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BendtheBar 11-29-2009 08:34 PM

Casey Butt Appreciation Thread
Casey Butt

Your Maximum Muscular Bodyweight and Measurements


I think a lot of people who say they have 18 inch arms carry about 2 inches of fat so if they were lean they would really only have sixteen inch arms. I was only about 25 lbs overwieght at one point and when I lost the wieght my arms lost an inch even though they actually have more muscle now.
Few people actually realize the effect that even "small amounts" of body fat have on measurements (which is relative to what you consider "small amounts"). At 15% body fat my arms are about 1/8" less than what the formula predicts, but the last time I went down to 8% my arms were a full inch off the prediction (though I didn't directly train arms while dieting which probably cost me a fair bit of muscle off my arms). I think that if I leaned out while training to maintain arm mass I might come within 1/2" of the prediction.

Incidentally, my lean body mass at 8% is about 5-6 pounds less than the formula predicts as my maximum (and I've been training very seriously for over 15 years). For a person of my height and structure a balanced gain of 5-6 pounds of muscle equates to about a 1/2" on the upper arms, which would put both my arm measurement and my body weight roughly where the formula says they "should be".

Realistically though, I'll probably never get that additional 5-6 pounds of lean body mass -- in my 15 years of involvement with bodybuilding I've seen only a few people who legitimately reached the formulae's predictions in lean condition without drug use ...and they were all high-level, drug-tested competitors. Most current high-level "natural" competitors hover somewhere around or slightly under the formulae's predictions for most body parts (in fact, before the most recent edition of that article was posted it was read by several world-class drug-free bodybuilders, none of whom claimed to exceed the predictions).

BendtheBar 11-29-2009 08:35 PM

Casey Butt

Lacour-narural or not?

Ahhh, a stumpy Dubliner. Wink I'm from Newfoundland, Canada, so I'm quite familiar with things Irish.

Really thick people are outliers on the upper end of the regression because the regression is based on lean competitive bodybuiders who tend to be very mesomorphic. But even then they seem to be a relatively fixed percentage above a more mesomorphic lifter.

Just as an example of how much lean body mass (LBM) can differ when bodybuilders drop down into the single-digit bodyfat levels for contests, here's U.K. bodybuilder John Berry's stats as he got ready for the BNBF Central Championships (I'm using these stats because they're readily available on the 'net)...

Assuming he has an average skeletal structure for his height of 5'5.5", John Berry's lean body mass should be 153.3 to 157.5 lbs, depending on his exact joint circumferences.

On 1/04/06 Berry weighed 176 lbs at 11% b.f. --> LBM = 156.6 lbs

On 2/05/06 Berry weighed 167 lbs at 9% b.f. --> LBM = 152.0 lbs

On 3/06/06 Berry weighed 158.4 lbs at 6.9% b.f. --> LBM = 147.5 lbs

On 1/07/06 Berry weighed 151.8 lbs at 6.4% b.f. --> LBM = 142.1 lbs

His anticipated weight and body fat at the contest on 30/07/06 (assuming after carb loading and proper hydration) = 147.4 - 151.8 lbs at 5-5.5% --> LBM = 140.0 - 144.2 lbs

So Berry lost over 12 lbs of LBM in going from 11% to 5-6.5% b.f. At 11% he carried the LBM that would be predicted for his structure, but in "contest" shape he carried 12 lbs less LBM. Jon Harris, however, held his LBM right at the predicted maximum when he won the 2006 WNBF World Championship. So, in the off-season, Berry seems to have the raw muscle mass to compete at the world level, but he lost it in pre-contest phase. That ability to retain muscle when dropping bodyfat is probably the difference between regional champions and world champions. Of course, his muscle loss was also probably due to either an overly restrictive diet or a poorly designed pre-contest training program, or both. But it does illustrate that many drug-free bodybuilders seem to exceed the predicted LBM maximums during the "off-season" -- they may carry that LBM when they're "fatter" but they don't carry it as the contest approaches.

Using myself as an example. Right now, at ~16% bodyfat (as of this morning), I have about 1.5 lbs more LBM than my equation predicts as my maximum (after 15 years of very serious training). I'm in the process of going down to 6-8% bodyfat. When I get there it's a practical guarantee that I won't have that much LBM, and I don't have the long muscle bellies throughout every muscle group as do the more gifted mesomorphs. The last time I dieted down I was 3-7 lbs shy of that maximum (depending on hydration, time of day, etc.).

When I first formulated these equations I was a little disappointed that I was already very close to my maximums. But, realistically, after 18 total years of training, there isn't much muscle left to be gained by this drug-free body. Now it comes down to impoving weak points and overall symmetry.

