The Ultimate Guide To Building Muscle: Genetics And Training

There are a lot of articles on ROK about lifting weights and building muscle. All of them are very good. What I could not find was an ultimate guide, with all the most important information for building muscle the fastest way possible, naturally, in a single place.

Who am I to write an ultimate guide to building muscle?

I am just like you, your average guy trying to add muscle to his frame. I have done a lot of research and experimentation over 20 years to figure out what works for me in the gym. My journey to fast muscle gains started when I finally found the book that helped me crack the hardgainer label I had given myself for years.

Scrawny to Brawny: The Complete Guide to Building Muscle the Natural Way


I started lifting weights at age 16. I had some initial success in my 20’s, but also a lot of failures until I hit my 30s and found this book. It highlighted all the errors I was making in training and how to fix them based on scientific research.

I want to share with you not just what works for me, but what I also did wrong over the years. In doing so, it is my hope you will recognize some part of yourself in my muscle journey and learn from the path I have walked in trying to build my ultimate physique. With that said, let’s start with the basics.


Western Cancer wrote a great article on the origin of somatotypes – ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph.

While the origins of these body type classifications may be less than scientific by 21st century standards, there is no questioning the wise generalization of body types they attempt to describe. No matter how much you close your eyes and try to wish it away, you are your genes.

Your genetic profile—bone density, muscle fiber type composition, height, limb length, tendon insertion points, skeletal structure, etc.—is going to have a tremendous impact on your muscle building potential.

Your can’t escape your genetic legacy, but you can maximize it to it’s fullest potential and expression! When it comes to those former body type classifications, I now like to think of them in terms of muscle fiber type composition and proportion – i.e. your type I, IIa and IIb’s.

  • Type I (ectomorph) – Slow twitch.  Marathon muscle.  Endurance.  Light loads.
  • Type IIb (endomorph) – Power lifting.  Explosive.  Heavy loads.  Very, very short endurance.
  • Type IIa (mesomorph) – The in-between fiber type.  Fast twitch/oxidative-glycolytic.


Type IIa’s are literally a miracle muscle. They can actually mimic, be turned into, or switched from, a type I or a type IIb muscle fiber depending on the type of training you do. That’s right brothers, you have muscle in you that can transform.

So in one way, Western Cancer was right. You are not limited by any “type” of body per se because as you train, your body changes. That said, you are limited by your overall muscle fiber type composition, and thus, how much potential it has to be modified by training and diet.

Some guys will be bursting with type IIa miracle fibers that naturally just blow up and become huge with little fat gain and basic training regimens. Your classic mesomorph. The guy that just grows walking into the gym.

Other guys will take forever to grow because their overall muscle fiber type is for endurance (type I ectomorphs) and will forever be dominated by a more lean and athletic build instead of big and beefy.

Then you have the guys that can naturally lift huge weights and thus gravitate to power lifting where they find tremendous success (type IIb mesomorphs). They also give up the quickest on ever being able to lose the “insulation” around their mid-section. Shedding fat is almost impossible for them without God-like discipline and submission to a very strict diet and exercise regimen.

I think you can see where this is going. The science of muscle fiber types is now explaining why men on the same training program get different results. Each body is different in its muscle fiber type composition and proportion, and thus a single training program is not going to work for every man.

Your goal in training is to find out which muscle fibre type dominates your body as a whole (and perhaps even within each muscle group) and then optimize your training to develop ALL your muscle fiber types to their maximum genetic potential.


There ain’t no way around it. You want muscle? You want to get big? You are going to have to train hard and be prepared to make pain your friend. Here is where I made the most basic mistake about how to grow muscle. Select an exercise. Work the muscle to exhaustion. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.

Why is this wrong? We are putting our focus on the exercise, the routine, not the muscle. To grow muscle, we need to select exercises that work specific muscle fiber types.

How is this accomplished?

In Scrawny To Brawny, the authors break down their training regime into the following exercises and training phases.


Primarily large, compound joint movements. Squat. Bench. Deadlift. Chin-ups and pull-ups. Anything that involves multiple muscle groups working together to maximize complete, overall muscular recruitment and development.


First: A 5×5 phase – 5 sets with a weight you can handle for 5 reps, no more, no less.

Second: A very heavy progressive phase – 6 sets total broken into two, 3 set “wave’s” of 4/3/2 reps. First wave: 100 lbs for 4 reps, 110 for 3, 120 for 2.  Second wave: 110 for 4 (10 lbs up from first set in wave one), 120 for 3, 130 for 2 (in theory, 10 lbs OVER your 1 rep max weight).

Third: A HIT style phase – Training four times a week, the whole body twice a week, with a mix of compound exercises plus isolation moves combined with supersets, etc.

Here is how this training approach works.

  • The 5×5 phase helps you find a good heavy weight that is just a little above your 2 rep max to make the most out of the following super heavy progressive phase.  You develop good strength and comfort with a fairly heavy weight before going super heavy.
  • The progressive wave sets are super heavy.  Your goal here is to try to push PAST your previous 1 rep max weight.
  • Both the 5×5 and progressive phase focus on maximizing power and strength over endurance.
  • The HIT phase allows you to take the increased power and strength you have developed to a more traditional gym routine (i.e. 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps) that allows you to lift heavier for longer.

That last point is key – lifting heavier and longer than you could before (i.e. more weight for more reps).


… although they [type IIa muscle fibers] don’t contribute much to overall strength development, they can help improve the appearance of your muscles to a substantial degree. – Scrawny to Brawny, pg 136

Fast twitch/oxidative-glycolytic type IIa muscle fibers – the miracle muscle!

Type IIa muscle fibers “put on some size, plain and simple” as the author’s of Scrawny to Brawny write because of their specific properties.  Growth inside this cell takes place in a way that has nothing to do with making it contract, and everything to do with what happens between the muscle fibers, it’s size and shape.

But… those IIa’s can only grow in size and shape if they can keep pushing more and more weight! If you want to grow big, you have to lift big. Lifting big requires that you specifically train type IIb fibers FIRST before you train type IIa. Therefore, you must train specific muscle fiber types to exhaustion, in sequence, not just the muscle as a whole.

maintain muscle

The 5×5 and near 2 rep max heavy progressive phases build power and strength that allow you to keep blowing through growth plateaus that were impossible to overcome in the past.  With the added endurance aspect of HIT and superset style workouts that follow a strength phase, you then target the size of type IIa fibers for more complete muscular genetic development and fat loss.

In short, the order of training muscle fiber types is as follows:

  • training for strength (type IIb with some IIa) in the first phase
  • consolidating your gains and pushing PAST previous max weights in the second phase focusing on power (pure type IIb)
  • lifting lighter for more reps, but at a heavier weight for the same rep count than before you began the prior two phases (primarily type IIa and type 1)
  • repeat

As you can see, this will result in you returning to the first phase always pushing more weight than when you started it!

Gee… I wonder if that might result in some muscle growth? Hmmm… let me think on it for a minute.

But exercise alone won’t get you there. You have to eat! Part II of this ultimate guide to muscle will go over nutrition and how to eat SMART to get big.

Read More: 6 Tips To Build More Muscle During Your Workouts

116 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide To Building Muscle: Genetics And Training”

  1. Look how tiny Oliva’s waist (and other guys from the 60s and 70s) was- why wasnt there any “roid gut” back then?? Were the roids just higher quality when they were legal?

    1. In the golden era of aesthetics they trained vacuums to empahsise the small waist large chest, nobody bothers now because its not really part of judging
      Hgh, igf-1 and insulin use wasnt a thing yet so no internal organ growth
      Use of high quantities of t3, dnp and various b2 agonists allows for monumentous amounts of food to be eaten which is also thought to cause growth of internal organs in conjuction with hgh, igf and insulin

      1. Thats what I have read, IGF-1 being the main cluprit, HGH less so- is that true? Or is it more the insane doses injected?

        1. I would hazard a guess at it being the high doses of igf-1 coupled with the food.
          The sheer amount of food is rediculous, none of which is ‘bro foods’ its all calorically dense food like icecream and kfc. The current model of mass monster bodybuilding is entirely based in genetics, mostly being able to take vast quantities and a wide array of drugs without dying

        2. It’s a combination. However, the biggest culprit is the insane dosages. You can take HGH from now until the day you die and never wind up with a guy like that if you don’t jack 20X the recommend dosage. But, to get to the size of the mass monsters today, you’ll need a combo of all that shit, IGF/HGH and insulin (which is responsible for much of the mass that’s been packed on over the last 15-20 years). Steroids will take you to “fucking huge” but, if you want to step on the national stage, you need to go to “Jay Cutler” size. And that’s going to take more exotic shit. Fuck man, Jay is 5’9 and competes at 260+. That’s fucking insane; he’s got like 100+ lbs of extra muscle on him!

        3. ” The current model of mass monster bodybuilding is entirely based in genetics, mostly being able to take vast quantities and a wide array of drugs without dying”
          I was going to disagree with you until I read the last part. ROFL, never thought of it that way, but yes, that’s exactly what it’s about now. Knowing what to take, how much to take and walking the line between “massive” and “dead”. It’s not about genetics for your muscles anymore, the drugs would make someone with arms the size of carrots grow as far as they want to.. Until they die. 😉

        4. so bro science isnt science at all?
          Honestly, I only ask because I was recently reading about homeopathic HGH precursor sprays- are they safe? Do they even work(not to look like a freak like Cutler, but to keep the bodyfat low and the lean muscle high/higher). This spray is actually fda approved…

        5. Homeopathy doesnt in any way work, beside for kratom of course.
          If youre late 30s and older therapeutic doses of testosterone and hgh would be very useful for muscle mass, lipolysis and bone strength + general youthful-ness. But beyond that you wont get shredded on hgh alone. Its probably fda approved because it wont work.
          If you aint pinnint, you aint winning.

