The following is an excerpt from Mike Mentzer's
BODYBUILDERS ARE CONFUSED!
The sole source of information for many of them is muscle magazines, which they read with almost religious zeal, regarding the words contained therein as if they were the revealed truth of Sacred Scripture, or as oracular pronouncements, not to be questioned, but passively accepted, on blind faith.
Most bodybuilders fail to recognize that muscle magazines are not science journals, but rather commercial catalogues whose primary reason for existence is to sell nutritional supplements and exercise equipment. (One simply can't be too careful in this time of philosophical default. Even science journals have become suspect recently, as the proliferation of cases involving fraudulent research data at the highest levels indicates.) While these publications do contain factually-based, well-reasoned articles, these are rarities so at odds with the reams of contradictory misinformation that they are rendered valueless to those with atrophied critical faculties and often overlooked by the more intelligent readers.
The notion that bodybuilding is a science has been written and talked about for decades by muscle magazine writers and certain exercise physiologist. To qualify as a legitimate, applied science, however, bodybuilding must have a consistent, rational theoretical base, something that none of the aforementioned -- aside from Arthur Jones and myself -- has ever provided. In fact, what passes today for the so-called "science of modern bodybuilding" is actually a pseudo-science. Propogated by the bodybuilding traditionalists, or orthodoxy, it is nothing more than a wanton assemblage of random, disconnected and contradictory ideas.
A number of the orthodoxy's self-styled "experts" have even alleged that there are no objective, universal principles of productive exercise. They claim that since each bodybuilder is unique, every individual bodybuilder requires a different training program. This implies that the issue of what is the best way to train to build muscle is a subjective one that can only be resolved by the random motions and blind urges of each bodybuilder.
Despite their belief that no universal principles exist, many of these same people advocate that all bodybuilders should perform 12-20 sets per bodypart, for up to two hours per session. For best gains, they recommend two and even three sessions per day six days a week, with the seventh day off -- for sabbath, I suppose. Very scientific!
The principle implicit in such thinking is "more is better." This is an ethico-economic principle: more money, more success, i.e., more values are better than less. (This principle does have a certain limited application to endurance training.) Taking a principle from one context, such as economics, and applying it uncritically and blindly to another, such as bodybuilding, is to commit the logical fallacy known as "context-switching." Some years ago, Mr. America Steve Michalik carried this erroneous notion to its logical conclusion by advocating 75-100 sets per bodypart! Michalik practiced what he preached and ended up almost literally in the grave!
Where can a confused bodybuilder find the answer to these and other pressing questions? Rick Wayne, erstwhile editor of Flex magazine, answered that question a number of years ago, claiming, "Each bodybuilder has to be his own scientific agent, and find the routine that works for him." But what if a particular bodybuilder isn't a very good scientist? No answer has ever been given.
Others have responded by suggesting that confused bodybuilders resort to instinct. An acquaintance of mine responded to this notion humorously by suggesting that if bodybuilders resorted to the "instinctive principle" to guide them in their training efforts, many of them would probably defecate and urinate on a barbell rather than lift it. Man is not an instinctual creature whose knowledge is automatic, or "hard-wired" into his nervous system, but a conceptual being who must acquire and use knowledge by a volitional cognitive effort.
The most philosophically revealing response was made by a well-known authority, and I quote, "There is a realm of truth higher than that known to scientists, and only certain people have access to it." Since reality is the realm of truth, one can only wonder as to what other realm he was referring to, what it might have to do with bodybuilding in this one, who has access to it, and by what means. All of this points to the fact that bodybuilding has brought about its own Dark Ages -- and why, therefore, so many bodybuilders become cynical and give up.
The advocates of the orthodox approach, possessing no possible theoretical defense of their argument, are forced to cite some very shabby evidence to back up their position. Quite frequently, I get the question, "If 12-20 sets is not the best way to train, how do you account for the success of guys like Arnold and Lee Haney?" The answer is that, while their physiques are, in part, the result of such training, so are the physiques of all the failures, whose numbers are legion.
Furthermore, it is a mistake to point to the "apparent" success of a couple dozen top title winners as indubitable proof that a certain training approach is efficacious. If one were to look back through the course of their bodybuilding careers, and calculate the hours, months and years of wasted effort resulting from their blind, non-theoretical, volume approach, one would have to question whether their achievement could properly be termed success at all.
It should be understood also that genetic endowment is the prime determinant of bodybuilding success. Arnold and Lee, not to mention myself, Dorian Yates and all who have achieved extraordinary levels of muscular development, possess an abundance of the requisite genetic traits, including long muscle bellies, greater than average muscle fiber density, and superior recovery ability.
There is no good reason why you should proceed with your bodybuilding career confused and uncertain any longer. Progress should not be an irregular, unpredictable or even nonexistent phenomenon. A rational approach to bodybuilding, one based on an understanding and implementation of the scientific principles of exercise and nutrition, will put you on a more satisfying path of regular progress.
Arthur Jones, the inventor of the Nautilus Machines, taught Mike Mentzer the theory of productive bodybuilding exercise.