HIGH INTENSITY TRAINING THE MIKE MENTZER WAY
By Dave Vasuta
Personal Trainer & Bodybuilder - Cleveland, Ohio
Fact or fiction. Fraud or innovator. Heal or hero? These are some of the thoughts one is left with after reading Mike Mentzer’s theory on weight training. Does he really expect bodybuilders and the general public to believe, let alone accept, that training once every 4 – 7 days is ideal for optimum strength and muscle mass increases? Oh it gets even better; workouts lasting only 20 minutes!
I first heard that 30-minute “stuff” in the late 70’s from Arthur Jones, but he prescribed 2-3 times per week, at that time, a far cry from Mikes’ 1-2 per week maximum. I, like Mike, was a fan of Arthur Jones, who deserves much credit for his revolutionary concepts of the time. For the last 25 years, I have been using many of Jones’ principles in my personal training and those of others, but with some changes. Jones didn’t fully answer the questions I and thousands of others had. Mike expands Jones’ theory on training to give us actual time frames and a measuring stick for what constitutes overtraining and even more importantly how we as trainees can make these determinations for ourselves. What a powerful piece of knowledge and understanding to present to us. Mike logically and scientifically presents how to train, when to train, how you know when it is time to alter your training or frequency of training, and best of all – how to test his theory. Wow, finally a concise road map for anyone’s training program!
I tend to be a skeptic of people’s claims and always analyze them based on science and logic. Mike’s theory was not spared from my dissection and analysis. On paper, I found his theory to be scientific, based on accurate physiological principles, and they were completely logical, so I put it to the test of practical application. I proved his theory to be spot on.
So, why all the “naysayers” who tried his method and found fault and returned to their former style of training? I believe it is because their approaches are flawed, not the theory. Let me share some of the elements I feel need to exist to fulfill Mike’s theory.
First, and most important, is to reprogram your mind from thinking exercise is bad as we are falsely led to believe. Because we are programmed that exercise is good, logically we assume more is better, which destines us to failure. This is why we can’t get our heads around Mike’s theory of less being more. The human being by nature is resistant to change whether it is physical or mental. We will rationalize or do whatever we feel we need to do to reject change. Change is hard, change is painful, and change requires logical thought. Once one understands and accepts this cause and effect relationship, he/she will be able to get it right in their mind.
Second element needed is strategic planning. On workout days, you need to be highly focused with lots of energy. Your strategy is to do all-out gut busting sets each and every time, so plan your training days accordingly. To trigger the growth cycle, this is the type of mindset and training required - not high-volume training. You’ll soon experience how brutal this truly is. You’ll experience elevated heart rate, being out of breath, even faintness or dizziness, while being physically exhausted afterwards. You will not be able to workout for several days with any intensity even if you want to do so. Part of the strategic planning is keeping a journal so you can monitor progress and see when it is time to reduce frequency or training volume. I have done this for years and agree with Mike on its imperativeness.
Lastly, believe and commit to following Mike’s blueprint for at least 6 weeks. This will be ample time for your body to prove his theory. For those who claim to have failed on Mike’s program, I believe it to be for the above elements missing on your part and not a false or flawed theory of Mike’s HEAVY DUTY™ training. My experience also tells me that not everyone is capable or willing to train with such intensity, so this group will be “naysayers”.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is the most acknowledged bodybuilder of all time known the world over, but other than promotion, he did little to improve the Sport of Bodybuilding; he didn’t make any contributions to training methods, even though he was appointed as Head of the Council on Physical Fitness. Arnold was know for his grueling high set workouts, and even after witnessing Casey Viator training with the intensity that Mike teaches, Arnold’s comment was, “No one can train that way every day.” Mike not only improved training methods, but he also gave us the rhyme and reason for it and then proved its merit scientifically. He was the first to put it all together and deliver proof through practical application of the thousands he trained by way of HEAVY DUTY™.
All throughout history, the greatest minds, inventors, innovators, scientists, and heroes have been persecuted for their beliefs and accomplishments. Mike was all these.
For those who want to enter the gym with a defined goal and experience, the ultimate of what your body and mind can accomplish, buy and study Mike’s book, “High-Intensity Training the Mike Mentzer Way”, you will not be disappointed. Once you become a fan, you’ll want to know more and will find all of Mike’s writings to be a great read. Mike lays out all the theories, and you will really enjoy reading Mike’s actual workouts, with poundage’s, that he and brother, Ray used. We all wonder how the “greats” really trained and if the stories we hear are true. By Mike including stories and comments on his personal practical routines, it truly inspires and gives credibility and consistency to all we read and hear about him.
My final thoughts... Mike Mentzer – warrior - innovator – impeccable honesty – one of the all-time “greats” with a physique to match.
Dave Vasuta - Cleveland, Ohio
Exercise Scientist, Personal Trainer and Bodybuilder Cleveland, Ohio