regardless of the actual number of repetitions that can be performed. Do NOT stop simply because the indicated number of repetitions has been reached - continue until a point of failure has been reached.
In the squats, an actual point of failure (for the legs) has been reached when it is impossible to continue without excessive bending of the back; when you find yourself starting to straighten the legs fully while the back is still bent, that is the point to stop. In the deadlifts, continue to a point where the weight starts to feel quite heavy - but not to a point of actual failure.
But in all of the other exercises, continue to the point where another repetition in good form is literally impossible - but do NOT use cheating methods, maintain good form.
The first three or four repetitions in each set of every exercise should be performed at a speed well below the maximum speed that would be possible at that point - but starting with the fourth or fifth repetition, the speed of movement should be as fast as possible without jerking or bodyswing; the remainder of the repetitions in each set should be performed at maximum-possible speed - but the "actual speed" will be quite slow if the weight is as heavy as it should be, and the speed during the last one or two repetitions in each set will be extremely slow.
The above routine should be followed for at least three weeks - and perhaps as much as six, or even nine weeks; but in any case, it should be followed until such time as the trainee is obviously gaining rapidly in strength.
The program should not be changed until the trainee is capable of performing the proper number of repetitions with the following amounts of resistance. . .
Squats 15 repetitions with 200 pounds
Calf-raises 15 repetitions with 30 pounds
Standing presses 10 repetitions with 120 pounds
Chins 10 repetitions with 25 pounds
Parallel dips 10 repetitions with 50 pounds
Standing curls 10 repetitions with 100 pounds
Deadlifts 15 repetitions with 200 pounds
Some trainees will reach the above strength levels very quickly - others will take longer; but heavier training should not be undertaken at strength levels much if any below those listed.
When the trainee can perform at the above levels - on the average, although all trainees will obviously not reach exactly similar levels -then the program should be changed; by the time these strength levels have been reached, the trainee should have increased his bodyweight by at least 10 pounds - but NOT MORE THAN 15 POUNDS - and should be more muscular in appearance than he was at the start of training. If weight is gained too rapidly, or out of proportion to strength increases, then this is a clear indication that fatty tissue is being added - which is NOT DESIRABLE.
If a "pinch test" of the skin in the area of the waist indicates the addition of fatty tissue - if the skin is getting thicker in that area -then the diet is too high in calories, and should be reduced to a point where regular pinch tests indicate a slow loss of fatty tissue.
Up to the end of the second training program, the time factor is not critical - but excessive rest periods between sets should not be permitted. The entire workout (during the second program) should be completed within not more than forty-five minutes. Three weekly workouts should be used - on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, or Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
There will be a natural temptation to do "more" - to add sets, or new exercises; but fastest growth will result if the program is performed exactly as outlined.
At no time should the trainee attempt "maximum-possible single-attempt lifts" - don't worry about what you can press once, or how much you can squat with once.
When you are capable of reaching the designated number of repetition in squats, chins, parallel dips, and deadlifts, add 25 pounds to the resistance; increase from 100 pounds to 125 pounds, from 125 pounds to 150 pounds, and so on.
When you can perform the proper number of repetitions in standing presses, curls, and calf-raises, add 5 pounds to the resistance; from 80 pounds increase to 85 pounds - from 85 to 90, and so on.
In the chins and parallel dips, the first addition of weight to your bodyweight should be 25 pounds - a 25 pound barbell plate hung to your waist by a short rope.
In the one-leg calf-raises, the first addition of weight to your bodyweight should be 20 pounds - in the form of a 20 pound dumbbell (or two 10 pound barbell plates tied together with a rope) held in one hand.
With average subjects in anything except an outright "fat" condition at the start of training, no direct training for the abdominal area is required -nor is it desirable; proper performance of the other exercises will assure enough indirect exercise for this area of the body at first - and at no time is much in the way of direct abdominal exercise either required or desirable.
During the first few weeks of training the trainee should concentrate on learning the proper style of performing the exercises - and should constantly attempt to increase his strength; if increases in strength are being produced at a reasonable rate, and if the addition of fatty tissue is kept under control by watching the amount of food intake, then everything else will take care of itself at this point.
In the next chapter, I will outline additional - more advanced - training programs to follow the above training routines; but I cannot suggest too strongly that the more advanced programs should NOT be undertaken at strength levels much if any below those listed earlier.
In Bulletin Number 1, the so-called "Total Tonnage" theory was discussed, and I pointed out the outright stupidity of the thinking behind this theory. According to that theory, the "value" of a workout can be determined by adding up the "total tonnage" lifted; for example - ten reps with 100 pounds in the curl would total 1,000 pounds lifted, added to ten reps with 200 pounds in the squat (2,000 pounds) would give a total tonnage of 3,000 pounds in the workout.
Which, of course, is outright hogwash - since it is easily possible to lift an enormous "total tonnage" while doing nothing worthwhile - and just as easy to perform a very productive workout that involves very little "total tonnage". Secondly, according to that theory, ten reps with 100 pounds are exactly equal to two reps with 500 pounds - which is obvious nonsense; the "work performed" would be equal - but the power required and the results produced would certainly NOT be equal.
However - in spite of the totally invalid thinking involved in that theory - there is a lesson to be learned from the basic physics of the that theory, if ALL of the factors are considered. In the total tonnage theory, all of the factors were NOT considered - resulting in invalid conclusions - but in the following example, we will consider all related factors. And since the unavoidable conclusions resulting from such consideration are of particular importance to advanced trainees, I would suggest that every effort be made to understand the following example.
Let us assume, for this example, that you weight 160 pounds in muscular condition - and that you have a 15 inch upper arm - and that you can curl 100 pounds for 8 reps in perfect form. Let us also assume that you are training three times weekly - and that you are performing four sets of curls in each workout. We will ignore the rest of your workout, since one example of the curl will be enough for explanation purposes, and since considering the entire workout would merely confuse the issue.
During workout No. 1 you perform as follows. . .
1st set 8 reps with 100 pounds total 800 pounds
2nd set 8 reps with 100 pounds total 800 pounds
3rd set 7 reps with 100 pounds total 700 pounds
4th set 7 reps with 100 pounds total 700 pounds
grand total 3,000 pounds
And since you moved the weight vertically a distance of 2 feet during each repetition, we will multiply the 3,000 pounds by 2 feet - giving us a "total of work" of 6,000.
A while later, during workout No. 7, you perform as follows. . .
1st set 9 reps with 110 pounds total 990 pounds
2nd set 9 reps with 110 pounds total 990 pounds
3rd set 8 reps with 110 pounds total 880 pounds
4th set 8 reps with 110 pounds total 880 pounds
grand total 3,740 pounds
Or a "total of work" of 7,480.