I think you should definitely make the films. And diet down to the single-digits and track your lean body mass while you're doing it ...I need more data on heavy-set endomorphs. Smiley

BendtheBar 11-30-2009 09:54 AM

Casey Butt

Someone made a comment on my discussion board and it brought up a few practical points that I think probably should be included here for completeness. Here's a quote from the thread...

...keep in mind that the body adapts very specifically. If you usually do 16-20 sets your muscles will have the energy systems developed for that volume (i.e. substrates to replenish ATP, glycogen, etc), whereas on a full-body routine the energy systems for each muscle only have to 'answer the call' for 4-10 total sets per body part - completely different demands and the body will react completely differently to it. I would expect more sarcoplasmic hypertrophy on a split.

The weekly workload is a different story. If you were to do 4-10 sets per body part per day on full-body, you'd rack up 12-30 total sets in a week, but at each session less localized muscular endurance would be needed. The muscles would lose their ability to sustain output over higher volumes, but sarcomeric hypertrophy would be stimulated three times per week.

In other words, train long enough on full-body routines and you'll get better at developing power for limited bursts, and train long-term on a high-volume split and the muscles will adapt to produce force for longer periods. Of course, this is a function of daily body part volume and training frequency, not the fact that you're training your full-body at one time.

You can see the same sorth of thing with whatever volume you use for each exercise now. For instance, take an exercise that you've done say 3 sets on for years and suddenly add a fourth set. You'll do the first 3 sets as always, but probably suddenly and unexpectedly 'die' a few reps into the fourth set (unless you take long rests between sets and/or use very low reps). It will take a few weeks, at least, for the body to increase the capacity of the energy systems required to get through that fourth set (increase enzymes and substrates involved primarily in the anaerobic glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation systems).

Full-body and 'strength' and 'power' training go hand and glove in an energy substrate sense, but frying the nervous system and overloading the joints have to be guarded against. There's a little different mentality involved. You have to start focusing on every rep rather than the overall workout for any particular body part. You can't think of saving yourself for the rest of the workout, you have to build up to having the full-body endurance to hit everything at once and not back-off on anything just so you can get through. That ability comes with time.

The liver also has to increase it's glycogen storage and glucose production capacities to get you through very demanding full-body workouts - which is a large part of the reason you must eat well after a hard full-body workout. Liver glycogen content is an indicator of the body's overall state --> depleted liver glycogen = body catabolic, full liver glycogen = body anabolic (in a broad sense). So, good nutrition is crucial to getting full-body to work - you must replenish that liver glycogen afterwards. Until your body begins upregulating the enzymes and substrates involved you probably won't feel 'right' doing full-body. After you've adapted to it you'll be surprised just how much you can do (take ) in one workout.

So, it's important not to jump into full-body training headlong, especially if you haven't trained that way in awhile. Like anything else it's an adaptation process and that has to run it's course before you can go all-out. Not giving themselves proper time to adapt is why a lot of people training on split routines feel like they couldn't possibly train their full bodies in one session. From the other perspective, once you get used to training your full body hard in one session, training just a few body parts on a split feels like the lightest of 'light' days.

glwanabe 11-30-2009 10:41 AM

This last post on wholebody conditioning is one of the most intriguing post I've read from him. It answers a lot of questions, and explains scientifically why the golden age programs had beginners doing only one set per movement.

The conventional wisdom at the time had beginners start with one set per movement, and add weight as normal. You would continue in this fashion for a few months, and then you could increase to two sets per movement. Finally you would move up to three sets per movement.

Without realizing what I was doing, I had actually been doing something similer over the last year with my gymnastic strength training program. That program had me working 5 days a week on basic bodyweight moves utilizing chins, dips, and rings. Slowly over the months I was increasing my workload as my ability to do so improved.

By the time I started the Olympic lifting program I was doing, I was ready for that 5 days a week program of weights. It was a beginners program as well, and kept work to a low level, and increased workload over a 12 week phase.

It was about this time I started my log here on my current BB type wholebody program. It seemed to some that I was going to overtrain, but it felt fine to me, to be doing that workload. In fact, I'm still slowly increasing my workload.

The wholebody work, now that I'm really into the program feels better than any split I've used before. I'll be very interested to see where it takes me in the next year.

BendtheBar 11-30-2009 10:49 AM

BTW, I am adding the following to Casey Butt quotes on this thread, so we can differentiate between our quotes and Casey's:

Casey Butt

BendtheBar 11-30-2009 10:51 AM


Originally Posted by glwanabe (Post 12674)

It was about this time I started my log here on my current BB type wholebody program. It seemed to some that I was going to overtrain, but it felt fine to me, to be doing that workload. In fact, I'm still slowly increasing my workload.

