General Philosophy for Outstanding Development

2.1 ^is book hammers away at the most important matters you need to stubbornly hold onto for as long as you want to make the most of your weight training. Here is the point-by-point general philosophy you need to train and live by if you want to develop outstanding muscle and might. (^is philosophy is largely, but not entirely, described in the book brawn.)

2.2 ^ere are countless novices and intermediates who are swimming around in the sea of marginal issues while neglecting the cardinal ones. ^ere are young people who have been training for over ten years and yet still cannot squat much over their bodyweight for 20 reps. Yet they are agonizing over anything and everything related to training except for progressive poundages in the big exercises.

2.3 Bodybuilding and strength training are almost laughably simple; but simple does not mean easy. All that really matters is focus, and progressive poundages in good form. Pick a handful of the biggest and best exercises for you and then devote years to getting stronger, and then stronger still in them. You can use variations of the basic movements for variety, but you do not have to. ^ere is even danger in using variety because you can lose focus and get caught up in an excessive assortment of exercises.

2.4 Do not search for the "definitive word" on basic gaining training. Once you have found something that works well, and so long as it keeps working, why spend time trying to find something else? Like so many other people, I wasted many years trying to study all the maybes of training instead of just applying one single certainty. What matters more to you, knowing all the possible alternatives but being way below your potential development, or, knowing much less but being far bigger and stronger?

2.5 Especially in the beginning and intermediate stages of training, a dislike of change, and being old-fashioned and stubborn, are desirable characteristics. Only once you are already big and strong should you explore "new" options, if you have got the time to risk wasting. But even then, once you are advanced, if you venture too far into the myriad opinions about training you risk losing sight of what matters for most typical people. But at least by then you should be able to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Ever-increasing weight on the bar in good form is not the only type of progression. For pure strength training, poundage increase is far and away the most important form of progression. For building muscular size, however, there is more to consider than just poundage progression—as will be made clear much later on in this book—but still, poundage progression is very important. After all, how many well-developed men struggle to squat with just bodyweight on the bar?

^ough the biggest muscles are not the strongest, and the strongest are not the biggest, for the great majority of people there is a very strong relationship between strength and muscular size, providing that strength is not built using specific strength-focus techniques like very low reps, partial reps and low-rep rest-pause work.

2.6 Personal achievement is where it is at for those who lift weights, but most trainees get so little out of their own training largely because they are preoccupied with the achievements of others.

2.7 ^e bodybuilding and strength-world elite almost all had incredibly responsive bodies while they were building themselves up. ^ey applied a very simple formula: train and grow. Almost no matter how they trained, they grew. It was never a case of whether or not they would grow; it was just a case of at what rate. ^at easy-gaining minority have absolutely no personal understanding of how the "train and grow" formula can be applied but not produce. But this lack of productivity is the outcome when conventional training routines are used by hard gainers. Not only that, but many hard gainers applied the "train and grow" formula with far more determination and dedication than the super-responsive easy gainers ever did, but still the hard gainers got nothing from it. Clearly there are other factors at play.

2.8 Being genetically typical means you have a body that is light years removed from the elite's. Imitating the training of the elite will have you following routines that will not get you even half way to achieving your genetic potential.

2.9 Training an easy gainer is a cinch, relatively speaking. Training hard gainers is where the real challenge is. Of course easy gainers have their difficulties, but these are trivial concerned with those of bona fide hard gainers. Genuine hard gainers have a real battle to develop "mere" 15-inch arms. Rampant easy gainers will get 17 inches with little trouble—they train and they grow. Only thereafter may they have trouble gaining. But some phenomena will clear 18-inch arms before their growth rate seriously slows down. Legitimate hard gainers have a battle to get to 250 pounds in the bench press. Easy gainers will only really start to have serious trouble well after they have cleared 300 pounds, and in extraordinary cases not until after 400 pounds has been topped. A 300-pound bench press by a genuine hard gainer is a far greater achievement than a 400-pound one by an easy gainer. But the easy gainer can never understand this because he can never understand the plight of the hard gainer. And knowing how to successfully train easy gainers does not provide the experience and know-how for being able to successfully instruct hard gainers. Please pause and allow the last sentence to sink in real deep.

