Monday, November 05, 2007
Mike Mentzer: Genius or Lunatic?
If you don’t know who Mike Mentzer was I will give you some quick background. He was a famous bodybuilder who competed back in the seventies and eighties against none other than Arnold, himself. He was known for being a huge proponent of extremely low volume training. Mike was either loved or hated; there was no in between. He had some radical view points and an in-your-face way of expressing them. He even had the balls to call Arnold out about his high volume training protocols and say what a complete waste of time it all was.
Mike Mentzer’s basic ideas and theories were that we are all grossly over-trained in sets and overall volume but under-trained in intensity. He recommended somewhere between one and three sets per bodypart, once every 7-21 days. He also knew what I have since learned; that high protein diets are unnecessary and are just another scam perpetrated by the bodybuilding industry to force you to buy more protein powder and useless crap.
Many people thought Mike Mentzer was a genius and learned a great deal from him while making tremendous progress employing his advice. Others thought he was completely insane and needed to be committed.
I, personally, loved Mike’s attitude and rebellious nature. I also learned quite a bit from him and when I first read Heavy Duty way back in the early 90’s, it completely changed the way I thought about training. It also led to some outstanding results.
The problem was that at the time I was like many of you; constantly in search for the next best training program and always thought there was a better way of doing things. So I lost my way for a few years while experimenting with everything under the sun.
Sadly, you have to get off the right path and get lost for a while in order to realize that you were heading in the right direction all along.
It has been at least 15 years since I read Mike Mentzer’s training theories for the first time and I have experimented with quite a bit of different loading parameters and training methods since then. I can now state, unequivocally, that Mike Mentzer was a lot smarter and a lot closer to the truth than a lot of people I have taken advice from over the years.
Was he a genius?
No. But he was a smart guy and a rational thinker. He never just blindly accepted what everyone else did. He thought for himself and questioned everything.
Looking back I can say that Mike was a little off with his frequency recommendations and that the intensity he advocated was a bit too high and unnecessary. In fact, I think some of the extreme intensity techniques he advocated may have even been counterproductive. I also strongly disagree with many of his exercise choices.
But that doesn’t mean that Mike’s ideas weren’t effective. He is, after all, responsible for helping Dorian Yates win the Mr. Olympia contest.
Mike knew the dangers of overtraining and realized just how unnecessary and counterproductive all that useless junk volume really was. He knew that it didn’t take anywhere near as much training as most people think to produce dramatic gains in size and strength. Mike knew and preached to people that if they couldn’t get the job done in a fraction of the sets they normally used then they weren’t training hard enough. Or maybe they weren’t eating properly or getting enough rest… But whatever it was, their lack of progress was not due to their lack of training volume. In fact, their training volume may have been what was holding them back.
I respect what Mike Mentzer contributed to the strength training world and will always consider him a pioneer in our business.
To learn how I incorporated many of Mike Mentzer’s theories with my own (that are based on 20 years of in the trenches experience and endless discussions with renowned coaches and trainers) to create the best muscle building system available for drug free, genetically average lifters, go to www.musclegainingsecrets.com now.
“Just another update on my progress, Jay. My squat is up 80 pounds and my bodyweight is up 17 after the first 9 weeks. Can’t wait for the next phase.