If there’s one group of strength athletes that seems to be stuck in the late 60s -70s when it comes to their training approach, it’s bodybuilders. Some might argue bodybuilders are physique athletes versus strength athletes per se, but I’m defining strength athlete as anyone who lifts progressively heavier weights in an attempt to get stronger and or larger as their primary focus. Whether they do that to be able to diet down and show that work on a stage or to hit a new PR at a competition is irrelevant to me. So from here on out, I’m placing bodybuilders in the category of strength athletes along with power lifters, strong men competitors, Olympic lifters, etc.
If you spend time in a serious power lifting gym, you’ll find modern power lifters following what’s the most effective and efficient training methods for them to move forward in their sport. Obviously they apply their own approaches and methods, but understanding and utilizing concepts such as periodization, planned progression, de-loading, and so forth, is the common approach by successful modern powerlifters. You’ll find the same for O lifters, strong men, and others as the common theme. What about bodybuilders? Go into a bodybuilding/physique oriented gym, and you’ll see people doing the same thing they have always done, pretty much the same thing bodybuilders were doing since the 70s, which is linear training minus any periodization, planned progression, de-loading, and so forth, ignoring approaches that would greatly improve their progress while reducing their chances of injuries. Prehab work, mobility work, and other useful modalities that improve recoup from tough workouts and reduce the risk of injury, also foreign concepts by and large in the bodybuilding community, and that needs to change. It gets downright depressing. Contrary to what some readers may think, with a few exceptions, it’s no different among the bodybuilding elite either.
A typical progression of bodybuilders and wanna-be bodybuilders is they join a gym, enjoy the newbie gains for the first few years, then hit a plateau, and either (1) quit (2) add in ever increasing doses of anabolics to continue making progress or (3) look exactly the same year after year following the same program they have year after year, that is, typical bodybuilding linear training. They go into the gym and do X number of sets of Y number of reps, and go home, maybe following something Arnold did for a workout and so forth. That is until they get injured and disappear, which I guess could be number 4 on that list, but I digress…A small percent of those people will have such amazing genetics for growing muscle, they will generally improve following pretty much any program, especially if there’s drugs involved. If you watch these genetic elites in the gym, as a rule, you’d find they don’t do anything the other 99% of people in the bodybuilding/physique oriented gyms do for exercises chosen nor programs followed. As I like to say at seminars “The worst person to get advice from is often the biggest guy in your gym.” Obviously a generalization but also more often than not, a correct statement.
Why has such a large portion of the bodybuilding community not taken advantage of the training concepts – often well supported by science and used by top athletes – that are propelling other strength athletes to new levels of strength and performance? Hell if I know. Back in the day we just had the magazines and guys at the gym to learn from. That is, we had a legit excuse to be clueless, which we were. Today with the internet so loaded with great info, there’s little legit excuses for having no clue about these topics in my view. Interestingly, when it comes to nutrition, supplements, and drugs (if used), the bodybuilding/physique community tends to be ahead of the curve by and large, but when it comes to training, not so much. Most are literally following the same basic approaches bodybuilders followed in the 60s and 70s. When it comes to training, other strength athletes and the coaches who work with them, are leagues beyond bodybuilders as a rule. I highly recommend readers take a look at the many articles on this site written by myself and various guest writers on some of the basic concepts touched on here, and start expanding your horizons on the way you approach your training if you’re interested in making long-term progress in strength and muscle mass while minimizing your chances of injury and over training. Now for the good part!
Enter the Dr. Muscle App.
This app looks like a winner. The app figures out sets, reps, volume, loading, and so forth, and does a damn good job of delivering a customized workout on the individuals progress – or lack there of – using what’s called “Daily Undulating Periodization” or DUP.
PS, for those looking to make a change in 2019, there’s currently some specials on the app happening now, so take a look and see if that’s something of interest.
Short of paying a good strength coach, this app could get a whole lot of people on track integrating the modern science based approach to building muscle mass and strength while reducing the likelihood injuries and removing the guess work.
Note, they are also looking for feedback from users, so the early feedback from BrinkZone followers will help greatly in future versions. 😉
Will Brink is the owner of the Brinkzone Blog. Will has over 30 years experience as a respected author, columnist and consultant, to the supplement, fitness, bodybuilding, and weight loss industry and has been extensively published. Will graduated from Harvard University with a concentration in the natural sciences, and is a consultant to major supplement, dairy, and pharmaceutical companies.
