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HIGH-INTENSITY TRAINING the Mike Mentzer Way
By Mike Mentzer John Little
McGraw-HillCopyright © 2003 Mentzer-Sharkey Enterprises, Inc., and John Little
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHE ROLE OF REALISTIC GOALS
Those readers who have been engaged in serious bodybuilding for more than a year probably have realized that the growth of muscle tissue beyond normal levels is a relatively slow process. And while I have never seen the results of studies that might reveal exactly how many pounds the average bodybuilder gains in the course of one year of hard training, I think that most experienced bodybuilders would agree that a five-pound gain of pure muscle tissue—as opposed to five pounds of body weight, despite its composition—would be considered a considerable achievement.
Five pounds of muscle tissue may not sound very impressive, but if a bodybuilder were able to sustain that rate of growth (5 pounds of pure muscle tissue per year) for five years, he would, at the end of that period, end up some 25 pounds of muscle heavier. If you could envision that much beefsteak laid out in front of you on the dinner table, you would then get some idea as to just how much "meat" 25 pounds of muscle is—enough to transform the average American male weighing 155 pounds into a veritable Hercules at 180 pounds of solid, cut-up muscle. It should also be remembered that of that average American male's 155 pounds of body weight, the muscle weight component is roughly 20 pounds (the remainder being bone, water, fat, and waste materials). Given this fact, his muscle weight gain of 25 pounds over five years would represent a transformation that would more than double his existing muscle mass!
Considering that the majority of the top muscle stars past and present weigh less than 200 pounds, that really is quite an achievement. I recall that at the 1977 Mr. Olympia contest bodybuilding luminaries such as Frank Zane weighed in at 187 pounds; Bill Grant at 184 pounds; Boyer Coe tipped the scales at a mere 196 pounds; and Ed Corney competed at a weight of 174 pounds. Barring the odd genetic freak, you'd actually be hard-pressed to find more than a handful of top bodybuilding competitors in contest shape that would weigh in excess of 200 pounds.
One of the most massively muscled bodybuilders from that era was Danny Padilla, a man who won the Mr. Universe title in Nimes, France, weighing a very muscular and cut-up 165 pounds. I recall Danny telling me that when he first began training 10 years prior to that contest he weighed a meager 120 pounds. That represents a gain of 45 pounds spanning a 10-year training career, with the yearly average gain being 4&fra12; pounds. Those figures may offer hope to those of you disappointed with similar gains.
Bearing this in mind it is now evident just how ludicrous some of those commercial claims in bodybuilding magazines are—such as those promising "a pound a day" of muscle gain if you take a particular nutritional supplement. There was even one well-known top bodybuilder who promised those purchasing his training courses that they would "gain 100 pounds of muscle" if they followed the advice contained in his booklets. It is doubtful that he ever succeeded in gaining that much muscle in his entire career—and yet he was promising everyone else in the world just that.
Of course there will be a number of you reading this book that cannot be counted in the ranks of the average. A few might possess well-above-average potential in gaining muscle mass at a rapid rate—a potential that will enable you to add up to 10 or more pounds of muscle tissue in a one-year period. But even these unusual few, whose abundance of the required genetic factors will allow for such rapid growth, won't see the results of such growth every time they step onto a scale. The individual whose potential allows him to gain a solid 12 pounds of muscle a year won't see those results on a day-to-day basis, or even a weekly one; most body weight scales just aren't sensitive enough to record fractions of a pound. Only if he were to gain at a steady rate of a pound per month for 12 months might he witness a weight gain once a month. Then there may be a month or two interspersed through the year when he makes no gains at all, but then proceeds to his 12 pound yearly gain by adding 2 pounds of muscle some other month. It is a rare individual indeed who makes such steady gains that they'll show up the same each and every month for a year. The majority will find that they gain in cycles: i.e., three months may pass with no visible signs of improvement, and then the next month their size and strength skyrockets. These growth patterns are highly individual, and thus will vary broadly from person to person.
It will be these few blessed individuals possessing all the required genetic factors who might possibly reach the top and take the big titles. (The next chapter will delve more deeply into the role of genetics in assessing one's ultimate potential.)
