I recently moved to Florida and I’ve been training in a gym temporarily until I get the rest of my own equipment. I kind of forgot what goes on in a “normal gym”. Useless exercises done on a whim compounded with silly conversation. Namely:
Hey bro – what are you doing today?
Chest and abz…BRO!
Aight bro, take it easy.
Nah bro, I love my abz.
At least that’s what I remember. It doesn’t necessarily bother me that these fellas are doing exercises to look better, nor does the perpetual use of the word “bro”. It bothers me that they are still “doing body parts”. Doing arms. Doing shoulders. “Doing” is a present participle that should only be followed by the word “work” or the name of your current fling.
The problem is that Muscle and Fitness is still the leader in educating young men how to lift weights, and this is probably a by-product of the Joe Weider/Bob Hoffman rivalry (which may also be the same as the historical bodybuilding/weightlifting disparity). It sure does give me a laugh when people call it “Muscle and Fiction”. Har-dee-har-har, hee-haw, haaaaa……..heh…..ha. So clever. In any case, that publication is the primary training source, because god knows ACSM isn’t helping out And herein lies the problem.
If you want your body to grow, specifically lean body mass, you have to train your body for what it is: a system. When you train the body as a system, it reacts as a system. The primary systemic reaction from a training bout is a hormonal change. Testosterone is blunted, cortisol is released, and growth hormone will increase after some time (among other things). Hormonal fluctuations immediately react to the changes that your systemic training bout induced, and they also start working on how to bring the body back to a state of normalcy and improve that state of normalcy so that the body can handle more similar disruption easier in the future. You can think of this as maintaining homeostasis and the body wanting to make it harder to disrupt homeostasis.
The only way to force such a disruption is to train lots of muscle mass relatively heavy. Compound movements, those that include lots of joints and subsequently lots of muscles, do this splendidly. That’s why we want you to squat, press, deadlift, clean, and snatch your way to a stronger, bigger physique. Those are the exercises that utilize the most muscle to create enough of a systemic disturbance that requires certain hormones to improve muscular growth and force production. Isolation exercises don’t get the same response. Even if you were doing, say, the bench press followed by dips; it wouldn’t get the same response either because you are focusing on that one area of the body. You’re just “doing chest and tris”. Instead, let’s get some fucking disruption by squatting, benching, cleaning, and then doing dips. You’ll get a lovely stress/response that will help you on your 70’s Big Quest.
Digest that again. Instead of doing silly isolation training, use compound lifts that use lots of muscle to put on lean body mass (studies by Dr. Robert Kraemer indicate that whole body-workouts are more effective than partial-body workouts to induce hormonal disruption). Do several of these compound lifts to work the whole body. Hormonal disruption will occur. So will recovery. The result is an adaptation. You are now stronger. Do this continually and utilize aspects of recover (nutrition, sleep, etc.) to promote the creation of new tissue, and the muscles grow larger as the strength increases. The amount of work to cause the stress and the length of time for recovery are variables dependent on an individual’s training adaptation, but the process is relatively the same.
The reason that this works over the typical fitness methods is because it takes the systemic effect of training into consideration. Magazines only worry about the local effect; what is going on at a specific muscle and how it can be worked to grow. They ignore the necessary systemic response that promotes an environment of growth for that muscle. They also ignore the fact that using significant amounts of weight, namely above 80% of a 1RM, produces significantly larger disruption to elicit a useful response. Then there’s the whole argument (that Rip is known for establishing) about the classic barbell lifts using pretty much every muscle from the head to the toes, and you can see why trying anything else first is a waste of time.
Those of you who have done a linear progression note how well ALL of your muscles developed and grew and how much stronger you were after doing it. It’s just a shame that the perceived authority is either ignorant of this concept or refuses to accept its value. And don’t even get me started on the abz, bro.