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Foreword to the Second Edition
Who would have thought that anyone could compile an encyclopedia on bodybuilding and resistance training, let alone one more than six hundred pages long? After all, how much is there to say about hoisting heavy metal plates? Bodybuilding isn't, as they say, rocket science.
Well, many people take exactly that approach when they begin a bodybuilding program; I know because they're easy to spot at the gym. Such individuals generally load excessively heavy weights on a bar, heave the iron with whatever form it takes to get the weight up (with an extra thrust from the lower back for good measure), and then let the bar come crashing down. That's not bodybuilding! Strong on desire but short on smarts, these folks are either sidelined by an injury or often will give up quickly because they aren't seeing any significant results from all the work they're doing.
The truth is, it doesn't take a Ph.D. to learn the complexities of bodybuilding, but neither does it come as naturally as, say, riding a bike. Heck, the bodybuilding vocabulary is like a foreign language: pyramid training, gastrocnemius, negatives, periodization, instinctive training, spotting. Learning the many distinct elements of resistance training, from the hundreds of unique exercises and variations to understanding how to put together a results-producing workout, all take time and practice. To make progress at the fastest rate possible, you've simply got to know what you're doing.
If you're rich enough to afford $50 (or more) an hour for a personal trainer you might be able to get away with being a bodybuilding dumbbell. Or, for about the price of a single session, you can invest in this encyclopedia and reap a lifetime of gains that'll start with your very next workout.
Many people forget that I, like you, was once a beginner, and started building my body and my career standing in exactly the same position you are right now. If you find that difficult to believe, there's a selection of photos from my teenage years that will show how far I had to come, how much work I had to do. What made me stand apart from my peers, though, was a deep, deep desire to build muscle and the intense commitment to let nothing stop me. Along the way I made countless mistakes because the only guidebooks I had were a couple of Joe Weider's English-language muscle magazines, and I didn't even speak the language! The magazines inspired me to learn English so I could follow my early idol Reg Park's routine. Still, the magazine could teach me only some rudimentary concepts; everything else was done by trial and error.
Experience, however, is the best teacher as long as you learn from your mistakes. When I began, I trained biceps far more intently than I did triceps, a larger muscle group. I pretty much skipped ab training altogether because that era's conventional wisdom dictated that the abdominals received enough stimulation during many heavy compound movements. I put so little effort into calf training in those early years that when I finally came to America, I was forced to redouble my efforts. I even went so far as to cut off the pant legs on my training sweats so that my calves were constantly visible and under scrutiny a constant reminder to me that my weaknesses deserved greater attention. Nor did we have many machines available; I never used a leg curl or leg extension during my first years as a bodybuilder. Most of all, though, I was handicapped by my lack of knowledge; my catalog of exercises to shape the total body consisted of just a few movements. Fortunately, with this book, you don't have to make the same mistakes I did.
You'll find, as I did, that building muscle builds you up in every part of your life. What you learn here will affect everything else that you do in your life. As you witness the fruits of your labor, your self-worth and self-confidence improve, and these traits will color your work and interpersonal relationships long past your competitive days. I credit bodybuilding with giving me not just physical attributes but also with laying the foundation for everything else I've accomplished in business, acting, even family. I know I can succeed in anything I choose, and I know this because I understand what it takes to sacrifice, struggle, persist, and eventually overcome an obstacle.
Even today, many of the people I work with comment upon my commitment; when I'm making a movie, I'm ready to do a difficult scene over and over again until we get it right. Why? It all comes back to discipline. If you make a commitment to better your physical health, you'll find the same self-discipline, focus, and drive for success carries through into the rest of your life's activities. Though you may not realize it now, you'll eventually recognize it when you take the same disciplined approach in tackling a particular challenge. That's another reason I'm so enthusiastic about what bodybuilding can do.