        6. Just to add my 2c, follow Bert’s advice. There’s nothing out there that’s really proven to raise HGH levels that’s not coming out of a syringe. If you want to get into the bodybuilding or life “enhancement” game, you need to be ready to inject.
          Injecting sounds “hardcore” but, in reality, it’s a lot safer than taking steroids as a pill. And some things, like HGH, can’t be taken orally at all, they have to be pinned.
          There are some new things out there that seem to have an good oral effect without the liver damage that older steroids have. SARMs seem interesting and are working for some people. I’m just afraid of them because we really have no clue what they do to you long term. Things like test and arimidex are well known/well studied compounds. IMHO, you should stick with them as the base for any cycle or life enhancement routine and stay away from the “new” stuff.

    2. What Bert says is exactly correct, but there is another reason which has been spoken about by Arnold himself as well as a lot of other builders.
      In the golden era the training was hard, as it is today, but the off season was lower weight and there was a bulk right before a show. So you may have a guy who is 6’1 220 and 8 weeks out he would start a cycle as Bert listed in order to put on last minute mass.
      The guys today are pretty much on juice all year round to stay huge and then do a cut right before the show.
      I can’t remember who said it, but the golden era athletes were greek gods….today they are greek monsters.

      1. Interesting, didn’t know that about the differences in bulking/cutting in the old days vs now.
        I respect anyone who has the dedication to become an athlete of any sort, but I can’t say the aesthetics of today’s bodybuilders are anything that I’d aspire to.

        1. I always find it astounding and extraordinary how *every* aspect of a culture is synchronously, or synchro-mystically if you will, linked: just as the arts, politics, social discourse, education have all disintegrated and dissolved into the depths of mediocrity in our present day era, so has taste and aesthetic sensibilities … even in the context of bodybuilding. Compare the picture posted below by “conrad stonebanks”, to what was considered the “high standard” just 30yrs ago, here:

        2. He won Mr Olympia at 190.
          I think Coleman would step on at 290 at his heaviest(and he was only a couple of in taller than Zane).

        1. Insulin is really what took them from “massive” (think Arnold in his prime) to “fucking ridiculous” (Jay Cutler). It’s also dangerous as hell, both short term (OD and you die) and long term (great way to cause diabetes).

      2. Also, the “old school” had a lot of foundation in powerlifting. That is, the crop of body builders from the 1960s through the 1970s were powerlifters or guys who cross trained in from another sport where there was still a lot of heavy foundation training.
        There is a HUGE difference in having this foundation training versus strictly “training for size”.
        How huge?
        In the mid 1980s I was lifting on the “old school” using routines from Schwarzenegger (I even had the very booklets he was selling back through magazines back then), Franco Colombu, and Fred Hatfield.
        At age 17 I was 190 very lean lbs. I could bench 300. The routines had a lot of pyramids using heavy weights for the “basic moves”.
        I had a friend who trained strictly on the “modern” Joe Weider stuff, the stuff aimed at only one thing: size.
        He weighed 10 lbs less than I did, but he looked twice my size. And he had far less strength, and no endurance (I could run 6 miles flat out).
        Again, next to him, I looked like a skinny man.
        And that’s the difference. There is one more difference that matters:
        While I don’t lift heavy any more, doing more calisthenic and cardio stuff as I got older (being big and heavy is actually a burden, having to eat all of the time) I still have most of my strength. Also, if I wanted to lift again, I would have all my gains back in a few months. I actually did hit the gym for a while 6 years ago and shot up to around 200 lean pounds (not necessarily competition lean,but with applicable 6-pack) in 4 months. I did it for shits and giggles. My core muscles are always strong and my joints are working just as good as when I was a teenager.
        The basic foundation training pays off. “Lifting for size” will just pump up and bloat your muscles and set you up for being a lardass. Don’t do it.

        1. You sir are correct 100%.
          By the way, arnold recently republished his workouts through bodybuilding. I did his Mass building 12 weeks. Let me tell you, it will fuck anyone up and straight up change your body.
          Core, btw, is always my weakest area. Compared to the way I have to train arms and legs to get a forest of trees…I have to work twice as hard to get ab definition.

    3. “Look how tiny Oliva’s waist (and other guys from the 60s and 70s) was- why wasnt there any “roid gut” back then?? ”
      There was no growth hormone or IGF1/insulin use back then. That gut is called, in bodybuilding circles, “GH gut”. Steroids make muscles grow and hair fall out. Things like GH make muscles AND soft tissue grow. So you wind up with intestines that are larger than normal.

    4. The bulging belly you describe is a manifestation of massive HGH use. Back in Arnie’s days I think they only used steroids.
      And the beer belly with a six pack looks stupid.

      1. They want to convince us a sixpacked gut is aesthetic, like an obese whale is somehow aesthetic.

        1. Here’s a question. Some actors have really great physique’s; the two that spring to mind are Chris Evans and Ryan Reynolds. Are they natural or are they using drugs – albeit in smaller doses than the bodybuilders?

        2. Bear in mind those guys don’t have to hold down 9-5 jobs while training for specific roles; you see reports of workout routines that nobody in the ordinary world can compete with or realistically achieve within six months or so. And there’s a pretty potent motivation to get your ass in shape if your multi-million-dollar paycheck is resting on coming in at shape and weight when shooting starts.
          The story I’m most interested in is Chris Pratt: genuine butterball to ripped in under a year or so, 37 years old, started out about 130 kg or so and dropped to about 100 in the same time period. He doesn’t seem to have drugged up to do it, but if anyone’s got any insight…

        3. If you’re asking yourself the question “Are they using steroids to look like that” the answer is almost certainly “Yes”. As I posted above, we’ve become so desensitized to the steroid look that we don’t even recognize a most men who are in great shape naturally as “built” anymore. Are there some exceptions to this rule? Absolutely. But they are few and far between.
          Directly to your question, almost any actor who’s know for his body is on steroids and HGH. Think about it; you have 2 options to look like that. Spend 4-6 hours in the gym and eat like a monk. Or spend an hour a day in the gym, eat well, but not ridiculous and shoot a few hundred mgs of test a week into your ass. Which do you think is more likely for actors given their travel/work schedules and their propensity for partying and late nights?

        4. The pictures I can find of Chris Pratt in good shape look like he might be natural to me. He’s not big at all, just thin with a bit of muscle on him. That look is achievable without steroids. However, see my post above, it’s very likely he’s on them anyway just because it’s so much easier to look like that using drugs. But, to be clear, the look he has is something that most guys could do clean. Just not something that most would want to do long term because of the difficulty.

        5. 4-6 hours, you mean a week, not a day, right?
          I stopped going to the gym for a few years. When I went back, I started getting tendonitis flareups. I came across a workout schedule for guys over 30- less is more to build muscle.
          In your teens/twenties, the 10-12 sets/8-12 reps per bodypart works wonders. Post 30, he recommended 8-9 sets/5-8 reps per, just make sure to eat right, use proper form, and control the weight on the negative.
          It has worked for me. I get thru a biceps/shoulders routine, in about 30 minutes, and about 15 of them I am resting in between sets…

    5. I was into bodybuilding in the 80s and back then we knew well of steroids. The “community” was trying to mainstream itself and steroids were bad for the image, mainly because it would have been a disaster if teenagers started using them.
      (I think they tried too hard to “educate” people against it in such a way that everybody knew about steroids and caused more guys to use them but that’s just my opinion)
      It was well known that the bodybuilders of the 1970s were on roids, but there was not such a push, and laws, against them at the time. So the roids were taken under the guidance of doctors. They took only just enough.
      But in the 1980s, it was madness. I didn’t take roids, but I knew fellows who did. And no doctors involved either (it was illegal after all).
      There were guys doing things like injecting directly into the muscles, but they would “swim” the needle around to spread it out. Things like that. I’ve seen guys at age 20 get pattern baldness they should not have gotten until they were in their 50s. I have seen acromegaly (large face) and roid rages that would put a schizophrenic to shame.
      By the end of the 80s you could not pay me to work out in a “muscle building” gym. I would not be near some of those roid heads and I was living in an area were we could not carry guns.

      1. Can you explain to me/us the difference between HGH/IGF1 and “roids”? What are roids, T injections only??

        1. Steroids are simply hormones related to testosterone (in common meaning). To stuff like test, anadrol (A bombs), diabanol (Dbol), trenbolone, deca, etc.. All steroids. HGH is a hormone like steroids, but it’s not at all related to testosterone, it’s a growth hormone (hence the name). It doesn’t have typical steroid side effects (baldness/acne, etc), it has growth related sides (big gut/intestines, hands with skin that’s too tight, numbness, etc).
          It’s a totally different class of drug which is why combining it (stacking) with steroids leads to even bigger guys. IGF-1 is similar to HGH. Insulin is different than both HGH and steroids; that’s a hormone that regulates the intake of sugar/energy into the body. So, you combine all three… And you wind up a mass monster! 😉

  2. Genetics can give a man advantage. But how many men use that advantage? Yesterday the guy at the gym astonished me by benching well over 300 pounds. He was about 5’10”, not some genetic mutant, wasn’t ripped or jacked. You wouldn’t look at him and assume he’s a body builder. He’s just been lifting for over 10 years and enjoys it. Played high school football. Did a few years in the military instead of college. The rest of the progress just happened gradually over time. Big mistake is people expect fast gains, 90 days to being ripped etc. Just go at your own pace and don’t quit. If you can think of the gym as your 3rd place, the place other than home and work, that mindset can carry you over time.

    1. I’m 44, having started training at 40 and do 5 x 5 benches at 260lbs. Its all about the investment. Time, reps, pain and sweat. There aren’t shortcuts.

