Controversy has always been a great promotional tool.
I guess I’m going to be a little controversial in this article. But I’m not doing it to draw attention to myself or to sell something. No, I’m doing it with the hope that I can help you. Maybe you’ll be able to avoid some of the frustration that I’ve experienced.
Even though I know that I’m going to open a can of worms with this, I’m not going to be too controversial. I won’t tell you to knock off a convenience store so that you can run down to Mexico to get the “Steroid du Jour”. So if you’re hoping for a really controversial issue, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed. (Sorry, that’s not my style.)
But I am going to mention a couple names and a style of training that seems to infuriate some people. Why? I don’t really know. I always thought that being open-minded was a great way to learn. But for some reason a lot of folks immediately cross their arms and close their minds when this training technique is mentioned. I NEVER close my mind to an idea that may help me progress in my training (as long as it’s moral, ethical, and legal, that is!)
So to keep you from shutting me out right off the bat, I’m not going to drop those two names or tell you about this technique. At least not right now. Stick with me for a minute.
I Learned My Lesson The Hard Way…Again!
If you’ve been reading my articles for any length of time, I’m sure you’ve realized that one of my core philosophies is basic exercises done for a few hard sets with as heavy a weight as you can handle in good form for 6 to 12 reps. I’ve found that this consistently works for genetically average folks and hard gainers. Unfortunately I had to learn this the hard way from years of wasted efforts and training with nearly zero gains.
The biggest reason that most people are not making gains is that they over-train. Too many sets, too many workouts per week, not enough recovery time.
The routines that most of the muscle mags publish every month will not only keep you from gaining, but will more than likely cause you to go backwards. You’ll lose strength and size! (That is if you are drug-free.)
So for years I’ve been warning people to stay away from the high volume routines. Most people don’t listen or don’t believe that you can make gains training with fewer sets. They’ve read the 15 to 20 sets per bodypart thing so often that they believe it’s the truth. More is always better, right?
Since I considered myself a fairly advanced trainer and had built up a fair amount of size and strength, I thought that it was time to experiment.
The Seduction Of The Bulgarian Lie
I ordered a training manual called “Big Beyond Belief – Serious Growth 3”. Man, it was a great read! The guy who wrote it was Leo Costa Jr – Mr. Credibility . It was endorsed by Tom Platz, Mr. Universe. It had all kinds of data as to why it worked. My God, this author traveled to Bulgaria and had to pledge his first-born son to extract this secret information out of those God-less Commies!
So I figured I was ready to do it.
I trained six days a week, once a day. There was an program to train six days a week, twice a day. I was planning to pick that option but my business schedule wouldn’t allow it. Oh well, I figured that I would just gain a little slower. The Bulgarians were doing the six day per week/twice per day schedule. I guess I wouldn’t be able to keep up with them.
About four weeks into the program I had tendonitis in my biceps tendon so bad that I could barely lift five pounds. I also had a constant dull ache in my lower back and shoulder joints. But I was willing to endure if I could make good gains.
How disappointed I was to find that I had lost weight, strength, and all my measurements were down, too. To add insult to injury, I got a nasty sinus infection.
The sinus infection turned into bronchitis, which then turned into pneumonia.
So for all the effort I put in over four weeks…
I Lost 15 Pounds, A Lot Of Strength, And All My Measurements Were Smaller
Those Commie bastards tricked us. It was a conspiracy to get all of us Americans smaller and weaker so they could invade!
(OK, so I’m having a little fun here, joking around, but…I promise that I’ll give you some sound training advice.)
I’ll make a long story short. After I finally recovered from my illnesses, I went back on a high volume routine. Five days/week, 15 sets per body part.
Guess what…I got another sinus infection. This was getting frustrating. Must be the time of year for those things, huh?
After recovering from that, with a little help from the Doc, I went back to the gym and decided to tackle German Volume Training. (Could that be another conspiracy, too? The Germans aren’t Commies, are they?)
This time it only took my sorry butt two weeks to realize that I had been in a constant state of over-training.
When you do more exercise and too frequent exercise than your body can recover from, it not only affects your muscles, but also your immune system. Not only is it impossible for your muscles to overcompensate and grow bigger and stronger, but your immune system is taking a beating. When it begins to weaken, you’re susceptible to catching all kinds of neat things floating through the air.
Time after time I have found…
The Biggest Reason Almost All People Are Not Gaining >From Their Weight Training Routines Is Over-Training
Most people refuse to believe that, so they keep on doing the same thing over and over again hoping it will work. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing you’ve been doing and expecting different results.
I know it’s hard to not fall into the “more is better” trap. I did it myself. And I know better! I guess I figured that since I built a fair amount of size and strength over the years training the hard-gainer way, that I could now grow from these high volume workouts. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
My good friend Paul Becker at Truly Huge was kind enough to send me an interesting book. In this book, which I will not mention…yet (your mind is still open, right?), the author used an analogy that really struck me. Actually several good analogies.
I know from experience that it only takes one bullet to kill you. (I was a police officer in a large Midwest city for 11 years). When that one bullet is well placed, it will kill you instantly. Unloading the rest of my magazine into you doesn’t kill you any deader. More is not necessarily better.
Hmmmmmm…so this guy (who will remain anonymous for now) says that one set, done in good form, slowly without momentum, for 6 to 12 reps, where the last rep is to total positive failure is all that’s needed to stimulate muscular growth. Any additional sets do not help stimulate more growth but actually…
Additional Sets Hinder The Growth Process Because They Make Too Many Inroads Into Your Recuperative Abilities. If You Can’t Recover From It, You Can’t Grow!
I’d heard that before but never paid much attention to it.
After reading that book, I got my hands on some articles from a cantankerous old guy who invented some weird-looking exercise machines about 20 years ago. He was saying the same basic thing.
After a two week layoff, I started on a program where I train every four days. I usually do one set per body part. For some body parts it’s a pre-exhaust set.
I won’t have time in this article to go over all the details, but I will tell you this…
I Gained Five Pounds Of Muscle In The First Week And I’m Getting Radically Stronger Each And Every Time I Go To The Gym!
I’ve rambled enough for now. I promise that I’ll reveal the whole routine in the next article.