It will be noted, at this point, that you would be performing almost exactly 25 per cent more work during the seventh workout than you were during the first workout.
Yet, later, during workout No. 25, your perform as follows. . .
1st set 10 reps with 125 pounds total 1,250 pounds
2nd set 10 reps with 125 pounds total 1,250 pounds
3rd set 9 reps with 125 pounds total 1,125 pounds
4th set 8 reps with 125 pounds total 1,000 pounds
grand total 4,625 pounds
Or a "total of work" of 9,250.
Up to that point, your growth may have been fairly rapid - and in the meantime, your bodyweight may have increased to 175 pounds, and your upper-arm to 16 inches; but then growth stops, or becomes very slow. Because, at that point, you have reached the limits of your recovery ability. During the first few workouts, your strength level was such that your "total of work" never exhausted your recovery ability entirely - and thus rapid growth was possible, and occurred. But, later, when your strength level was higher, your larger "total of work" finally reached a point where it exactly matched (or closely approached) the limits of your recovery ability. Whereupon, growth became literally impossible - or slowed to a snail's pace. You were simply working "too much".
The answer is NOT a reduction in the weight used - no amount of light work will stimulate muscle growth; instead, the answer is perfectly obvious, REDUCE THE NUMBER OF SETS. If you had done only the first two sets of workout NO. 25 (instead of four sets), then the "total of work" would have been only 5,000 - instead of the 9,250 produced by four sets; your recovery ability would NOT have been exceeded (or entirely used up) and growth would have resulted, fast growth.
The lesson to be learned from this simple example should be obvious to almost anybody - but in fact, most bodybuilders act as if they firmly believe that an exactly opposite state of affairs exists; advanced trainees require LESS training than beginners - NOT MORE, LESS.
Beginning trainees gain faster than advanced trainees in almost all cases for a very simple reason - simply because their strength levels are such that they don't entirely use up their recovery ability in each workout. Later, when they get stronger, they DO use up all of their recovery ability - and growth stops.
Certainly the limits of your recovery ability increase - or, at least, they should - but there will always be a limit, a limit that must not be exceeded, nor even closely approached.
A beginning trainee in good health will almost always produce a fairly good rate of progress on a program of four sets of twelve basic barbell exercises - but later, he will do much better on only three sets of each exercise -and yet later, he will find growth impossible if he does more than two sets of the same exercise. Eventually, he may have to reduce the number of basic exercises to only eight, while still doing only two sets of each exercise; and finally, he may have to perform only two weekly workouts of two sets of each of eight basic exercises. Thus, in practice, as he becomes larger and stronger, he may have to reduce the number of weekly sets from 144 to 108 -then to 72 - then to 48 - and finally to only 32 weekly sets. In the end, he will be doing less sets weekly than he was performing during each of his starting workouts.
There will, of course, be some individual variation - but only within certain limits, and the basic principles remain valid in ALL cases.
However - do not misread the above to mean that I am suggesting that even a beginner SHOULD perform forty-eight sets in each of three weekly workouts; I merely said - and I clearly meant - that most healthy beginners can actually "stand" more sets than more advanced trainees. In best practice, beginners should start out fairly light, then gradually increase the number of sets, but they should eventually reverse the process - actually reduce the number of sets, and-or the number of exercises, and-or the number of weekly workouts.
If constant efforts are made in the direction of true progress, if you try to do more reps in each set of every exercise, and if you always increase the resistance in proportion to your strength increases, then growth can be, should be - and in most cases, will be - very fast; not fast only for beginners, but fast for anybody, regardless of his existing level of strength or muscular size, right up to the top level of momentarily-existing potential.
With some few notable exceptions, advanced bodybuilders as a class are certainly an odd group - to say the least; having far too many quirks in common, sharing too many common misconceptions - far from being the "experts" they consider themselves to be, they possess less actual knowledge in regard to their chosen activity of weight-training than is contained in a brief, simplified outline of progressive resistance exercise intended for a rank beginner. Assuming, of course, that such an outline wasn't written by an advanced bodybuilder - in which case, it is probably worthless, hopelessly confused, stuffed with outright nonsense.
But a lack of actual knowledge - and-or a belief in outright myths - is not the only characteristic of the average advanced bodybuilder; fear, self doubt, a hesitant approach to almost everything, a sometimes fairly well concealed cauldron of boiling emotions, an outright (but strongly denied) conviction of personal inferiority - these and similar character traits are very commonly encountered in the ranks of advanced bodybuilders. In almost all cases, bodybuilding is rudely pushed into a resented second place -many such people would train twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, if they could, most such people would do nothing in the way of worthwhile work if they could possibly avoid it, almost all such people restrict their interests and limit their conversations to bodybuilding activities.
Then, having reached the "top" - as only a very few bodybuilders ever do - most such people are surprised to find that there is nothing there, no rewards, no applause, literally NOTHING. Average people look upon them as freaks, most girls avoid them or ridicule them, nobody outside a very narrow circle of close associates has any respect for them - so, was it worth the price?
Apparently many thousands of young men - and many men not so young - seem to think so, because they keep trying, following the same path to nowhere, heeding the same lies, paying attention to the same worthless advice, believing the same myths; and the pitiful part of it is that they very goal they are seeking can be reached much more quickly without any of the sacrifices that most bodybuilders impose upon themselves. But since I don't honestly think that I can reach many - if any - advanced bodybuilders through the medium of the written word, and since it is very difficult to reach them even when given an opportunity to communicate with them in person, I consider almost all advanced bodybuilders lost causes - men doomed to continue in ignorance, fated to run their hearts out on a treadmill of mistaken beliefs.
By the time they do reach to top in bodybuilding circles, most such men have wandered too far astray to find their way back to actual sanity - even if offered a guiding hand of fact; which is not meant to imply that advanced bodybuilders won't listen to new ideas (ideas new to them) - on the contrary, most advanced bodybuilders are anxious to hear all of the details of any idea that even appears new to them. But having heard it, perhaps having discussed it or read about it for months in all possible detail, they will seldom try it - or if so, impose their own restrictions, their own "changes", so that in practice the idea is not being tried at all.
Regardless of how often you tell an advanced bodybuilder that, for example, ". . . you must NOT do more than two sets of this exercise in each workout," he will still be tempted to do from four to ten sets; and if left to his own devices, WILL do from four to ten sets - then, later, will claim, and will probably honestly feel, that he tried the suggestion, but that it didn't work for him. When, in fact, he hasn't tried it at all.
It takes most advanced bodybuilders several years of almost constant training to reach the top - and having done so, they then look upon their own training routine as being ideal; nor do they even seem to notice that literally dozens of other trainees in the same gym are following exactly the same routine - with little or nothing in the way of results. Where one man eventually produces results - dozens of others do exactly the same thing, train the same way, train the same amount, follow the same diet, use the same drugs - BUT FAIL.