      1. This is all true up to a point. If your goal is to be really strong, many men can do that without drugs. However, for most, if you’re really strong, your also going to not be too ascetically pleasing (fat). Just look at the Worlds Strongest Man competitions for what a really strong guy looks like. You’ll never be as strong thin as you can be fat.
        However, I think most men get into bodybuilding to look like the pictures above. Believe it or not, a lot of those really muscle bound guys you see aren’t that impossibly strong (because they can’t train as hard as the fat guy, they just don’t have the energy/reserves). That mix of muscle and thin is the hardest look to achieve, by far. I could train most guys to bench 260 naturally. I suspect I can’t train anyone on the planet to look like the pictures above without some serious drugs on board.
        This, BTW, is another reason I get so mad when women talk about “unrealistic standards” for men. Men really have one standard. Be thin. Which anyone can do if they don’t eat like a fucking pig.
        Women want men who are 6′ tall, make huge money and yet, somehow, have time to train like a pro bodybuilder, eat like a saint (because all those bodies above are made with 6-10 meals a day of very controlled portions) and drugged to the max with steroids/cutters/growth hormone and whothefuckknows what else.
        Tell me again, how are men’s standards unrealistic? A grand total of 100% of women can achieve the male standard. A grand total of .01% of men can hit the women standard. WTF?

        1. The old original way to get 6 pack was to do 1000 sit-ups on 45 degree incline bench every day. That’s still how boxers must train because they take so many body blows. But body builders discovered the short cut of starving yourself thin and using steroids, which gets the appearance of 6 pack but they will be doubled over in pain by a couple of punches to the gut. Women don’t actually care about real strength and don’t even know what real strength is, they just want image. Using steroids is the male equivalent of a woman getting a boob job.

  3. Kratom? Where’s the … oh wait that’s not my department.
    Electrolytes are essential to proper muscle-building diet.

    1. Depends on the strain.
      Bali will turn you into an ectomorph.
      Super Indo will turn your IIa muscles into IIb.
      And White Vein leaf will lengthen your cock.
      Mix all three and you become Goro from Mortal Kombat

        1. Happened to a guy once…he took too many electrolytes and mixed them with kratom. It is said he now navigates the internet trolling masculine websites.

      1. Bali? How the fuck does visiting an island known only for locking up Australian bogans for drug smuggling have anything to do with bodybuilding?

  4. This is a good article, but, IMHO, you really need to set expectations. Every single picture above is a guy on steroids. Not just “some gear” but a whole fucking lot of gear.
    The image of a “built guy” today is, invariably, a image of a guy on steroids. A natural athlete/bodybuilder is not going to stand out in a club; a really “built” guy who’s natural doesn’t look “built” to us anymore because we’re all used to seeing guys on lots of steroids.
    Not saying it’s a good or bad thing, but set your expectations. If you want to look like the guys above, you’re going to need steroids. If you want to look like the bodybuilders of the 30’s-40’s (before steroid use took off), you can do that naturally. Just don’t expect to turn heads because, unless your a total genetic freak, you won’t.

    1. “Turn heads” – no, but women will comment (and be attracted to) any noticeable level of development. Men will notice too. Using pictures of non-natural guys – even for “inspiration” – is definitely off.

    2. a few years ago and saw a sports illustrated with a pic of muhammad ali in his prime on the cover, shirtless with gloves on. i caught “goldfinger” at a bond film festival around the same time, and there was a scene where bond is shirtless and makes his move on pussy galore. in both cases, i was struck by how both ali and connery, respectively possibly the manliest athlete and actor of the 1960s, would be laughed at if they were to go shirtless in a 21st-century superhero or action movie.
      DT wrote a great article on this a while back:

      1. I’m actually not so sure. I think there is a real feminine/homosexual aspect to the way men are displayed on screen these days (body sculpted, hairless, etc.). I don’t like it. I think Sean Connery looked better.
        Point in fact, after banging a chick a few weeks ago she rubbed my hairy chest and said “so I see you don’t go in for manscaping (shaving off all the hairy evidence that you are a man)?”
        I said, “I looked that way once when I was 12, before I went through puberty. Now I’m a man.”. She giggled and blew me.

        1. “She giggled and blew me.” – this is pretty much the ideal ending to any story involving a woman who isn’t a family member.

        2. It would be fucking disturbing if it did involve a family member!
          I have to say, she was damn good on the bone!

        3. here’s a weird pattern i noticed as a single man: the more traditional chicks (church going girls who liked country music, latina catholic girls) generally dug my hairy chest. the godless lefty girls tended to want me to wax it. coincidence? i have no idea.

        4. They want you to wax it because they know other women dig hairy chests. They’re afraid you’ll leave and bang other chicks. Same reason they want you to shave your beard.

        5. could be. never had a woman dis my beard though. even my wife when we were dating claimed to hate beards but now that i actually grew it out, she loves it.

        6. So true.
          I notice that when I grow my facial hair out.
          All the very traditional girls, Latinas, Arabs, Slavic, the rare All-American gems, etc. give me lots of 2nd and 3rd glances, smiles, or if they know me flat out say they like it. I get a total opposite reaction from the feminist lefty types.

        7. You won’t have a woman diss your beard, generally because they like them, unless she is insecure, for whatever reason.

        1. this wasn’t the cover i was thinking of. it was another, just ali, and just posing for the camera with his gloves on. he does look far more ripped here. probably adrenaline and better lighting.

        2. I knew which one you meant which is why I posted this one. In this one he is in peak physical shape. On that cover you mention, not only does he look as if he is between fights, he is also relaxed. I understand that normally before posing a man will have a work-out so that he will be “pumped”. This is a real physiological effect lasting hours (do it before you go out!). Also, add to that air-brushing, etc. and you have a perfect human body.

        3. true. i remember reading that brad pitt was doing push-ups between takes when filming fight club to keep that ripped look.
          also, lighting is hugely important. there’s this one specific point in my house in front of my bathroom mirror where the light hits me just perfectly and i always think “man, i wish i really looked like this.” someone wrote DT once and asked him how to get a ripped figure like his and he said the lighting was the #1 thing.

        4. harsh lighting from above is what you need. in the words of DT:
          “The light matters more than anything. Find a
          gym with harsh lighting in the locker room. Every gym should have this.
          Who the fuck builds a gym with big mirrors and then puts soft lighting
          in it– kill that person.”

    3. I disagree a little bit about your depiction of natural bodybuilders. I know a couple of competitors and trust me, they stand out.
      But I take your point about the pictures above and steroids. They do set false expectations.

    4. I agree. Body building has had a steroid problem that they won’t even admit is a problem since the days of Arnold. My advice is to train for practical strength. I think a good initial goal is to be able to lift your body out of any position. For instance, if you had to pull yourself by one arm out of danger could you do it? If you had to restrain someone in your own weight class could you do it? I think a great look is born out of a body that has lots of practical strength. My issue with traditional weights (I’m probably going to anger body building traditionalist but please hear me out) is that they only train you for strength under ideal conditions. Braced joints, on even terrain, lifting very specific amounts of weight all while using economy of structure. What if you are on uneven terrain and need to hold weight in an awkward position that isn’t economical in structure? I think traditional weightlifting techniques definitely have their place but how practically fit are these roided out body builders? I’m betting a seasoned judoka could tie a body builder into knots once he gasses out trying to provide oxygen for those unnatural and inflexible muscles he has. So I think it depends on goals. Do you want to look like a muscle magazine cover model at the expense of endurance, balance and flexibility all while putting your major organs (heart, liver, kidneys etc.) at risk of failure through steroid use? Or would it not be better to develop strength that has practical application? I would stack any military school grad, MMA fighter or boxer or judoka going through a camp, any olympic athlete as more fit than a body builder. I think the term ‘fit’ shouldn’t be applied to body building. With practical strength the good looks will come. Look at Masahiko Kimura in the 50’s. That guy would easily be considered ripped even by today’s standard. So I think pumping iron is basically a waste of time for all but the most vanity obsessed as it offers little practical advantage in physical activity.

      1. Your opinion/statement is a very solid and an agreeable one but hardly groundbreaking. I think most semi to knowledgable people will understand aesthetics training is not athletics. That’s why athletes are far more glamorized in the mainstream and in this case, I couldn’t agree more. I’ll use your example: Tim Kennedy (a green beret/Ranger AND number 2 welterweight in UFC) will crush Ronnie Coleman, Jay Cutler (bb), and Kai Green. Hell, Manny Pacquiao will demolish them. Ray Lewis will lay out any comparable sized/strengthed person who is merely a bodybuilder, any given day. We all know martial/practical/athletic prowess is vastly superior to aesthetics. We leave that to women. But on that note that’s why I also hate when I read Instagram descriptions of those whores who call themselves “bikini athlete” (or female body builders), because that’s precisely what they’re not; the men too, unless they actually were or are an athlete.

      2. You may be right about aesthetic body building having no influence in sport performance, but that’s far from true for general, weight based strength training. Whenever power or strength is important to athletic performance (and I can argue that except for endurance sports everyone needs it) you’ll find some kind or another of strength training, frequently done with good old free weights, barbels, some cables etc. Hard to think of a high perfomance athlete today not doing it. And they don’t do it because it’s fun… but effective/efficient.
        Solid strength training has some of the lowest rates of injury too. And discussing health in elite sportsman is somewhat pointless, as high level training taxes the body much more than what would be healthy.
        You are spot on about strength training, eh, strenghtening only the range of movement they’re done in. In sports with single, repeatable movements the muscle chains responsible for that movement are worked out. But you know what is usually done in sports where muscle demands are varied? Usually a lot of basic lifting.

        1. I didn’t rule out all weight training in my previous post at all. I said traditional weights have there place, particularly the squat. But you will plateau with free weights and need gear to look like the guys in those pictures. Certainly if you want to do it in a reasonable time frame. Like I said, the book he recommends is really good, encourage compound movements. But no athlete does the amount of weightlifting a body builder does due to the reasons I mentioned in my original post. Body building is bad for the joints and worse when gear is inevitably added. I’m not knocking weightsbut trading them without a end goal ability is pointless and will eventually cause repetition injuries.

        2. I think mainstream bodybuilding took a dive off the cliff in the 1970s — give or take — because it strayed away from general athleticism and aesthetics. I am not disrespecting the sport because they are genetically gifted men that work very hard, whether they are on the juice or not…but something just seems wrong. Most old school bodybuilders (pre 1970s) were a strange mix of manliness: they were holistic health practitioners, strongmen, gymnasts, and fighters. Most of the old school guys were just good looking strong athletes that could go hiking, camping, swimming, hunting…and make it through a military obstacle course without gassing out. So yeah, I get your point.

