A Logical Approach to Muscle Building
Mike Mentzer was bodybuilding's foremost iconoclast, who smashed through suspect bodybuilding tradition with a revolutionary and logical training system that is supported by the world's top exercise physiologists but shunned by dogmatic, out-dated, non-scientific trainers.
Even today bodybuilding fans are still taking about the Mike Mentzer Heavy Duty Training System and want to learn more about it. Well, here it is!
What if you could build more muscle than ever before in just a handful of workouts spread over a few weeks? Sound enticing?
That’s the lure of the famous Colorado Experiment from 1973, when Nautilus founder Arthur Jones helped Casey Viator add 63 pounds of muscle to his frame in just four weeks.
It’s also the model that Tim Ferris copied for his successful 4-hour body transformation.
Drawing inspiration from the success of those experiments, two friends and bloggers calling themselves RonnieB and BigAndy decided to undertake their own body transformation program in the fall of 2010 and to record their entire process for the world to see.
“The Boise Experiment” modified the original concept of Viator’s program to include the Heavy Duty principles of champion bodybuilder Mike Mentzer in attempt to do even better.
The goals in Boise included massive fat loss (30 pounds) for BigAndy and massive muscle gain (30 pounds) for both lifters.
Did it work?
Let’s take a look at their methods and results to find out.
After a one-week break-in period, RonnieB and BigAndy jumped right into their Heavy Duty program.
If you’re not familiar with Mike Mentzer, he took high-intensity training and ran with it, building it into something even more extreme. In general, Mentzer recommended:
Putting these principles into practice, the Boise Experiment included the following cycle of workouts:
Per Mentzer, legs are alternated with upper body work to avoid shoulder and arm overlap and overtraining.
These workouts consisted of about five sets each, and the bloggers included four or five days of rest between EACH training session.
This dynamic duo recorded every detail of their journey on their blog.
For this experiment, BigAndy and RonnieB employed the following training equipment:
While these guys trained in a commercial gym and used a lot of machines, you could replicate most of their exercises with just a bench, some adjustable dumbbells, a barbell, and a pulldown machine.
As with their workouts, BigAndy and RonnieB took a pretty basic and minimalist approach to their supplement program. In particular, the lifters incorporated just creatine and protein into their diets, relying mostly on sound nutrition and training to get the job done.
In general, they even avoided caffeine consumption, so extra nutritional “help” was minimal.
BigAndy and RonnieB had slightly different goals for this experiment, and their caloric intakes reflected their individual roadmaps.
For example, while RonnieB routinely took in more than 3500 calories a day to support muscle growth, BigAndy reduced his intake from around 3000 calories to below 2000 calories during the experiment.
Even with those energy disparities, the two lifters both emphasized high-quality protein sources, clean complex carbohydrates, moderate amounts of fruit, and plenty of vegetables.
Typical daily menus included eggs, tilapia, chicken, oats, yams, greens, and oranges.
After 60 days of the Boise Experiment, 39-year-old RonnieB had gained 25 pounds of bodyweight, and his bodyfat percentage actually dropped from 14.2% to 13.8%.
Based on his starting weight of 177 pounds and his ending weight of 202 pounds, that means he gained about three pounds of fat while adding 22 solid pounds of muscle to his frame.
BigAndy, meanwhile, dropped 16 pounds and 7% bodyfat at 35 years of age during the two-month program. In the process, he reduced his waist size by more than two inches and pumped up his biceps by a whopping three inches.
If you’re looking for a comparison, these results don’t quite stack up to Viator’s astounding (and maybe dubious) results in 1973, but they’re not far off what Ferriss achieved in 2007.
During his “Four-Hour Body” transformation, Ferriss performed eight full-body workouts over the course of four weeks and gained 34 pounds of muscle while shedding four pounds of fat.
Ferris had the dual advantages of both being younger — still in his 20s — and having not trained seriously with weights before.
In contrast, both Boise men were experienced lifters with years of gym time in their backgrounds.
The implications of the Boise Experiment are clear and exciting: you don’t have to spend your life in the gym in order to build muscle or lose fat.
Taken in conjunction with the Colorado Experiment and Tim Ferriss’s work, the results that BigAndy and RonnieB produced in two months are more evidence that just about anyone can improve his body, quickly.
Exercise hard, eat right, and get plenty of rest, and you’ll be on your way to a new, healthier, more muscular body.
If you have any questions about Mike Mentzer or High Intensity Training email me and I'll get back to you with an answer as quick as I can.