If a training method is actually productive, then it doesn't work for only one man out of dozens, or even thousands - a good training method will work well for almost anybody; the degree of final results will largely be determined by individual potential even when a good training method is used - but progress towards the muscular size-strength limits imposed by individual potential can be, should be, and with an actually good training method and routine will be very rapid, in all cases involving healthy individuals.
Within a year of the first widespread availability of the new Nautilus training equipment, it is already apparent that most advanced bodybuilders simply refuse to use this equipment in accordance with the very carefully stated instructions; there are exceptions, of course, and almost all of the people who are using the equipment properly are making literally spectacular progress, the best progress they have ever experienced - but most advanced bodybuilders use the equipment exactly as if it was a barbell. Which might not be so bad if they even knew how to use a barbell properly - which they don't, using a barbell far too much, far too often, and not "hard enough".
For the above reasons and for other reasons, I will not outline detailed training programs for advanced men - knowing, as I do, that few if any advanced bodybuilders would even bother to try such suggested programs, and that probably no single advanced bodybuilder would actually try it in the manner described; instead, most of them would do "three times as much," at least "twice as often as they should," and would not train "hard enough", and afterwards would complain that they tried it, but that it didn't work.
But I will point out the fact - and it is a fact - that any advanced bodybuilder who is using a total of much if any more than 90 sets a week is training too much, and that most people will gain best on a training routine of 50 sets a week, or less.
And I will also point out the fact that any set that stops much if any before a point of muscular failure is a wasted set - will do little or nothing to stimulate growth, but will exhaust part of the recovery ability and thus make growth more difficult.
in the meantime, scattered all
over the country, at least a few
hundred advanced bodybuilders
are training "right" -
and the word of their progress
is gradually spreading; within
another year, a few thousand trainees
will be training properly - then
tens of thousands. But even fifty
years from now, many advanced
bodybuilders will still be beating
their brains out with twenty or
thirty weekly hours of training
- still not aware that only ten
per cent of that amount of training
would actually produce far better
THE ULTIMATE PHYSIQUE
During the time that he was in DeLand for a brief visit, a recent Mr. America told me that he was one of two surviving triplets - and that his brother actually has better calves than he does, even though the brother has never trained with weights. Later, I saw both brothers together - and the untrained man does have the best calves; which simply means that the former Mr. America has managed only to reduce both the size and muscularity of his calves by several years of hard training. His outstanding calves are a result of heredity - and would probably have been better than they are if he had never trained them.
Yet, later, upon hearing that I had mentioned this fact in an article for Iron Man, this man called in an attempt to reach the publisher of that magazine - in order to lodge a strong complaint, demanding that this fact not be published. Why? Since it was the man in question who pointed it out to me in the first place.
Apparently because, now, he intends to give the credit for his calf development to a machine to be touted by an associate of his - a man who has already joined forces with several other men in an attempt to copy some of my machines.
But my point here is this; a lot of what can be done in any individual case is entirely dependent upon heredity - some people, like the man mentioned above, will have outstanding development in at least some body parts with absolutely nothing in the way of training, and some people will never reach an equal degree of development, regardless of how they train, no matter what they eat, in spite of any and all efforts in that direction.
But most people can reach a degree of muscular size-strength that is probably far beyond anything they might believe - and given good heredity, some few men can reach a level of size-strength that is almost unbelievable to anybody. Now please note, I am not talking about what is, or what is not, "desirable" - I am merely talking about what is possible; that which is highly desirable to some people might be actually repulsive to some other people - but since most of the readers of this bulletin are probably interested in at least attempting to reach their own particular limits of muscular size, the following points should be of interest.
To begin with, most of the claimed measurements of top bodybuilders are simply untrue. The largest muscular arm that I ever measured - or saw -was Sergio Oliva's, which, accurately measured, "cold" was 20 1/8 inches. Arnold Schwarzenegger's arm was 19 7/8, slightly pumped - probably 19 1/2 "cold". Bill Pearl's largest arm, his left arm, was 18 5/8 at a bodyweight of 222 in 1960 - at the 1971 NABBA Mr. Universe contest in London, his publicized arm size was listed as 20 1/4, but it was obvious to me that his arms were actually smaller than when I measured them in 1960, and it was obvious to anybody who saw the two men side by side that Sergio's arms literally dwarfed Bill's arms, and now you know how big Sergio's arms were at the time.
Casey Viator's arms were 19 15/16 at their largest when he was training in DeLand - and were 18 1/16 when he first came to DeLand, immediately after the Mr. America contest in 1970.
But the "appearance" of size of an arm is only partially dependent upon its measurement; Bill Pearl's forearms look very large, but in fact are not very large - Boyer Coe's forearms look quite small (in comparison to his upper arms), but in fact are actually larger than Bill Pearl's. The insertion point of Bill's forearm muscles is far down the arm, near the wrist, and as a result the major mass of his forearm muscles occurs near the middle of his forearms - making them appear large; Boyer's insertion point is much closer to the elbow, thus his forearms are largest up "high" and don't appear as large as the actually are.
Many other factors also affect the appearance of size - the overall size of a man, the size of his head, the length of his arms, the shape of his arms, etc. Thus, an arm might measure 17 inches and look quite large, or measure 18 inches and appear to be a little above average size. But in fact, an actually muscular arm that measures a full 18 inches is enormous - a 19 inch arm is simply huge - and a 20 inch arm almost defies belief; claiming 20 inch arms - or even larger measurements - is common today, but I have measured many of the largest muscular arms in the world, Pearl's, Coe's, Schwarzenegger's, Viator's, Oliva's, Caputo's, and many other men's arms, and I have measured only one 20 inch arm - and while I haven't measured the arms of literally "everybody" on the bodybuilding scene, I have seen all of the better-known bodybuilders standing immediately next to one of the men I have measured, and the arms of Oliva and Schwarzenegger literally dwarf the arms of any other men I have seen.
In many cases, the actual mass of an arm may be quite large while the measurement may not be so large; if the biceps and triceps are "longer" than normal, then the bulk of muscle may be far out of proportion to the measurement - and the same thing is true in regard to the forearms. Both Casey Viator and Sergio Oliva have very long forearm muscles - and while both of these men have much larger than average forearm measurements, the actual mass of their forearm muscles is even greater than the measurements might indicate; Casey's forearms are nearly 15 1/2 "cold", straight, at right-angles to the bone - Sergio's forearms are a bit over 15 1/2 measured in the same manner. By comparison, Bill Pearl's largest forearm was 13 3/4 inches.