The wholebody work, now that I'm really into the program feels better than any split I've used before. I'll be very interested to see where it takes me in the next year.

This gets me thinking about some of the Russian programs and Sheiko. Maybe they should be "waded into" instead of trainees diving in head first.

BendtheBar 12-05-2009 03:08 PM

Casey Butt

Advanced trainees need longer between training sessions for the central nervous system to leave the temporary state of inhibition caused as a result of near maximal lifting - it has nothing to do with advanced trainees' muscles needing longer to recover than beginners. If anything, beginners' muscles would actually need longer to recover from training than advanced lifters because their sarcolemma's (muscle cell membranes) are more susceptible to training induced damage and changes in permeability.

To overcome the gradually acquired resistance to training effects, that all advanced trainees build up, the typical current default is to add more volume per session - and then be forced to take longer breaks between bodypart/lift training sessions to let the nervous system and joints recover from that higher volume of loading (along with the greater intensities that the trainee is now capable of generating). It is not an approach backed by the body of science, but rather a "solution" somewhat haphazardly garnered from the practices of steroid users (who have exogeneous anabolic steroids in their system and don't need a training stimulus every 48-72 hours to see satisfactory results) and the logic that training volume must be increased to cause more microtrauma (which generally is quite true but does not stand by itself and does not necessitate more exercises per session).

It is a fallacy that advanced trainees necessarily need more volume and less frequency than beginners (at least beginners past the first few weeks) - it only appears to be necessary when nervous system, joint and muscle recovery are not seen as individual components with differing trauma and recovery processes and time frames. The H/L/M scheme addressed in the other thread addresses that by varying the weekly loading pattern and allowing bodyparts to be trained more frequently - even by advanced lifters. At the end of the week, similar volumes will be done as if all the training was done on one day, but research has shown time and time again (since at least the 1950s to present) that it is superior for any level of trainee to perform several training sessions per week than to do a higher volume just once. The optimal approach for advanced trainees is to inject variety by properly planned rep, set, rest, exercise selection and performance changes rather than to simply increase the volume by haphazardly tacking on additional exercises and sets. Of course, the general trend as a person advances is that the training volume goes up gradually, but the frequency should not necessarily decrease because of that.

BendtheBar 12-05-2009 03:10 PM

Casey Butt


Originally Posted by Orlando1234977
So according to this logic, a beginner with a 100 pound Bress press and low workload tolerance would need longer to recover the muscles involved than an advanced 400 pound Bench Presser with a high workload tolerance. That's some mad science goin on in the labs these days
The fact that a beginner has a low work tolerance is exactly why a rank beginner would need longer for muscle cells to fully recover from training than an advanced lifter who has developed a higher tolerance. This pertains only to a rank beginner, however, because as he/she progresses the fibers quickly develop resistance to training induced damage and permeability changes. The weight on the bar is irrelevant as far as work-adapted muscle cells are concerned and is, in fact, linked to that work tolerance. Incidentally, work tolerance is precisely the reason bodybuilders feel they need to add volume as they advance... to overcome that tolerance (but the price paid is suboptimal training frequency for the fibers). The nervous system and joints are the limiting factors in how often an advanced lifter can train a lift (or to a lesser degree, a muscle), not the recovery rate of the muscle fibers themselves. It is anything but "mad science goin on in the labs these days", it can be observed in any gym, anywhere, at just about any time.
Also note, steroids were in high use in the 70's/80's as well when bodybuilders typically trained a muscle 2-3 times/week. If it were ideal, they'd still be doing that. Natural progression of the sport.
Exactly my point. Infrequent splits were a natural evolution for a steroid-dependent sport - they were tried and employed as far back as the 1940s and '50s, but with only a few exceptions were rejected by bodybuilders for off-season mass training (though were more commonly employed pre-contest). Weightlifters of the 1950s did, however, more commonly use splits (Marvin Eder, Doug Hepburn, Paul Anderson, Tommy Kono, etc). Elaborate split routines didn't gain acceptance with the bodybuilding community until after contest-preparing bodybuilders discovered they could gain muscle mass while on steroids even during their high-volume pre-contest training and dieting. From there, both steroids and split routines spilled into the off-season and the "evolution" has taken a decidedly different path that it did, could have, or would have, had steroids not entered the picture.

