Bodybuilding is just one method of putting on mass. I am unable to give an accurate review of bodybuilding methods, as I have not fully engaged in them for any practical length of time (well, 6 months for some isn’t enough.) All I can say is that after reading the mainstream literature on bodybuilding, and having tried the methods for a short period of time (again, 6 months is longer than most people stay on a training program), I have only one thing to say about it: It’s not for me.
Although my overall goal has nothing to do with bodybuilding, I still feel that there are certain athletic principles that typical gym goers should abide by. Even if they do not completely leave the bodybuilding methodology, they can easily include these movements to jump-start new muscle growth.
Switch up your Training…Every Day!
I have the privilege of having access to most of the big muscle mags out there because my father owns a convenience store. Every weekend, I help him out by opening up the shop, and taking care of what needs to be done to run the store. I also help myself out by sitting there and reading all the latest bodybuilding magazines.
Image by d_vdm
Most of the time I just skim over all the nonsense. I do, however, take extra time to read some of the bodybuilding interviews. It seems to me that most gym goers just skip over to the training programs that they suggest without reading what these professional athletes actually say.
Most professional bodybuilders don’t even pre-plan their workouts. Why? Because every day is different. They have an IDEA of what they’re going to do – perhaps which body parts they’re going to hit – but they don’t really know exactly what they’re going to do that day to destroy their body parts.
Some professional bodybuilders don’t even count reps. It just doesn’t make any sense to them. They go by “feel.” They claim that there body doesn’t really know how much weight it’s lifting or how many repetitions it’s performing.
I agree with that. I do count my reps, but I use a lot of variety when it comes to deciding which sets and reps to perform. Gone are the days when I followed a “5×5′” program for four straight weeks. I no longer pre-plan my workouts to that extent. However, I do think that one should have an “idea” of what to do.
My “idea” is based on the movements. I know what movements I will be performing for that day, but I’m not exactly sure if I’m going to be moving through them in a circuit fashion, or if I’ll be using descending pyramids, or tabata intervals, or what.
I just know I’m doing something different from last week. You can use the same principle in your bodybuilding/mass gain program. If you have a split program, then go ahead and decide which bodyparts you’ll be training. Read ahead and learn all the possible exercise variations, and training techniques you can do to destroy that muscle group. But make your final decision when you get to the gym.
Image by andy14darock
A great way to make that final decision is to warm up using the exercises you plan to use during the workout. This will give you an idea of how you feel that day. If you feel strong during the warm up, then it’s probably safe to pack on some more weight. If you feel tired and sluggish that day, then maybe you want to go a little easy.
Exercises are REALLY important
The other thing I notice in the routines of professional bodybuilders is that….they all look pretty much the same. I wonder how many times these magazines have written a “big biceps” article with the following routine:
- Barbell Curls 3×10
- Hammer Curls 3×10
- Incline Curls 3×10
- Concentration Curls 3×10
We get the point! We’re doing a variety of curls for 3 sets of 10 repetitions until our arms hurt or until we just get really really really bored. Most bodybuilders focus on the same exercises because they work. One bodybuilder may do 2 sets per exercise while another one does 6 sets per exercise. But overall, across the board they’re doing the same compound movements.
So the take home lesson here is to just stick to the exercises that work. When those exercises stop working, then you can seek out variations and more difficult movements.
Image by trehala
Intensity is REALLY important
Arnold Schwarzenegger did a lot of high-volume, isolation movements that I disagree with. But hey, it worked for him and that’s why he did it. Mike Mentzer probably didn’t see Arnold train in the gym. If he did, then he would have never pointed a finger at his intensity level.
I’m not going to talk about this too much. Just point you towards the following YouTube videos, so you can see the level of intensity these guys work at:
A Few More Observations
The really funny thing here is that a lot of experts talk about how momentum is dangerous, but when I see these pro bodybuilders train, I see them using a lot of momentum! Arnold’s front raises look a like like Dumbbell Snatches! Maybe Arnold was doing his own version of Crossfit back in the day and we just don’t know about it.
Want some more information on Mass Gain? Check out Shawn Lebrun’s Simple Steps to Get Huge and Shredded.