Sergio Oliva's biceps muscles are so long that he has much less than the normal range of movement around the axis of the elbow, something on the order of 120 degrees of rotary movement - as opposed to nearly 160 degrees of movement in the average man; he simply cannot "bend his arms" as far as most men can - but this has litter or nothing to do with his degree of development, it is, instead, a result of much longer than average biceps muscles. Arnold Schwarzenegger's arms are almost as large as Sergio's, and he shows no signs of restricted movement around the elbow joint. Secondly, since the greatest thickness of Sergio's forearms occurs near the middle of his forearms, it happens that this also serves to restrict his movement -instead of fitting into the normal hollow of the biceps just above the elbow, the mass of his forearms meets the middle of his biceps.
Thus, while his arms are the largest muscular arms I ever saw, Sergio's arms are actually "larger than they measure" - the mass of muscle is far greater than the measurement would normally indicate; which, of course, is a result of heredity - not something that can be changed, and not a result of his training. While his training obviously produced his present size, his heredity made it possible.
His limited range of movement, however, prevents Sergio from fully contracting his biceps into the high "peak" displayed by many advanced bodybuilders - he simply can't bend his arms far enough to reach the required degree of contraction; this it might well be that Sergio's arms would measure more than they do if they were actually a bit smaller - if this reduction came in the form of "shorter" biceps and-or "higher" forearms.
But, regardless of their measurement, Sergio's arms are so big that they literally must be seen to be appreciated - and some people, upon first seeing them, are almost unable to believe their eyes; in a recent full-length picture of Sergio, the width of the flexed upper arms exceeded the height of Sergio's head - his arms were literally larger than his head, a size ratio never before approached by anybody else.
Is that, then the "ultimate physique?" For most people, it is far beyond the limits imposed by individual potential; but it is almost certain that somebody will eventually exceed even Sergio's present size and proportions. I recently measured the "cold" upper arm of a 19 year old boy in New York at 19 1/2 inches, and with continued training this boy can almost certainly exceed Sergio's measurements - but he is at least six inches taller than Sergio, so even with Sergio's measurements he would not have Sergio's almost unbelievable proportions, would not give the "impression of size" that Sergio does.
I am reasonably certain that Sergio could attain even more size with continued training - while maintaining or improving his present degree of muscularity (muscular definition), and if so, then his proportions would be almost unreal. But in the meantime, until he does get larger, or until somebody at least matches his present proportions, Sergio certainly does represent the "ultimate physique".
The form - or "style of performance" - required for producing good results from weight-training is a much talked about, but little understood, point of importance. The "amount of work performed" and-or the "power produced" will in most cases be the same regardless of the form used - but at the point, similarities cease.
If, for example, you are doing curls with a barbell - using 100 pounds for ten reps - the amount of work performed will be the same regardless of how you perform the movements, and the amount of power produced will be the same if the "speed of movement" is the same; but if cheating methods are used, then it won't be the bending muscles of the arms that are performing all the work - or producing all of the power. You will, in that case, be working your lower back muscles, your shoulders, and even your legs - and very little of the work will be done by the arm muscles, But the muscles you are trying to work; as a natural result, little or nothing in the way of arm development will result from any amount of exercise.
But the above is not meant to imply that "cheating" methods should never be used - on the contrary, they; should be used, they should be used in almost every set, and in every exercise where they can be used to an advantage; but they should be used only at the end of a set, only when several repetitions have been performed in perfect form, only when it becomes absolutely necessary to cheat in order to continue, and you should cheat only to the degree necessary, cheat to make continued movement possible, not to make it easy.
In a curl, for example, the first six or seven repetitions should be performed in literally; perfect form - with no body-swing, no heave, no leaning back under the weight at the end of the movement; the arms should raise the weight throughout the entire range of movement, with no assistance from other muscles. But if the selected weight is proper, it should become impossible to continue while maintaining perfect form after six or seven repetitions have been performed; if you can perform eight (or more) repetitions without cheating, then the weight is too light and should be increased for the next workout.
But, regardless of the number of repetitions you can perform in perfect form, don't stop at any particular number, and don't stop simply because cheating becomes necessary; instead, do as many repetitions in perfect form as you can - and then do two or three more repetitions, which will require cheating. But cheat as little as possible, cheat the absolute minimum amount required - if the weight swings up rapidly and flops into the top position, then you are doing nothing worthwhile, nothing of any value for the arms at least, simply burning up energy for no good purpose.
If you can perform only four or five repetitions without cheating, then the weight is too heavy - and should be reduced; in most cases, try to select a weight that will permit seven reps in perfect form - then do a total of ten reps, cheating only as much as absolutely necessary during only the last three reps. Or, if your "guide figure" (the number of repetitions you are trying for) is 15 reps, then use a weight that will permit about 12 reps in perfect form; in effect, use a weight that will permit 70 to 80 percent of the number of reps called for in the guide figure - then cheat two or three extra reps.
And remember - while it is necessary to produce maximum-possible power in order to stimulate growth, it is NOT necessary to do so while you are actually strongest, actually able to produce the "most" power; the same degree of muscle-growth stimulation will be produced if such maximum-power production occurs only near the end of a set of several repetitions, at a point where your actual power production may be quite low - at a point where the earlier, non-maximum repetitions have weakened you momentarily.
Thus, while you could move quite fast during the first repetitions without cheating, restrict your actual speed of movement to a speed well below what you could do - until at least the fourth repetition. In effect, the first three or four repetitions will move slower than necessary - but after the fourth repetition, move the weight as fast as possible without cheating; which movement will be, in fact, quite slow. In this manner you will NOT be producing maximum possible power during the first three or four repetitions - but you will be producing maximum possible power during the last several repetitions; and you will be GREATLY reducing the danger of injury. Also remember - you are most likely to hurt yourself during a "first" repetition simply because you are strongest at that point; and so long as good form is maintained - including properly performed cheating methods - you become less likely to hurt yourself as you continue with the set, the second rep is less dangerous than the first rep, the third rep is less dangerous than the second rep, etc.
Although, of course, it is possible to hurt yourself in any rep; but in practice, most injuries occur during first reps - and these injuries that occur during later reps are usually caused by using poor form.
It is not, however, necessary - nor desirable - to use an extremely slow speed of movement during the first few reps of a set; if, for example, you could curl a barbell in one-third of a second, then it is not necessary to restrict your speed to a point where the first rep takes two or three seconds - instead, perform the movement at a speed where perhaps one second is required for the complete "upwards" movement.
Nor is it necessary to attempt to measure the time required; you can, rather easily, "feel" the required speed - you will almost always know if you are actually moving as fast as possible, or not doing so.