    5. Overtaxed nailed it. It really really angers me when authors attach photos of people taking gargantuan amounts of steroids, insulin, HGH, etc in order to sell their book– ESPECIALLY when the book’s stated goal is to do things naturally.

    6. “The image of a “built guy” today is, invariably, a image of a guy on steroids. A natural athlete/bodybuilder is not going to stand out in a club; a really “built” guy who’s natural doesn’t look “built” to us anymore because we’re all used to seeing guys on lots of steroids.”
      Not true. I’ve been a natural lifter for
      years and people constantly notice the gains I’ve made, in and outside the gym

    7. Having perfect teeth, helps with the chicks.
      Having a car which was professionally detailed – helps with the chicks.
      Why is using a doctor to get perfect muscles, morally worse than using a dentist to get perfect teeth?

  5. I’m a natural mesomorph and former college athlete.
    The funny thing is when I was like 5 or 6 years old and skinny, some bodybuilders and (college and professional) ex-football players told my parents that I was a natural mesomorph that was going to be at least 6 ft, please feed him plenty of meat, potatoes, and dairy…turns out they were right.

    1. Every athlete at a professional level makes use of a performance enhancing drug specific to their niche. The majority of recreational steroid users are your average gym goer, because when it comes to bodybuilding and strength you are playing a game of diminishing returns. If you do everything perfectly from day one and stay 100% consistent you will have maxed out your natural potential within a 2-5 year period, genetics and various other factors dependent obviously.
      If youre the type of person where you take something you enjoy to the max, then steroids are a natural progression (no pun) in lifting as a whole or you will spend the rest of your time stagnating until your natural test and gh levels drop due to age.
      Absolutely you can improve your strength and aesthetics from your starting point, absolutely you can look better than and even admirable to the general public. But if you want to reach a level beyond the meadiocrity of the masses, then a form of PED is required. Which applies to very nearly every aspect in life, in that if you want something better than average theres a price to pay be it your time, your money, your health what have you.

      1. Great post! And yes, just about every athlete in a strength or endurance limited sport is taking something, especially at the pro level. The NFL is the one that makes me laugh the hardest; people ask me or insist to me that these guys are natural and I just laugh. They are bigger than pro bodybuilders of 50-60 years ago and and fast as Olympic sprinters for 100 years ago (who weighed 100+ lbs less than they do). You think training changed that much?? Those guys are on juice, and, alarmingly, they are on shit that nobody else knows about (to pass the tests). Problem with that is that nobody has any fucking clue what that shit will do to you because it’s got no long term (or even short term) testing in humans. It’s a huge gamble to avoid the tests.
        “Absolutely you can improve your strength and aesthetics from your starting point, absolutely you can look better than and even admirable to the general public.”
        Can you look better than the general public? Well, that’s about the lowest bar I can imagine, so, absolutely. Can you look admirable? Well, in certain situations, yes. If you have your shirt off, yeah, you can look great natural (6 pack abs, great definition, etc). However, with a shirt on, if your highly trained but natural, I doubt you’ll get much notice. I was a very serious bodybuilder for many years and simply could not get any attention at all for my “size” until I started steroids. Then, yeah, it was non-stop admiration. Guys would nod to me walking down the street (“good job man” type nods). Girls would walk up to me at a bar and say “Your fucking huge”. Once I stopped the heavy steroid use, that stopped along with it. I’m still in very good shape, but, without the massive muscles to go with it, it’s not something that most people notice anymore.
        The parallel I’d draw is skinny women with “big” tits. Yeah, they do exist, but they are shockingly rare. And, because of fake tits, a lot of skinny women have massive boobs now. You go into a bar and are looking around, are you looking at the skinny girl with 34B’s (which are pretty big for a natural set on a small girl) or are you looking at the girl with the 36C’s that has implants? You get used to what implants look like and suddenly the girls with “big” natural boobs don’t look big anymore. Same thing happened with steroids, the guy who’s a genetic freak and can get big without gear didn’t look like he even went to the gym standing next to me (an average genetic makeup but steroids on board).

        1. Couldnt agree more. It finally seems there is a redpill movement for steroid/general PED use. Not that I advocate it to every Tom, Dick and Harry – but its certainly not what its cracked up to be from a moral/legal stand point in term of evil.
          Whistle blowing and steps toward logical thought on business and biology seems to be causing the much needed exodus from the fitness infustry’s lies to sell useless products and the obvious mental health problems that go with young boys growing up thinking the steroid look is natural which can only be a good thing. Young men get into a confidence building, health/market place value increasing sport which has a strong male influece and they are no longer wasting 1000’s on snake oil. Which means more money for actually improving ones life.

        2. When making a case for steroids, you have to also let the viewership consider what happens in the aftermath… No you won’t necessarily grow male boobs or kill your liver if you juice up with a scientific methodical approach, but chances are really great that you will suffer psychological and physiological withdrawal symptoms which is liable to hurt your quality of life and muscle retention in drastic ways (not to mention boosting natural testosterone production through masculine stimuli like getting into brawls or adrenaline pumping activities is almost always a safer bet then pumping T from external sources).
          If you look at well known examples like Arnold, or even modern “state of the art” juicers like Vin Diesel, they look worse than even normal guys now… I’ve never seen such a drastic collapse in naturally athletic people, however, such as hunters in the wild or woodsmen from the mountains, who are able to enjoy strenuous activity like cutting trees or high intensity sex well into their 100’s (not a joke, just google Prof.Sultanov and his studies into naturalistic lifestyle and dietary advice). So I hardly think steroids should be the go to advice for men who are looking to improve their physical attributes !!

        3. You cannot increase testosterone levels naturally in any significant way, at all, if youre a young healthy male. No amount of fighting or bear hunting or horny goat weed will take somebody with a 300 count to a 2000 count.
          The pyschological effects are greatly over played and with the exclusion of 19-nors which would require dopamine agonists to combat sides in some, I would say they are in fact near mythical status. You cant feel withdrawl symptoms because they are not pharmocalogically/biomedically addictive. You may lament how you look/feel when you come off but thats true of anything when you take a huge step down from great to average – unless of course you suffer with mental illness/depression/incredibly low self esteem etc, in which case you shouldnt be taking any drugs including alcohol and nothing will solve your problems but yourself.
          Vin Diseal and the average dude have awful genetics compared with the genetic elite, take far fewer drugs in lesser quantities, know absolutely nothing about it or just know the bro science and dont know a thing about training or nutrition when they come off, hence they look terrible. If anything, prolonged AAS use will improve muscle retention when you come off because of upregulation of androgen receptors and a greater number of recruited satalite cells, the reason you dont notice such a drastic drop in naturals is because you under estimate the significance of AAS use and the quantities they are used in, leading to a disparity in the before/after use.
          Nobody said they are the go to advice, but the fact of the matter is. If you want a tremendous physique/strength/athleticism etc, depending on how high your standards are, you will have to use performance enhancing drugs of some kind. Its still a largely bluepill Subject due to the fear mongering of health and law in some countries and because the public is lied to about the extent of drug use in every single sport on the planet

        4. Similar to the rhetoric of drug addicts, countless heroine abusers would say “oh but nothing ever compares” to the high they achieve by injecting themselves with chemicals, it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy, a grave that they have made for themselves by destroying the potential of their own metabolism and then claiming there was just no better alternative, it’s the victim’s way out…
          If you are submerged neck deep into the steroid camp and have been regularly doping since your teens, of course no one can convince you that a naturalist approach could be even better because you’ve simply robbed yourself of the opportunity of ever finding out. Meanwhile, a naturally trained athlete can out-compete you at everything, and I hope you don’t take the easy route by saying “oh he must be secretly doping as well” when countless real life examples of physical achievement would prove you wrong… When Usain Bolt destroys roid boy Justin Gatlin at every event, I guess even the most die hard Gatlin fans would admit he did it as a natural athlete, is Bolt genetic elite enough for you ?
          Vin Diesel and Arnold are certainly not losers in the genetic lottery, and I bet they have advisers that would know at least as much as you do in the subject of fighting off Steroid side effects, and yet they still look like a total ruin of a man when they could have well been still in their prime. Also it’s a total illusion to think that there is a “genetic elite” that is simply blessed with superior gifts innately and you can never hope to compete with them unless you pump up to the limit with chemicals… Much to the contrary, some of the greatest athletes in the world (Like Messi or olympic weightlifters, wrestlers etc.) have started with extremely limited physical gifts in their teens and yet have reached the pinnacle of athletic achievement through passion, hard work and competitive spirit.
          You may personally not get your testosterone levels up when you expose yourself to natural stimuli because you have short circuited your brain and endocrine system by overflooding it with chemicals, but don’t try to delude people here that a high flying CEO or a phenomenal athlete who are at the top of their game, mentally, spiritually and yes physically as well, got there by juicing. It’s total bullshit and you know it.
          I’m all for trying out experimental methods to make the most of your body and physical abilities, but to discuss these issues while completely overlooking well documented risks and much safer alternatives and to promote them as if it’s the only way possible to get to the top is completely delusional man.

