In yesterday’s newsletter I discussed muscle damage and how it can impair growth. And that damage is not just a result of too many sets; it can also be the result of excessive intensity—and many times both.
Arthur Jones, inventor of Nautilus machines, relayed his experience on that subject in the February/March 1972 issue of Muscle Training Illustrated that is both motivating and startling, considering the results he was finally able to attain when he discovered the “secret”…
“Thirty-odd years ago, when I first started weight training, I knew absolutely nothing about it; at the time, I weighed 132 pounds at a height of 5’ 7 3/4” and had 12 1/2-inch arms. After three or four months of hit-or-miss training spread out over a period of several years (there was a war going on at that time), I weighed 148 pounds, and my arms were 14 3/8 inches; most—perhaps all—of which size I would probably have had with no training.
“When I finally did get around to regular training, I made very rapid progress—up to a point; my bodyweight rose to 172 pounds and my arms increased to 15 3/8 inches—but there I was stuck. I could not get any heavier and I could not increase my measurements.
“During a period of several years I was involved in the field of animal importation and international airline transportation. I was traveling constantly. As a result, my training was “on again, off again”—on for a few weeks, off for a few months or years. After being off, my weight would decline to 160 and my arm size would drop to an even 14 inches; I would remain at that size in hard, muscular condition until I started training again—even if a period of years went by with no training at all.
“But as soon as I would start to train again, I would gain rapidly back up to my previous high point, back up to 172 pounds with 15 3/8-inch arms. And as soon as I reached that point, I would stop growing.
“This up-again-down-again cycle was repeated several times; by which point I was firmly convinced that it was literally impossible for me, as an individual, to get any larger without getting fat. Having been somewhat (and some people would say “more than somewhat”) of an extremist all my life, I was never satisfied to beat my head against stone walls of failure—but do not misunderstand that to mean that I don’t stick to my efforts; I simply mean that I am fully capable of recognizing a treadmill when I see one—and I am not content to run forever without any sign of progress.
“So it didn’t take me years to realize that my continued training would never produce additional progress; so I would quit when I found myself back on the treadmill again. Then it came to pass that I had reached my old sticking point (for perhaps the eighth time), but I decided not to quit training entirely—as I had always done previously; instead, I decided to merely reduce the amount of my training—instead of quitting entirely, I decided to cut my previous training schedule exactly in half, thinking that doing so would at least “keep what I had.”
“Up to that point, I had been training three times weekly—using four sets of each of 12 basic barbell exercises. Three “total body” workouts consisting of a total of 48 sets—with every set of every exercise being carried to a point of absolute failure in every workout.
“When I reduced my training, I simply cut the schedule in half—doing only two sets of each of the same 12 basic exercises; other than the reduction in the “amount” of exercise, there were no changes—I still did the same exercises, in the same order, and in the same way. Just “less” of each exercise.
“Within a week, I gained a solid 10 pounds of bodyweight—and put exactly half-an-inch on the “cold” measurement of my arms. Then—as had happened frequently in the past—I was forced to quit training entirely; but this time around, I had learned something—previously I had been training too much, my training was using up all of my recovery ability and there was nothing left for additional growth.
“So when I was able to start training again, approximately a year later—I reduced my training schedule even more…”
To be continued tomorrow…
New: Get the ideal exercise for each muscle, the best add-on moves for ultimate mass, complete 35-minute workouts, exercise start/finish photos, and details on building muscle fast and efficiently in Old Man, Young Muscle.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
Former Editor in Chief, Iron Man Magazine
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