His often ground breaking articles can be found in publications such as Lets Live, Muscle Media 2000, MuscleMag International, The Life Extension Magazine, Muscle n Fitness, Inside Karate, Exercise For Men Only, Body International, Power, Oxygen, Penthouse, Women’s World and The Townsend Letter For Doctors.
He’s also been published in peer reviewed journals.
Will is the author of the popular e-books, both accompanied by private members forum access , Bodybuilding Revealed & Fat Loss Revealed.
You can also buy Will’s other books on Amazon, Apple iBook, and Barnes and Noble.
Great post. Agree that most bodybuilders’ training is appalling, but I’m dumbfounded it’s no different among the bodybuilding elite.
Thanks for mentionning us.
Nope, it’s no different among the vast majority of the pro bbers out there. Great genes, consistency, and various drugs is why they look as they do and the other 99% of is mere mortals do not.
In regards to “stuck in the 70s”; First, we must admit, some fantastic physiques were built in the 60’s & 70’s. Many of these techniques still do work today. Things such as training the vacuum, making a re-birth. Since the 70’s, bodybuilders have gotten bigger, is that not better?
I can only speak as drug free to this point; the goal of a new PR is easier than defining “what am I after as a bodybuilder?”. I am like you that I look at it all as weight training. The use of resistance training to be strong, grow stronger and shape our bodies, whether “shaping” is the goal or not. Weight training is the most wonderful exercise ever created. To see our bodies grow and change, for how we were made; it never gets old; give thanks; it is a wonderful thing! Now, the rant.
Bodybuilding IS so screwed up. Natural & Professional. The place and point belong to the elite, the gifted by God, enhanced by training and whatever else. The natural guys are small by comparison and the
enhanced have been shoved in our faces for so many years now, we all don’t know what is what and
what is obtainable.
The “industry” preys on the average and sub-average lifter, who will never get big without drugs. The average lifter lives in a world of “I wonder if” – “If I just” – “It can’t be this hard?”
Please remember everyone, as soon as you start to use drugs you are a druggie and need to funnel money to support your habit. Drugs will not give you gains that you can keep when you go off drugs.
To lifters, learn to love who you are and what you have been blessed with. You may never be as big or as buff as Billy or Bonny but you are special. Enjoy becoming the best you can be physically through resistance training. If you grow like a weed, and are a gym rat, you might have a shot. For most of us,
resistance style training, yes even from the 70s, will keep us strong and looking our best. -CD
“First, we must admit, some fantastic physiques were built in the 60′s & 70′s. Many of these techniques still do work today. Things such as training the vacuum, making a re-birth. Since the 70′s, bodybuilders have gotten bigger, is that not better?”
Due to a exponential use of drugs and bigger gene pool of people doing it, not due to changes in how they approach their training, which has remained essentially unchanged for 40-50 years. That’s the major point of this post, a theme I have covered various times. See article such as “Why your workouts Suck” on this page and others. All other sports in the strength training segment, are light years ahead of bodybuilding.
“I can only speak as drug free to this point; the goal of a new PR is easier than defining “what am I after as a bodybuilder?”.
“To add muscle to my frame via strength training” would be the base answer using a systematic science based approach that’s working very well for other strength athletes, vs the hit or miss linear approach that works poorly for all but the most genetically gifted and or drug assisted. From there, you focus on making predictible improvements via use of periodization, volume, etc. vs “That’s how Arnold trained so that’s how I will train” approaches.
“I am like you that I look at it all as weight training. The use of resistance training to be strong, grow stronger and shape our bodies, whether “shaping” is the goal or not. Weight training is the most wonderful exercise ever created. To see our bodies grow and change, for how we were made; it never gets old; give thanks; it is a wonderful thing”
I have been covering the many health benefits of RT before there was an internet and my latest article in the Life Extension Magazine covers a recent study showing RT superior to aerobic training for aging minds. Lots of articles here too on the many benefits of RT. The point is, people will get far more benefits/effects from using modern knowledge/techniques/science and less injuries.
