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February 16, 2001
Issue # 34

HARDCORE TRAINING FOR THE MASSES
Part II of III
By Jason Meuller
 

Finally, I present to you part II of Hardcore Training for the Masses.  Of all the work Iíve done here at AE, I think my Extreme Eating for Mass and Hardcore Training series stand head and shoulders above the rest and have the most practical application to bodybuilders at every level.  I felt that this particular article was long overdue, as many viewed Hardcore Training as too advanced, or too confining, for their particular application.  Itís important to remember that Hardcore Training is not a static system that every bodybuilder is plugged into regardless of their genetics, experience, or level of development; weíre not attempting to make the square peg fit into the round hole.  Rather, HT is a training philosophy, based on a set of time-tested strategies and principals.  Applying this philosophy to your training program is a sure fired way to guarantee results in the gym.

We left off last time discussing some of the older HT articles that have appeared in past issues of AE.  Admittedly, these workouts are simply a literary fly on the wall look at some of the best training sessions Iíve had for various body parts. Part of my goal with the original HT series was to entertain as much as to inform.  Having said that, the workouts I discussed in the series have happened, and occasionally do happen, but they are not indicative of my day-to-day toiling in the gym.

Whether youíre natural or juiced to the gills, your body can only grow so much in a given period of time.  And even if weíre diligent enough to eat, train, and sleep properly, growth does not occur forever.  I donít care how great your genetics, or how many steroids you choose to pump in your body, there will come a time when your body needs to rest, to accommodate itself to the slabs of freshly added muscle tissue.  Thatís why I advocate that bulking periods are cyclical in nature, with each bulking period followed by a period of relative rest.  Perhaps the term rest is misleading, as this period of maintenance could only be considered ďrestfulĒ when compared to the brutality of the period preceding it.  Let me explain.

Several times throughout the year, I prepare myself for a bulking cycle.  Now to most, this would mean that I plan on taking a rather heavy dose of steroids in order to gain mass.  However, that is but a small part of the overall picture.  And regardless of whether you choose to use steroids or not, youíll find yourself making greater gains over time by following what Iím about to outline.  During this period, usually lasting about 8 weeks, I commit myself to eating as much as humanly possible, to training as hard as humanly possible, resting as much as needed, and using supplements (and pharmaceuticals) in a fashion that supports maximum growth.  Itís safe to say that for 8 weeks, my body is pushed to its limits in just about every fashion, from the digestion of food to the recovery of brutal workouts.  And inevitably, at the end of this 8-week period, Iíll have made some significant progress.

So I guess the question is, why donít I do this year round?  Quite simply, by the end of the 8 weeks, my body is shot.  I can only sustain this level of training, eating, and commitment a few times out of the year, not only for physical reasons, but psychological as well.  Let me put things into perspective.  I currently weigh 305 lbs.  Iím shooting for a weight of 320 lbs before I start dieting down for my contest in November of this year.  Since I started my most recent bulking cycle, Iíve added 15 lbs of LBM, starting at a weight of 290 lbs.  Think about that for a moment.  I started at 290 lbs.  In order to simply maintain that weight, the amount of food I have to eat is astonishing.  The workouts I suffer through to maintain 290 are brutal and grueling.  And the amount of supplements (and pharmaceuticals) used to maintain 290 lbs would make the average man shudder.  So, in order to take things even further than an already imposing 290 lbs, things have to get REALLY extreme. 

Like everything else in life, bodybuilding and weightlifting is bound by the law of diminishing returns.  That is, the more you advanced you become in the sport, the harder you will have to work to see even a modicum of progress.  While a rookie can enter the gym with little or no knowledge and make impressive gains for months on end, the seasoned veteran will have to fight for every additional pound and inch.  I would imagine that when Ronnie Coleman steps offstage at each yearís Mr. Olympia contest, he wonders how in the world he will best his conditions for next yearís shows.  If you consider the amount of work it must take just to maintain his physique, it boggles the mind at the steps he must take to actually improve it. 

