Bearded Beast of Duloc
Join Date: Jul 2009
Training Exp: 20+ years
Training Type: Powerbuilding
Fav Exercise: Deadlift
Fav Supp: Butter
The Rules of Productive Weight Training for The Drug-Free Trainee
The Rules of Productive Weight Training for The Drug-Free Trainee
by Casey Butt
“The information below is probably the most “honest” you’ll ever read in any bodybuilding article, and it’s probably the most important article I’ve ever written, or will ever write, regarding bodybuilding and the bodybuilding industry.”
This is a long article. You’ll get the most out of it if you print it off, read it slowly, and let the material “digest”.
This article was originally titled “Beginners Part I: The Rules of Productive Weight Training for The Drug-Free Trainee”. But over the years I’ve noticed a curious thing …a lot of very advanced trainees have read this article and followed the advice herein. So I thought about it a little and realized that the information contained here isn’t really exclusive to beginners at all. In fact, sometimes advanced trainees are in need of the “rules” even more than beginners. Especially when those trainees have wasted years of their training lives not following the “rules”. The fact is, the “rules” apply to everyone who wants to get the most out of weight training and is doing so without the assistance of anabolic drugs. So the “Beginners Part I” was dropped from the title to get: “The Rules of Productive Weight Training for The Drug-Free Trainee”. Sounds a little profound, but appropriate nonetheless.
Before we get into the “meat” of the article let me relate to you an experience I had in the gym one time (actually probably a thousand times but I’ve learned to ignore it) that’ll help set the tone for where we’re going to go. I’ll tell you this because you’ll probably be able to relate to the situation.
I had just finished my last exercise for the day, was changing my shoes and drinking my shake, when this skinny little guy comes up to me and says, “Do you know how to do Deadlifts?” “Yes”, I replied. “Can you show me?”, he says. So I agreed and off we went – over to where he was Deadlifting. When I got there he had already loaded up the bar (with a 10 pound plate on each side) and started to go through the motions for me. His form was pretty shakey – he was having trouble keeping a safe arch in his back (he had obvious inflexibility problems in his hips and hamstrings). Now, having performed and witnessed a few deadlifts in my lifetime, I knew his situation intimately …I’d seen it many times before and I knew the “cure”. But just as I was about to speak, some guy, who was even skinnier than him, cut me off and started explaining to him the finer points of Deadlift technique and training. (I guess he felt offended because this kid looked to somebody else for advice besides “his honour”.) To be fair though, most of what he was saying was just about dead-on, but it was very obvious from his physique that he hadn’t spent too much time actually Deadlifting, if you know what I mean. Still, his instructions on form were sound so I didn’t feel like I had to add anything. Over the next half-hour, or so, the two went over all the finer points of Deadlifting technique and the various assistance exercises that the new trainee should be doing – with me watching patiently and putting in my 2 cents worth every now and then.
As time went on, more and more important practicalities of training were being left out of the “sage’s” advice. One thing became more and more apparent: This “instructor” hadn’t lifted a weight in his life. He was well-read on all the latest texts that his obvious Phys Ed schooling had prescribed, and he had done his homework well, but he didn’t have a clue about real-world lifting. He made suggestions that were, clearly, straight from an arm-chair expert who had read one too many texts and lifted way too few weights. He had no idea of how to correct the problems that the new guy had, and he didn’t have the foggiest about constructing a practical training routine for the real world. What he did have, however, was the arrogance and swagger of somebody who’d read a few muscle magazine or kinesiology textbooks and now considers himself an authority amongst an otherwise “uneducated” group of gym grunts. In short, all his “knowledge” was useless. He lacked the practical experience to put it into context. Too much reading, too little doing. I later found out that he was the new resident “physical trainer” for the gym – but that would be typical.
Don’t get the impression that I’m against scientific research and how it applies to bodybuilding (or powerlifting, or weightlifting, etc.). In fact, many people think of my writing as having a clear scientific leaning. In truth, I have 5 degrees in the “hard” sciences (including a Ph.D.). I’ve written peer-reviewed articles for scientific journals and attended conferences around the world. I’ve taught at the university level and I now work in research and development for one of the most technically advanced companies on Earth. I don’t say all that to boast, but to tell you that I know how science works …so I’m not “anti-science” by any stretch. However, the “science” of weight training will never take the place of in-the-gym experience. And that’s what too few “experts” seem to actually have – experience. Hey, you can read about boxing all you want, but that doesn’t qualify you to get in the ring with Klitschko.
