The great Steve Reeves only did full-body workouts.
(In the last article on this series on training for the aesthetics, I talked about the flaws of individual body part training as a means of building more muscle. A better alternate to getting a muscular body are full-body workouts using compound movements like squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, etc. Full-body WODs will be the center piece for the workouts in this mental toughness program. Not only will they build bigger muscles, burn more fat, but get you to be more athletic.)
With this mental toughness program, you will learn to move your whole body as one unstoppable machine. A major problem with what individual body part training has done is the lack of emphasis on coordinating and agility. These two positive fitness traits have been mostly ignored by the traditional bodybuilding protocols. As a result, gyms are filled training machines which one can sit in or even lie down it so they can furthermore isolate and restrict particular muscle group. In fact, most people are doing more machines work than the free standing barbell which is a shame.
By doing primary machine training, the masses are missing out developing the strength of every elite athlete – their core muscles. The core muscles are like a power transmitter for your body. By not working them, you’re overall body’s balance and strength is clearly weakened. In the mental toughness program, no machines are used (unless you live with inclement weather; the treadmill is okay for this reason only). You have to use your whole-body to do everything the hard way and the right way – by yourself.
Another problem I have with individual body part training is that the lifting tempo is too slow. The reasoning behind the very slow movement is so the lifter can “feel” the burning sensation that is supposedly stimulating growth. Many of the current studies have suggested that super slow tempo do virtually nothing for muscle growth. In fact, it is the opposite that is true – lifting in a very fast tempo is the most effective method for muscle development. When you lift with speed behind your movements, you recruit not only more muscles group, but your fast-twitch muscles. Fast-twitch muscles are your largest muscle groups and ones that grow the easiest. For slow tempo isolation bodybuilding exercises, you primarily use your slow twitch muscles, the smallest muscle groups that are most resistant to growing. Without sounding like a hypocrite, didn’t I say I gained 70 pounds during my bodybuilding stage? Yes, I did, but back then I was doing mostly isolation movements and associating weight gain with muscle. The majority of the weight gain wasn’t quality muscle, but mostly fat. Back then, I had that big, but very soft look.
The science is overwhelming that full-body training will help you develop quality muscle than with isolation movements. By working as many muscle groups as possible, your body will increase its testosterone production and release natural human growth hormone in your body. Both testosterone and HGH are two of the most anabolic hormones in both a male and female body. These hormones build muscles and burn fat. For you women who are worried about growing a beard as a result of increase testosterone flow, that’s not going to happen. Females don’t have enough testosterone in their system and only minimal amounts. For years, I thought stuffing pounds of protein down my throat and getting all pumped up was the key to muscle development. “The pump” may feel good, but the rush of blood flow in one isolated body part will do little to stimulate testosterone and HGH in your system. It may sound elusive until you do it, but stimulating the right hormones through a full-body workout is the key to building a more muscular body. This concepts of how hormones are the key to getting a better body will be repeated often on mentaltoughnessguy.com Heck, it took me a while to gasp it, so I’ll assume it may problematic for some of you as well.
The shift from individual body part training to full-body work will be a very difficult transition for some you since you have been brainwashed by all those fitness magazines as the only way to train. For example, I have a client who did bodybuilding routines for nearly 15 years and even competed in some bodybuilding shows. Even though, he wasn’t making any more gains with his bodybuilding workouts and wanted some sort of change, getting him to do a full-body workout was like pulling teeth. He was holding out tightly to his bodybuilding roots so we compromised to doing a full-body strength workout once a week. He started seeing improvements immediately and soon the full-body workouts soon became twice then three times per week. Eventually, he discarded his old bodybuilding habits all together. I assume most of you will be this stubborn to giving up your old ways too. But, I have no doubt you all will see the great advantages and functional use of full-body work. I am not inventing the wheel. Full-body workouts have been around for decades and used to be the primary training system for athletes, strongmen and bodybuilders. The majority of mixed martial artist trainers, the fastest growing sport in the world, are already made the change over to doing full-body training. To some of the best MMA trainers in the sport, they have figured out that having nice tone arms from isolation work is useless when someone is trying to kill you. Instead of training for massive aesthetics, fighters are training to deliver massive force. As a result, many MMA fighters have not only functional bodies, but they don’t look too bad either. A recent poll showed that MMA champion George St. Pierre has the perfect body must men are striving for. The days of wanting to “look like Arnold” are over. The MMA conditioned look in now coveted by many who go to the gym as the ideal physique to work towards.
The bodybuilders in the 50’s and 40’s did primarily full-body workouts. They mostly did heavy compound movements and trained for strength. Also, they were very athletic. Steve Reeves, the original cinematic Hercules, loved to do a lot gymnastic moves. Body balancing, handstands and ring work was very common back them as these old time bodybuilders were very multi-dimensional. Going back further to the 1920’s, famous strongmen Arthur Saxon and Eugene Sand did nothing but full-body workouts to achieve their great strength and muscle mass. Single body part training was unheard of back then.
Individual body part training began in the 1970’s. Legendary “Muscle and Fitness” editor Joe Wieder was introducing a new system of bodybuilding technique to the mainstream. He created single body part training as a solution to being a pencil neck. Weider was commercial genius as he used huge bodybuilders to deliver his message. The plan was a great success as society bought into his individual body part system, supplements, books and protein powders. The problem was the messengers in the Weider magazines and books were mostly on steroids. So, it didn’t matter if the bodybuilder in “muscle and fitness” was doing full-body or single body part training – it all worked when you used drugs.
Do I blame Weider for the current mess in the fitness world? No, not really. He got people interested in working out and is indirectly responsible for the great commercial gym boom in the late 70’s. That’s a great thing. But, now it is the time to disprove one of the biggest fitness misconceptions ever. There are too many people in the gym lost and digressing. They feel disconnected to the mental aspect of their training and see their body as only small parts of a larger segment. By discarding their body as one whole powerful unit, they don’t make much aesthetic progress. Motivate yourself to reach your full potential. By strengthening your mind and combining it with the physical power of your whole body, you will feel limitless.
Today’s strength day WOD –
Since last week you went pretty heavy, go a little lighter today and do more reps. Work on speed and explosiveness.
5 sets of 5
2. Push press
3. Back squats
4. Bent over rows
5. Barbell row outs
So basically, we all have been lied to. You all, me included, were duped into believing that single body part was the most effective way to pack on muscle. Science and history of strength training suggest otherwise. When I found out the truth about the most effective method to get a better physique, I was livid. Here I was wasting hours at the gym with “arm day and chest day” with lousy results to show for it. It created a sense of urgency within me as I was through with wasting my time.
I hope this lights a fire in you as well. If so, use this as extra motivation as you approach the compound movements today. Instead of focusing on shaping your muscles, change your priority to becoming mentally and physically stronger. Buy into the concept that the stronger you get, the stronger you will become mentally. The more strength you develop the more muscle you will build.
You already wasted enough time doing useless training, so today make an oath that you will keep throughout this training. Vow to get stronger in the gym and when you walk out it.
You have a lot of time to make up for, so enough with the talk.
Go to it.
Scaled down version of the WOD –
Do only 3 set or lower the reps down to three.
Acceptable substitutions –
1. You can do one arm dumbbell rows for a variation today. Also, you can use dumbbells as well for the push press.