• writerlaurenstone

Is MORE rest really the answer to a lagging muscle?

Mike Mentzer and Heavy Duty Training

Everyone has a reason to go to the gym. For some, it is to look good on the beach or in that special black dress. For others, it is because their doctors told them that they needed to (#health, am I right?). Then for the few, it is to mold their physique in the form and fashion of past and current professional bodybuilders.

No matter the reason for resistance training, bodybuilding philosophy and methods are at the heart of any regimen whether one knows it or not. One notable, old school bodybuilder who made a lasting impression on the sport of bodybuilding is Mike Mentzer. Mentzer was a pre-med student at the University of Maryland. During that time, he met and became friends with two men Casey Viator and Arthur Jones. Both had a lasting impact on Mentzer and his future training philosophy. Jones is known for High Intensity Training (HIT), and his methodology was studied in the controversial Colorado Experiment (for further information https://www.t-nation.com/workouts/the-colorado-experiment-fact-or-fiction).

Mentzer competed in AAU and IFBB competitions during the 1970s. In 1976 he won Mr. America. A few years later in 1979, he placed 1st in the heavy weight division in the Mr. Olympia with a perfect score of 300. He went head-to-head with the light weight champion Frank Zane and lost despite his perfect score. The next year, he officially retired from competing at the age of 29. The 1980 Mr Olympia was an extremely controversial one with the first place being awarded to Arnold Schwarzenegger - his comeback year after a long hiatus (https://www.rxmuscle.com/articles/john-hansen/4672-the-most-controversial-mr-olympia-1980-revisited.html). He believed his fifth place finish was not a reflection of his physique but of politics.

Despite his short professional bodybuilding career, Mentzer forever changed how bodybuilders trained. He created Heavy Duty Training - what he believed was the perfection of Jones' HIT.

What is it? It is an approach to muscle building that uses progressive resistance training. The lifter using progressive overload - by increasing the weight used or number of reps performed in the tracked, previous session - will increase in both strength and muscle gained.

Heavy Duty recognizes that, as one grows progressively stronger, the increased resistance (heavier weight) also creates increased stress. If the increasing stress is not compensated for by decreasing the volume of sets and frequency, the stress will reach a critical point where progress will stall or slow down. The lifter may even regress. Adaptation, he believed, is not the same as over-training.

Mentzer also prioritized effort. One needed to train until failure with forced reps, super slow negatives, and rest-pauses. Every session should not only be intense enough (effort) but also should be short enough (duration) with time for recuperation and growth. With all those factors, one could produce max muscle growth.

Unlike many contemporary philosophies, he emphasized low volume with rest and recuperation. He believed that increasing exercises, sets and time kills recuperative abilities. Without recuperation, your intensity diminishes, and thus, your results do too. He was quoted saying, "If you have a lagging body part, stop training that part entirely for a few weeks, then resume training with a lesser number of sets..." In the most basic terms, max effort in the shortest time with ample amount of rest before training the same body part again.

From his research, he believed studies proved that hypertrophy is directly related to intensity of effort, not duration of effort.

Members of the bodybuilding community used Heavy Duty Training for building muscle, and his methods were most notably realized when the six-time Olympian Dorian Yates used his own version Mentzer's Heavy Duty Training.

If you are looking for some examples of heavy duty Training check out this website: https://www.t-nation.com/training/6-heavy-duty-training-tactics.

  • White Facebook Icon
  • White Instagram Icon