The current state of affairs

Bodybuilding: back double biceps.I wrote the first edition of the bodybuilding guide BRAWN about 20 years ago. Mainstream training instruction is no better now than it was back then. But I’m concerned only with the bodybuilding masses. As far as the elite goes, it’s a better world today — more competitions, more publicity, more money, more drugs, and more fame.


Bodybuilding deception, bull and hype

The need for the instruction given in BRAWN is even greater today than it was when the book was first published in 1991. The same bodybuilding deception, bull, dishonesty and hype that caused me so much grief in my youth are producing exactly the same in millions of other people.

I’m now wise to what’s going on, and can distinguish the drivel from the good, but most bodybuilders can’t. So they get misled in the exact same way that I did, and millions of others, too.

Right from 1989, when I started CS Publishing, I was on a mission to promote sensible drug-free training, and to let people know of the pivotal role of genetics and drugs in elite bodybuilding and lifting “success.”

The word “success” is often used incorrectly. To my mind, kidding the masses, making a fortune out of selling training misinformation, and leading people astray, is not “success” no matter how many millions of items of “product” are sold, how many millions of dollars of profit are earned, or how many tributes for business “excellence” are awarded.

Appropriate, practical and safe bodybuilding instruction for typical bodybuilders is what I’m into, and what should be the heart and soul of bodybuilding — mainstream and otherwise.

Photographs sell bodybuilding magazines and books, not articles and workout instruction. In most cases, the text is just the padding needed to provide the spaces for photographs. But for photographs to do the job of grabbing the masses who, to their cost, are into a publication’s appearance before its content, they need to be arresting. This inevitably leads to the publication of the most awesome physiques. And today’s most awesome physiques belong to the genetically gifted and drug-enhanced.

The drugs component is usually understated or, more commonly, ignored — primarily for reasons of not downgrading the physiques and reputations concerned, and to avoid law suits. The training methods used by the drug-fed genetic phenomena — which are often embellished with a hefty dose of fiction — are promoted without any caveats. Those training methods should be qualified by a note along these lines:

“But remember, these routines only work if you have phenomenal genetics or drug assistance, and preferably both, in spades. Sane and genetically typical people must train in a totally different way. We only provide this sort of over-the-top instruction for entertainment and to attract buyers. For goodness sakes don’t actually try to use the instruction yourself. What worked for Arnold and his ilk will not only not work for you, but will destroy your chances of achieving your potential. And not only that, but it will yield enormous frustration and exasperation from so much wasted time and effort being invested in achieving bodybuilding failure, along with accumulating injuries that could scar you for life.”

Some bodybuilding books: bad almost beyond belief

Some bodybuilding books: bad almost beyond belief

I recently leafed through a series of bodybuilding books from a famous author. The content was bad almost beyond belief. It was one awful book after another, preaching the same bull — training instruction totally inappropriate for drug-free, typical bodybuilders, decorated with genetic phenomena bolstered with drugs.

The naive, gullible and ignorant bodybuilding masses — especially young men — are attracted by the photographs in these books, buy the books, and follow the abysmal “instruction” that was used to fill the spaces between the photographs. And thus they get misled just like I did in years gone by, and millions of other bodybuilders, too.

Those books are not published to help the typical drug-free bodybuilder. There’s another agenda.

Relative to 1973, when I started training, today there are way more photograph albums that pose as instruction manuals. So the supply of lousy bodybuilding instruction is worse today than it was when I started out.

It can be argued, however, that bodybuilding failure is the intention, so there’s a great well of dissatisfaction that food supplement companies can draw upon in order to peddle their (often dubious) wares.

Even worse, and I’m not saying that this is intentional, but promoting training routines that don’t work for 95-plus percent of bodybuilders encourages drug use. Without drug assistance, those training methods don’t work.

No matter how awesome something looks, or is packaged, and no matter who says it or endorses it, never be persuaded that any workout instruction used by drug-fed genetic phenomena — even the watered down version — has any relevance to you. Think things out for yourself, be true to yourself, and follow routines that are appropriate for you, practical, and personalized to your individual situation.