        5. Seems youre pretty butthurt here fella. Quite understandable, youve been presented with a big fat redpill and now youre spewing a bunch of mystic meg rhetoric
          You equate AAS to heroin, which is laughably false. I can only assume you have recieved zero higher education pertaining to medicine. As evidenced by numerous buzz words purely used to sell juice plus to the unaware.
          I’m sorry to break this to you also, but Usain Bolt uses performance enhancing drugs, as does every example you used. I’m pretty sure Messi recieved growth hormone treatment when younger for medical reasons (but that doesnt count right?). Everyone in the olypics uses drugs too, that doesnt discount their hard work and sacrifice, but to think they dont use drugs is 100% child like ignorance, willfull or otherwise.
          Your implication that arnold or anyone would look better as an OAP without ever touching steroids is purely ludicrous. There most certainly are genetic elites, you know those guys and gals that are tip top of the world in their field? Theyre the genetic elite, as far as im aware in olympic weightlifting gold medals have been won purely by people with a specific genetic sequence in common, sprinting is dominated by west africans genetics etc. Genetics determine everything, hard work and determination just unlock the potential. To deny this is either naivity or ultra-left propaganda that “we’re all the same on the inside”
          No person in the world, not even your beloved bear fighting CEO of big dick game inc. can raise their testosterone from a natural level to a supraphysiological level. The science youre refering to sees a perhaps 1% increase in testosterone released in a single dose which soon reaches homeostasis. Even if they were to see a 100% increase that would not reach a supraphysiological level. That can ONLY be achieved by an exogenous source.
          I never said they were safe, nor promoted them. I am simply debunking myths and lies sold to the general public, which is what I had assumed this entire movement was about.
          It seems youre under the false pretense I use steroids also, which is not the case I grew up in similar circumstances as Arnies character in the film Twins, except it was a freezing cold and wet island, not a tropical one, eating purely organic food with no polution, walking and cycling 100 miles per week, I didnt even have wifi in my home until after I moved for uni. I had just about the most naturalistic life a man could have in the first world over the last 20 years.
          I would assume youre an older gentleman that still believes in the good old american sporting spirit, or youre a younger man who has not been aware of the fitness industry for very long. I would understand both very well – just as the older generation of men would not believe the state of women in the modern world and the young man has yet to gain experience in, the same can be said for sports and drug use. I would strongly urge you to do some serious research into the matter if its of interest to you, if not, no biggie. It doesnt change reality

        6. Ok now back to the “everyone’s doing it” or “must be doing it” rhetoric. It’s one thing to say that a professionally competing athlete whose livelihood depends on physical performance takes a supplemental drug within the confines of what is legally allowed by his governing sport authority, it’s another to say that “any man looking to get beyond mediocre physical fitness must inject”. Guys like Usain Bolt and Messi have tested clear of all controlled substances time and time again, so I’m pretty confident they haven’t done even .01 % of the drug infested regiments some of you underachievers are trying to promote as a game changer here…
          You are way out of your element bro, modern medicine itself is a very limited field full of unknowns and experimental treatments, as the best doctors would be the first ones to admit this as they go on to supplement their medical education with a wide assortment of complementary studies to become the best healers or enhancers possible.
          The fact that you have read a few medical texts on the subject or that you might be a MD yourself means squat in the overarching quest to self improvement. Many doctors think they have got the whole mystery of the universe figured out only to fail miserably at almost everything in life except the one very particular field they specialize in, and more often than not some of them suck at that as well…
          Anyways, yeah I’m a fairly young guy, but I’ve a recreational interest in the subject of fitness and actually done some Muay Thai in Bangkok with real warriors to know on a first hand account that injecting yourself with T and then various other questionable drugs to offset the horrible side effects that would no doubt ensue and hope for the best means nothing compared to killer instinct and a fanatical dedication to your vocation that give you such a strong edge over all competition that to bystanders it looks almost metaphysical, including yourself apparently. It’s not magic bro, it’s unleashing the unlimited human potential, the drugs are just a minor detail. Wake up to real life, you don’t need the clutch of what synthetic drug or artificial hormone therapy the latest medical research is reluctantly promoting to give you the edge until something better comes along and totally eclipses it, but you definitely need self actualization.
          And ok if you only feel good about yourself when you have 20x testosterone running through your body and 10 x other stuff to offset it’s mutilating effects, then it’s your choice, but just don’t fuck with people’s minds here by claiming this is the only way to physical greatness, when the entire course of human history and professional competition would prove you false.

        7. I’m not arguing the morality or legality. Purely the science of the drugs and their use in business, which sports are.
          It is not, in anyway difficult to pass a drugs test. Granted the olympics have possibly the worlds only means of testing for missuse, that doesnt mean it catches a statistically significant number of missusers. A great number of things can go completely undected because we dont have the technology to do so, or a private pharacologist can alter a drugs structure minutely so it doesnt count as a banned substance, similar to legal highs etc.
          It seems everybody can quite easily discount corporatism, and government involvement in every facet with the exception of sports. How much money does each host country spend on everything to do with the olympics? How much are each athlete worth to the business that sponsor them? You think an investment worth billions wouldnt advocate for the use of steroids to make these things worth watching by always breaking human boundries? Cover ups are well documented until the poster boys fuck up and then they ‘accidnetally took a new supp’ and are dropped like hot shit, thats why athletes get caught out. Not because they are stupid, but because they do something wrong or to be the scapegoat or to make another athlete more popular. Steroids have been used large scale in the olympics since the 1930s, and have only got more popular in general circulation since. If they were truely not in use in such organisations, we would not see such records constantly being set a decline would in fact be seen. Theres also this idea one has to be ronnie coleman to be on steroids. How many aids victims or burn victims or transgender teen girls are 300lbs 6% bodyfat? A grand total of zero, different drugs in different doses do a great many things beyond just turning somebody into a mass monster.
          You constantly argue legitimate science which you cant even refute with even anecdotal evidence let alone peer reviewed science, yet in the same breathe will tout a buzzfeed article on boosting testosterone through doing ‘alpha’ things and self acualisation.
          I’ve mentioned numerous times that im not explicitly for their use, nor that theyre the sole reason somebody is successful nor that they arent in any way dangerous. I can only conclude you are somewhere between 14-18 years old, youre very new to sports and have in no way any experience in the field beyond training with “warriors” and as such you are letting the idea of something you hold dear shield you from its reality.
          I’m quite happy to point you in the right direction. Its always good to read things, even if you think you disagree, as knowledge never goes to waste.
          As for your last paragraph, that is just pure ad homimen and based in emotion. Ive told you that im not enhanced and had an extemely naturalistic upbringing. As I say, I completely understand your views as I thought the exact same thing before I know what I do now, not through reading one medical paper, not through jealousy, not through being lazy and self defeatest as you have suggested.
          Good luck with your progress, I hope it goes alright for you. Youre obviously very passionate about your sport and the culture that goes with it which is fantastic. I’m just offering insight as an insider to a community who are continuously rinsed out by the fitness industry, which is alternative to the narrative. Which is what this site is for, a collective of various science and real world experiences gathered to create an alternate theory to the one sold to us, in the hopes that it can be used as a tool to improve ones life by encouraging the readers to do research even if they believe their current understanding to be the only side to the subject

        8. Bro, it’s a bit ridiculous that you think only a 15 year old can disagree with you, when I thought anyone with a college degree (or even who is self taught, as you seem to profess) who has above average iq in the modern world is able to figure out for themselves that one version of a truth might not be the ultimate reality and there might be multiple ways to achieve a desired effect in any given situation ?
          You constantly make a case for alternative versions of the mainstream views etc, and yet cannot bring yourself to modify your personal views on the topic by not even a milimeter, don’t you find that a bit self contradictory, I only mention it since it’s been a very long discussion and in general you sound like an intelligent guy, but a bit square in your thinking…
          To sum up (you will find this also anecdotal but still this is stronger than your delusions of corporate conspiracies bro), I have competed in a number of sports in college and afterward on a professional level and even got offered a permanent contract by a Swiss 1st league football team (and it wasn’t even my job mind you, I’m a derivatives trader), and while certainly there are always athletes with utilitarian ethics who would try everything that would pass under the radar (from experimental synthetic drugs to horse placenta massages etc.) to give them a perceived “edge”, what I find is that the real winners who manage to perform in clutch situations better than anyone else when it matters the most, be it a championship final or the olympics, are the ones that are not on the latest regiment of barely legal drugs, but the ones with the greatest mental fortitude and resolve and ambition. Similarly I never had a long term injury in part thanks to my very mental and driven playing style, while many many gifted athletes drop out of their careers prematurely because their mental game and spiritual harmony is way off, in spite of being in tip top shape physically…
          So there are many elements in this equation, and many of them are beyond the scope of current medical science, as the human metabolism and the universe we live in is still full of an astronomical number of unsolved mysteries. As for world records being constantly broken, of course human nutrition and exercise methodologies have come a long way since the beginning of 20th century (not to mention it’s also pure biological progress which follows an upward sloping sinus curve in almost all species across succeeding generations), but at least many of these world record holders are able to maintain great physical wellness well into their senior ages, so they are definitely doing something more responsible and diversely augmented (with lifestyle, exercise habits etc.) than your average roid pumping gym buddy or the washed up hollywood stars with self destructive lifestyles…

        9. “the real winners who manage to perform in clutch situations better than anyone else when it matters the most, be it a championship final or the olympics, are the ones that are not on the latest regiment of barely legal drugs, but the ones with the greatest mental fortitude and resolve and ambition.”
          Now imagine if those “real winners” you describe also took steroids. You may like not like the answer, but they would be even better. The “real winners” that take drugs (which is basically saying they have the mental fortitude and a natural gift for the sport) are the ones who become world class. If you just take drugs, you might be big, but you can’t play anything except perhaps “who can press the most” and win. Do you think that taking 2000mgs/wk of testosterone is going to make me a world class baseball player? It won’t, I assure you. But if you’re already a world class player (Jose C/Mark M) AND you take drugs, you will become an all time great. And baseball is a sport that’s 80% skill/finesse. The drugs still make that much difference.
          Now imagine a drug that’s pure strength or endurance. Something like weightlifting, biking, football linebacker, etc. In those types of sports, you simply don’t stand a chance on the world stage without drugs.
          The problem is that the drugs are simply too effective. I have average athletic genetics. However, if you took me back to 1930 with enough testosterone to last me for a year, I’d hold the world championship bench press, no doubt about it. If you took me back with enough EPO and a few years to train, I’d win the Tour de France (well, maybe not, but it wouldn’t be my physical condition that would stop me, it would be desire).
          If you’ve never taken them, you simply can’t imagine how much better they can make someone already at the pinnacle of their sport. And the fact that you don’t see “one guy” standing out like that tells you, pretty quickly, they are all doing it.

