Q: First off, I just picked up The Ultimate Fat-to-Muscle Workout, and it’s fantastic. I learned so much reading it, which I did at one sitting. Great info and easy-to-understand-and-follow workout, just what I need to kick off a new training program. In the first chapter, you tell the story about Arnold getting ripped and vascular without cardio. Didn’t Mike Mentzer do the same thing but with a lot fewer sets? It’s interesting that their training styles were so different, yet they both got very lean without much, if any, cardio. Do you think a lot of it could be genetics, and us average Joes need more cardio?
A: While genetics could have something to do with it, it might not have as big an impact as you might think. As far as Arnold vs. Mentzer, The key to both of their hard, ripped conditions without cardio has more to do with exactly what we talk about in your new e-book: muscle microtrauma.
Arnold trained six days a week when he was preparing for a contest, and he used a lot of sets. Volume training will inflict a lot of muscle damage if heavy weights are used and there’s even the slightest emphasis on the negative stroke of each set. Arnold was pretty good at controlling heavy weights, so you can be sure that he piled up the muscle trauma with all of those sets at every workout, so he was burning fat 24/7…
Mentzer, on the other hand, preferred shorter, high-intensity workouts. He would do most of his sets to failure, then add forced reps and negatives. That produced tremendous muscle damage in a few sets. Negatives are especially traumatic, as research indicates. (As we discuss in the Fat-to-Muscle e-book, pure-negative sets with heavy weights have been shown to lengthen the repair process to many weeks in some trainees, which is why we prefer negative-accentuated sets or end-of-set negatives like Mentzer.)
Muscle trauma causes significant fat burning during the muscle-repair process. Like Arnold, Mike was no doubt burning fat continuously as his body fortified and expanded his musculature. Mentzer simply created that muscle damage somewhat more efficiently via extended-set training—and he was rewarded with a fat-to-muscle transition without cardio…
The program we outline in The Ultimate Fat-to-Muscle Workout is between Arnold’s and Mentzer’s—it’s fairly intense, with some negative-accentuated sets along with growth-hormone-inducing sets—GH is a key fat-to-muscle catalyst; however, we suggest slightly more volume than Mentzer recommended, but not the 20 sets per bodypart that Arnold used.
The science behind this training is somewhat ground-breaking and very sound. You can kick-start the fat-to-muscle process by adding a set of negative-accentuated reps—six-second lowering—to most of your bodypart workouts. You’ll feel it—and the soreness you get the next day will tell you you’re burning fat as you repair and build more muscle.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson