There is an old saying that says that all good, if short, is twice good. And there is another one in the same sense that prays that all good things in excess may kill. Both are perfectly adapted to bodybuilding, a sport in which excesses have high cost. The essence of muscular growing is training them intensively and hard, but did you know that if you go too far you will produce the exact opposite effect? You better read this article attentively.
Overtraining is wreaking havocs all along in bodybuilding. Of course, I do not mean people is dying; but on terms of growing they do because, besides stop growing, there are many who get tired of striving for nothing, or almost nothing, that finally quit the sport completely.
Exceeding in the intensity of the training, as well as in the quantity, is the first cause for failure in bodybuilding and the causal of the lack of progress, decreasing of enthusiasm and quitting.
This syndrome can affect all bodybuilders, but especially the natural ones who do not use any chemical help.
Any investor may tell you that the first thing you need to learn is to calculate the proportion between investment, risk and benefit. If you have to invest and risk a lot to obtain a little benefit, then it is not worthy.
The truth is many bodybuilders are incapable of gaining more than two or three kilos a year and that is why they train five days a week and in two hours sessions and maybe some of them even more. So they do 10 hours of weekly training or 520 per year, because they train for 52 weeks. Now, gaining two or three kilos of muscle from a 520 hours investment seems a nimiety. So, in terms of proportion they need almost 170 hours of training, which equals 85 two hours session to gain one kilo of muscle.
I perfectly understand not everybody is willing to train for two daily hours, five days a week during four months to gain one kilo of muscle. And even so, I can assure many of them are not capable of achieving such progress, and that would sign wherever necessary to get that three-kilo per year advance for sure, because they think at that rate they will have gained 15 kilos in five years.
Because their reasoning to the lack or shortage of progress is that anyway it is not possible to advance to a higher rate because, on contrary, in a couple of years bodybuilders would weight more than 200 kilos.
Their approach is wrong because, as it is true that the gains of weight and muscular mass have a limit, the idea is to get that limit in about five years of training, not in twenty.
We all know that depending on our bone and genetic structure we have a limit regarding the utmost capacity of muscular tissue acquisition, but with a good approach this can be perfectly achieved in four or five years, but of course at a higher rate than the one we have just seen.
The main culprit of that chronic fail in progress is the overtraining.
Most of people go crazy with the routines in the magazines, the pictures of those big muscle monsters and the high-intensity multiple systems that without its strict application in each session did not seem worthwhile to train.
It is a real trap in which thousand and thousand of bodybuilding enthusiast fall for their frustration.
Let me put in order your ideas and help you get twice the muscular gains, of five to six kilos a year, using less than the half of the time at the gym.
It is only about avoiding overtraining, as simple as that. It may happen that lots of you do not understand that your worst enemy is precisely the excess of enthusiasm for training hard and then you use all the techniques that are supposed to take the muscular development beyond.
Let me remind you that practically all the holy monsters of muscle that you admire so much in magazines use steroids and hormones and that these drugs give them a great advantage to recover from the marathon sessions, but you will never can.
Here we have five measures to avoid overtraining and to allow the continuous growth.
TAKE A RESTING DAY AFTER A TRAINING DAY
Doubtless, is the easiest measure to put into practise, because those who are accustomed to training rigorously each day feel guilty and very bad if they loose a single session.
However, not only you can get good development training like this, but also there are many examples of great champions who have trained this way throughout long periods of time as Mike Mentzer, Labrada and even Dorian itself did it
In fact, one of the most productive routines is training only three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, because it constitutes an ideal system to completely recover and to train each muscular group once in that period.
The original method Nautilus advocated for training the whole body in one single session and doing it on those same three days;g and from there the Heavy Duty system emerged later, popularized by Mentzer.
Remember there can’t be growth as long as the total recovery hasn’t been made and that this includes both the systematic and the muscular, in other words, it is necessary that the trained muscle groups are remade and repaired, but also the nervous and energetic system. Many people assume that as yesterday they trained legs, today they can give the utmost with their backs, since they are two muscular groups totally independent the one from the other.
But they forget that the human body can only act as a single unit. It is true that the legs and the back are not directly connected, as the triceps with the last one mentioned since they are involved in all back exercises; but after a hard legs session your system may need 48 total hours of resting to recover the energy spent, both physical as nervous, and training before that will simply prevent the complete restoration, and so the possibility of growth.
But training your back before it is totally recovered will not only prevent the legs to establish, but also the back session will be resented, since in order to execute the session you will be draining the system.