This book is not a biography, not the story of my life as a seven-time Mr. Olympia winner or even a history of my life as an actor. (If you're interested, you can find all that elsewhere.) Though I'm known mainly as a bodybuilder-turned-actor and businessman, on various occasions I've been able to take on another role, one that brings me the greatest amount of personal pride, and that's the role of teacher. That's why I published the original encyclopedia in 1985 and have continued my close association with the sport. In the years since that first publication I've been collecting, studying, and revising information for this expanded and updated reference. That I can say I was able to inspire a generation of men and women of all ages to take charge of their health and fitness is truly gratifying. From the couple of dozen students of bodybuilding who heard me give a seminar in the mid-1970s at a Santa Monica gym, to the elementary and high schoolers I tried to empower to exercise when I traveled to all fifty states as chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, to the less fortunate who compete in the Inner City Games throughout the year and the developmentally challenged who participate in the Special Olympics, to the readers of my weekly syndicated newspaper column and the ones I write in the muscle magazines, to you the reader of this encyclopedia, you are all very much the reason I've undertaken this gargantuan effort. I am indeed grateful that you've chosen me as your teacher.
That I can share with you my greatest passion in the world, which is truly the only real secret to health, longevity, and a better quality of life, has made this book an endeavor of absolute necessity and joy! Bodybuilding is my roots, and I will continue to promote the sport and spread the word through my work.
I've accumulated more than thirty-five years of bodybuilding experience, including tens of thousands of hours training with the world's top bodybuilders from yesterday, like Bill Pearl, Reg Park, Dave Draper, Frank Zane, Sergio Oliva, and Franco Columbu, to the champions of today, including Flex Wheeler, Shawn Ray, and eight-time Mr. Olympia, Lee Haney. I've studied the writings of the predecessors to modern-day bodybuilding, some of which date back more than a century, including Eugen Sandow's System of Physical Training (1894), the United States Army's Manual of Physical Training (1914), and Earl Liederman's Muscle Building (1924). I've interrogated the world's pre-eminent exercise scientists, researched questions from students at seminars I've given on all the major continents from Africa to Asia to South America to more recent ones I hold each year in Columbus, Ohio and poured every ounce of that knowledge into this encyclopedia. With this reference book, which is designed for students ranging from rank beginners to competition-level bodybuilders to athletes looking to improve their performance to those who simply want to look better and be healthier, readers are free to pick through the expansive knowledge its taken me so many years to accumulate.
In one sense, I feel like a doctor on call who is continually asked for expert advice. A skier in Sun Valley asked me recently how to build quad strength and muscular endurance to improve his performance; at a health convention, several people inquired about the latest on the muscle-building properties of creatine; at Wimbledon, a top tennis champion wanted some advice on building his forearm strength; on vacation in Hawaii, a woman came up to me and asked what she could do to lose a hundred pounds of body fat and keep it off, at seminars, young bodybuilders want to know how to put a peak on their biceps and improve their outer-thigh sweep; when speaking to military personnel, I'm commonly asked how to get more out of training with just very basic equipment. Every day I'm asked questions on topics ranging from vitamins A to zinc, to the need for rest and recuperation, to the false promises of performance-enhancing substances. This is why I decided long ago that if I was going to spread the gospel on the benefits of bodybuilding I'd absolutely have to stay current with the material.
That's been no easy chore. Evolution in bodybuilding has occurred at the speed of light, both at the competitive level and among recreational athletes. Those who simply write that off as due to a greater use of anabolic drugs fail to see what's taken place in the industry. Muscle-building exercise, long scoffed at by coaches who claimed it made you musclebound and inflexible, has come under intense scrutiny by researchers. In fact, the science of resistance training is really becoming a science as exercise scientists verify what we bodybuilders have been working out by trial and error for years. That's not to say we didn't know what we were doing; on the contrary, early physique champions were pioneers in the health and fitness field, planting the seeds of development for each generation that followed. We coined such phrases as "No pain, no gain," words that every bodybuilder today knows and understands.