2.10 Genetics matter a heck of a lot—big time! Just anyone cannot become a top champion.

2.11 Muscle and might are truly great, until taken to extremes. When bodybuilding and lifting become drug-fueled obsessions, they become destructive. Some of the world's most successful bodybuilders and powerlifters are testimonies to lives ruined by obsession. ^eir former (or current) awesome physiques and strength levels are nothing relative to the unpublicized chaos of their private lives, major problems with drink and drugs (steroids and often "recreational" drugs too), serious health problems, no career prospects, and lack of happy family lives. And those are the "successful" ones. For each "success" there are hundreds if not thousands who ruined their lives but without the fleeting compensation of fame arising from winning a big title.

^ere may even be criminal activities to fund drug habits; and the drug habits themselves may be illegal, depending on the country concerned.

2.12 ^e high-set, lots-of-exercises, high-frequency, almost-live-your-life-in-the-gym advice that claims to be training instruction for the masses comes from at least three sources. First, from the very few bodybuilders who are so gifted that they can gain very well from this instruction even without the assistance of drugs. Second, from the far bigger number of trainees who have learned that almost any training program will work if they get into serious drug abuse; but these people rarely mention the importance of drugs. ^ird, from armchair trainers who have absolutely no idea of what constitutes effective training for the typical hard gainer.

2.13 In an activity where the vast majority of its participants are genetically typical, we have the amazing situation of instruction that is appropriate for the masses being very hard to find. Generally speaking, the training world focuses on the achievements and training of the competitive minority. Even when instruction appropriate for the masses is publicized, it is usually downright misunderstood by those who are buried in conventional dogma.

2.14 ^e number of people who have tried weight training is astonishing. Out of almost any random selection of adults you will find a big number who have been members of a gym at some time. Hardly any of them, if any, will still be training, and probably none of them will have obtained even a small fraction of the results they were led to believe they would.

2.15 Of course the lack of adequate application and persistence accounts for part of the failure the masses experience with weight training. But it is the lack of consistent, practical and effective information for typical people that is mostly to blame.

2.16 Training instruction does not just have to be effective; it has to be practical. Most adults have demanding jobs and family lives. Time and cash to devote to training are in short supply. Instruction must not make excessive demands upon time and money if it is to be practical for the masses.

2.17 I am only one of the many who had the perseverance—or insanity, depending on how you look at it—to find out what does work through years of personal experience and observation. To have come through all this, to have "seen the light," to know the huge cost involved, and then see others following the same path of misery, is heart-rending.

2.18 Few people have the perseverance to stay the course (drug-free) before "seeing the light." Nearly all of them will give up training, or resort to "staying in shape." ^ere is nothing wrong with training to "stay in shape," if that is what you want. But if big and strong muscles are what matter to you, then to resign yourself to "staying in shape" is a disaster.

2.19 Getting muscularly bigger and stronger is not complex. While finding the fine-tuned interpretations that work best for you can take time, and involve some trial and error, the essence of how to get bigger and stronger is simple enough. But if you are not willing to work hard at most of your workouts, you will never be able to develop big and very strong muscles. Fortitude, determination, persistence and dedication are needed in abundance.

2.20 If you are not developing bigger and stronger muscles, it is the basic combination of your training, rest, sleep and food consumption that is at fault.

2.21 Women who want to get bigger and stronger should train in the same way that men should.

2.22 It is not the training equipment that matters. It is what you do with it that counts.

I knew so much about that which I did not need, but I knew so little about that which I needed. herein lies the plight of most bodybuilding junkies.

