It was summer 1975, and Arnold was Mr. Olympia, bodybuilding’s top dog. The muscle world was captivated by the awesome Austrian, and for good reason…
Steve, at 17, was in awe too, but his physique was far from awesome—and he was fed up with it. So he decided that between his junior and senior years of high school, he was going to use Arnold’s double-split Mr. O program and become unrecognizably freaky huge by the start of school in September (he’d show Michelle what a fool she was for breaking up with him). Steve had been training for two years, so he knew he was ready for one workout in the morning and another in the late afternoon, six days a week (are you getting a sense of what’s going to happen—or not happen?).
Steve knew he would also have to follow Arnold’s diet, so every morning he planned to wake up and choke down a hamburger patty, toast, whole milk, juice, and fruit—the perfect mass-gaining pre-workout meal. He was stoked that his arms would morph to at least 18 1/2 inches (Michelle was going to swoon), which was only about 1 1/4 inches per month. No problem.
Did he make it? Well, after less than three weeks of two 1 1/2-hour workouts a day, he was completely burned out with nothing to show for his efforts except calluses, sore shoulder joints, and a pissed off mom who had to wash all of his workout clothes.
After taking a few weeks off, he went back to one workout a day four days a week and did manage to build about five pounds of impressive muscle that summer, but Arnold’s Olympia title was safe for another year. (There’s a happier ending, as you’ll see in a moment—with clues to help you get huge.)
And therein lies the biggest muscle-building mistake most bodybuilders make—they use the pros’ training routines and end up with zero gains. They think that because they want to look like the top stars, they have to train like them. It kind of makes sense till you really think about it—would you jump into an Olympic swimmer’s program because you want to someday swim in the Olympics. No, you have to gradually progress to that level—patience and gradual progression are key (as well as smart training) to realizing your ultimate potential. (Note: If you’re a beginning trainee looking to looking for fast muscle gains, see the Quick-Start Muscle-Building Guide e-book.)
You can be bigger—much bigger than you are now, but the pros have different genetics than 99.99 percent of us, plus they use pharmaceutical enhancements. Those make an incredible difference in workload tolerance, recovery, and growth. In other words, you won’t look like them by training like them—unless you have those two often unspoken factors.
Think about it this way: If you’re a 5’2” basketball player, how much success are you going to have if you only try to dunk the basketball like the genetic giants? None—in fact, you’ll probably quit trying. You have to find other ways to get the ball through
So here’s the truth about your muscle-building success: If you’re disciplined and use your head, there is real, almost unlimited possibility; in other words, there is loads of muscle just waiting to be slapped onto your frame (just stop trying to dunk the ball before you grow tall).
Don’t try to use pro-style workouts, which will give you nothing but discouragement. It took Steve many years to figure that out, and after learning all he could about his specific requirements for muscle growth and the science behind anabolic stimulation, he sculpted a worthy physique (using 3D Positions of Flexion and eventually X Reps and X-hybrid techniques), a happy ending, but it’s not over yet…
He never matched up with Arnold, but he has taken his genetics much further than his before picture above could have predicted. Most experts would’ve told him to give up bodybuilding and try marathons, but Steve knew what he wanted and stuck to his guns. He’s living proof that with experimentation, discipline, and effort, you can pack on plenty of muscle (he’s still doing it at 59—no drugs).
You can do it—but you shouldn’t train like the pros. Not yet anyway—give it time and progress correctly. We’re not saying that you shouldn’t check out the training of the top guys. You can learn a thing or two from them. For example, in the Beyond X-Rep Muscle Building e-book, we analyze Ronnie Coleman’s Mr. Olympia training and explain why he would do certain things to grow when he was at the top and how you can use them correctly. We also analyze some of the things Arnold did that you can apply to your workouts.
We also discuss and explain specific mass techniques used by other pros—relatively undiscovered tactics we’ve infused into the X-hybrid techniques that helped us pack on even more muscle after our first X-Rep year. Here are our X-Rep-year photos next to photos taken the following year after using X-hybrid techniques, which gave us progression and a big growth spurt—10 more pounds, to be exact (the program we used is in the Beyond X e-book)…
And, by the way, we don’t train like most of the pros because we don’t use drugs and we have limited time—we both have tight schedules due to family, work, and other real-life factors. But we’ve discovered a lot of what works, efficiency-of-effort muscle building that’s built a lot of size for so-called average trainees.
Here’s a quote from Arthur Jones, the creator of Nautilus machines and the father of high-intensity training, that should motivate you (it motivated us, two fairly average trainees):
The potential muscular size of the average individual is far beyond existing average muscular size; in effect, almost any healthy man can build muscular size and strength to such a degree that most medical doctors would refuse to believe accurate before and after measurements and photographs. And at least a fair percentage of apparently average men can build literally huge muscular size.
You can do it. Just remember, progression, patience, and smart training is the superhighway to big gaining—not pro-bodybuilder workouts.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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