I stated at the outset that this book was not intended as a guarantee of a Mr. America physique. Nor would I insult your intelligence and tell you that by following the advice contained in these pages you'll end up gaining 50 or 100 pounds of muscle. The material contained in this chapter was not meant to frustrate you either, but to show just how difficult and slow the acquisition of a top physique might be. And if I was successful in doing that, you'll probably realize for yourself the utter absurdity of training six days a week for up to 25 hours per week. Can you really justify 1,200 hours per year of your time and energy gaining a couple of pounds of muscle? Especially when you discover how you may have been selling yourself short—vastly underestimating your growth potential—when you actually had the capability of gaining 8 pounds of muscle a year from a tiny fraction of the total amount of training. In many cases, the unbridled enthusiasm that leads to training excesses is the very thing that slows down the progress of the majority of bodybuilders—frustrating indeed.
Think of what could be accomplished were you to channel 1,200 hours of your time and energy each year to making a million dollars or the attaining of a college degree—why, you'd likely be on your way to your first million by now and probably have affixed a couple of Ph.D.s to your name.
Chapter TwoINDIVIDUAL POTENTIAL
After having read the previous chapter, many of you are probably asking yourselves this question: how can I know just what my potential for developing large muscles is? Unfortunately, there exists no surefire method for accurately assessing an individual's ultimate potential. There are certain traits, however, that suggest to the aspiring bodybuilder just where he might be headed.
Individuals inherit characteristics peculiar to their parents and not common to the species as a whole such as facial appearance, hair color, and blood type. These characteristics are fixed in the individual and not subject to progressive alteration. Other inherited characteristics such as intelligence and physical size are not fixed, and they can thus be altered from the outside.
The genes (hereditary material within a cell) responsible for mature body size can't find expression in an individual deprived of adequate nutrients during the early stages of maturation and growth. The very same applies to the full development of a person's intellect; deprived of early intellectual stimulation, a person's intellect will not develop very far, even if the hereditary material for it is present. These environmental influences are necessary for the development of normal levels of physical size and intelligence and for the development of above-normal levels—levels beyond those required for the carrying out of tasks involved in day-to-day living—of size and intellect; a person must expose himself to demands and the performance of tasks greater than those encountered in the course of daily living. In the case of developing larger than normal muscle size, a person must expose his muscles to progressively increasing levels of high-intensity training. And in the case of developing a superior intellect, a person must regularly attempt increasingly complex mental tasks. Improvements never result in either case merely by repeating things that are already easy.
While it is true that anyone can improve upon his or her existing levels of muscular size or intellect by following the advice mentioned above, in all cases limits will exist and there is yet no means by which mankind can transcend them. (Soon this may change as genetic engineers continue to unravel the mysteries of the DNA molecule.)
Along with certain psychological factors necessary in pursuing a goal to its fulfillment, there are definite inherited traits that represent the single most important consideration in building a championship physique. While anyone can improve upon his starting level of development, only a select few will become top champions, and these are the ones with the greatest abundance of the required inherited physical characteristics.
These characteristics offer the aspiring bodybuilder a guide to where he is headed—and indicate areas that may require greater attention during training.
While an infinite variety of body types exist, authorities have concluded that there are three readily identifiable types that recur most often. Dr. W. H. Sheldon categorized an individual's body by analyzing the degree to which each of the three types was present. He called his system somatotyping.
The three somatotypic variables are endomorphy, mesomorphy, and ectomorphy.
Endomorphy refers to the tendency toward soft round body contours. A typical endomorph is squat, having a round torso, thick neck, and short, fat legs and arms.
Mesomorphy refers to the tendency toward being muscular. A mesomorph is built square and strong, having broad muscular shoulders, powerful chest and limbs, and carrying little bodyfat.
Ectomorphy refers to the tendency toward linearity or slimness. Ectomorphs are usually tall and always thin in the torso and limbs. They carry little bodyfat or muscle.
In assessing an individual's predisposition towards building a championship physique, it is essential to consider bodily proportions, which are determined by the length, thickness, and ratio of a person's bones.