Though science is showing us how best to manipulate the variables that make up your training, you cannot discount the importance of environmental factors. I grew up in a poor family in post-World War II Austria, yet those conditions gave me a greater drive to succeed. Developing an instinctive sense about your training is another intangible factor that many top bodybuilders develop. Desire, discipline, and drive all play a role. Science has a hard time quantifying these factors, but their importance is certainly profound. So, too, are your genetics: Some individuals have the bone structure and muscle-fiber makeup to succeed at the competitive level in power sports or bodybuilding. The bottom line is that with bodybuilding, anyone can make improvements and achieve 100 percent of his or her potential, even without the potential to become a world-class athlete.
Still, exercise scientists and medical experts studying the body, as well as researchers in the fields of diet and sports nutrition, are applying the lessons of yesterday to tweak and refine training techniques. If not set in stone, many of the ideas may best be characterized as principles. Ultimately, however, any finding presented by the scientific community must be useful to students of the sport and bodybuilding champions themselves, who are the ultimate test of the validity of such ideas. Applying these truths to achieve results is the practical basis of this encyclopedia. The information that I present on these pages is proved, of practical value, and will also work for you!
Since I last published the encyclopedia, the nature of bodybuilding has undergone an evolution of sorts in a number of ways. A bench press is still a bench press, and a squat a squat. In fact, the execution of various exercises has changed very little, but I've witnessed a number of other very important factors that have. Let me briefly review not just these developments, but how they can be applied to your workout. You'll learn:
- how to structure your workout, whether your goal is to become a physique champion or simply to firm and tighten your body, and how you can effectively target lagging areas;
- how power athletes can adjust repetition speed to build explosive strength;
- which exercises to include for the greatest muscular benefits, and which ones are best left to advanced-level trainees;
- how to put together a workout that emphasizes body-fat control vs. one that maximizes strength, and even how to cycle them to get the best of both worlds;
- how to not only reduce your risk of injury but actually lift more weight by adding a 5- or 10-minute warm-up and light stretching;
- how to get the most out of each rep and each set, taking your muscles to total failure and reaping the greatest benefits in the pain zone;
- how to mix up the training variables when you hit a training plateau;
- when too much enthusiasm will start reversing your muscle and strength gains.
As I mentioned, few exercises are done any differently now than they were twenty years ago. Exceptions: Science has weighed in with a differing opinion on how you should do abdominal movements. The crunch movement, which features a shortened range of motion whereby the pelvis and ribcage are drawn together, is a safer exercise than the common full-range sit-up. The best bodybuilders of my competitive era did have outstanding abdominals from doing sit-ups, but their strong midsections probably saved them from incurring spinal problems. Because lower-back pain afflicts more than three-quarters of all Americans at some point, the sit-up is fairly universally contraindicated. So, I've completely overhauled the abdominal training section to meet current scientific opinion. I've also expanded the list of exercises to include the wide variety of crunch variations.
The basic raw materials of weight training barbells, dumbbells, and bodyweight exercises haven't changed much either, but we can't say the same about resistance-training machines, which have traditionally been favored by some users because of the safety factor. Today, dozens of manufacturers vigorously compete with one another, which is radically changing the face of the industry and the sport. Each year new versions of old favorites are becoming increasingly sophisticated and smooth to operate, now closer than ever to mimicking freeweight movements. Some allow you to alter the angle of resistance from one set to the next; others increase resistance on the negative; still others use a computer to vary the resistance. I would expect we'll see even more radical developments over the next couple of decades.
Commercial gyms aren't the only ones to benefit; home gym use has skyrocketed as large, clunky machines have given way to smaller, safer models that don't take a big bite out of the wallet and still fit nicely into a spare bedroom. That's an ideal choice for individuals too busy to make it into the gym.
In terms of nutrition, the raw concept "You are what you eat" still rings true, but don't discount the dramatic changes that have occurred in sports nutrition, either. Sure, science has engineered some super-foods, like firmer tomatoes, and we're now raising fish in so-called farms and leaner meats from ostrich and beefalo, for example. Today, we also know more about the dietary needs of the hard-training athlete and have seen the introduction of some important supplements that aid sports performance.