2.23 It is not the training facility that counts, but what you do with the gear that is in it. Most people will never get their own home gym, and will only use commercial facilities. Someone who has a home gym that is full of good basic gear will get nowhere with it if he does not use it properly. Someone can train at a commercial gym loaded with frivolous and even dangerous equipment, but so long as he only uses the decent gear—and almost every gym has some decent gear—and uses that decent gear properly, he can make great gains. If your attitude is right, if you do not get distracted by any of the training madness that may be going on around you, and if you are knowledgeable enough to be independent of pseudo instructors, you can make great gains in any gym.

2.24 See abbreviated training as the first resort, not the last resort. Do not waste years of your life trying anything and everything else before finally trying abbreviated training.

2.25 Be sure to keep your exercise form tight. Training to get big and strong does not mean using loose form and getting injured. Make excellent exercise technique the creed that you train by, with no compromises!

2.26 Never train through injuries. If an injury does not clear up quickly by itself, see a training-orientated injury specialist. Investigate the probable trigger of the injury (incorrect training), correct it, and do not let it happen again. And when you get an injury, investigate non-intrusive and non-drug therapies.

2.27 If you lift Mickey Mouse poundages, all you are going to get is a Mickey Mouse body.

2.28 ^ose who hoist the biggest poundages do not necessarily have the biggest muscles. It is not just sheer poundage that matters. Individual leverages, type of training used, lifting support gear (in powerlifting), muscle composition factors, neurological efficiency, and lifting technique, among other elements, account for differences in muscular development among individuals of similar strength levels. But for every individual—keeping all other factors constant—if bigger weights are built up to, then bigger muscles will be developed.

2.29 Focus on the big basic lifts and their variations. Do this for most of your training time. Do not try to build yourself up using tools of detail. Leg extensions do not build big thighs, and pec-deck work does not build big chests.

2.30 You cannot get very powerful in the big and key basic exercises without getting impressive throughout your body.

2.31 For appearance-first bodybuilders, only when you are already big and strong (but without having gotten fat) should you even consider concerning yourself with attaining outstanding definition, and the finishing touches of perfect balance and symmetry. Build the substance before you concern yourself with the detail. Perfectly proportioned and well cut up "bags of bones" do not look impressive. If you concern yourself too soon with detail work, as is nearly always the case with bodybuilders, you will never be able to apply the effort, focus and recuperative ability needed to get big in the first place. What is by far the biggest deficiency in a typical sampling of gym trainees? Plain muscle and strength. Despite this most trainees arrange their training so that the last things they will ever develop are lots of muscle and strength.

2.32 If you want to add two inches to your arms, for example, bank on having to add thirty or more pounds of muscle to your whole body. You cannot do that by focusing your attention on your arms. Get your body growing as a unit, concentrating largely on leg and back work. About two thirds of your body's total muscle mass is in your legs, buttocks and back. ^e shoulders, chest, abdominals and arms only make up about a third of your muscle mass, so do not go giving those areas in total any more than one third of your total weight-training attention.

2.33 Impressive for us is not the awesomeness of the easy-gaining top liners. Hard gainers of average height who build to (or very near) a muscular 16-inch arm and 45-inch chest, with other girths in proportion, are worthy of more applause than are the super-easy-gaining elite. ^is sort of muscular development, along with good definition, is enough to set you apart from over 95% of the members of almost any gym anywhere in the world. And it is more than enough to stop untrained people in their tracks if you reveal your body at a pool or beach. ^is is a magnificent achievement, and most typical hard gainers who really want it can get there or thereabouts. You can do this, too, if you are not limited by age or health; but you must have the extraordinary will, persistence and know-how needed. Depending on your genetic inheritance, and degree of application to your training, you may be able to develop an even more impressive physique than that outlined here.

2.34 While keeping your ultimate goals believable (but challengingly so), do not get carried away and expect too little of yourself. Demand a realistic lot of yourself, and you will get a lot. Even the hardest of hard gainers can perform near miracles if they train correctly for long enough. Break your long-term goals into small ones and bite off one bit at a time.

