There are many philosophies on building muscle and strength. They all have merit. There are bodybuilders who swear by heavy powerlifting-type routines with massive weights, low reps and long rest periods between sets. Others swear
by light weights, high reps, high sets, and lots of pumping. You have devotees of supersets and trisets, drop sets and forced reps. Some use full-range movements, others do only short, constant-tension-style reps. Who's to say one
is better than another?
Most successful bodybuilders combine different methods. Sometimes they train heavy; sometimes they train light. Sometimes they do both in the same workout. I call this combining of heavy and light methods, well, "heavy-light."
There are three types of muscle fibers that need to be worked as we train. Some are worked best with low reps and some with high reps. Myofibrils, which comprise 20 to 30 percent of a muscle cell's size, develop best with sets of 1
to 5 reps, while mitochondria, which constitute 15 to 25 percent of the cell, grow best with reps in the 15 to 30 range. You also need some high-rep work to build capillaries and to create vascularity.
Is there one ultimate method for body-building? I honestly don't know Some individuals will always respond better to some approaches than to others. There are, however, general guidelines that can be followed to create the ultimate
These guidelines were first written by a freethinking muscle guru by the name of Dennis DuBreuil. One of his theories we call his "blood theory." According to DuBreuil, there is a strong relationship between in-creased blood
circulation and muscle growth. The better the blood circulation to a muscle, he theorized, the better the muscle will grow and recover, because blood provides nutrients.
Another of DuBreuil's theories was his "fatigue-product theory." He felt the fatigue products that occur because of muscular work, such as lactic acid, have a role in helping the muscle recover and rebuild. Thus one of the goals in
bodybuilding should be to fill the muscle with fatigue products. This requires high-intensity training that brings a killer burn and ache to the muscle. DuBreuil thought these fatigue products needed to stay in the muscle a certain
length of time to perform their important duties. Therefore, he felt you should train a muscle hard and then let it rest for at least 20 minutes.
For the ultimate effect, DuBreuil advised training two or three times a day to ensure several hours' rest between workouts. If this isn't possible and you must work two body-parts per training session, he recommended working muscles
from the same vicinity of the body - quads with hams, pecs with delts, etc. - to keep the blood and fatigue products localized.
DuBreuil was no doctor or scientist, but he was an astute observer of training methods, a devoted weight trainer, and obviously a bright and well-read man. He knew the iron game well. His methods can still be useful for any hard-working
bodybuilder who wants to pack on some much-needed mass while increasing his strength. Here is a review of what Dennis DuBreuil considered the most important factors in set-ting up the ultimate bodybuilding routine:
Work only a small area of the body at a time - preferably one muscle group only - and rest the entire body for at least 20 minutes to allow the fatigue products to stay in the muscle and perform their important chemical functions.
This means following a split routine and possibly working out more than once a day.
DuBreuil was not the first to suggest split and double-split routines. Joe Weider was advocating them 50 years ago. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu regularly trained twice a day throughout the '70s, doing one or two closely
related muscle groups per workout. The practice still continues among our top pros.
Today we see bodybuilders on double - and triple-split routines, training two or three times a day. Each routine lasts only about 30 minutes. This allows for higher-intensity training for short periods of time. Whether or not the
trainers are aware of it, dividing routines this way takes full advantage of the DuBreuil fatigue-product theory.
Many bodybuilders are not able to work out several times a day, but there are still ways to take advantage of the fatigue-product theory. You can arrange your routine to work closely related muscle groups during a single workout, and
split your body up over four days.
How you split your routine will depend on which muscles need more specialization. In any case, the one-bodypart-a-day routine allows you to work just one area of the body very hard and permits the rest of the body to rest, taking full
advantage of the fatigue-product theory.
The kind of hard work DuBreuil was talking about was not just hard work, taking a set till failure; he believed every rep should be a near-maximum effort. How do you make every rep a maximum effort - so you are working as hard as you
can, to your very limit - every rep of every set? It can be done several ways. The most obvious way is through the use of drop sets. Load a bar with lots of small plates. The weight should be so heavy you can just barely complete a rep.
When that rep is finished, strip off a small amount of weight - 2 1/2 to 5 pounds - and do 1 or 2 more reps. When you fail again, strip off another 2 1/2 or 5 pounds and go for another rep or two. Keep doing this until 8 to 10 reps have
been completed. That's one way. It's not perfect, because the amount of weight you strip off and your strength reduction will not always match, but it is still a very intense, effective way to train.
Another method is to have your partner apply manual pressure as you lift. Let's say you are doing cable curls. Pick a weight that will allow you barely 4 or 5 reps. On the first rep your partner pulls down on the cable as it is raised
to give you extra resistance. As you return the weight he pushes against the bar to provide some controlled negative resistance.