I don’t need a crystal ball to tell me that you’ve got conflicting advice coming at you from all directions – and you probably can’t figure out who, or what, to believe. Well, I’m going lay the truth out for you in clear, no-bullshit fashion. I’ve been at this for at least 18 years …I know what you need to know, and what you don’t need to know and I’m going to tell you straight. Not what I read from just a book or in a research paper (though, trust me, I’ve read a few …all the way from texts published in 1896 to the latest research journals) but what I’ve had hammered into me through over 18 years of unbreakable devotion to weight training; what I’ve seen other people go through and what I’ve learned from people who have gone before me. I’m not making any money from this, and the only reason I’m telling you this is because I remember myself, quite vividly, what it’s like to be stumbling around in the dark. So, let’s get into the Rules of Productive Weight Training for the Drug-free Trainee.
I’m going to start with the rule that upsets a lot of publishers, supplement salesmen and even gym owners (I almost forgot, they’re called “fitness clubs” now). It puts me on the magazines’ blacklists too, so I don’t expect you’ll see anything I write show up in the newsstand bodybuilding magazines…
Rule #1: Don’t Be Mislead by 99% of What You Read on the Internet or in Magazines and Books
The vast majority of what’s in popular “print” is, for the most part, useless to you. Worse than that, it’ll do your training life immense harm if you take much of it too seriously. The fitness industry is a multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry. Do you really think that the guy’s who make a fortune from this are concerned with your gains? No, they are not. Most of them are probably fat businessmen who go to board meetings and discuss what they can do to get this quarter’s profits up. As George Turner would say, “you couldn’t scrape a teaspoon full of muscle off of ‘em.” To them, you are simply a potential customer. Think about it, how do they get your attention? They hire some drug-using professional bodybuilder to say that he got great gains from their product (training program or supplements) and they photograph him with some half-naked girl with a 4-pound saline rack. In reality, he probably never even used their product and even if he did, he takes so many steroids and anabolic drugs that almost any program would work for him and supplements are irrelevant. But all the advertisers are concerned with is getting you to give them your money for their latest book or magazine, supplement or “breakthrough discovery”, or whatever they happen to be selling …and it’s always something, either directly or indirectly.
I was recently catching a long flight and bought a few of the popular “muscle magazines” to read onboard. Immediately I was struck by the fact that I had to flip past almost two dozen pages of supplement ads before I even got to the table of contents. When I did get there I noticed that this magazine contained much less actual “content” than it did about 10 years ago. In fact, there were only four of what I’d consider actual articles. The rest were just a few paragraphs here and there, interspersed between supplement ads. In fact, well over two-thirds of the pages in this magazine were supplement ads (yes, I counted). There were eight 4-6 page “special ad reports” semi-disguised as articles when, in fact, they were ads by supplement manufacturers. Remove the full-page photos, diagrams designed to take up space and side-bar supplement ads and I’d estimate that this roughly 300-page magazine contains about 10 pages of actual instruction/information …and even then most of the actual “articles” contain plugs for protein powders and other supplements. Contrast this to the same magazine a dozen or so years ago and you’ll find that the supplement ads have increased by at least a factor of 10 and two-thirds of the magazine’s actual content has been removed to make space for them. I wonder what the motivation has been for such a shift? This 300-page collection of bogus supplement ads cost me almost 10 bucks. Considering what it really is, they should be giving this rag away for free.
Every few months new gimmics come out and are pushed heavily in the magazines and on the internet because gimmics sell. People simply don’t want to see and read the same old things month after month, year after year. The newest “wrinkle” is what sells, and sales are what the “industry” is all about. Even the genuine articles, which could be helpful to drug-free trainees, quickly get lost and overwhelmed amongst the sensationalism and material aimed at drug-users and the naive. Beginners and experienced trainees alike simply cannot tell what’s appropriate for them and what isn’t …and if an author doesn’t specifically say that his advice is for drug-free trainees, then it’s not. Training for beginners is an even more special case, and 99% of what’s printed in magazines and on the internet is not appropriate for beginners.