2.35 ^ere is no single universally effective training routine that caters for all individual needs and purposes. Neither is there one that will consistently deliver results for you cycle after cycle, and for year after year. You need to use different interpretations according to your needs, age, level of development, and out-of-the-gym lifestyle factors. You have to adjust routines to fit you and your uniqueness, but do it within the confines of rational training.

2.36 Few people train hard. ^ere is a lot of grimacing and noise making in gyms, but only a little of it is coming from true hard work. ^e rest is acted. An irony here is that those few who can deliver full-bore work may produce it in too great a volume, and with too great a frequency. ^ey get as much out of their training as do volume-first trainees, unless they have the genetics needed to grow from almost any type of training, or they are into steroids to compensate for genetic shortcomings.

2.37 To be able to go to the gym and train hard is a joy and a privilege, even though the hard work necessitates driving yourself through considerable discomfort. Savor this privilege and blessing, and revel in it.

2.38 Never train if you do not feel systemically rested from your previous workout. While some local soreness may remain, you should be systemically rested and mentally raring to go for every workout. If in doubt, train less often—always.

2.39 Muscle does not atrophy if not trained within ninety-six hours. ^e ninety-six hours falsehood has caused untold harm because it has produced so much excessive training frequency, and overtraining. Some exercises trained in some ways, at least for hard gainers, need more than ninety-six hours of rest for systemic recovery, and then some more time for the body to grow a bit of extra muscle (i.e., overcompensate).

See abbreviated training as the first resort, not the last resort. Do not waste years of your life trying anything and everything else before finally coming around to using abbreviated training.

2.40 All body parts do not need the same recovery time. For example, you need much more time to recover from a hard squat or deadlift session than from hard calf or abdominal work.

2.41 Training a single exercise or body part three times a week is too much other than for beginners who are acclimatizing themselves to working out, or for rehabilitating after an injury. Twice a week per exercise, or three times every two weeks, is a better maximum standard. Once-a-week training for the biggest exercises is a good rule of thumb. Fine-tune your training frequency according to your individual recovery ability.

2.42 Do not train flat-out all the time. Cycle your intensity to some degree. How you interpret cycling depends on your age, recuperation abilities, motivation, tolerance to exercise, out-of-the-gym lifestyle factors, quality of diet, poundage increment scheme, supervision (if any), and style and volume of training, among other factors. A very few people can train full-bore most of the time. Others can only do it in short, infrequent spurts. Most people are somewhere in between. ^e bottom line is poundage progression. So long as you keep getting stronger in good form, then what you are doing is working.

2.43 ^e value of increased training intensity is not the actual effort per se. What counts is the progressive resistance that the high-intensity training can produce. Just pushing yourself to your absolute limit in the gym will not in itself make you bigger and stronger. ^e very hard work will only yield gains if you fully satisfy your recovery needs, and avoid injury and overtraining. When your poundages stagnate or regress, you are doing something wrong, even if you are training full-bore.

2.44 Intensity heightening techniques such as forced reps, drop sets, and negatives are likely to do more harm than good. Ordinary straight sets pushed all the way to muscular failure, or near to it, are the way to go for nearly all your training.

2.45 To achieve the progressive poundages that produce gains in strength and muscular development, your body must recover fully from your training. As boring, unexciting and mundane as rest and sleep are, they should be right at the top of your priorities if you are to progress as quickly as possible. Everyone knows that sleep and rest are important, but almost everyone shortchanges themselves in this department. Unless you wake every morning feeling fully rested, and without having to be awoken, you are not getting enough sleep. And even if you are making gains in the gym, more rest and sleep could substantially increase your gains.

2.46 Only compare current attainment to the same stage of your previous cycle that used the same style of training. You cannot, for example, compare bench presses done rest-pause style from pins in the rack in one cycle, with those done touch-and-go in the next cycle.