Just as important as the bulking cycle are the months following it as steps are taken to preserve as much of the newly added mass as possible.  I firmly believe that your body has a natural set point, similar to a thermostat in a house.  Every time you change your set point, by dieting or gaining new mass, your body is going to take steps to maintain homeostasis, and will fight you tooth and nail to return to what your body considerers ďnormalĒ.  Now what weíve trained our bodies to accept as normal is far different than Joe Blow who works at the car wash from 9-5 and comes home to a beer and his wife with three teeth.  I view these maintenance periods not only as a way to maintain physical and mental well being, but also a chance for you to permanently change your set point, to up the thermometer so to speak. 

Think about it.  We can certainly force our bodies to change by taking in enormous amounts of food, high doses of steroids, or severely restricting calories and doing hours of cardio.  But over time, your body will adapt strategies to resist change, and the more extreme the change, the more extreme your body will resist.  How many of you have done a mass cycle, only to lose the majority of your gains after the cessation of the mass gain period?  Both mass gaining and dieting bodybuilders suffer from this yo-yo effect, ballooning up and down in weight as you body seeks to return its ďnormalĒ state.        So, during each maintenance phase, Iím doing everything possible to reset the thermometer.  Yes, Iím not training as hard as before.  No, Iím not using the same amount of pharmaceuticals, nor am I consuming the same amount of food.  And, thatís precisely the point of this maintenance period.  Iím still training hard, Iím still eating correctly, and Iím still using supplements (and pharmaceuticals, just not as much) and resting as much as needed.  Realistically, Iím overtrained at the end of this 8-week period and rest (comparatively so) is exactly what my body needs at this point.  And over time, Iíll train my body to accept this new weight as ďnormalĒ, and be ready for another mass cycle.

Perhaps the greatest knowledge that comes with experience in this sport is that you learn to know when youíve reached your limits.  As Iíve previously discussed, the biggest problem faced by rookies and neophytes to bodybuilding and weight training is that of pushing themselves past their limits and becoming overtrained.  And itís not uncommon to see athletes with years of experience in the gym still doing far too many sets and spending far too much time in the gym, unable to accept simple truth that less time in the gym will actually equate to greater gains.  Iím always hearing the same thing every time I leave the gym.  The desk Nazis will comment ďLeaving already?Ē  Now, given the fact that Iím probably the biggest guy in the gym, youíd think theyíd stop for a moment and ponder the significance of the brief time I spend training. 

ďHmmm, letís see.  Jason is in the gym for very brief periods of time, yet is big as fuck.  Perhaps he knows something we donít!Ē

Yet, invariably, the desk Nazis are thinking the same thing time and time again.

ďGee, I donít know how in the world heís so big, he never spends any time training.  He must be some kind of genetic anomaly!Ē

I admit, I was guilty of the same kind of thinking for the longest time.  When I was going to college in Fresno, I trained around both Flex Wheeler and Phil Hernon.  While both of these guys were in the gym for hours at a time, the time they actually spent training was very limited.  Most people never really bothered to pay attention to what these two behemoths were doing, but I watched them intently, almost like I was a Zulu tribesman seeing Television for the first time.  I quickly realized that although Flex and Phil were in the gym for hours, the majority of Flexís time was spent chasing ass and Philís time was spent reading a newspaper or joking around with his idiotic friends and laughing in his annoying hyena chuckle. And you know what I said to myself?

ďGee, I donít know in the world those guys are so big, they never spend any time training.  They must be some kind of genetic anomalies!Ē

Of course, I was young and stupid at the time, and I was working out with a guy who was close to 40 and had trained back in the old days with Robbie Robinson and Arnold.  He used to spoon feed me the old time propaganda, you know, the ďYou need to work out for six hours a dayĒ bullshit, and I promptly slurped it up like a diabetic eating an ice cream cone.  It wasnít until I moved to Sacramento and started training with a good friend of mine that I realized the folly of my ways. And sooner than I could say ANADROL, my weight shot up from 255 lbs to close to 295 at about 10% bodyfat.  Of course, I was soon arrested by the feds and almost sent to the big house, but thatís another story.  

 

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