PART TWO: The Groundwork
By Stuart McRobert
Reading time: ~ nine minutes.
To get the full benefit from this article, please read all nine parts in sequential order. The first is HERE.
For over 100 years, the bodybuilding world has been infested with fraud through exaggerated claims, lies, fictitious endorsements, gimmicks, fads, scams, inappropriate role models, and training routines that can never work well for most trainees.
Since anabolic steroids took off in the bodybuilding world in the 1960s, the fraud intensified and mainstream training instruction became ever more irrelevant for most trainees.
The internet, the digital world and ever-wider use of bodybuilding drugs (even by some “natural” bodybuilders) further magnified the scale of the infestation, deception and information overload.
There is, though, some excellent training information available today through the internet for free. And there have been improvements in exercise equipment that can help improve the effectiveness of training for a greater number of people. But most trainees can’t discriminate between the good stuff and the dross.
“Train like a champion to become a champion yourself” has long been a mantra touted by mainstream bodybuilding. The mantra should, however, include the caveat “but you also need the genetic good fortune of the champions and their drug assistance.”
Mainstream (or conventional) bodybuilding instruction works spectacularly for some genetically gifted and drug-assisted bodybuilders. It can also work well for some drug-free but genetically gifted bodybuilders. But it’s only minimally effective or not effective at all for drug-free, genetically typical trainees—often called “hard gainers” or “hardgainers.”
Almost all drug-free, enthusiastic bodybuilders seem to have to experience firsthand how mainstream training instruction is ineffective for them. So long as that test period is just a few months, and no lasting damage is done, the experience can be valuable because it can motivate a search for a better training method.
Some consequences of mainstream training instruction
Countless bodybuilders stick with the mainstream approach and waste some of the best training years of their lives. Many trainees sustain lasting physical damage. And many of them conclude that bodybuilding doesn’t work, and give it up. But it’s that particular form of bodybuilding training that doesn’t work for them. A form that’s appropriate to their drug-free condition and genetic “normality” will work.
The ineffectiveness of mainstream training instruction for most trainees helped fuel a huge demand from bodybuilders for the food-supplement “solutions” that the bodybuilding media promote with vigor and, often, dishonesty. There are close ties between the food-supplement industry and some parts of the bodybuilding media. Good nutrition is essential, but it can be achieved without much use of food supplements.
BY FAR the most important “supplements” used by physique “champions” since around 1960 have been bodybuilding drugs.
The ineffectiveness of mainstream training instruction for most trainees has driven many of them to the most effective short-term fix: bodybuilding drugs. But that has often led to calamitous consequences for the individuals themselves and their families.
“Hard gainers,” “hardgainers,” and other labels
I’m interested only in drug-free bodybuilding and training methods that work without drug-assistance.
I’ve primarily targeted trainees who are drug-free and either genetically “normal” for building muscle and strength, or genetically disadvantaged. But genetically gifted trainees have also benefited tremendously from following my training recommendations, as have drug-assisted trainees.
Through my writing and publishing I’ve done much to publicize the term “hard gainer” (or “hardgainer”), to target the segment of the training population that mainstream bodybuilding instruction neglected.
That segment comprises the majority of those who are serious about building strength and muscle, drug-free. When they apply mainstream bodybuilding methods, they are “hard gainers” or even “impossible gainers.”
But most “hard gainers” are actually normal gainers because most people have normal (or typical) genetics for bodybuilding, although there’s a range of normal “gainability” potential. The term “hard gainer” has been much misunderstood and misinterpreted.
Some trainees use their self-determined “hard-gainer” status as a scapegoat for their poor progress. But the primary culprit for their poor progress is usually that they don’t properly apply themselves to their training and recovery.
Some trainees have much greater potential for building strength and muscle than others, but everyone can improve, and most trainees can improve a great deal provided they set about the task properly. Then, so-called hard gainers become good gainers.
Some trainees who were initially self-assessed as “hard gainers” or even “impossible gainers,” because of how poorly they responded to conventional training methods, went on to achieve astonishing progress, without drugs.
Because of unusual hormonal or other physiological issues, a very small number of trainees are extreme hard gainers, or near-zero responders. The recommendations that work for most “hard gainers” may not work for them. They should experiment with more radical variations of what I teach, to have a good chance of making progress.
But never mind how drug-assisted, genetic studs train. That way won’t work for you.
Instead, train in a way that’s appropriate for you, and be dedicated. Keep at it for just a few back-to-back years, and then in most cases your physique and overall physical conditioning will be very impressive in the eyes of nearly everyone other than those who are impressed only by muscle monsters and elite athletes.
My own priority
When I was a young man, I focused on making improvements to my physique. And I took for granted my youthful posture, gait, vigor, co-ordination, balance, strong bones and many other benefits of youth, which I enhanced with my bodybuilding training.
Now, though, in middle age, physique benefits still matter to me, but by far the most important return from my training is minimizing the decline in the great benefits of youth I used to take for granted.
The most effective and time-efficient way to do that is the same approach that also produces terrific physique benefits at any age.
Stay with me as I uncover how to train effectively.
Next time: Part Three—Some Specifics on Genetic Factors.