Why Course #1 will work for you
This bodybuilding guide teaches Course #1. No other account of how to apply Course #1 has provided the thoroughness that’s presented in this book.
a) Course #1 promoted in this guide is the modernized, enhanced version of the original one. Important improvements have been made because there are better training tools and aids available today than during Peary’s era, and knowledge of nutrition and the other components of recovery is much greater now. The improvements have a two-fold benefit:
i) To increase the number of bodybuilders that can prosper on Course #1.
ii) To increase the effectiveness of Course #1 for everyone who uses it.
b) The technique of the individual exercises is explained thoroughly. You’ll learn precisely how to perform each one, and thus avoid the form errors that commonly undermine progress.
c) All the details of training are explained thoroughly. You’ll learn everything you must do in the gym in order to provide the required muscle growth stimulus.
d) All the details of recuperation are also explained thoroughly. You’ll learn everything you must do outside the gym so that you’re able to respond fully to the muscle growth stimulus.
e) Careful consideration has been given to individual variation. Variations in genetic potential for muscle growth, recovery ability, training facilities and the suitability or otherwise of certain exercises have been allowed for.
Nothing has been left to chance.
Allow Course #1 to work its bodybuilding magic on you.
Bodybuilding methods: user beware!
Bodybuilding is a wonderful activity provided you get good results. But unless you have a terrific genetic inheritance for bodybuilding, or unless you’re propped up with dangerous bodybuilding drugs, conventional bodybuilding routines deliver little or no muscle development.
Conventional bodybuilding methods prescribe a traditional split routine, more training days than non-training days, many isolation exercises, multiple exercises for every body part, and dozens of work sets per workout. And full-body routines of too many exercises performed too frequently are also ineffective for most bodybuilders.
a) Conventional methods promote workout volume and frequency that are impractical for busy people and no more than minimally effective for most bodybuilders, if effective at all.
b) Conventional methods promote high-risk exercises and dangerous techniques that have injured countless bodybuilders.
c) Conventional methods promote exaggerated expectations, and invariably use drug-fed genetic phenomena as gurus and role models.
d) Conventional methods aren’t personalized to meet individual needs and goals.
e) Conventional methods encourage drug assistance because without drug use those methods don’t work well for most bodybuilders.
Stop following instruction that doesn’t work. More of what didn’t help you over the last few months isn’t going to help you over the next few months.
This guide focuses on the priority of most bodybuilders: how to build muscle mass. It doesn’t cover the pre-contest refinement needed by competitive bodybuilders because that’s relevant to just a tiny minority.
I’m just one of many bodybuilders who gave their all to conventional training methods, found them to be ineffective, but eventually came across alternative methods that work. This book isn’t based on just one man’s journey, but is a distillation of the experiences and acquired wisdom from generations of bodybuilders.
Economics and Course #1
“If Course #1 is so effective, why isn’t it popular today?” you may ask.
Because it’s not in the interests of big business for this preeminent routine to be dominant. There’s not much to sell related to it.
Properly informed bodybuilders know that, for outstanding progress in muscle growth, Course #1 is one of the best ways to go, and all that’s required is the following:
a) Basic training equipment — free-weights alone will do the job.
b) Ordinary food — food supplements aren’t essential.
c) The guidance of Course #1 — no new training “secrets” are needed.
But there’s not much business to be made out of that formula, and hardly any repeat business.
Bodybuilders can make terrific progress from a method that’s been around for decades — a simple, low-cost method that doesn’t require high-tech exercise equipment, gimmicks, food supplements, or new training instruction. That’s not a welcome state of affairs for most companies that make money out of bodybuilders; so, for those companies, it’s best that bodybuilding is made out to be complicated, mysterious, and costly.
Some exercise machines can be helpful, and some food supplements may be helpful, but neither are essential.
Gyms: how to make them work for you
Although most people may think of gyms as specialist places such as a Gold’s Gym, gyms can also be found at health clubs, YMCAs, colleges, universities, leisure centers, and some schools — for bodybuilders and other types of trainees. You have no control over the equipment unless you can influence the management, but you do have control over what equipment you use, and how you use it.
Equipment other than the basics usually diverts attention from where it should be focused. Put pec deck, cable crossover and leg extension machines in a gym, for example, and most members will probably use that gear. Then not only do members usually lose sight of training priorities, but so do gym owners and instructors.
The presence of inferior equipment and well-maintained basic training gear gives you a choice. But if there’s no squat rack or power rack, for example, and the free-weights gear in general is poor, you need to look elsewhere.
How to make gyms work for you
a) Train when the gym isn’t busy.
b) Take your own little discs and lifters’ chalk if the gym doesn’t have them.
c) Keep your mind on your training and stay clear of distractions.
d) Learn from this book how to train, and then take charge of your training.
e) Never use any exercise equipment just because it’s available. Use only what’s best for you.
f) Try to persuade the gym’s management to buy a parallel-grip deadlift bar (trap bar or, preferably, a shrug bar), a cambered squat bar, and a power rack, if it doesn’t already have them. The bars are inexpensive relative to machines, and will add greatly to the gym’s functional value for all members. If the management isn’t interested, offer to buy one of the bars in return for a discount on membership. Win the management over on one bar, and perhaps it will get your other recommendations.