        10. I agree that America has become a totally fake land especially for men where everything is pre-scripted and relentlessly agenda driven. So it wouldn’t surprise me at all if indeed most of American sports are a total joke…
          However you will find many examples of genuine competition across most of the sports in the rest of the world (not some lame ass shit like biking, which even reduces your testicular health, or some of the quasi amateur stuff that goes on in the olympics), and you will also see many guys that actually do stand out and are head and shoulders above the rest through peerless talent and passion. As mentioned before, take Messi, very scrawny kid becomes the most explosive attacking midfielder of the world, and he is still not even physically strong or durable (but extremely technical and quick). or Karelin, the legendary Russian wrestler who went 15 years not even conceding a single point training in the mountains truly in Rocky montages fashion (his nickname was ironically “the Experiment” because the U.S. believed this couldn’t be human strength, and yet none of the juiced up American wrestlers could even score a point against him except at the very end of his career in his final match which was most probably a bribed affair)
          Let’s take a counter example. Justin Gatlin was not even the top US sprinter for most of his career but then went on to break all American sprinting records indoors and outdoors and consistently had world’s fastest times for 2 years straight when lightning Usain Bolt was taking a rest. And then lo an behold it was discovered Gatlin was injecting amphetamines and testosterone. If “everyone is doing it” as you say, Gatlin wouldn’t have been able to surpass everyone else but Bolt in his brief stint to stardom until it was discovered he was doping big time…
          So sure some of the milder or truly experimental stuff can get under the radar, but I would urge you guys to have a bit more faith in sportsmanship and competitive spirit among men; luckily not every organization in the world is as fucked up as the current state of affairs in the United States…

    2. This is true at competition level. Surprisingly though, I know some seriously ripped monsters, always mesomorphs, that are always 3-4 months away from stage-ready physiques who I’m certain are roid-free. They do however practically live in the gym. << No thanks, there’s more to life than that.

  6. You have proven your valor again, Maximus. Let us hope it is not for the last time.

  7. Remember Gentlemen, we must exercise our minds as well as our bodies. What’s the worth of a six-pick when its on the body of an imbecile?
    Knowledge is the most important power of all. Read on.

  8. I may be missing something, but could someone please explain when/how the different phases are applied? How do the phases connect with each other?

    1. Sure thing. The 5×5 phase is a heavy one. 5 reps, same weight, for 5 sets. It gets your body and nervous system comfortable and used to a heavy weight. Over 4 weeks, that weight will go up (it should be), but at the end of the phase, you will have a good poundage you know is heavy for you and can do no more than 5 reps with.
      The progressive wave phase builds on the STRENGTH gained in the 5×5 phase. Now you are going REALLY heavy. 6 sets, total, but split into two 3 set “waves” where at the end of each wave, you are pushing close to your 1 rep max – 2 reps – and just barely getting the weight off the bar and back on the rack again with good form. This builds POWER.
      Now… the final phase, where you go back to a more standard 4 or 5 sets for 8 to 10 reps… you should be able to add MORE WEIGHT than before. Remember, you have been PUSHING your strength and power (IIb muscle fibers) for 6 to 8 weeks or so. With the added power and strength, what was once a bench of say 100 pounds for 8 reps, should now be 120, maybe 140 pounds FOR THE SAME # OF REPS!!!
      You are pushing MORE weight… for the SAME reps!!!
      You are now stronger AND bigger than when you started.
      You have to lift big to get big. By focusing for a while on power training (2 to 5 reps max)… and then going back to volume training (8 to 12 reps)… you are hitting BOTH types of muscle fiber.
      The advantage of this phase system is that you can keep repeating this process.
      Example: 100 lb bench 1 rep max
      5×5 – 70 lbs
      Wave – 90 lbs
      HIT/volume – 60 lbs
      5×5 – 90 lbs
      Wave – 110 lbs
      HIT/volume – 80lbs!!!
      See what I did there? The second time through the program, your poundage was increased! You are now able to lift MORE than before because you targeted IIb power and strength fibers. This in turn allowed you to push MORE weight that blows up the IIa fibers. Wash, rinse, repeat.
      Lift big. Get big.
      This is how those guys in the old days got big. Heavy hard training mixed with high volume/light training.

  9. Can one run a mile in 6 min, run 2 miles with 30 lb load out in 20 min, run 5 miles with minimum load out in 40 min, ruck 20 miles with 50-70 lb pack with load out in a day? Do pull ups with your gear on? Think and pay attention throughout exertion and resting? Handle terrain and weather? Put in consecutive full days of labor type work?
    Practical and functional fitness required for a man. Put in the work gents.
    Cross fit and yoga with a sound diet is a solution… Tbd.

    1. I agree. But don’t think that building muscle, and thus strength, will not go a LONG way to practical use.
      I will never forget this. I was only 20 years old. My first job. I was a tech in a computer wholesaler. We would get in shipments of monitors to go with the systems I was building for what was then called the grey market – the beige, no-name PC.
      One day, the driver of the monitor shipment was a body builder. They guy was freaking huge! Arms at least 3/4 the size of his head.
      The man was hand bombing at speed 17″ CRT monitors off the pallets like they were bars of soap!!! It was freaking incredible to watch.
      What is the point of running 6 miles with a 30 lb load if when you GET to where you are going, you have no strength left to do lift or push or charge?
      This was something the old generation of body builders also had. No, they were not running marathons, but they could run. They routinely ran, biked, played volleyball and other intense sports to supplement their traning in the gym and to be a WELL ROUNDED athletic individual.
      Now? It is all about the roids/GH and how much of a “monster” you can look.
      Ask any professional sports trainer. Practical and functional fitness REQUIRES strength and power. You can only get that from lifting weights. It is one of the few sports that really attunes your mind to your muscle. Takes your body to it’s limit muscularly, and allows you to do more for longer.
      I know a lot of labour guys. They can bring down a house or put one up. They can work 10 hour days for weeks on end all summer.
      But very few of them are STRONG. Truly, truly strong. I noticed myself that as in shape as I was for my labour job, when I worked out with weights, I had MORE power and strength at work than when I skipped the gym. This is putting in an hour at the gym maybe twice a week ON TOP of hard physical labour.
      Keep an open mind. I may be biased, but weight lifting is the single best exercise regime a man can undertake for life that will keep him healthy, strong and in motion well into his advanced years.

  10. Somatotypes are a joke and have been disproved for years.
    and yeah it’s really stupid to create articles like this and then post pictures of dudes who clearly juice. creates false expectations

    1. It is not false expectations. You need to go back and look at the golden age of body building. Arnold. Franco Columbo. Frank Zane. Even Sergio Oliva or Surge Nubret. These men may have all “juiced” as you say, but I dare you to compare them to the roid monsters of today. Look and compare physiques. What you will notice immediately is the RANGE AND DIFFERENCE in body types. Arnold is Arnold. Oliva is Oliva. Frank Zane and Arnold could not be more different, and yet Zane won many competitions because it used to be judged primarily on aesthetics… the natural look… taken to its pinnacle of development. Arnold repeatedly stated steroids are of NO USE to anyone but an elite level athlete who has ALREADY taken his physique to it’s NATURAL limit. The problem today is that young body builders read “Arnold did steroids” and then go on them right away thinking it was steroids that got these guys big muscles. It was not. These men had INCREDIBLE genetics and simply enhanced them, for a SHORT period, with steroid use. To break a weight or poundage plateau. Now? The body building look is the steroid/GH look that a lot of young guys hate. Guess what? So does Arnold!
      It’s not natural. Somatotypes as a science is disproved. But if you look at Frank Zane, Arnold and others in their prime, it is CLEAR that each has a unique genetic structure to work from and take to perfection.
      This is why I used a photo of Sergio Oliva. The man’s genetics are incredible. His physique is something to inspire me to go to the gym. Am I going to look like Oliva? No. I don’t want to. What I want, and want for all readers here, is to believe they CAN train hard, they CAN lift heavier than they are, they CAN get bigger and they CAN change and have the best body they believe is possible for them.