BendtheBar 12-05-2009 03:11 PM

Casey Butt


Originally Posted by Orlando1234977
To make matters worse, a full body approach would then have you do the most taxing exercises to the cns all in one session.
Not necessarily. A classic heavy/light/medium approach is to mix heavy and lighter lifts on the same day. For instance, on a day containing heavy Squats for sets of 5 the back work might be comparatively light (and spine decompressing) Pullups for sets of 12. Advanced full-body training should not be set up along the same lines as basic beginners and intermediates full-body training. Even if all heavy exercises were performed on the same day, that doesn't mean that different exercises couldn't be performed for different rep counts 48 hours later. Up to a point of exhaustion (which we rarely reach through training) the nervous system reacts very specifically to specific stresses - it typically isn't a blanket "my nervous system is recovering" type of situation.


Originally Posted by Orlando1234977
In order to get the workload in that is required per muscle for an intermediate to advanced lifter, the cns would be BURIED for most of the population.
If they attempted high volumes and loading without conditioning themselves properly to that workload then that is no doubt true. However, many lifters throughout the years have progressed in their training properly and can easily Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, Overhead Press, Row, etc, heavily on the same day with no ill effects. It certainly can't be jumped into suddenly, but it doesn't require super genetics to do it - I've been doing it personally for years and I have, without doubt, below typical genetic gifts for intense training. I've also trained many who've done the same. Of course, if a person poorly plans their training and attempts to do 20-sets per bodypart all on the same day then they will need well above average work tolerances - but that type of volume is unnecessary and counterproductive in such a situation anyway.

On the other hand, until someone does have sufficient conditioning to perform a full heavy day then they can always mix and match the loading schemes for each body part on a daily basis, performing heavy loading for some body parts combined with light loading for others so that over the week each body part gets hit heavy, light and medium.

In my opinion a happy compromise of volume and frequency for natural lifters is to split the body 2 ways either


Name them A and B, train 3 times per week Mon/Wed/Fri:

Week 1: A/B/A
Week 2: B/A/B

I think this allows for a little more volume per major body part than full body routines and a little more frequency than a body part split at 3 times every 2 weeks.

That's actually one of my favourite splits for getting bigger and stronger. A lot of people don't realize it, but it's also how Park trained Arnold when he lived with him in South Africa for three months in 1966. As splits go I think it's one of the first that people should turn to for variety and an alternative to full-body training.

BendtheBar 12-05-2009 03:14 PM

Casey Butt


Originally Posted by Orlando1234977
Of course it doesn't take super genetics to do Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, Overhead Press, Row etc on the same day with no ill effects. I've done it. The question is, is it the most effective way to organize to ensure proper volume and intensity for each and every muscle group? Volume doesn't need to be that high for novice lifters and for strength athletes (which is what we see when we look at scientific studies.) But novice lifters and strength athletes aren't everybody.
Individual body part volume doesn't need to be that high on any given day for advanced bodybuilders either. It is the week's total workload that determines hypertrophy rate - this has been shown numerous times in the research you refer to. And it is a complete fallacy that advanced strength athletes should, must, or do train with low volumes. I don't know where that is coming from - many advanced strength athletes train with just as high total volumes as natural bodybuilders. In fact, high training volumes have been a hallmark of elite Weightlifters' training for the past 50 years.

Also, out of curiosity, what makes you think 20 sets per bodypart all on the same day is unnecessary and counterproductive for everybody in all situations?
Nothing, that's why I didn't say it. I said it was "unnecessary and counterproductive" in the context of full-body training in which the training load is divided across the week. I said nothing about "everybody in all situations".

Surely there isn't a study that measures this in terms of muscle growth for a lifter that has built up to this type of volume. To add to that, many intelligent lifters do perform that kind of workload and not because it's what the pros do or because it's what the mags print, but because it works for them.
The body responds to stresses that it is unaccustomed to. There are many ways to get that newness of stress - adding reps, sets, exercises, escalating volume, etc. In fact, progression is deliberately built into the "rules" and anyone fully understanding them will realize that. There is nothing in any of the "rules" that say you can't split your routine and do 20 sets per body part ...depending on your goals and experience level. What it does say, though, is that it wouldn't be an appropriate choice for someone looking to gain more overall lean body mass - which is what 99% of bodybuilders are attempting to do at any given time. Drug-free lifters legitimately advanced enough to be performing 20 sets per body part typically don't gain more than a few ounces of muscle a year (although they may achieve other goals concurrently). Those that aren't yet that experienced may gain more than that, but would still be immensely better off focusing their energies on basic progression on fewer lifts for the majority of their training year.

This is turning into a full-body vs. split argument - yet that is not what the "rules" were written specific to. Full-body vs. split was discussed extensively here...

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