Let's start with the basic bodybuilding diet. I've seen a thousand and one fad diets come and go, but nearly every bodybuilder I know follows the same basic guidelines that I present in this book. More often than not, a lack of progress in your muscle-building efforts can be linked to nutritional shortcomings in your diet. If I can hijack a phrase from computer technicians, if you put in garbage, you'll very likely get garbage out. I present several commonsense strategies that can work for you. Among the macronutrients, I'm often asked about the role of protein and the key amino acids that support tissue growth, how much you should be consuming in a given day, and how to time your meals for optimal absorption. Fats, mistakenly thought of as an enemy to bodybuilders, who may avoid them at all costs, play an important role in synthesizing key muscle-building hormones and maintaining health.
No discussion on nutrition would be complete without mentioning the most important supplements, some of which have dramatically changed the face of sports nutrition. Creatine is a proven performance enhancer, but a number of other products, including the amino acid glutamine, branched-chain amino acids, and antioxidants, are important to athletes as well.
We also know more about the ways in which nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream; since not all foods are absorbed at the same rate, the glycemic index was created to measure insulin response, a key anabolic process. Given that a hard workout depletes your muscles of their glycogen stores (basically stored energy), the post-workout meal is especially crucial. Research now tells us what it should contain and how soon you should be refueling after your training session. And who better than top-ranked bodybuilders themselves, who've endured innumerable contest-preparation cycles, to explain the tricks that even the noncompetitive bodybuilder can use to reduce his body fat, even if it's just to look great at the beach.
The field of sports psychology is thriving along with the payroll of milion-dollar athletes. New theories and techniques demonstrate the importance of the mind in training and competition, how to spur motivation and stay focused, and how to set achievable short- and long-range goals. If you have a goal of becoming Mr. Olympia, you'd better start by having a clear vision of your ultimate physique, then follow it up with a plan on how you'll create it. Nothing happens by accident. You won't, for example, become a respected doctor by happenstance; you'll need to plan on years of intensive studies to reach your goal. The same goes with your training.
Once you have your goals clearly in mind, I'll show you bow to create your own personal workout routine, but the role of the mind doesn't end there. As it did for me, that vision will inspire you on each burning rep of every set and successively take you one step closer to your goal. But there's more to it than just what goes on in the gym: Dietary and lifestyle considerations will also move you either closer to your desired destination or further away. Thats why the mind is so crucial in all sports, including bodybuilding. Your mind must first create the picture, and your training must be in sync with that visualization. As you begin to see changes, you start to feel better about yourself. The result is a self-perpetuating process: You focus your mind to train your body, and the changes that begin to take place impact your mind as well. Dream it, believe it, and you can achieve it!
The exponential growth of bodybuilding has spawned a billion-dollar industry with unlimited career opportunities in health clubs, apparel, equipment, nutritional products, publications and media, physical therapy, personal training and coaching, and other areas. Can you imagine making a living every day from an activity you freely choose to do as a hobby? If that's where you'd like to be, learning all you can about the body and how it works is a great place to start.
Paralleling the changes made in the study of bodybuilding are the ones in society at large. Today, weight training is one of the most popular recreational fitness activities in America, but it certainly wasn't that way some twenty-five years ago. I can remember hearing various coaches and athletes bash muscle-building, claiming it would hinder sports performance. (Gee, I wonder where those guys are now!) Resistance training is being used by all kinds of people today.
From the high schools to colleges and professional sports teams, weight training is helping to create better, stronger, even faster athletes. Sure it takes incredible natural ability to rise to the top of your sport, but without question resistance training provides the winning edge. Baseball slugger Mark McGwire hits the iron regularly even during the season, as does just about every position player in the National Football League. I've even seen members of the NBA's World Champion Chicago Bulls over at Gold's Gym working out while they were in Los Angeles. You can bet they weren't there taking pictures like tourists!
You can strengthen your backhand for tennis, build up your quads for skiing, add valuable height to your vertical leap in volleyball, improve your ability to withstand a hit in soccer, power your stroke and kick in swimming, and improve your strength and stride in sprinting, all with resistance training. What's more, you'll be more injury-resistant should a mishap occur.