  11. Thank you ROK readers for all your comments on this my first post for your community. I want to address a couple of good points that were brought up so far.
    #1 – Photos: The only photo I selected for this post was Oliva’s. The rest were inserted by the editors to make reading the article easier (break up the long text portions). I personally would not have chosen them, but I fully support the editors doing so. Learning as I go with writing for ROK and will insert more photos in future posts for better readability.
    #2 – Steroids
    My brother bought an original 1987 first edition Arnold Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding. Arnold has a whole chapter dedicated to steroids in it. So, to say the old generation did not talk about steroid use is patently false. In fact, they were far more honest and up front about steroids than I have read anywhere here on ROK who are clearly pushing its use.
    To quote Arnold:
    “Steroids have their greatest effect on size and strength ONLY when the bodybuilder has plateaued – that is, made about as much gain as possible without the use of drugs.”
    I.e… NATURALLY. Just as I advocate in this article.
    Are the photos of Oliva and Arnold unrealistic? No. They are photos of a time in body building when steroids were seen primarily, AND ONLY, as a way to eclipse an already stunning NATURAL physique in preparation for competition at the elite level of body building.
    These men worked HARD, over long grueling YEARS, to get the size and body they built for themselves. None of the old generation had any fear of hard work in the gym. All of them knew about steroids because they were not illegal yet. And yet, they still only turned to them as a LAST RESORT. To break strength plateau’s. To make what was already NATURAL massive gains, just a little bit more, for competition purposes only, not every day training.
    This is why roid gut is now so common. The “pros” today are using steroids and GH 24/7/365 to REPLACE hard work and years of training. The young guys want Arnold muscles yesterday! They read “Arnold did steroids.” and then go on cycle after cycle after cycle at 5’10” and 145 pounds hoping to bench their body weight for the first time cause they are on roids now, like Arnold was. That it is “unrealistic” to get big without steroids so don’t even try.
    Can you see the difference in attitude? In perspective. Do I need to say Kratom? (Just what is Kratom? Seriously. This old dude has no clue.)
    Fact_comment made the comment I was hoping for on this article… to quote:
    “Genetics can give a man advantage. But how many men use that advantage?”
    Exactly. Now… have YOU taken your genetic potential to it’s limit? Naturally? Or are you just making excuses for your scrawny size and poor performance in the gym because “they”, your heroes, did steroids?
    To quote fact_comment again:
    “Big mistake is people expect fast gains, 90 days to being ripped etc.
    Just go at your own pace and don’t quit. If you can think of the gym as
    your 3rd place, the place other than home and work, that mindset can
    carry you over time.”
    Is fact_comment Arnold incognito on the ROK board? (I ask to compliment) Here is Arnold again:
    “Steroids allow you to train more intensely, BUT… this is NOT all that significant for a bodybuilder who is NOT training as hard as he could be in the first place… or who has NOT developed as far as he can WITHOUT the use of steroids.”
    How many negatives does Arnold use in that one sentence? In HIS book on body building, in print, in public, in complete honesty about steroid use?
    Time. Patience. Long term view. A lifestyle. Arnold’s chapter on steroids is the dead last one, and the shortest. In a volume of 730 pages, a mere 9 pages talks about steroid use. The other 721 pages? Hard training. Strict diet. Years of work ahead of you.
    This article was written in hopes there were others like me who think this way. Yet… there is not one comment discussing the primary focus of this piece – genetic potential. The muscle fiber types. Maximizing your power lifting type IIb’s in order to blow up your magic IIa’s by varying the way you train in the gym.
    Where are the discussions of your experience in the gym?
    “Hey, you know, I did notice after lifting heavy I could lift more for more reps after.”
    “Wow! Thanks. I am going to try four weeks of max lifting ( 2 to 4 reps max) and then go back to 8 reps. I know what my max weight is now at 8 reps from my training log book. I will let you know if I beat it after some power training!”
    Zero. Nada. Zip.
    Instead… most comments focus on the photos and unrealistic expectations men like Oliva and Arnold set for men to come.
    I challenge you. Get in the gym. Try what I have written here. And then get back to me about the unrealistic potential men like Arnold have set for you.
    Arnold and Oliva were men who were raised in a more masculine and patriarchal age. The bodies they wanted for themselves were like that of Greek and Roman statues. The old generation of body builders wanted to create a BEAUTIFUL body, not just a massive one. They venerated the male form like the ancients did. And no, it was not gay to do so. Only in the 21st feminist/LGBT century could you look at those photos of old and say they were perpetuating a gay-i-fication of man.
    These photos of the old generation (Frank Zane being the best example) prove that steroids were a minor, minor, role in training BECAUSE they have no roid gut. Their muscle development ALL LOOKS DIFFERENT. I.e. They built naturally first, and used roids sparingly because of the negative ill effects. Just enough to push just a little more in the gym pre-competition, again and it needs to be said, at the ELITE level of body building. You have to remember, these guys were PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES. No sport is free of doping of some kind because the rewards are so big and you know your competition is using them.
    Does that justify steroid use? Not at all. But what it does not allow you is the excuse that if you are not getting big, it is because you are not on steroids like they were. That… is just plain lying to yourself.
    Are you about to walk on stage at Mr. Olympia 2016? Are you power lifting in the up coming summer Olympics in Brazil for a gold medal?
    No. Yet you compare yourself to these men who were training at the very elite level and think it is impossible for you to get there, not realizing they too started where you are now. Scrawny.
    Just look at the photo comparing the physiques of Arnold to what’s his name? (See, who remembers this guy?) Arnold’s build looks NATURAL. The other guy… losing the vacuum V-shape waist, his muscle’s looked bloated, not dense and strong. Just look at Arnold’s chest!!!
    Lastly… for the comments that suggest only steroids allow you to lift big, or you must be some fat power lifter and you could never look muscular… I leave you with a photo of Franco Columbo and to count the plates he is deadlifting.
    It has been so long since boys, young men, were encouraged to reach their maximum potential. To work hard. To celebrate being men, being masculine.
    This is what you should be looking for in those old photos of the golden age of body building because that is what they lived. It shall be so again.
    Strength and Honor.

    1. ” (Just what is Kratom? Seriously. This old dude has no clue.)”
      Put it this way, Maximus: kratom is the Commodus of steroids.

  12. Coming off a 10 day hiatus from lifting. Got back in gym this past Thursday & Friday, starting with the 5×5 phase.. and will continue onward this coming week. I’m augmenting it to meet my needs slightly, but plan on keep the same premise of this routine. Pleasantly surprised at results from the onset. Fucking sore. Upper-lower splits can be ruthless. For reference I’ve lifted fairly steady for past 7 years, barring a hand full of injuries that had me out for 2-4 week stints.

    1. Great to hear. I will only add that the 5×5 and wave progressive phases where recommended to train the whole body only ONCE per week, with only three workouts per week. One hour MAX! Short and sweet. Bench, pull-ups that’s it for upper body that day. The key to these heavy phases is rest and the time needed to recover and grow as they are very taxing on the nervous system initially. It was hard at first to NOT train more, but when you are able to return to the gym, injury free and full of energy for every workout, there is a lot to be said for scaling back training at times as the book recommended.

  13. Yeah ! I once pumped iron about 50 kgs of weight…aahh bullshit, I’m just here for the kratom comments.

  14. First of all, I like 5×5 a lot. The oldtimers hit the nail right on its head when they discovered this method. And I have a great deal of respect for Bill Starr’s contribution to strength training in general.
    The program that Berardi and Mejia are pushing is a different animal from the Starr’s programs. The frequency per bodypart is much lower during the first phase; each bodypart is trained only 1x per week. A minimum of 2x per week per bodypart is recommended for natural trainers. 1x per week is not an optimal frequency.
    Starr and Rippetoe’s programs have trainees squatting 3x per week, and doing the other compound exercises ever other training. Same with StrongLifts 5×5.
    Is this the first phase mentioned in your article and in the book or something else entirely:

    1. Glad you commented. I am not familiar with Starr’s program. Can you provide a good link?
      Yes.. those are the authors and the program is different from my book (it’s older)… but you are correct in what you are concluding about the training frequency they recommend. My book actually has more exercises in a given workout, but still only three times per week, each body part only ONCE per week.
      Your comment shows supplementation is under utilized by natural body builders as well as wrong training frequency.
      If someone is telling you to train each body part 2x per week min… PLUS big lifts like deadlifts and squats 3 times per week!!!… for natural muscle building to get big… this is PRECISELY why Berardi and Mejia repeat over and over again… YOU ARE TRAINING TO MUCH!!!
      Just stop and get out of the gym.
      Stop training so hard. Give your body MORE REST to actually repair and recover. And with good supplementation around the anabolic window that Berardi and Mejia talk about… your gains will be astounding compared to what you are getting now.
      Trust me. It sounds so counter intuitive to EVERYTHING you read. That is why that book was such a mind blowing revelation to a guy like me that has always struggled to put on muscle.
      Each body part only once a week?
      Only three workouts per week? (your link has more, but LITERALLY only one exercise… absolute ground zero, for someone who has NEVER trained I would suspect, hence the name of the program, ground zero)
      AND still eat that much food?
      And take a protein / BCAA supplement BEFORE, DURING and AFTER my workout? (I don’t do the during one myself, but I might on my next mass phase)
      Are you crazy?
      Now I understand why you are so against the anabolic window and timing your protein… get that Scrawny To Brawny book. You can probably find it in your local library. Give my (its) advice a try.
      What have you got to lose? Or rather… How much do you have to gain!!!

      1. Years ago I used to subscribe to the same school of thought. Scrawny to Brawny sure looks a hell of a lot like a some of Stuart McRobert’s ( routines and I have a few of his books.
        Interestingly these are some of the titles:
        Brawn (1991)
        Beyond Brawn (1998)
        Further Brawn (2001)
        These were all published before Scrawny to Brawny. Coincidence? The principles that Berardi an Mejia adhere to are certainly very similar to McRobert’s. The latter repeats ad nauseam that trainees should use strict form and not overextend themselves by using too much weight. There is nothing wrong with that piece of advice but there is no need to repeat it over and over.
        So it does have some merit. However, there are more ways to reach your goals and some are more effective than others. And there are popular programs out there that will yield better results faster and safely.
        Among those programs are legendary strenght trainer Bill Starr’s ( 5×5 training routines. This is his novice program:
        Bill Starr’s Beginner 5×5
        Monday (Heavy Day – 85%)
        Back Squats 5 x 5 Ramping weight to top set of 5 reps across 5 sets
        Bench Press 5 x 5 Ramping weight to top set of 5 reps across 5 sets
        Deadlifts 5 x 5 Ramping weight to top set of 5 reps across 5 sets
        Wednesday (Light Day – 65-70%)
        Back Squats 5 x 5 using 60% of Monday’s weight
        Bench Press 5 x 5 using 60% of Monday’s weight
        Pullups 5 x 5 Ramping weight to top set of 5 reps across 5 sets
        Friday (Medium Day – 70-85%)
        Back Squats 5 x 5 using 80% of Monday’s weight
        Bench Press 5 x 5 using 80% of Monday’s weight
        Rows 5 x 5 Ramping weight to top set of 5 reps across 5 sets
        Often the overhead press is performed instead of the bench press on Wednesdays.
        Starr is also the author of the classic The Strongest Shall Survive: Strength Training for Football,204,203,200_.jpg
        The very popular StrongLifts 5×5 program is just a variation of Bill Starr’s beginner routine:×5/
        Marc Rippetoe’s Starting Strength program has been used successfully by thousands of trainees. It’s a 3×5 program rather than 5×5, but it’s quite similar to the other routines:
        Rippetoe has many clips on excercise teqnique on youtube and he is quite a character. He regularly does seminars and he also has a bestselling book by the same title:,204,203,200_.jpg
        The one gripe that I have with his program is that he is such a staunch advocate of low bar squats. But that is just me.
        For overall strength gains squatting 3x per week simply trumps 1x per week. If you want a muscle to grow and get stronger, the more repeated exposures you give it, within reason of course, the more it should cooperate.
        The more you practice a skill, the more efficient the motor pattern associated with that skill becomes. This is why for instance Olympic weightlifters train every day.
        The success of programs like Starting Strength and StrongLifts have proven this over and over again. Beginners typically start with an empty bar and increase the weigt gradually over time. This ensures that they do not overextend themselves while the higher frequency results in a much faster mastery of the movement.
        There are programs for more advanced lifters in the link to Starr’s routines.
        One of my personal all-time favourites is the MadCow Intermediate 5×5 program. There is a nice review of this routine on the very informative Powerlifting To Win website. It’s from a powerlifting point of view rather than bodybuilding, but still a good read:×5/
        Maximus Decimus Meridius: AND still eat that much food?
        What are you talking about?