That first rep should seem like a max lift. For the second rep he should do the same, but because of muscle fatigue he won't have to pull as hard. By the time you start to fail after , 4 or 5 reps, he reverses the procedure. Instead
of pulling down on the cable, he takes a little bit of the weight - i.e. helps you do forced reps - just enough to make another rep possible, not easy. You continue in this manner until 8 or 10 reps have been completed.
Neither of these two methods is perfect for working as hard as possible on every rep, but they are as close to perfect as you can get on standard equipment. Obviously, when you're training at that kind of intensity, it isn't necessary or
even good to do many - sets for each muscle. Six to 10 sets per muscle would be plenty for advanced trainers. Beginners and intermediates could easily get away with half that.
Use plenty of isolation movements. DuBreuil strongly believed that isolation exercises could build more muscle than basic movements can. That's not to say he didn't believe in the benefits of basic exercises, because he did. He said
all beginners and intermediates should concentrate on basic exercises to build a physical base and to increase strength and muscle mass. But he felt that isolation movements are necessary to keep a muscle growing once the trainer has
reached a certain point. Said DuBreuil, "After we've conditioned our muscles with muscle-group exercises like the bench press and squat, most of us find we reach a point where we no longer gain, or we progress very slowly. Because a
muscle can work harder during a contraction if it works alone than it can if it is a member of a team, isolation exercises like triceps extensions and curls force the muscle to work harder, stimulating further progress. Believe me, if
you are at a plateau, hard work on isolation exercises will make you grow!" Don't forget, he meant hard work of the every-rep kind, not pumping out light sets of cable crossovers or concentration curls. These exercises are fine, but every
rep must be a max effort.
Use a variety of exercises for each body-part. Each muscle group should receive at least one basic exercise and several isolation movements. Several exercises are required to stimulate a muscle from all angles. It is important for both
muscle size and symmetry to work the muscle this way.
Take chest, for instance. You've got upper pecs, outer pecs, inner pecs and lower pecs. You can't work all these areas with just one or two exercises. You need at least four exercises - one for each area. The same is true for biceps. You
need one for peak, one for the belly, one for the lower biceps, and one for the outer head and brachialis. You can't properly work the biceps with just barbell and dumbbell curls.
The more areas of a muscle you develop, the more muscle you're going to build. Remember, we're talking about maximum muscle development. Even if size were the only consideration, it's clear that working all the fibers in a muscle would give
you a better chance of building great size than working only a few of them.
How many exercises does it take to fully work a muscle? As many as it takes. Your triceps have three heads, so you'll need at least three exercises. Chest will need at least four. Back, being a big area, needs four or five. Delts require
at least four: One basic exercise and three isolation exercises - one for each head. Each muscle group requires at least two, and most will need three or more.
Work quickly. A lot of bodybuilders and power trainers like to take long rests between sets, up to five minutes. But remember the fatigue-product and blood theories. You're trying to increase blood flow to a muscle so it will pump better,
and you're trying to build up a lot of fatigue products in the muscle at the same time. This is best achieved through short, intense workouts, with brief rest periods between sets - say, under a minute. If you rest for long periods, you
cannot get much of a pump (if any at all), and the fatigue products will be continuously removed from the muscles while you rest.
How quickly should you train? As quickly as you can without causing the cardiovascular system to fail. If you have to stop because you've run out of wind and your heart is pumping like crazy, your cardio system will fail before your muscles
do. That's not what we want. You should train at a fast pace, but not so fast that each set leaves you breathless.
Light flushing movements done at least 20 minutes and preferably several hours after your workout will remove the fatigue products, augment recovery and reduce soreness. This statement might seem contradictory to what we've been saying
about accumulating fatigue products in the muscles. Aren't you supposed to get a build-up of fatigue products in the muscle? Yes, you are. But if they stay in too long, they have a negative effect on recovery and growth. They need to stay
in the muscle for at least 20 minutes, but if they remain for more than a day they impede recovery and lessen growth.
The key is to use very light weights and do reps in the 30 to 50 range. By light weights I mean 15- or 20-pound dumbbells on presses, curls, etc. On squats you would use an empty bar or less, and only 100 pounds on leg presses. There is no
attempt made to tax the muscle, only to flush it with blood. Light aerobics will have the same effect for sore legs.
These flushing sets can be done 20 minutes to several hours after your workout, or the next day, but no later. You might want to begin your next workout with two light flushing sets for the muscle worked during the previous workout.
Used together, these six rules make up a very effective method for quickly building size and strength. Of course, good nutrition and a positive mental attitude cannot be ignored. Let's face it. Life is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you
think this routine will work for you, it probably will. If you're negative about it, it won't work. And if you fail to eat properly, both in quality and quantity, no matter how hard you train you will not realize the maximum possible gains.
Is this the ultimate routine? Try it and find out. Done properly, I think it will allow you to make outstanding gains in muscle size and lean bodyweight.