Thus, during the first three or four repetitions, move at a speed that you "know" is below maximum possible speed - below MOMENTARILY maximum possible speed. And during later repetitions, move at absolutely maximum possible speed - but using good form, avoiding jerking; a speed that will be quite slow in fact.
For safety - and for producing good progress - form is one of the most important points; NEVER sacrifice form in an attempt to use more weight or perform more repetitions - but ALWAYS use as much weight as you can, and ALWAYS perform as many repetitions as you can, in good form.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Ultimate development, as I have pointed out repeatedly, primarily depends upon individual potential - which is hereditarily determined. But such ultimate development will not result without proper training - good heredity merely makes good results possible, it doesn't produce them.
More than a generation ago, a well-known, greatly respected - and probably well-meaning - scientist clearly stated in print that he could, ". . . take any child at a very early age, and make him into anything I desire." (or words to that effect) Meaning, simply, that environment was "everything" -and that heredity was "nothing", or almost nothing.
He probably believed what he was saying - and, unfortunately, a lot of other people believed what he said also; then, later, for political and-or "humanitarian" reasons it became popular to believe such outright hogwash, such a self-evidently false statement - and, now, most of the really worthwhile developments of civilization have been all but destroyed by people who have based their actions on this belief. Race-hate talk? Don't be ridiculous - a simple statement of the fact that people are different, sexually different, individually different, and racially different; the average "Nordic type" couldn't duplicate the muscular definition of the average Negro short of almost literally starving himself to death - and the average Negro couldn't rid himself of the fat stores in the area of his buttocks without starving himself.
Also - the average Negro has "high" calves and "high" forearms, and regardless of the size of his calves or forearms they will never look as big as they really are; yet Sergio Oliva is a Negro, and he has very "low" calves and very "low" forearms - perhaps the best forearms in the world, and calves that compare favorably with anybody's.
But Sergio is not a typical Negro insofar as his muscular shape is concerned - and he is not even typically "human" insofar as his muscular size is concerned; he is an individual, like all of us, simply a very outstanding individual, a very unusual individual, a rare type of individual - almost one of a kind.
Insofar as physical "types" are concerned, there seem to be two rather distinct categories - the type that easily develop large limbs but never quite bring their torso muscles into proportion - and the type that build large torso muscles and never reach a proportionate degree of development in their arms and legs. And, of course, a third - rather rare - type that can build overall size and maintain good proportions; Sergio is an example of this third type - Casey Viator is an example of the first type (a "big limbs" type) - and Ellington Darden is an example of the second type.
Such differences are hereditarily determined - and if all of the muscular structures of the body are developed as much as possible, then the final proportions may or may not be pleasing; but if the final result is not pleasing, then all you can do is purposely neglect the development of some of the muscles - in order to restore good proportions.
By contemporary physique standards, a man with ideal proportions insofar as function is concerned would stand no chance of winning - not, at least, if all of his muscular structures were developed as much as possible. Which is unfortunate, since it simply means that the people who "look strongest" are actually not as strong as they look - and nowhere near as strong as some men who don't look very strong at all. Perhaps our standards are wrong; but it is certainly not surprising that bodybuilders and weight-lifters have gradually drifted apart - which is wrong, because appearance of strength, or actual strength, depends primarily upon heredity, but increasing one increases the other, in direct ratio.
Nobody could reasonably expect a man who was only five feet tall to become a champion basketball player against opponents that are seven feet tall -but people do expect bodybuilders with outstanding muscular size (which size in many cases, is a result of very poor leverage factors) to be very strong; which is also unreasonable.
So don't expect unreasonable results; but you can expect - and you can produce - results far beyond what most people believe possible. The greatest danger - and it is a danger, today - is falling into dangerous training habits so widespread at the moment, the use of drugs, the exotic diets, over-attention given to training itself, or simply believing any of the hundreds of outright myths so firmly supported by most bodybuilders and weight-lifters. By and large, if you have been fortunate enough to avoid such contact up to now, the best thing you can do is to stay entirely away from "experienced" trainees - most of who can tell you nothing of any value, and almost all of whom will lead you astray.
But while it is neither necessary nor desirable to seek the advice of experienced trainees, it does not follow that nothing of any value can be gained from the experience of others; on the contrary, the experience of others can save you - and should save you - an enormous amount of personal experimentation. Thus, for example, it is not necessary to invent, design, and build your own tools - a good available tool already exists, the barbell; nor is it necessary to invent specific exercises - which already exist. But it is necessary to choose which exercises to use - since you can't use them all - and it is necessary to decide how to use these exercises, how much to use them, and how often to use them; and in these areas, advanced trainees will merely lead you astray in the direction of their individual bias. This bulletin is designed to lead your thinking in the direction of a logical approach to the matters involved; you can reasonably expect nothing more from me - nor from anyone.
But you can expect to encounter stumbling blocks along the way - obstacles that, in the end, you must overcome for yourself. And you can expect to encounter some problems that will never be solved - since, at this point in history, physiology is certainly not yet an exact science.
A REALISTIC GOAL
Exercise is certainly a requirement for normal health - yet, over the years, an outright mythology; concerning exercise has arisen; in the opinion of the average person, the results produced by exercise are somehow "different" from muscular size-strength that comes from regular work. Thus we commonly hear the terms "real strength" and "natural strength" - and the size-strength produced by exercise is looked upon as temporary, or useless, or even dangerous.
Part of such opinions are an expectable result of jealousy - perhaps brought into the open by the fact that outstanding muscular size, unlike high intelligence or great wealth, cannot easily be hidden from the view of others. Comic strip characters are almost invariably given the physiques of advanced bodybuilders - but such development is always presented as "natural" - supposedly, they just grew to such proportions; if they were required to train in order to build or even maintain their muscular size, then that would somehow change their image in the public mind.
Because of this widespread feeling, most advanced bodybuilders soon find themselves living apart, confined to the company of other bodybuilders or of people attracted to bodybuilders for some reason. In our present society, it is almost impossible for the average person to stand out in any way - yet most people are encouraged to stand out, and then considered freaks if they do. A lot depends upon your individual desires - how much attention you want, or can stand - and a lot depends upon your ability to view things in a practical light; I am reminded of Mark Twain's "two-headed stranger" -upon seeing him, one boy remarked that he wouldn't want to be like that, but another boy viewed the possibilities in a more practical light, he said, ". . . Oh, that would be dandy, eat for two but only stump toes for one."