        1. That is awesome. I did not want to write up the StoB routines because I was concerned about copyright and while these are close, they are not what is in the book.
          I think the repetition of advice to use good form and not TOO much weight by Berardi and Mejia is because… guys simply overtrain and do not use good form in trying to push weight (to grow) that they cannot handle (and thus leads to injury).
          You just have to hammer it into some guys thick bro heads before they finally get it.
          Many of the above routines I would consider to be overtraining. Maybe not so much for a guy under 30, but it is still a lot of hard stress on the body. Those are all powerful, compound joint movements done three times a week. It’s a lot.
          Think about it… back squats… 5x5s no less… 3x per week… at a min of 70% 1RM ( I assume the %’s reflect this). I would only try this to shock the muscle, it would not be a regular routine for weeks, let alone months, on end.
          I think if you are a defensive back… as indicated in the photo… this is a good routine. Young, high levels of natural T, LOTS of food, and only three exercises per workout. They will be heavy hard days, but overtraining can be reduced with good diet and supplementation.
          Your quote: “If you want a muscle to grow and get stronger, the more repeated
          exposures you give it, within reason of course, the more it should
          Within reason. You hint that you are already aware of the possibility of overtraining.
          This is why StoB repeatedly tells guys to get out of the gym and rest. THAT… is where the growth happens. Growth does not happen in the gym and repeated sets of too much weight putting high stress on both muscles and tendons.
          Growth and strength happens with just ENOUGH stress, then REST outside the gym.
          Which is another point that sets StoB apart from the above. Your book cover and training program listed clearly shows, for me, a focus on pure strength.
          StoB is focused on aesthetic… body building… and actually growing the physical SIZE of the muscle. Hence, the discussion of muscle fibre types and which ones are responsible for strength (IIb) and physical size (IIa). Then giving the reader a routine that allows them to actually grow in SIZE, not just strength.
          At 6’1″ and 180lbs, I still don’t look like a big guy, not even close. But lb for lb, I know I am stronger then most guys my weight, even if some of them LOOK bigger. That said, I also LOOK bigger than most guys my weight. Many people assume I am 200lbs even though I am not. Said yet another way, there are a lot of guys in the gym that are a lot stronger than me, but they are fat and in no way LOOK muscular/ripped/athletic at all. They are just big strong guys. That is not the LOOK I am going for.
          It is the LOOK of size… big physical muscles… that 99% of guys want.
          Thus… StoB was written to reach that specific goal.
          As for the food question… you have to consider where I was coming from, which is similar to your position I think.
          I was not growing.
          I was training “hard”, or so I thought. Multiple times a week. Multiple sets per body part. An hour to 1.5 hours in the gym three or four days a week. I was not eating properly yet, but I was not NOT eating if you get my meaning. I THOUGHT I was eating a lot of food.
          Then along comes this StoB book and says.
          You need to EAT a LOT more than you are.
          You need to TRAIN LESS… 1 hr max…. a LOT less then you are training now.
          When I was coming into the gym and leaving in some cases within 45 min… my mind was screaming this is wrong!!! And then I was eating ALL THAT FOOD on top of it?
          I only did ONE exercise per body part. Whole body only ONCE per week. Only 3 days a week, for generally under an hour each day.
          Here is Mondays “workout” in the 5×5 phase from the book.
          Front Squat – 5×5
          Incline Press – 5×5
          Bulgarian Split Squat – 2×6-8
          One Arm Row – 2×6-8
          Done. In. Out. 45 min max. 15 min squats. 15 min bench. 15 min Bul splits and rows.
          I am pretty sure you, and anyone who reads, this, would never believe that routine could grow muscle and build strength.
          Then… you actually eat 5 meals a day. The book had a LOT more food (12 egg whites breakfast for example) for 4600KCal per day. I did not eat THAT much, but I did start eating a LOT more food than I was used to.
          I had: (just assume some carb/veg with all meals)
          – eggs and oatmeal for breakfast
          – hamburger for lunch
          – tuna for 2nd lunch
          – Pre and Post workout protein drink within one hour around my workout (and weight gainers at that)
          – chicken for supper
          – 1/2 cup cottage cheese before bed
          That added 2nd lunch and cottage cheese before bed (casein protein breaks down very slowly, releasing aminos all night to keep them in the blood and available for repair instead of breaking down muscle tissue.)… was food I was NOT eating before. I mean… a SECOND LUNCH? A meal BEFORE bed? And… protein supplement on top of ALL that food around my workout?
          I grew. I finally freaking grew. The scale proved it. The mirror proved it. No placebo. No “feeling” I was bigger. I… was… bigger.
          For the first time in my life, I actually had what I considered to be a muscular body.

        2. The guy who keeps repeating that avice to use good form etc. is Stuart McRobert, not Berardi and Mejia. I have not read their book although I have read a few articles that Berardi wrote through the years.
          I can understand that the 5×5 routines that I posted seem like lot, but in reality it’s very doable. You ease into them. Beginners are advised to start with an empty bar and add a little weight the next time. Nothing too drastic. And the body adapts.
          There was an interview with a US olympic weightlifting coach John Broz in an online magazine a while ago. He believes that there’s no such thing as being overtrained, just undertrained:

          If you got a job as a garbage man and had to pick up heavy cans all day long, the first day would probably be very difficult, possibly almost impossible for some to complete. So what do you do, take three days off and possibly lose your job?
          No, you’d take your sore, beaten self to work the next day. You’d mope around and be fatigued, much less energetic than the previous day, but you’d make yourself get through it. Then you’d get home, soak in the tub, take aspirin, etc. The next day would be even worse.
          But eventually you’d be running down the street tossing cans around and joking with your coworkers. How did this happen? You forced your body to adapt to the job at hand! If you can’t’ squat and lift heavy every day you’re not overtrained, you’re undertrained! Could a random person off the street come to the gym with you and do your exact workout? Probably not, because they’re undertrained. Same goes with most lifters when compared to elite athletes.
          – John Broz 2002

          At the time I was not sure about this but over time I found out that he does have a valid point.
          Now of course that does not mean that you can train balls to the wall every single time. That’s when shit will snap. But with proper programming you can safely push your body much further than you previously thought would be possible.
          Bill Starr’s book was aimed at football players, but 5×5 routines were used by bodybuilders as well. The late Reg Park, who was the inspiration for Arnold S. used this routine to build his body. It is the same routine that Arnold used during his younger years (
          Reg Park’s Beginner’s Routine
          Workout A:
          Back Squats 5×5
          Chin-Ups or Pull-Ups 5×5
          Dips or Bench Press 5×5
          Barbell Curls 2×10
          Wrist Work 2×10
          Calves 2×15-20
          Workout B:
          Front Squats 5×5
          Rows 5×5
          Standing Press 5×5
          Deadlifts 3×5 (2 warm-up sets and 1 “stabilizer set”)
          Wrist Work 2×10
          Calves 2×15-20
          Training Schedule:
          Week 1: A, B, A
          Week 2: B, A, B
          Week 3: A, B, A and so forth.
          In fact, many old time bodybuilders used routines like that one and got great results. And this was in an era before massive amounts of steroids were used. And those training programs became popular again these past couple of years, simply because they still work very well.
          Regarding that aesthetic look that some guys aspire, that is largely genetic. It’s about muscle insertions, the kind of muscle bellies you have, bone structure, and fat percentage. An example of someone who had fantastic genetics for bodybuilding is the late Sergio Oliva, whose picture is in your article.
          There is a picture of Chris Dickerson, 1982 Mr Olympia, in your other article. This is what he has to say about the subject:

          I am an aesthetic body. My body does what it does and if I train in the same manner as two other people or ten other people, my body would develop the way it does regardless. And I always say this at my seminars.
          You can stimulate the muscles and you separate them, isolate them and put them together and work them in all sorts of directions and angles and positions, but they are going to come out the way the are going to come out. The secret, of course, is to include variety in your training, but your body is programmed for a certain look.
          For example, if I were to do a bicep curl and two other people were to do a bicep curl, our arms are going to come out looking unique according to our genetics, not exactly the same.

          So if you do not have the genetics of Dickerson, Zane, or Arnold, it’s not going to happen. However, there is a formula to look the best you can:
          – seriously hit the compounds and do some assistance exercises
          – lower your bodyfat percentage
          My routines are often loosely based on MadCow 5×5. Here is an example:
          Back squat: 5×5
          Bench Press: 10×3
          Overhead Press: 5×5
          Rack pulls: 5x(8-10)
          Chest supported Dumbbell Rows: 5x(8-10)
          Superset biceps+triceps: 3x(8-10)
          Full ROM lateral raises: 3x(8-10)
          Calf raises: 8×8
          Front squat: 8×3
          Overhead Press: 10×3
          Reverse grip Bench Press: (4-5)x5
          Deadlift: 10×3
          Chest supported Dumbbell Rows: 5x(8-10)
          Superset biceps+triceps: 3x(8-10)
          Full ROM lateral raises: 3x(8-10)
          Calf raises: 8×8
          Front squat: 5×5, 1×3, 1×8
          Close grip bench press: 5x(3-5)
          Overhead press: 4×5
          Rack pulls: 5x(8-10)
          Chest supported Dumbbell Rows: 5x(8-10)
          Superset biceps+triceps: 3x(8-10)
          Full ROM lateral raises: 3x(8-10)
          Calf raises: 8×8

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