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!
by Paul Becker
Mike Mentzer was an iconic bodybuilder in the 1970's and the early 1980's. His approach to bodybuilding was revolutionary and was far ahead of its time. He focused on intensity and efficiency in his training, and his methods were largely responsible for the bodybuilding boom of the 1980s. In this article, I'll be exploring how Mike Mentzer trained and the legacy he left behind.
There is so much confusion and even outright myths about how Mike Mentzer really trained, that I decided it's time to set the record straight, clear up all the confusions, dispel the myths and tell the truth about exactly how Mike Mentzer trained during his bodybuilding career.
How Do I Know The Truth About Mike Mentzer's Training?
I have been training since 1978, when Mike Mentzer was one of the very top IFBB Professional bodybuilders. I have read every book, article, listened to every lecture, I also knew Mike personally and worked out with him in the gym and had long conversations with him about training.
So, everything in this article, comes directly from Mike Mentzer himself, including what I have seen with my own eyes.
Didn't Mike Mentzer Train Like Everyone Else?
In interviews of bodybuilders from the 1970's, when asked about Mike Mentzer a few of them claimed that Mike trained the same as everyone else (meaning six days a week, 2 hours or more in the gym doing 20 sets for every muscle). These people are either misinformed, have bad memories or are just plain lying.
Most of us who really knew Mike and were actually in the gym with him know that he practiced what he preached, he did in fact do high intensity, short duration and infrequent workouts.
Didn't Mike Mentzer Build His Size With Volume Training?
This is another myth that keeps geting repeated, the idea that Mike did volume training to get big and then later only after meeting Arthur Jones switched to high intensity training.
This is false, let's look at the truth.
Mike Mentzer started training when he was 12 years old, that Christmas he got a set of weights that came with an instruction booklet that said to train three days a week and do three sets for each body part.
He did that low volume, high intensity workout for many years and transformed himself from a skinny kid to looking like a thick, rounded, muscular bodybuilder.
It was then that he made the mistake of trying to copy what he read in the muscle magazines and train 6 days a week for at least 2 hour a day. But it was also at that point that his gains actually slowed down and he got confused and even considered quitting training due to making little to zero progress.
He then met Arthur Jones who explained to him the theory of productive bodybuilding training and that high volume training was actually counter productive.
Mike saw the truth in this and immediately went back to his original way of training, three full body workouts a week with three to five sets for each body part. And started gaining again, he actually won the 1976 IFBB Mr. America training that way.
Did Mike Mentzer Just Steal Arthur Jones Ideas?
This is also not true, Mike did in fact always give Jones credit for the sharing the truth about high intensity training with him and the principles that workouts need to be intense, brief and infrequent. But Mike didn't just blindly follow Jones recommendations of three full body workouts a week, he tried that for a while and but found that working the whole body in one workout was just too fatiguing, so he decided to do a split routine and train half his body one day and the other half on another day, this not only kept him from getting wiped out after each workout but it also gave him better gains. It was this type of high intensity split training that he used to win the 1978 IFBB Mr. Universe.
How Long Did Mike Mentzer Train?
Mike's workouts in general took only 30 to 45 minutes at most. He did only a few all out high intensity sets per muscle group and rested as little as possible between sets.
This was while most bodybuilders were training two hours each workout, yet here was Mike growing faster than any of them doing only 30 minute workouts.
How Often Did Mike Mentzer Train?
As I talked about earlier Mike started doing there full body workouts a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. When he moved on to a split routine he at first worked out four days a week. He did half his body on Monday and Thursdays and the other half on Tuesdays and Fridays.
As he grew even bigger and stronger he found more days off were needed so he added a rest day after every workout, and later if he felt he needed it two rest days after every workout.
With this type of training he won the heavy weight class at the 1979 IFBB Mr. Olympia, and achieved his peak condition of a ripped 225 pounds at the 1980 IFBB Mr. Olympia.
Sadly Mike retired from competitive bodybuilding after the corruption he witnessed at the 1980 and 1981 Mr. Olympia contests.
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.