|December 14th, 2003||#1|
--article on program design and training method--
THERE ARE NO MAGIC TRAINING FORMULAS
By Bob Whelan
The Iron Master, Jan 1995
It never ceases to amaze me how so many people can spend so much time and energy looking for shortcuts. If they spent half that energy on hard training, focusing on the basics, they would get the results they yearn for. The fitness industry is scandalous and makes this situation worse by offering all sorts of gimmicks and promises of great results for little or no effort. The megahype muscle magazines are the worst example. Thesemagazines are replete with drug users and routines are written by (and for) drug users. The information found in them is not only fraudulent but may even be harmful to non-drug users. If you train naturally, there is no magic formula. You must build muscle the old-fashion way--you must earn it!
There is only one absolute rule in strength training (and muscle building): Hard Progressive Training + Good Nutrition + adequate recovery = results! Period. Any results that anyone ever got had to follow that formula, not miracles or gimmicks, just hard work, nutritious food, and plenty of rest. Intensity is defined as the amount of work done per unit of time. There are four ways to increase intensity: (1) progressive resistance (the best way and the highest priority), (2) more reps per set (such as in a set to failure), (3) reducing the amount of rest between sets (get enough to recover but not an excessive amount), and (4) making the movement harder by using stricter form.
It doesn't matter if you do pyramids, reverse pyramids, or straight sets, superslow or superfast. It doesn't matter if you go 2 seconds up and 4 seconds down or 10 seconds up and 5 seconds down. And it doesn't matter if you do one set to failure or a few (don't do too many though). There is no ideal method or ideal range of reps, sets, etc. As long as you train at a high level of intensity in the anaerobic energy system (fast twitch), you will get results. The mode and methods are not universal so you should experiment, but focus on the basic movements. Try different variations (using common sense periodization). Find the methods you like, but always stick to the absolute rule. Intensity is work, but there is more than one way to use it effectively.
Most people don't want to hear about hard work. They don't want to do heavy squats or deadlifts. They don't want to pay the price. If you are natural, you must build muscle the old-fashioned way. Grimek, Hackenschmidt, Klein, Eifferman, Apollon, Travis, Farbotnik, and others earned their muscle and respect. The drug using stars of today get no respect from me. Most of them don't work nearly as hard as the old-timers; they can just do the easy exercises and still get huge. Let's see how big they are when they are 50 (if they're still around!) If you are natural, forget toning, shaping, and body sculpting -- you need high-intensity training!
The second part of the absolute rule is good nutrition. I mean food, not powders, pills, and promises. Most food supplements are a waste of money. Forget the before and after pictures you see in the magazines (what else did they take, hmm?). If you are unwise enough to spend your hard-earned money on this garbage, then you deserve to get your just reward: green, expensive urine and an overworked liver and kidneys to filter this stuff out of your system. You need food, not pills! Take one good multivitamin/mineral pill per day and that's it. The most practical protein supplement is canned tuna (or chicken/turkey). Two cans will give enough complete protein for anyone, in addition to one's regular well-balanced diet. Drink plenty of water and eat 5 to 9 fruits and vegetables per day. Three good meals of around 60% complex carbohydrates, 20% protein, and 20% fat is a good guideline to follow. If you are trying to gain weight, throw in a few nutritious snacks as well. There is no magic formula diet! Today's drug-using stars don't eat broiled skinless chicken salad, a carrot, and water, as the megahype magazine pictures show. Go to the fast food restaurants in Santa Monica, and you will see many of them. They use the right drugs; they don't have to pay the price. They don't earn their muscle and do not deserve respect.
Recovery is vital, and without it you will not gain, regardless of how hard you train or how well you eat. Forget six-day per week routines; they don't work for non-drug users. You should never train more than four days per week (twice per week per body part should be the rule). Two whole-body workouts per week are optimal if you are training hard (and naturally). Two one-hour workouts per week are all you need (and will want) to get bigger and stronger than ever, if you train hard, focusing on the basic exercises.
Try this routine of seven exercises:
Bench Press 3 x 8, Thick bar Curls 3 x 8, Pulldowns 3 x 8, Overhead Press 3 x 8, Rowing 3 x 8, Tricep Press (or Pushdowns) 3 x 8, Squats 2 x 20 or Deadlifts 2 x 10 (alternate, once per week each on squats and deadlifts).
If you can do this routine in a little over one hour, twice per week, you won't want to train more. Remember, the best way to build muscle is the old-fashion way--earn it! Others will respect you more, and most important, you will respect yourself.