2.47 Add small poundage increments when you are training full-bore. Do not go short-circuiting a cycle by adding a minimum of 5 pounds to the bar at a shot. Get some pairs of little discs.

2.48 Dependable training for typical people with regular lives is about doing things slowly, safely, steadily and surely. It is not about trying to do in two months something that needs half a year. It is about patience and knowing that getting there slowly is the quick way, in the long run, because the chance of injury and mental or physical burnout is much less. Quick gains bring a higher chance of injury and burnout. And if you cannot maintain the enthusiasm to train over the long term, how can you keep the gains you have made over the short term? Patience is one of the priority qualities needed for training success.

2.49 What matters is what works. If you can only gain on a routine that is absurd in its brevity and simplicity by conventional standards, fine. If you can gain well using a routine that most hard gainers would not gain an ounce on, that is fine too. When gains dry up, investigate radical alternatives with the general belief that less is best (without taking it to the extreme and giving up working out), and that harder training is better than easier training.

2.50 Train hard, but avoid overtraining. ^en when you leave the gym you will be tired and well worked, but not exhausted. ^ere will be no more struggling just to recover from the systemic fatigue from training, and never actually getting around to doing any growing. You will recover from the workout quicker, and stimulate more growth for your less-stressed recuperative abilities to respond to. You will put in more productive workouts over the long term, and thus clock up more progress.

2.51 Low-rep work can be very productive, at least for some people, so long as it is carefully worked into, form is kept tight, and absolute-limit poundages are used only very rarely.

2.52 High reps, especially in leg and back work, have been proven to pack on loads of muscle.

2.53 Do not neglect your calves, abdominals, grip, or the external rotators of your shoulders. ^is accessory work matters. So long as it is done in moderation, it is not systemically demanding and should not interfere with your progress on the big mass-building exercises other than perhaps during the very final stretch of a training cycle. At this stage the accessory work can, if neces sary, be temporarily dropped in order to keep progress happening in the big exercises. Some neck work is mandatory if you are involved in contact sport, and still a good idea if you are not. And back extensions will help keep your lower back in good order.

2.54 ^ere is a multitude of different interpretations of abbreviated and basicsfirst training—enough variation to satisfy you for the duration of your training life. Staleness with any single approach should not happen. But do not flit from one interpretation to another. Stick to one for long enough to be able to judge the worth of the interpretation as you have understood it, and put into practice. ^en analyze the results, learn from what you did, and do it better next time around.

2.55 Nutrition matters, but forget the notion that it is 80% or even 50% of training success. Sitting down and eating and drinking is the easy bit. Knuckling down in the gym to very intensive work on the big exercises is the hard bit. ^at is the over-50% bit. Rest takes up a percentage and then nutrition comes out of the portion that is left. ^ere are hundreds of thousands of gym members who slept well, had jobs that were not particularly stressful physically, and had more than adequate diets. ^ey did not realize their physique and strength potentials because they did not train hard enough and progressively enough on the exercises that matter.

Mistakes, lost time and bad judgements are part of the business of getting bigger and stronger muscles. Learn from them, and do not keep repeating them. But persist at all times. As Calvin Coolidge noted, "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence."

2.56 Nutrition is about food, not supplements. Food supplements are not panaceas for training woes. Only once you have a good working formula of training, food and rest should you consider topping up with supplements. Tons of muscle have been built without using food supplements.

2.57 Many hard gainers—especially the very young—do not consume enough calories and nutrients to pack on muscle. Regardless of your age, consume as much nutritious and healthful food as you can without getting fat.

2.58 While what you read in this book is geared for genetically typical and drug-free bodybuilders, powerlifters and general strength trainees, it will work even better if you have better-than-average genetics. People blessed with better-than-average genetics for building muscle and strength should not lose that advantage by seeing how much training they can tolerate and yet still make moderate gains. ^ey should train like a regular hard gainer should, and then revel in the greatly increased gains their natural gifts will bring them.