Another thing: You are not Jay Cutler or Ronnie Coleman or Arnold Schwarzenegger or anyone else. The things that some of those men do to their bodies in training would destroy yours. Why is that so? Because they are taking/took enough drugs in a month that they’d be 250 pounds and ripped if they never lifted anything much heavier than their pill bottles (an exaggeration perhaps, but if you’d seen some of these top pros train you might be surprised to find that they don’t train as hard as you do – steroids make the muscles stronger but don’t do much for the joints, so some of these men actually can’t train heavy anymore …the weights they use in photoshoots are made of styrofoam and plastic). You have about as much in common with the average pro bodybuilder as you do with a lowland Gorilla. Seem a bit far-fetched? Well, I’ve heard of competitors spending upwards of $90,000 a year in drugs. Think that your body, with it’s natural hormone levels, can compare to that? If you do you’re dreaming. Sorry if I’m bursting your bubble here, but you had to find out sooner or later. So WAKE UP NOW, before it’s too late and you’ve spent years wasting your time following Jay Cutler’s biceps routine. It happened to me. I wasted almost 10 years on their drug-dependent routines. If you don’t be careful you may too.
Training approaches are very specific and different for drug-free people than they are for drug-users. People of different builds also require different training approaches (especially people that could be classified as “hard gainers”). If you want to learn how to train drug-free you have to look to the people that actually train and trained drug-free – the current drug-free champions such as Dave Goodin, Tony Montalbano and Jon Harris, and the legends of the Iron Game such as Reg Park, John Grimek, Tommy Kono, Steve Reeves, John Davis, etc. Think those people aren’t (or weren’t) that big. Well, compared to Jay Cutler they aren’t. But let me tell you right now, if you want to be like Jay Cutler without turning your ass into a pin-cushion and choking down pills from some Eastern European or Mexican pharmacy all day then you need a big reality check. Take a look at these men. They are your measuring stick. Ain’t so bad, hey?
If you want to read some sensible bodybuilding books I can suggest the following list:
# Brawn by Stuart McRobert. This is, without a doubt, one of the best and most valuable books for drug-free trainees ever published. The original version is best because the subsequent edition(s) is just a nudge too conservative in both exercise selection and schedules. On the other hand, the recommendations in the newer edition(s) are generally safer and will yield similar gains for all but the most advanced of trainees.
# Powerlifting Basics, Texas-Style: The Adventures of Lope Delk by Paul Kelso. Although this book is aimed primarily at Powerlifters it contains a wealth of training wisdom for anyone who wants to learn what training is really about.
# Weight-Training Technique: The Insider’s Tell-All Handbook on Weight-Training Technique by Stuart McRobert. Beginners need to learn how to do the most effective exercises safely and properly. This is an excellent guide, though some valuable exercises are not explained.
# Building the Classic Physique the Natural Way by Steve Reeves. Reeves had one of the greatest drug-free physiques of all time. This book outlines his approach to training. Be careful though, only the most genetically gifted will prosper fully from his routine in its unaltered state.
# The Complete Keys to Progress by John McCallum. McCallum was probably the greatest muscle scribe to ever put pen to paper. This book is a compilation of his classic series of articles in the old Health and Strength magazine. Of all the training books I’ve read this was the most engaging and inspirational.
# Dinosaur Training: Lost Secrets of Strength and Development by Brooks Kubik. A modern classic and a great read. Brooks knows his stuff and his solid advice is a worthy addition to the Iron Game.
# The Strongest Shall Survive by Bill Starr. Truly worth it’s weight in gold. Don’t let the sub-title (Strength Training for Football) put you off. This is one of the finest books ever written on how to build functional strength and muscle mass.
# Super Squats: How to Gain 30 Pounds of Muscle in 6 Weeks by Randall J. Strossen, Ph.D. A modern training classic. You won’t gain 30 pounds of muscle in 6 weeks, but you probably will gain as much, as quickly, as possible.
# 10-Week Size Surge by Iron Man Magazine. A solid program along the old-time, drug-free training lines …A very effective approach to training, and a very complete guide.
Destroy That Which Destroys You
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