Who Are You? What Works For?
By: Callum Mahoney
What is bodybuilding?
Although many would argue that bodybuilding is a sport which only the most crazy and deprived compete in, many of us know that it can also be a hobby, a health enhancers and even a lifestyle. You do not have to step onto a stage to call yourself a bodybuilder as I am sure many of you can testify to. One aspect of bodybuilding which I think a large number of people miss is that bodybuilding is an education. It is like a subject at school, however this subject has no final exam and never ends. Bodybuilding is a continuous education which will need to continue as long as you lift.
What do I mean?
In this article I will discuss my two most controversial theories, both regarding hard gainers. And the first relates to this education theme. First let me ask, who are you?
Now how many answered three time Mr. O Ronnie Coleman, none. How many answered the late Mike Mentzer, none. You see my point in its crudest form is you are you, you are not Ronnie or Arnie or even me. You are you and only you know what’s is best for you. How do you know what is best for you?
Let me tell you, you don’t wake up and say “HIT works best for me and I need to eat 1.5 grams of protein and 5 grams of carbs per pound to gain weight.” You need to learn and educate yourself about what works best for you. You need to experiment. We live in the age of the information superhighway. Hundred’s of training programs, supplement reviews and nutrition articles are at your finger tips via the web. There are at least 10 muscle magazines at you newsagent and hundreds of books and videos available. You must have the desire to devour all this information and learn everything you can. I check most bodybuilding sites at least for nightly for new content and I buy several magazines a month. I don’t buy them to follow their routines of the pros or anything but I devour all the information all the same. You may find a one paragraph blurb on nutrition in a copy of Ironman that you may find useful or perhaps find a program that looks like the goods or you’ll find nothing but I’m sure you would have learnt something.
My first of my two theories is people are stupid. More specifically people will do as they are told. Mentzer and Yates allegedly used HIT (the use of the word allegedly is meaning no disrespect however there is debate over whether or not their methods are HIT) all of a sudden every Tom, Dick and Harry is too. Skip la Cour and Jeff Willet use Max-OT, everyone jumps on that bandwagon. Skip la Cour (who is one of my favorite bodybuilders and a real nice guy) is obviously all fast-twitch muscle while guys like Nimrod King was all slow-twitch and never trained with fewer than 15 reps per set. Most people however are somewhere in between, some others aren’t. You really need to experiment. Give everything a go. I am trying new techniques all the time. Supersets, drop sets, compound sets, negatives you name it. And I will continue to until I find what works best for me. At the moment I have one body part down perfect and that is my delt routine (See my article “Cannonball Delts” for further info). This routine has made my delts probably my best body part and I probably will use it for the rest of my life (although it is important to change your routine every 8 weeks or so). Every time I do it I know I am getting growth. My other body parts however I am as clueless as the day I begun, but I’m working on it.
How does this relate to the theory?
It is very simple. People see what others do and imitate it. Take the pros. Lots of people will follow their routines in the hope of size. Hell it probably works for some you. I know that I need a volume orientated program to gain, I don’t take drugs and I rarely get sore. My recovery is good.
People say the pros train the way the do because of all the ‘roids. That is bullshit. It is partially the roids but the also have great genetics to begin with. Look there are 100 IFBB pros and you expect me to believe only 100 people in the world take steroids. No way. People at your gym probably take twice what Lee Priest takes and I don’t see them on the stage alongside him.
The pros train the way they do because that is what works for them. They themselves all train differently some use volume, some use Weider principles and some such as New Aussie pro Nick Schilko claim to use HIT.
The bottom line with training just like nutrition or supplements is everybody is different. Muscle twitch, past injuries etc all play a role and you must become the master of yourself and decide what works for you. Whether it be HIT, Max-OT, POF of any other system give them all ago. However when you do find the gold standard make sure you have a break from it every so often otherwise it will become a dud like the rest of the systems you have tried.
Why is it some people like Dexter Jackson never need to do cardio, even when preparing for a show, while others slave away for hours to get cut? Why can some eat a whole cake before bed and not get fat while others cannot touch carbs? The answer to the best of my knowledge is genes. Nutrition, like training takes hours of trial and error to get right. Calculating how much protein works for you and whether or not you can handle carbs is something only trial and error can produce results on. You can read about me or anyone else till the cows come home but nutrition is possibly the most individual thing of all.
The second theory: The age of the bitchy whiny hard gainer was born at the same time as the age of whey protein. Now this one is controversial. Whey protein- Until a few years ago whey was a by-product of the dairy industry and considered useless. Then some genius said let’s market this as a protein powder and rake in the big ones. Don’t get me wrong whey isn’t all bad but I feel it is bad by itself. Being high in BCAA’s whey is probably best before training so it gets in the system quick but as for post training I want repair and growth to take place and I want protein to repair muscle not see how fast it can get through my system. And If you use only whey before you go to bed, give up. Go find a running track and start training for a marathon you will never get big. Caesin is actually the best before bed and chuck in some EFA’s as well to slow the digestion process. Casein also improves your teeth a bonus side effect with muscle growth. The best protein I have used are Vital Strength Total Protein (sorry but is an Australian brand) It has whey for bcaa’s, soy for glutamine and egg for its complete profile of aminos and is also glutamine boosted one 30g serve provides 6g of glutamine and another 6 of precursors. I would not recommend this in the last weeks before a show however because of its high sodium levels as a result of the soy. The next best is milk. My favorite MRP.
In Australia our milk seems to have higher protein levels than in other countries. For example a liter of my favorite, Physical No Fat has 50g of protein, 60g carbs and less than 1 g fat. Milk is probably the best mass building protein. Show me a hard gainer who downs 2 liters of milk a day and I’ll show you a guy who must be running marathons every afternoon.
Again experiment and find what’s best for you especially with carbs try high and low carbs if you wanna lose weight try lowering them and vice versa.
The final piece of this puzzle. Supplements are also and individual thing. For example creatine only works in 78 percent of people but try telling that 78 percent that it is a waste of money. Supplements are the most costly experiment so stick with the basics like creatine and glutamine. Even on this site there is a great divide. There is a pro-methoxy school and an anti-methoxy school, where do you belong? Well if you have never tried it how would you know. I don’t rate it personally but my training partner cannot get enough of the stuff, go figure. Anyway this point to remember is that you must be educated to succeed and failure only exists if a lesson is not learnt.