Of course, you wouldn't expect a long-distance runner to train like a football player. Choice of exercises and manipulation of the training variables allow each athlete to tailor the activity to individual needs and goals. For some, like boxers and wrestlers who compete in weight classes, or gymnasts who can't afford to significantly increase their bodyweight, strength is critical, but a different type of training is required from traditional bodybuilding. A football lineman, shot-putter, or discus thrower each has his own specific training requirements for his activity. If you play a sport, you'll learn how to customize your workout to meet your sport-specific (and even position-specific) requirements. Still, in the end, no matter whether the athlete is 150 or 250 pounds, strength training is the common thread.
Some occupations demand that personnel pass strenuous physical conditioning that mimics on-the-job conditions. Entrance requirements into the military, fire, and police academies require exacting levels of fitness in terms of strength, muscular endurance, and aerobic fitness to ensure everyone's safety and mission effectiveness. This is especially demanding (but by no means impossible) for women, who must train perhaps more vigorously than their male counterparts. Once you're selected for admission doesn't mean you no longer have to stay in shape, either; to that end, police and fire departments are installing weight rooms in their facilities and encouraging their veterans to maintain peak levels of physical conditioning.
Just a few years back during the Gulf war, the Washington Post reported that the number one request of servicemen in the Middle East was to have weights sent over so they could keep up their training. To that point, they had been lifting pails full of sand. At that time I was serving as chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and I approached a number of large equipment companies seeking donations. In all, we amassed more than four hundred tons of equipment, which General Colin Powell insisted be airlifted to the troops. That's how important physical fitness is to some of these guys!
Resistance training is even being used by the elderly. After about age twenty-five you lose about a half pound of muscle for every year of life. Without an appropriate training stimulus, your muscles will eventually decrease in size and strength. Regular exercise will help to hold back this aging process, which is really nothing more than a result of disuse. For many seniors, greater strength leads to independence and improved quality of life.
Now before you visualize Granny under the squat rack, realize that even just basic movements can strengthen your muscles and bones and improve flexibility, but must be tailored to the user. Today, exercising against the resistance of water in a pool is a popular activity among many seniors.
New research shows that exercise can aid in the disease-fighting process, too. Don't just take my word for it; this is confirmed fact. Just recently I read a report in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research that weight training is aiding cancer patients. Numerous other studies have linked resistance training to improvements in individuals with diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, arthritis, asthma, and AIDS. Exercise can boost the immune system, allowing you to better fight off minor ailments, even mild depression. Again, the weight-training program must be customized to meet the individual's particular needs.
What about younger people? Yes, they, too, can enjoy some of the benefits of a resistance-training program by making a few modifications, such as using a high-rep protocol and bodyweight exercises that will both strengthen and build bones and muscle.
One of the most remarkable recent fitness trends has been the doubling in popularity of strength training among women between 1987 and 1996. At the competitive level, the sport now offers contests for both bodybuilders and fitness competitors. At the noncompetitive level, most women prefer a workout that simply tightens and reshapes the body and works particular problem areas like the glutes, hips, and triceps. Most often, women have different goals than men, who are generally more interested in bulking up and significantly increasing their strength. Though the goals of men and women may differ, which is reflected in program setup and choice of exercises, the execution of the movements is identical. The female body also differs physiologically from a male's: smaller skeletal structure, less upper-body mass in relation to the legs, more body fat and fat cells located in the hip, thigh, and glute areas compared to the waist. But given these facts, muscle fiber is muscle fiber and, whether on a male or female, responds to the same type of exercises and training techniques. For many women, then, following the strength-training guidelines put forth with some modifications is the answer.
Does that mean you'll grow bigger muscles if you train like a man? Certainly not: Women produce so little testosterone, the anabolic hormone largely responsible for muscle growth, that the training effect is far less pronounced. The bottom line here is that this book addresses various goals for just about every body type, age, and gender; a woman can make an equally impressive physique transformation even if her goal is not traditional bodybuilding per se.