The bodily proportions normally associated with the ideal bodybuilding physique are broad shoulders, narrow hips, and arms and legs of medium length. Bodybuilding legends Sergio Oliva (from the 1960s) and Steve Reeves (from the 1940s) are excellent examples of how well-balanced proportions can benefit a bodybuilder.
While bones must be large enough to support a heavy musculature, they can't be too large. Otherwise they'll obliterate the beautiful lines that are the hallmark of the bodybuilder's physique.
While skeletal size and formation enable an individual to support massive muscle structures, the ultimate size a muscle might develop to is actually dictated primarily by its length. In other words, a muscle's length dictates its thickness: its width will never exceed its length, otherwise it would be unable to contract. A biceps muscle that is one inch long will never be more than one inch thick, or one that is two inches long, two inches thick, and so on. The bone to which the muscle is attached is of no great significance—instead it is the length from the tendon attachment at one end of the muscle to the tendon attachment at the other end that determines how much mass a muscle will appear to have.
However, a bodybuilder with short biceps does not necessarily possess short muscles throughout her body. The length of any specific muscle seems to be a random feature within any given bodybuilder's musculature, with differences usually existing from one side of the body to the other and from one body-part to the next. It is the extremely rare person who has uniform muscle length and/or size over his entire body.
Just as people are genetically programmed to increase the size of certain muscles, they also inherit a certain number of fat or adipose cells. The distribution of these cells is genetically determined as well. The average nonobese person possesses approximately 25 to 30 billion fat cells, the moderately obese about 50 billion and the very obese as many as 240 billion. This wide range may help explain why some people find it a near impossibility to keep fat off permanently.
Racial and geographic background determines in large part where fat is deposited. People from colder parts of the world, like Germany and Norway, have much of their fat distributed in the abdomen and torso areas, which helps insulate the internal organs from the extreme cold and maintain a steady core temperature. People from warm areas, such as Africa, naturally tend to store less fat subcutaneously in order to allow body heat to escape, thus maintaining a cool body. These types store more fat internally and in the area of the buttocks from where it can be mobilized more readily for energy in times of privation and/or famine.
Modern man's exposure to extreme temperatures has been enormously minimized with central heating and air conditioning. Despite that fact, researchers have documented proof that civilized man is programmed for fat deposition by blueprints laid down by his forebears of the Ice Age. Nevertheless, given the criteria by which we judge the modern bodybuilder, the darker races tend to have an advantage in terms of leanness and extreme muscular definition.
FIBER DENSITY AND NEUROLOGICAL EFFICIENCY
Somatotype, skeletal formation, muscle length, and fat distribution are genetic traits that are more or less visible and therefore ascertainable to a high degree of accuracy. However, muscle fiber density and neurological efficiency—two inherited features that play a role in determining ultimate potential—are invisible. Estimates of the amount of muscle fibers within a given volume, or cross-sectional area, of a specific muscle can only be approximated through biopsies.
Fiber density, like muscle length, determines the mass potential of a muscle. The more fibers per given volume of muscle, the thicker that muscle's potential to develop. Nevertheless, rather than attempting to procure such an expensive medical procedure, give your training some time to see how rapidly your muscles thicken.
Neurological efficiency refers to the relationship between the nervous system and the muscles. How nerves innervate the muscles and how they are activated by the brain determine the degree of muscle power and the number of fibers required to produce a certain movement against a certain resistance. People with high levels of neurological efficiency have the ability to contract a greater percentage of fibers during a maximal effort. In an all-out effort the average person may contract 30 percent of the fibers within a specific muscle. A few people may have the capacity to activate as many as 40 percent, while a blessed few may manage 50 percent. The ability to contract a high percentage of fibers increases contractile capacity, thus enabling more intense exertion. In terms of endurance this is a disadvantage, but a great advantage for stimulating growth or single attempt efforts.
Excerpted from HIGH-INTENSITY TRAINING the Mike Mentzer Way by Mike Mentzer John Little Copyright © 2003 by Mentzer-Sharkey Enterprises, Inc., and John Little. Excerpted by permission of McGraw-Hill. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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