You can use this approach to train one day and the other not, so that you will train on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday one week, and the next one you continue the cycle training on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, so on one week you go to the gym four days a week and the following one only three.
If you can’t train on the weekend, for family reasons or something related tothe access to the gym, don’t fear to continue with the approach of Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Regarding the groups division, you can distribute the groups in two days, especially indicated for those who haven’t achieve a superior degree of strength, and in three days for the most advanced ones.
The idea is the stronger you are the more capacity you have to move heavier loads and therefore to erode more muscular fibres and to drain the energy from the muscles, so a longer recovering period is required.
That’s why the first ones can divide the groups into two sessions and alternate them each day, so that the first week half the body will be trained on Monday and Friday and the other half only on Wednesday, but on the next week this second part will be trained Monday and Friday and the first only on Wednesday.
The stronger bodybuilders will do better dividing the body parts into three groups and training one of them on each one of the three weekly sessions.
I can guarantee that if you defeat your mental resistance of not going to the gym on two following days, your body and mind will thank you with a renewed growth.
TRAINING USING THE CYCLES
Many years ago I learned that the body and the muscular growth work as something intrinsic to life itself: the cycles.
All in nature is cyclic, from the day and the night, the moon phases that are nothing but a four weeks cycle, to the seasons and the regeneration and transformation mechanisms.
Our system responds best to the muscular growth when it is stimulated in cycles, as its own nature is designed that way.
I’m a firm advocator of this technique because throughout the years I have confirmed its efficiency, especially to dispel the enthusiasm and the desire to train. There are numerous researchers in the field of physical performance that have studied this system with very good results and lots of articles about it have been published.
An author who has done this with application to bodybuilding is Doctor Hans Seyle, who has developed a program called the General Adaptation Syndrome. Basically it is about alternating periods of very hard training and reaching the limit of tolerance with others in which the intensity is substantially lower.
For instance, do a five or six weeks cycle (never more) of training in which each set is taken to the positive fail point, so it is ended only when it is humanly impossible to perform a single repetition more, with another two or three weeks cycle in which each set is one or two repetitions before reaching that threshold of fail. So, the set is always ended without an excessive difficulty.
I call it an anabolic cycle, because it avoids the stagnation points during a long, long time.
Do not do more than 24 effective sets in any session.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the key of muscular development depends on the intensity and not on the length of the training.
Therefore, the muscle hypertrophy depends on the intensity with which it is stimulated, not on the amount of work. Remember the example the ill-fated Mentzer used in his articles. He compared the construction worker using a hammer for thousand of repetitions and had puny biceps, while a bodybuilder did a few curl repetitions and his where enormous.
Another usual example is the comparison of the legs of a marathon runner with the ones of a 100-meters runner. The first one uses them for many kilometres at a low intensity while the second one uses them at full blast for a few seconds and his are massive, while the marathon runner’s legs are very skinny.
In other words never do more than 20 effective sets in a session, and surely for many people the limit would be inferior, because if you surpass it they won’t be neither effective as productive.
Your goal is to train hard, but shortly and if you exceed in the number of sets or you don’t make them productive or you overstep the mark and you risk the recovery. In any case it’s something counterproductive.
USE THE HIGH-INTENSITY METHODS MODERATELY
Forced and negative repetitions, one and a quarter repetitions, supersets, descendant sets, pause-rest sets and all the high-intensity systems should be used with moderation because they are a very fast way of draining the energy off the body and they extend the recovery, so you will be very vulnerable to overtraining.
In consequence, never use more than one at a time and do it sporadically.
In any case, never do more than 8-10 high-intensity sets in any session.
VARY YOUR ROUTINE FREQUENTLY
There are many experts who assure that frequently varying the routine and the exercises renews the growth and I not only agree with their opinion but also I believe that doing always the same is very boring and boringness is the seed of failure.
I recommend that for each training cycle you have a pair of different routines in order to alternate them and keeping the mind positive and eager to enjoy the variety.
The crux of the matter is that you always feel like going to the gym and that you enjoy what you do, because that way you already have the 50% of the success for sure.
Too many of you readers of this magazine have been beaten by the bodybuilding bug and are ready to anything, in order to achieve the muscular development you dream of. You desire with such vehemence those big muscles and have so much enthusiasm that you don’t mind giving yourself beyond the reasonable.
Well, here you have five measures to moderate that healthy fanaticism that can turn against you.
And you can’t forget the good things in excess may kill.