Twenty-odd years ago, when I was in hard muscular condition at a weight of over 200 pounds at a height of just under 5 feet 8 inches, I made it a point to NEVER appear in public in anything except loose-fitting, long sleeved shirts - and as a result, most of the people who knew me were unaware that I had ever trained; a friend of mine surprised me one day when I was loading a film magazine - with my shirt off - and he was literally shocked. We had flown together, traveled together, and he had know me for years - yet he never suspected that I trained with weights. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bill Pearl both make a habit of wearing loose-fitting clothing - and in spite of their size, these men can and do pass in a crowd unnoticed. But most advanced bodybuilders do everything they can to call attention to their size - and then seem to be surprised by the reactions they produce.
In general, unusual muscular size will NOT attract favorable attention; thus, if your well-being depends upon the opinion of others, then attracting attention because of your physique will almost always hurt you far more than it will help you - in the public mind, a man with an outstanding physique "has nothing else," or, even, "can have nothing else." Which, of course, is outright stupidity - but stupidity that can and will hurt you if you are unaware of it.
Attracting actually favorable attention - untainted by jealousy - seems to be almost impossible; so, in the end, it comes down to what you desire -or can stand. But it should be remembered that the price of attracting attention as a result of your physique is always high.
Insofar as "just how much" muscular size-strength you can build - which seems to be the only question of importance to most trainees - it does not now appear that anybody has ever reached his actual limits; and, paradoxically, it appears that most trainees literally prevent themselves from closely approaching their limits of muscular size - primarily by overtraining.
Almost without regard for your starting condition, size of bones, or even your age (within reasonable limits), you should be able to quickly build a level of muscular size-strength that will amaze most people - and some few individuals can reach a muscular size that would amaze anybody; but it now seems to be clear that quickly reaching such a degree of development requires an actually very small amount of training - and please note that word "requires", since it should be clearly understood that more training will literally prevent better final results.
Without single exception up to this point, we have been able to add from 3/8 of an inch to 1/2 inch to the cold measurement of the upper arms of advanced bodybuilders within a matter of a very few days of proper training - even when these same individuals have been unable to add as much as 1/8 inches to their arms as a result of several years of steady training. Having reached what they consider their maximum-possible muscular size, such men are literally shocked to find themselves suddenly growing again - growing fast. Sergio Oliva's arms were huge before he ever heard of DeLand, Florida - but look at the picture of him in this bulletin, his arms were never before "that big." Franco Columbu was one of the strongest men in the world before he came to DeLand for two weeks of training, but his arms were not as large as they should have been to be in proportion to his other muscular structures - ten months later, when I saw him in New York, his arms were a full inch and a quarter larger. After ten years of steady training - two years with no gains at all - Chuck Amato has gained nearly two full inches in arm size. Casey Viator, starting with arms that were already huge, added a full inch and a quarter to his cold upper-arm measurement. Dozens of other men have done as well - or better; from very brief training.
Eventually, somebody with outstanding potential will start training properly right from the start of his career - and two or three years later, we will see an example of muscular size far beyond anything ever produced up to this point. Will such size be attractive - or even desirable? Attractive? To the average person, certainly not. Desirable? That, of course, is a matter of individual taste; but such an example will be, at least, valuable for scientific purposes - as an example of what can be done. At this point, we don't even know what such a man will look like; since changing the size of a muscle unavoidably changes the shape of the muscle, nobody can yet say just what a fully-developed muscle will look like.
But I can tell you at least this much; if an advanced bodybuilder had suddenly appeared on the scene 400 years ago, he would probably have been burned at the stake - and if you have the potential for unusual muscular size, and if you actually build such size to a maximum-possible degree, you will undoubtedly be looked upon as an outright freak.
In my opinion, a realistic goal is far better - build as much size as you need, but not enough to put you in a class with the freaks; but if becoming a freak is your goal, then there is only one way to do it - and overtraining is NOT the way.
THE PRESENT STATE OF THE ART
Someone once said that, ". . . nothing can stop an idea that's time has come." And the time has certainly come - the time for improvements in both methods and systems of training, tools and the use of tools. The new Nautilus Machines are not the only new development on the scene at the moment - because the time is right, quite a number of people are working on totally new concepts in the field of exercise; and, as is only to be expected, each new development has it own supporters - and according to those supporters, each new development is the "best".
But the above is not meant to imply that I am talking about people attempting to copy the ideas of other people - although, of course, there is (always will be) a certain amount of that, too; rather, I am talking about new, but different, ideas - different approaches to the same problems.
The barbell is a good tool, a tool that is capable of producing an almost unbelievable degree of muscular development - but a barbell is not a perfect tool; after reading Bulletin Number 1, and after reading this far in this bulletin, intelligent readers should be aware of most of the basic shortcomings of the barbell - so I will not again list those shortcomings here. But I will outline the problems involved in providing an actually perfect form of exercise.
The main trouble seems to stem from the fact that humans are "rotary animals: powered by "reciprocal muscular structures," living on a planet with "reciprocal resistance".
In effect, we are designed to work against rotary resistance - yet, in practice, we seldom encounter anything except reciprocal resistance. Did you ever wonder, for example, why screws are designed with a "right hand" thread? Because most people are right handed, and because right handed people have more power for making clockwise movements than they do for making counterclockwise movements. When you are turning a tool in a clockwise fashion, with your right hand, then the primary function of the biceps is aiding the work - and you are strongest.
And why is your thumb located on the "top" of your hand instead of on the "bottom"? Because, with the thumb located as it is, it serves as an anchor for the entire hand during clockwise movements of the right hand. Try twisting your hand hard in a counterclockwise direction and see what happens; in such cases the thumb is of little or no assistance for maintaining a firm grip - to be of assistance for movements in that direction, the thumb would have to be located at the bottom of your hand, directly opposing your little finger.
Nor would a centrally located thumb - opposed to your middle finger - be a satisfactory compromise; during twisting movements to the right (clockwise) with the right hand, it is the top of the hand that needs to be anchored - the bottom of the hand is pressed even harder against the object being gripped during such movements, but the top of the hand would be pulled loose if it was not anchored by the thumb as it is. The left hand is provided for strong counterclockwise movements - and for that reason, it is a mirror image of the right hand, rather than a duplicate.
Before it is even possible to design a rational exercise tool, it is necessary to fully understand exactly what the actual functions of human muscular structures are - it is not enough, not nearly enough, to design a tool that will simply provide resistance; a pick and shovel will provide more work than you can stand, but will do very little in the way of building muscular size-strength.
Normal levels of muscular size-strength occur as a part of normal growth, and little or nothing in the way of exercise is required for reaching such normal levels of development; but we are here concerned with abnormal levels of size-strength - we wish to build maximum-possible levels of size-strength, and in the shortest possible period of time, and as a result of the least possible effort. In short, we are looking for the most productive method of exercise.
