Are Fitness Pros Making Weightlifters And Bodybuilders Wimps? (Part 1)
© Doug Champigny, http://flirtingwithfitness.com
All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
If a powerlifter or bodybuilder from the 1970’s or 1980’s walked into the average gym today they’d be horrified. Watching the people exercising would make them think they were in a foreign country, one where their strength athletes were either sadly lacking in muscle education or, quite simply, wimps.
Back then, they knew that you needed to tear down your muscles to make them rebuild bigger and stronger – just as bodybuilding and powerlifting athletes do today. What’s different today is the expectation of what the body can survive and recover from, and just how to push your body to those limits safely.
These days fitness pros, bodybuilding magazines, gyms and even certified personal trainers will tell you the optimal workout, whether for muscle mass or strength training, ranges from 30 minutes to an hour. They’ll tell you that you can’t lift heavy enough and go any longer than that, and that if you’re not exhausted after an hour your weights are too light. They’ll tell you that weightlifting for more than an hour produces too much cortisol that destroys your gains.
Dane Fletcher, editor of the Primal Muscle blog, recently posted this about Arnold Schwarzenegger and his early training:
…if you’ve seen the pictures of Arnold when he arrived in America, you can tell he sure didn’t have full physique balance and development. His calves were small, and his shoulders weren’t incredible either. He adjusted his training, opting for 6-days-per-week training sessions, allowing every muscle group to be hit with 90 to 120 minutes of training, TWICE per week. This is a huge step up from even what today’s pro bodybuilders (given their advanced access to pharmaceuticals) are using for volume training. Arnold knew how to work!
How Often Do You Lift Weights?
That’s right – to build his huge muscle mass Arnold Schwarzenegger trained 6 days a week, week in and week out. As you can imagine, his workouts weren’t with little pink dumbbells either – having started his weightlifting career in Europe as a competitive powerlifter, Schwarzenegger never used light weights. Yet no one can assume he wasn’t able to recover fully with only one day off per week – no signs of overtraining in the fantastic body he built, and no one that could defeat him in the Olympia most years!
How Long Are Your Weightlifting Sessions?
Pay careful attention to the math in Dane’s quote – in 6 days Arnold hit each bodypart twice, meaning he was training at least 2 bodyparts per day to get the whole body in every three days. So 90 minutes to 2 hours of weightlifting per bodypart means being in the gym for THREE TO FOUR HOURS per day, 6 days a week. Compare that 18 – 24 hours of training per week to today’s recommended 2 – 3 hours per week, and you may realize why you haven’t been growing at the speed bodybuilders did back then, whether you’re on the juice or not.
And what many people don’t realize is that while Arnold Swarzenegger was the pinnacle of bodybuilding in those days, the weight training regimen of the other pros, and even serious amateur bodybuilders, was much the same. And not as much has changed today as you might think. If you train in a REAL gym (as opposed to today’s ‘Butt-Floss and Hairspray gyms’), watch the biggest, most muscular bodybuilders and strongest powerlifters that train there. Seldom will you see them in there for less than two hours per session, or 60 – 90 minutes if they’re training on a twice-a-day split.
Can you build lean muscle in three 90-minute weightlifting sessions a week? Sure. Can you get stronger doing 3 short powerlifting workouts per week? Of course. But don’t look at the physiques of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ronnie Coleman, or the strength of Andy Bolton or Derek Poundstone and expect to match them, or even come as close as your genetics will allow, with those ‘wimpy workouts’.
Instead, lift heavy, lift often, eat big and sleep a lot!
Next post, we’ll delve into how this all came about and just WHY so many people are trying to make YOU a wimp… 😉 See you then!