Ever broken a bone and later visited a physical therapist to begin rehab? Strength training is useful here, too. Not only does it lower your risk of soft-tissue and joint injuries, but it's your best tool for full recuperation and a speedy return to your activity. Whether it be temporary muscle soreness, lower-back pain, tight joints, or returning to action after you break a bone, resistance training will allow you to more quickly regain your former levels of strength.
From the days when Charles Atlas offered help to pencilnecks who had sand kicked in their face, bodybuilding has come a long way. Resistance training is now practiced worldwide. No doubt, it's far more than building big arms and looking great at the beach (but those aren't bad goals, mind you); weight training can reshape and tone your body, improve your health as well as your game, keep you injury-free, and ensure a long, active future. Whether you're a beginner looking for the nuts and bolts of training, an intermediate seeking to split your workout and bring up a lagging body part, or an advanced trainee looking to refine your physique and incorporate advanced training techniques, you'll find the answers in these pages.
Obviously, then, the scale of changes that have occurred in the scope of bodybuilding and among its participants since I first published the encyclopedia are far greater than merely evolutionary they approach revolutionary. Besides those just mentioned, we have a greater understanding of the benefits of resistance training, which accounts in part for its tremendous popularity.
Every person who enters a gym or health club brings a personal motivation as to why he or she has chosen resistance training to accomplish certain goals. Sure, the aim of bodybuilding is to develop greater muscle size and improve physical appearance, but they are by no means the only reasons individuals train with weights. Consider also the effects on strength: You have the capacity to do greater work, both in terms of being able to lift a heavier weight one time (muscle strength) and to lift a lighter weight more times (muscle endurance). Some types of bodybuilding, like circuit training, are a good choice to build heart health and improve the functioning of your lungs and respiratory system as well. Traditional bodybuilding combined with some type of aerobic training will promote even greater health benefits.
In an increasingly technology-driven society that sits for long periods in front of computers and televisions and eats too many calories from fat, obesity and several major health consequences is the result. Bodybuilding plays a major role in building lean muscle tissue and reducing body fat. Unlike adipose (fat) tissue, muscle tissue is metabolically active and has a high energy requirement for maintenance and rebuilding. An increase in muscle tissue corresponds to an increase in your metabolic rate. Bodybuilding allows you to literally redesign your body and lose as much as two pounds of fat per week without risking your health with diet pills or fad diets! One of life's curious ironies is that individuals who are overweight also have a tendency to be tired, while those who expend a lot of energy exercising seem to have more.
Other healthful effects can be measured as well. Research shows that resistance training done correctly makes you more flexible, not musclebound. That's because when one muscle flexes during a movement, the antagonist muscle is stretched. Many top athletes who've spent years in the weight room, like muscular gymnasts and track sprinters, must have tremendous flexibility to excel at their respective sports. I've even seen top pro bodybuilders like Flex Wheeler do the full splits onstage! Movement maintains flexibility, and I encourage you to work all body parts over their normal ranges of motion.
As you age, especially if you're a woman, your bones lose strength and size. Resistance training can prevent and even reverse osteoporosis. That holds true for tendons and ligaments, too. Stronger muscles, bones, and connective tissue reduce your risk of injury. Skeletal muscle serves as a kind of shock absorber that helps dissipate force from a repetitive activity like running to a simple fall onto a hard floor.
As I mentioned, the importance of the psychological component in bodybuilding can't be understated. Mental health professionals today agree that nothing beats exercise for defusing anxiety. In terms of self-respect, you can get this from a job well done, and physical fitness is no exception. You work to achieve your goals and can rightfully feel proud once you have achieved them, gaining respect from others in the process. Let me finally add that training regularly can dramatically boost your sex life by giving you more energy, increasing testosterone levels, decreasing anxiety, and improving self-esteem.
The summation of all this makes a remarkable and compelling case for bodybuilding. No wonder working out with weights became the most popular fitness activity in America in 1995 as measured by the Fitness Products Council and has remained on top ever since. Even USA Today