A healthy body will provide levels of size-strength that it (the body) feels is adequate to provide for normal requirements - and a bit more, as a reserve for emergency utilization. And so long as the existing levels are adequate, so long as impossible demands are not made upon the body, no additionally size-strength will be provided - because it is not required. Thus, to produce growth in excess of normal growth, we must make demands in excess of normal demands - and then, if it can, the body will provide the size-strength required to meet these demands. But, please note that "IF IT CAN."
The body is a very complex factory, constantly making literally hundreds of delicate chemical changes - converting fuel an oxygen into the many chemicals needed by the various parts of the system; in a healthy body the system works perfectly - being capable of meeting all requirements and still maintaining a reserve ability for emergency use. But there is always a limit to the amount of such chemical conversions that the body can make within a given period of time - and if you exceed that limit, the body will eventually be overworked to a point of total collapse, or even to the point of death.
You could, for example, run for ten minutes - and then rest for twenty-three hours and fifty minutes - and then run for another ten minutes, and so on; because, in twenty-three hours an fifty minutes, the body can easily recover from a ten minute run.
And you could run for thirty minutes - and then rest for twenty-three hours and thirty minutes, and so on.
And you could run for one hour - and then rest for twenty-three hours, and so on.
But you could not run for sixteen hours - and then repeat such a run after only eight hours of rest. And if you tried to, you would steadily (and quickly) grow weaker - because you would be exceeding your recovery ability.
If you started out with daily runs of ten minutes, and gradually increased the amount of daily running, your "running ability" would increase - up to a point; having reached that point, you could then continue with daily runs of a certain length (which length would vary on an individual basis) - and afterwards your "running ability" would remain unchanged. So long, at least, as you DID NOT INCREASE YOUR SPEED.
But, having reached a point where your daily runs exactly matched your tolerance for running, if you then started running for the same period of time but ran FASTER - then, obviously, you would also be running MORE, and would thus be exceeding your tolerance for running. In which case, your running ability would gradually be reduced - and, finally, if you continued running, you would reach a point of collapse.
Because you would be making demands on your system for chemical changes which the body could not provide - you would be exceeding your recovery ability. The result would be, could only be, "negative growth" - and actual loss of muscular size-strength.
The "recovery ability" of the body provides normal growth - and it also provides abnormal growth, if such abnormal growth is required, and if the recovery ability is able to meet the requirements.
It should be clearly understood that it is easily possible to totally exhaust the recovery ability, or even exceed the recovery ability, while doing absolutely nothing to stimulate abnormal growth. Obviously, then, to be productive, an exercise must stimulate abnormal growth as much as possible - while disturbing the recovery ability as little as possible; an ideal exercise would be infinitely hard - and infinitely brief - would provide maximum-possible growth stimulation, while leaving the recovery ability in the best possible shape to meet the requirements for growth.
A barbell is far more productive than previously-existing exercise tools simply, and ONLY, because it provides harder exercise - but a barbell still leaves a lot to be desired; because, while barbell exercises are harder than free-hand exercises (for example), they still are not as hard as they should be.
With the relatively unimportant exceptions of such movements as wrist curls, side raises, shoulder shrugs, and a few other barbell (or dumbbell) exercises, most barbell exercises work only a part of human muscular structures; in most cases, a barbell literally cannot provide resistance for all of a muscular structure - because barbells provide reciprocal resistance, and most major movements are made in a rotary fashion such that a barbell provides no resistance at all during a large part of the movement.
Picture, if you can, a large rubber band that has been stretched to twice its normal, relaxed length - and imagine that the rubber band is an extended muscle, the biceps muscle of the upper arm; a stretched rubber band, or an extended muscle, has power potential, or "stored power," power that has not been used, power that cannot be used without reducing the length of the rubber band (or muscle).
While the similarity of a stretched rubber band to an extended muscle is not exact, there is enough of a similarity for the following example.
So long as the rubber band remains in a stretched condition, then it is literally impossible to use up (or reduce) its power potential - and as long as a muscle remains extended, then it is impossible to make use of the entire power potential of the muscle. Muscle fibers perform work by reducing their length - and it should be obvious that a maximum reduction in length of all of the fibers in a particular muscle would unavoidably result in a maximum reduction of the overall length of the muscle. But a muscle cannot reduce its length without producing movement of the involved body-part -and if maximum possible muscle-length reduction has occurred, then it obviously follows that maximum possible body-part movement will also have occurred. Thus it is immediately apparent that ALL of a muscle cannot be involved in any form of work in any position except a position of full contraction - full muscular contraction, with its related full body-part movement.
Thus a position of full contraction is an obvious prerequisite for total involvement of a muscle. ALL of a muscle cannot become involved in work in any other position.
However, while a position of full contraction is an obvious requirement for "total work," it does not follow that such a position will produce total work. Because muscle fibers do not become involved unless they are actually needed. Thus it also logically follows that a second prerequisite for total work is an imposed resistance heavy enough to require the involvement of all of the available muscle fibers.
But regardless of its weight, a barbell imposes absolutely no resistance on muscles in their fully contracted positions - disregarding the above listed minor exceptions.
With Nautilus Machines we have introduced exercises that provide resistance in all positions - continuous resistance that works a muscle from a position of full extension to one of full contraction.
But continuous resistance is not enough - although it is a long first step in the right direction. Since the strength of a muscle - both the "input of strength" and the "output of strength" - is not constant, is not the same in all positions, it is obvious that the resistance must vary in exact accord with variations in the output of strength.
One current approach to solving this problem - NOT the Nautilus approach - involves the use of the "inertia reel" principle; by limiting the speed-of-movement, it was felt that maximum-possible resistance would be provided in all positions. Which works fairly well in theory - but not well at all in practice.
With that system, there is no actual resistance; instead, even a very small effort will move the bar - but the bar will only move at a certain speed, regardless of how hard you are pushing (or pulling). In theory, then, if you pull (or push) as hard as possible in all positions - throughout the movement - the resistance will always be "right," will always be maximum-possible resistance in any and in all positions. One of the obvious shortcomings of the system, however, is the fact that you are limited to a particular speed-of-movement - the speed-of-movement can be set at almost any speed you like, but once set it becomes constant throughout the movement. The people who are producing such devices, of course, point directly to this actual shortcoming as one of the major "advantages" of such resistance - which, under the circumstances, I suppose, is all they can do except admit the truth of the matter.
Another shortcoming of this system is the fact that such "resistance" is not omni-directional; in effect, you still have no resistance at the end of the movement - you have no resistance in the fully contracted position, no resistance in the only position where it is even possible to involve all of a muscular structure.
Thirdly, there is no "negative work" provided by such a form of resistance; in effect (in a curl) you can only curl "upwards" - but having reached the top, there is no resistance for the downwards movement.