If you’re interested in setting up your own home gym, see the guidance included in a chapter of BEYOND BRAWN.
Get a training partner
Most bodybuilders have experienced the occasional workout when, unexpectedly, someone got involved during part or all of a training session, as if a training partner. Someone may have spotted you on an exercise, or someone you wanted to impress was watching you, or someone may have worked in with you on a few exercises. As a result you did more reps than you normally would in a given exercise with the weight you had planned, or you did your usual reps but with more weight than you had planned. You really produced for that workout.
A good training partner can get this level of effort out of you on a regular basis, and hasten your progress.
While not essential, a serious, like-minded training partner is usually an advantage. And it’s not just about getting you to train hard. A good training partner promotes training consistency, alerts you to exercise technique imperfections (which must be eliminated), and spots you. A dependable spotter will give you the confidence and security to push on when the reps get tough.
Alternate sets with your training partner.
Training with a partner is especially convenient if you’re of similar strength levels, and use the same routine. What matters most, however, is that you share the same training philosophy and commitment, get along with each other, and are both punctual for workouts. You also need similar recovery abilities so that you can agree on a common training frequency.
As you get to know gym members you may find someone you could work with. Publicize your search using the gym’s notice board, or newsletter if there’s one. You may be able to put up a notice in other gyms in your area. And you could extend your search to any local colleges.
Don’t train before you’ve fully recovered from your previous workout, don’t perform exercises in ways that don’t suit you, don’t add unplanned exercises to your program, and don’t abuse forced reps or other intensifiers. If you allow a training partner to encourage you to do any of these things, your progress will be impaired or perhaps ruined, and you may get injured.
But don’t become dependent on a training partner. Always be able to train well by yourself. Have spells when you train alone.
Some bodybuilders work out with two or three training partners. There can be even greater solidarity, encouragement, satisfaction and progress from working out with multiple good training partners.
Exercise intensity: how much is enough for bodybuilding?
Exercise intensity, bodybuilding, and 20-rep work
The time-honored tradition of 20-rep work is that it’s done with high intensity (other than during the introductory part of a cycle). There’s no tradition of multiple work sets of a lesser intensity.
During all my stints of 20-rep squatting I applied the death-march method (other than during the first part of each cycle when I worked up to my current best poundage from a moderate starting weight — which, in my ignorance, I usually rushed). I believed that if hard training on the 20s was good, even harder training must be better, and death-march training must be best. The twentieth rep in each work set was usually a do-or-die effort. And provided I got all 20 reps, the following workout I tried to do the same again but with an additional five pounds on the bar.
But those sets limited my progress. I couldn’t maintain the too-fast rate of progress for long, I sometimes failed to get all 20 reps despite colossal effort, and I often got injured. (Had I inherited better leverages for the squat, like Peary Rader had, perhaps I wouldn’t have sustained so many injuries.)
Although I eventually made substantial progress largely because of 20-rep routines, I made many mistakes along the way. Had I applied Course #1 as it’s taught in this book, I would have made greater progress, and without the problems that blighted my actual efforts.
Don’t train the 20s death-march style. For all the linchpin exercises, make 22 reps the death-march number (if you were to go to your absolute limit), but stop at 20. That’s the exercise intensity I recommend, but it’s still sufficiently demanding to require heroic effort. Then provided you nudge up your poundage, that very demanding but not death-march exercise intensity should yield at least three to four consecutive months of steady progress.
There’s a risk, however, in recommending less than 100% effort in the 20s. Imagine someone who thinks he trains at death-march level although he could actually do several additional reps if he was properly supervised and motivated. If he applies the “20 reps with just two to spare” recommendation, he may not train hard enough to stimulate any muscle growth. What he thinks is a death-march 22-rep number is no such thing, and the last thing he needs is to hold back further. He needs to crank up his exercise intensity. Be honest when you assess your own training intensity.
Most bodybuilders don’t train hard enough even though many of them think that they train hard. And very few bodybuilders overdo training intensity.
But even the recommended level of effort for the 20s is so demanding that it’s by far the most arduous part of Course #1. Absolute-maximum-intensity sets in the other major exercises in the routine are less arduous than the “20 reps with just two to spare” in a linchpin exercise. But if you find otherwise, then what you interpreted as “20 reps with just two to spare” was really more like “20 reps with five to spare,” which is insufficiently demanding for The Growth Phase.
Unless the “20 reps with just two to spare” is the toughest training you’ve probably ever done, chances are that you haven’t done it hard enough.
Of course, the bottom line isn’t training intensity per se, but progress. Provided you go into new poundage territory and your muscles are growing, albeit slowly, whatever training intensity you’re delivering is working. Some trial and error may be necessary in order to discover what exercise intensity works best for you, but, generally speaking, it’s much more likely that you’ll need to train harder, than easier. It’s usually only the death-marchers who may be better off if they ease back a little.
But, if you’re super-motivated, use a linchpin exercise and training frequency that are well suited to you, apply correct exercise technique consistently, fully satisfy the components of recuperation, and just nudge up your exercise poundage, the death-march approach will be very effective, but such severe intensity isn’t essential. A little less intensity may be as effective, if not more so.