If you don’t do all of this you’ll follow the same route of bodybuilding misery that millions already have, and further millions will as they apply themselves to training methods that haven’t a chance of yielding success unless drugs are used. And trading your soul and health (by using drugs) for fleeting physical rewards, is no sane way to go. Don’t wait until you no longer have your health before you appreciate the priceless value of good health.

Bodybuilding’s unalike identical twins

Bodybuilding's unalike identical twins.

Suppose we have equally motivated and healthy identical male twins, aged 25. Both have identical genetic inheritance for bodybuilding and so have no variation in physical make-up. Suppose that one won a lot of money in a lottery and is single, with no employment concerns. He has access to a gym with a first-class equipment. He can eat perfectly, and have restful days outside the gym and undisturbed nights of sleep.

The other twin works shifts at a job of manual labor, and lives on a very tight budget. He trains in a garage with an Olympic barbell, plenty of plates, a bench, and a pair of safety racks and squat stands. He has two young children and barely any spare time to train, and no time for leisure and rest. If he’s not at work, he’s at home fulfilling family obligations, working on the house or car, or training in the garage. He never gets an undisturbed night of rest. His daily routine is regularly disturbed by his shift work. His children never leave him alone when he’s at home. Food over the needs of an average person is difficult to fund, and supplements are out of the question. Life just seems to be struggle on top of more struggle.

What the first twin can gain from will be very different to what the second twin can, despite sharing identical genetically endowed potentials, limitations and advantages. The second twin can’t emulate his genetically identical brother, let alone emulate a professional bodybuilder. The second twin will be lucky if he can grow on half the exercises, sets and training frequency of his brother.

What you can productively use in the gym is greatly influenced by the quality of rest, nutrition and sleep that are available to you out of the gym. You can’t battle away in the gym without any regard for out-of-the-gym but non-genetically determined factors.

Of course, even with the optimum equipment, routine, rest, sleep and dietary factors, there will be no progress in the gym if the individual hasn’t the will to pay his dues in the gym. But once this will to work is present, progress is all about how you let this enthusiasm manifest itself in the gym, and how well you meet your recuperation needs when outside the gym.

To make a bodybuilding routine specific for you — tailor-made — the general sound advice has to be modified to fit your individual circumstances. Only you can do this. Only you know how you react to a given routine. Only you know your lifestyle and its effect upon your bodybuilding progress.

This isn’t permission to experiment with anything and everything, in any manner you choose. That would be an undisciplined, lazy and frivolous approach — useless. What’s needed is experimentation and variation within a sound general framework, and the will to try some radical approaches. The onus is upon you to refine and perfect what you select so it suits you fully, and maximizes your progress.

When experimenting, what matters is what works. If something works for you, stick with it. It’s when something doesn’t work, despite being used diligently and conscientiously, that it needs changing. Perhaps some of what you do is good only in short spells. It’s the timing of different types of training that can determine whether or not they are productive.

To satisfy the range of individual needs and lifestyle variations, while keeping within the confines of proper training, there are several ways of modifying programs, including:

1. Set and rep schemes and interpretations.
2. Choice of exercises and equipment.
3. Volume of work.
4. Training frequency.
5. Intensity of effort.

You’ll need to adjust the training variables according to changes in your everyday life. You can’t continue your usual bodybuilding program, without modification, once you have children and you need to work longer hours and perhaps establish your own business.

For the typical person, individual adjustment of training should nearly always be on the side of less work and/or less frequent workouts. Adjustments on the side of more work per workout, and more frequent workouts, will usually be unproductive. Such ineffective adjustments are the popular way to go. Such misdirected enthusiasm is at the root of much bodybuilding failure in gyms throughout the world. What a shame so few people learn this lesson. Of those who do learn this lesson, they often take so long to learn it that they lose many of their most productive years.

Learn the lesson now!

BRAWN 2007 front cover