Which, as is only to be expected, the supporters of such devices point to as yet another "advantage" - but which, in fact, may well be either an advantage or a disadvantage, and at this point in time NOBODY knows whether it is an advantage or a disadvantage. BUT - we do know that "negative work" causes far more muscular soreness than "positive work" does; which means that such resistance probably wouldn't cause as much muscular soreness in a previously untrained individual - but which may also mean that it isn't as productive as it should be.
"Negative work" is lowering a weight - "positive work" is raising a weight. If you curled a dumbbell "up" with your right hand, and then placed it on a table that was level with the top position of the curl - and if you then took the dumbbell in your left hand and lowered it back to the low starting position - your right hand would be performing positive work (raising) and your left hand would be performing negative work (lowering), and the right hand would be working about five to seven times as hard as your left hand was.
If you curled a dumbbell in such a fashion until you reached a point of exhaustion, your left arm would be much more likely to become sore as a result of such work than your right hand would - even though the left arm did much less work. Nobody seems to know "why" this is true - but it is true. Nor does anybody know "why" a muscle becomes sore in the first place - although we do know how to make a muscle sore, we don't know what actually takes place with the muscle to create soreness; and, since there are no nerves in a muscle that are capable of registering pain, it may well be that it isn't the muscle itself that actually gets sore. But if not the muscle, then what does get sore? We don't yet know.
We easily could have incorporated such a form of resistance into the Nautilus machines - but we long ago rejected the idea; because careful tests with such "restricted speed" resistance clearly indicated that it was vastly inferior to a form of resistance that can be moved at any speed -and since speed is a result, and a factor, of power production, it should be obvious that limiting speed of movement to any arbitrarily selected speed is certainly not desirable.
Also, since even a very small amount of effort will produce the same speed of movement that a maximum effort would have produced, there will always be a temptation on the part of the trainee to do less than he should - or he may work at a reduced level without even being aware that he is doing so.
In short, if there are any actual advantages to this type of resistance then I am not aware of them - advantages insofar as productivity is concerned, I mean. However, since such exercise machines do not require any actual weight, they are much lighter and thus the freight is quite a bit less - so, if you are primarily interested in saving a few dollars in freight charges, then you should buy such a machine; but if you are interested in results, you should not.
And, since the machines of this type that have come to my attention are very flimsy in construction, they are also lower in price than other types of machines - which makes it possible for salesmen of such machines to offer fairly low prices while still making a profit of 30 per cent to 40 per cent on each sale; and since, with such windfall profits at stake, many people would lend their support to almost anything, it is not surprising that many people who should know better (and probably do know better), and who should be interested in results (but apparently aren't), are giving such glowing testimonials for such equipment.
Normal human movements involve several factors - raising weight, lowering weight, acceleration of weight, deceleration of weight, supporting weight -and all of these factors except supporting weight are possible at any speed within a very wide range of speed varying from almost imperceptible movement to movement that is too fast to follow with the eye. All of which factors are fully provided for in Nautilus machines.
Nautilus machines may - and usually will - make a previously-untrained subject very sore if he uses the equipment to a point of exhaustion during his first few workouts; and such soreness may be (or may not be) a disadvantage - but Nautilus machines certainly will stimulate muscle growth to a greater degree than any other device that we are aware of, and will do so within a very limited "amount" of training, so that the recovery system of the body is not exhausted to the point that growth becomes impossible.
The inertia reel principle of physics can be used by anybody - in any of several ways - and it has been used for many years, we used it during the Second World War as a restraining device for shoulder straps in bombers, a device that would permit movement at normal speed but would stop sudden movement in event of a crash; so it certainly isn't new, not even new to me - and its only advantage is one of cost and light weight, which slight advantage is more than negated by its inherent and unavoidable disadvantages insofar as productivity is concerned.
Our primary interest is in function - productivity, the ability to produce maximum-possible results in the way of muscular size-strength increases; and we will use literally ANYTHING that will increase productivity in our machines - which does make our machines heavier, and which does make our machines somewhat more expensive, but which also makes them literally many times as productive as any other tool intended for the same purpose.
And if you think not, then train for one full year in any fashion you like - using anything except Nautilus equipment - and then come to DeLand and try to follow one of our better trainees through a workout, using whatever resistance you can; and - a very few minutes later - you will be on the floor, in a state of outright shock.
Which, of course, is not a "requirement" - since, with the use of a fairly short break-in period of training at below-maximum intensity, anybody can train properly with Nautilus equipment without encountering shock, without getting sick, and without much in the way of muscular soreness.
Thus, at the moment - at the present state of the art - if you can't use Nautilus equipment, then use a barbell; and if and when ANYTHING comes along that will improve productivity, it will immediately be incorporated into Nautilus equipment.
THE NEXT STEP
Attempting to look into the future is frequently more exasperating than rewarding - but in this case, we are, I think, far enough along the path to see the final goal; which goal - I also think - will not be reached by significant improvements in equipment.
"Teaching old dogs new tricks" may not be impossible - but it is a difficult, thankless job at best; in the end, the eventual acceptance of new equipment and training systems will depend primarily upon an upcoming generation of trainees - men who have not been so thoroughly brainwashed that they are literally "afraid" to learn.
The most productive training routines of the future will be built around equipment very much like Nautilus Machines that are already in large-scale production - and in the end, I think we will find that less than two hours of weekly training will produce best-possible results, training based on not more than three, and probably two, weekly workouts.
Every year, thousands of children are poisoned by mothers who decide that, "...if one pill is good, six pills will be better." Which inclination to equate "more" with "better" is, I suppose perfectly natural - but dangerous. Such mistakes will always occur - in physical training and in all fields; but, gradually, ever-increasing numbers of people will see the light - and, eventually, most people will train properly, instead of overtraining.
Trying to look into the future, I can see no important changes in the functions of present Nautilus equipment - some changes in materials, perhaps (the use leather for covering the padded areas of some of the machines, for example), or simple alterations in appearance; but I do not now anticipate important changes in the working geometry of any of our present machines - which is already as close to being perfect as we can make it.
What we do see is this; with continued use of the machines, it becomes increasingly clear that training "too little" is almost impossible - so long, at least, as training is hard enough, is properly performed. In aviation circles we learned long ago that "too little" instruction is much better than "too much" - flying lessons must not be too long, must not be too often, and if a student does not solo after a rather brief training period then it is unlikely that he ever will solo. And while the parallel with weight-training is not exact, it is close enough to serve for this example.
as too much flight instruction
will prevent a student from learning,
too much training will literally
prevent growth - and just as a
flight student who does not solo
within a reasonably short period
of instruction will probably never
learn to fly, a trainee who does
not quickly learn a proper method
of training will probably never
train right. The reasons are both
physiological and psychological
- and both factors have been covered
in adequate detail earlier.