by Gene Mozee
Why can’t you build muscle mass and density? Is something stopping you from getting bigger and stronger? Maybe you need a dose of power-mass training!
When I first began training many years ago, my goal was to get bigger so that I could play football and, of course, have a better physique. I gained 30 pounds in the first six months, and the additional muscle size and strength greatly enhanced my athletic ability. I became stuck, however, at 159 pounds and just couldn’t gain another ounce no matter how hard I worked out or how many calories I consumed. Sound familiar? I bounced around from gym to gym and tried every workout program used by champs like Clancy Ross, Jack Delinger and Reg Park. I was so confused I was about ready to throw in the towel and hang it up.
Fortunately, I met John Farbotnik at Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, California, and he invited me to his gym in Glendale. Farbotnik, who had won both the Mr. America and Mr. Universe titles in 1960, took my measurements and evaluated my physique and my training program. He explained to me that I was overtraining and overeating.
“To build greater muscle size and bodyweight, it takes proper activity, proper nutrition, and sufficient rest and sleep. To develop muscle mass you need to use progressively heavier poundages and build greater strength.”
“Light warmup exercises will never build the muscle size you want,” Farbotnik continued. “Light dumbbell movements like concentration curls, which are necessary for shaping and peaking the biceps, are fine, but who needs them to work on 15-inch arms? Hack squats are great for shaping the thighs, but if you want real muscle mass, you need heavy squats. You must handle consistently heavier weights in combination with a more scientific, weight-gaining diet to reach your goals.”
I soon found out that John knew his stuff. I joined his gym and gained 30 more pounds in three months. My bench press went from 275 to 360. My arms went from 15.5 to 18 inches, and my chest increased from 45 to 48 inches. At the same time I found out that a substantial increase in body power produced a simultaneous increase in muscle mass.
The most effective way to produce greater muscle mass is to hit the deep-lying muscle fibers with heavy poundages. These submerged fibers are rarely activated if you don’t use heavy weights. A basic, scientific law, the all-or-none principle, operates in relation to muscle use – that is, an individual muscle fiber either reacts with all of its contractile power or it doesn’t react at all. There is no in between, no compromise.
Your muscles are very economical, operating with as few fibers as they can. Light weights activate only a few muscle fibers, while heavy poundages stimulate the maximum number possible. As a muscle group gets progressively stronger and larger, you must continually add more poundage to stimulate the maximum number of fibers. You have to constantly challenge your muscles to work harder and harder if you want to build dense, quality mass.
Unless you are a student of anatomy, you may be wondering what these deep-lying muscle fibers are. They are auxiliary muscle fibers that attach to a major muscle group such as the biceps, pectorals, triceps, deltoids or quadriceps and often surround its base. When they are bombarded with heavy power exercises, they thicken and increase in size, thus giving the muscle greater strength, more stamina, larger girth, improved shape and increased fullness.
Generally speaking, performing an exercise with a moderate weight will produce only limited improvement. It will help shape and enlarge a particular muscle, but unless the deep-lying muscle fibers of that muscle are aroused, it will never reach maximum development. Therefore, to activate those fibers and force your muscles to grow larger, you must blast them with the heaviest weapons in your arsenal – heavy power-mass exercises. The magic formula is this: More weight plus more work (handling consistently heavier poundages) equals maximum mass and power.
When you attack the big, major muscle groups (chest, legs, back, and shoulders) with heavy power-mass exercises, all the other related groups – primary, secondary and tertiary – are stimulated into new growth. For example, when you do heavy bench presses in power-mass style, your deltoids, triceps, and even upper back receive extra benefits that make them larger, stronger, and capable of handling heavier poundages on specific deltoid and arm exercises. This increased strength is one of the keys to building the muscle mass and density you seek.
The following program was used by Marvin Eder, possibly the strongest bodybuilder who ever hoisted a barbell. In the ‘50s, Eder, along with George Eiferman, had the most massive pecs west of the Pecos. Eder was so strong that he benched 510 pounds and did standing presses with 365. He weighed 198, had 19-inch arms and could do 5 sets of 10 reps with the 120s in the seated dumbbell press. He also did 12 one-arm chins with his right hand and 11 with his left.
Eder told me that his secret to building record-breaking power and incredible muscularity was power-mass training. The following routine is one he used, and it is the one he recommended to me. It not only helped me gain many pound of muscle, but it pushed my bench press and overhead pressing strength to new heights.
1) Squats – Keep the feet fairly close together. Squat to slightly below parallel, keeping your knees pointing forward. Exhale strongly at the hard spot on the way up.
2) Bench Presses – Use a medium-wide grip, with your hands about 26 to 32 inches apart. Lower the bar slowly to the highest point on your chest and immediately ram it back to the top as you exhale.
3) Heavy Bentover Barbell Rows – Use the same as for the bench press. Bend forward with your back parallel to the floor and pull the bar up until it touches the rib cage. Lower the bar slowly close to your body, but don’t let it touch the floor. Use some cheat on the last few reps.
4) Standing Barbell Presses – Use a slightly wider-than-shoulder-width grip. Take the barbell off a squat rack rather than cleaning it, and preserve all your energy for pressing. Keep your entire body tight and exhale as you press the weight up. Do the reps rapidly without pausing at the top or bottom.
5) Lat Machine Pulldowns – Using a fairly wide grip with your hands six to eight inches wider than shoulder-width, pull the bar down to just below your collar bones until it touches your upper chest. You can also substitute some form of chins for this exercise, or alternate each workout.
6) Heavy Dumbbell Curls – Do this exercise while seated on a sturdy bench. Use a slight cheating motion as you inhale, curling the bells upward until they touch your delts. Exhale as you lower them all the way to straight arms.
7) Cool Down – 100 legs raises or other light ab work.
Train three times a week on alternate days.
Perform each exercise for 3 sets of 8 reps the first two weeks.
After two weeks increase to 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps.
Take a light week.
Increase to 5 sets of 5 to 7 reps on each exercise for a month.
Take a light week.
Increase to 3 sets of 3 to 5 reps, and 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps on each exercise for a month.
Relax and rest between each set until you have fully recuperated enough to go on. Schedule your workout so that you will have enough time to go through it without rushing. Don’t add any other exercises. Warm up before each exercise.
Get on a five to six meal a day diet, eating a protein-rich meal or snack every three hours or so. Consume at least one gram of protein for every pound of bodyweight, plus an additional 10% for growth. As your weight increases, increase your intake. Stick to about 30 calories per pound of bodyweight and keep the crap to a minimum.
Eight to nine hours of sound sleep will increase the speed of your gains, both in strength and size. Take it easy for these three-and-a-half months if you can, and see what power-mass training can do.
Squats, bench, rows, press.
Gene Mozee was actually a Weider writer back in the "old days". Before Weider invented the Internet....Oops, that was Al Gore.
Awesome... cant beat the basics... Eat well and progress on big compounds, lifting as heavy as possible. SIMPLE !
Nothing's changed. Simple big stuff works.
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