2.59 Spare yourself the misery that countless people have gone through as a result of following conventional training methods. Spare yourself this while applying the methods that work for the masses—those described in this book.

2.60 If you have trouble getting bigger and stronger using abbreviated routines of basic exercises, you will make a difficult task into an impossible one if you change to longer and more frequent routines infested by lots of little exercises. Focus on getting a better understanding of how to make the basic formula work for you. Do not change philosophies.

2.61 Mistakes, lost time and bad judgements are part of the business of getting bigger and stronger muscles. Learn from them, and do not keep repeating them. But persist at all times. As Calvin Coolidge noted, "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence." If you persist in applying poor training advice you will still get nowhere but into a mess of frustration. But if you have the persistence that ensures you never give up, you should also have the intelligence to root out the training methods that work. Once you have a good grasp of training, all you need is persistence and time. ^en the realization of your potential for muscle and might is almost guaranteed.

2.62 No matter how much good advice you are given, only you can implement it. You are on your own when you are in the gym. All the best information, equipment and food in the world will yield nothing unless they are combined with an abundance of diligence, planning and determination.

2.63 Do your own thing, in your very important, drug-free, non-obsessive but yet so-satisfying way, knowing that whatever you do, you do by yourself and for yourself. Be into weight training for a lifetime. Demonstrate what weight training should be about—physique, strength and health, together with personal enjoyment and comradeship with fellow trainees.

2.64 Be a credit to the Iron Game. Train, but do not make a fuss and commotion. Leave the bragging and showing off to those who do not know any better. Practice modesty. And never forget that there is a lot more to life than training and muscles.

2.65 If you have invested a lot of time and effort on conventional training, you may feel attached to it despite it having delivered so much frustration. To start over with a radically different approach is an admission that you previously had it wrong. Have the courage to acknowledge the errors of the past, and the fortitude to start anew. Break away from the crowd who stick with the norm, even though they are going nowhere on it. What you want most of all is personal progress, not the contentment from being one of the crowd. ^ere is no more time to waste. Clean the slate, and do not harp on about mistakes made in the past. ^en start anew, and with passion.

2.66 To keep yourself on the track of abbreviated and basics-first training, stroll into almost any gym. A glimpse of the skinny youths imitating the training done by the elite should be enough to remind you of the mess that conventional training is in. ^e youths follow hyped-up routines and isolation exercises. ^ey spend lots of money on food supplements but too little on quality food. ^ey use all the paraphernalia that bodybuilders are supposed to—gloves, belt, fashion clothing and expensive training shoes. And they consume special workout drinks. But they will still have their sub-15-inch arms if you visit them in six months time, or even six years time supposing they have not long since given up.

2.67 Serious hard gainers are not lazy. We would like to be able to train a lot, because training is enjoyable. But much more enjoyable is experiencing good results. We use abbreviated and basics-first training because it delivers the best results, not because it is a cop out from long and frequent workouts.

2.68 ^ere is not much if anything that is really new in the training world. What is "new" is usually just a twist on an old idea. With a dose of creative lingo and modern-day advertising hoopla, even something that has been around for decades can appear new. If you could go back to the early twentieth century you would be surprised at how much of bodybuilding and lifting as we know it today was being routinely done in those days. And the roots of plenty of today's training equipment and ideas go back much further. But because ideas and equipment are often presented today as being "new" and "modern," and because so few people know anything about the history of the training world, the pioneers are forgotten. Even the people who today claim the "new" training ideas and equipment designs are usually totally ignorant of the fact that men long-since dead came up with the original ideas and designs ages ago.

2.69 As Charles A. Smith told me shortly before his death in January 1991, "You never know how important good health is until you no longer have it." ^ink about this. Dwell on it. Make it one with you while you still have your health, not when it is too late. Avoid all harmful habits, activities and environments. Look after yourself! (Charles Smith was one of the major figures at Joe Weider's magazines in the fifties.)

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