That’s what I call a “no brainer” but some are very stuck in the past…
I have respect for your years of work. Gyms are always going to have those looking for instant results
and not willing to grind out the hard work. Talk to almost any lifter and ask, “where are you in your cycle”
they might think, that you think they are on drugs or they’ll say, “No I came in my car.” Knowledge and
application are essential to reap the most out of any endeavor.
I don’t believe, you can train for what does not exist. That is, those who are blessed with quantity and quality will be the ones that grow, the ones that don’t, won’t. Doesn’t mean don’t lift, the small need it all the more. Will the described methods yield more, of course, by some small percentage. But, this will come at the cost of it becoming a much larger part of the person’s life.
Enhanced muscle is a battle against the body itself, you build it up, the body takes it back down. Take a 5’10” natural lifter that is 7%BF & 185#; and has years lifting 70s style; employ all that you are saying; what are you going grow him to 195#, 203#, maybe? What does that mean? What is it for; so he can stretch his shirt sleeves more at the bar? Digressing, the same man wants to enter a natural, drug tested, lie detector tested competition this fall, then God bless and more power to you all! But, for the average person, looking to stay strong, the proven methods of the past 50 years will serve him or her well in their home gym.
There is the “art” to bodybuilding. The art is simply “how does training, effect the individual”. If the individual cares about themselves, they will find what works for them. They will find how small changes in total sets a week, TUT and laying off the pasta, will yield a better conditioned body. That’s 70’s and it works. Paying someone to guide you, to employ said methods, will be of benefit, if you have the time & money to spend. If the good Dr. has come up with a working ap that will help lifters, fantastic.
Can’t wait to see the results. Maybe he should do a contest with before and afters?
You mentioned not getting hurt, that is very important; though that potential is there much more for the trainee performing the Olympic lifts than the 3 day a week resistance trainer. God Bless -CD
“Take a 5’10″ natural lifter that is 7%BF & 185#; and has years lifting 70s style; employ all that you are saying; what are you going grow him to 195#, 203#, maybe? What does that mean? What is it for; so he can stretch his shirt sleeves more at the bar?”
The motivation for wanting to add FFM and strength varies, and is none of my business per se, nor yours frankly. Most people putting years of effort into the gym want to see ongoing progress in some metric, and after newbie gains, most do not, and that’s due to their following old school linear training programs for the most part, all things being equal (e.g., nutrition, sleep, etc).
“Digressing, the same man wants to enter a natural, drug tested, lie detector tested competition this fall, then God bless and more power to you all! But, for the average person, looking to stay strong, the proven methods of the past 50 years will serve him or her well in their home gym.”
If people want continue ignoring approaches that would greatly improve their progress while reducing their chances of injuries, that’s their business. As i said, the other strength training athletes are light years ahead of bodybuilding by and large. Me, i want the best results for the efforts I’m putting in. Anything else is dogma.
I’ve been following this conversion and I’ll have to agree with Will about this:
“For the average person, looking to stay strong, the proven methods of the past 50 years will serve him or her well in their home gym.”
Yes, this is true. But why stop there? Why not use modern methods that work better? Your return on time/efforts invested will be better.
Call me crazy, but I want to get the best return for my efforts in the gym my genes will allow. This does not seem a complicated concept to me. If the old school approach is “good enough” for some, no skin off my you know what, but it’s been my goals since pre ‘net days to assist people to get the best bang for the $ for their hard work, be it supplements, training etc. The app you developed could save people years of wasted time and effort. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him think …. 😉
Good Dr J. All respect, for you have also put in the years of work.
I’ll say I am from Missouri, so show me. Show me these great gains! I have just not seen it without PEDs. I hate drugs!
My point is, training an athlete is not training a bodybuilder. Two different animals. All your planning,
pruning and calculating will not necessarily add one more pound of muscle than quality old fashion training. What about Christian Thibaudeau and Charles Poliquin, both have trained Olympian athletes I am sure they have applied some science, I am sure they have helped some bodybuilders place. I read them, they are still working hard and seeking to find the truth, catching the wind, of putting on muscle and keeping it.
Remember this, 1970 was probably over 70 years into bodybuilding. I am finding some of the full body routines, probably from the 40’s and 50’s, are great routines. I find one particular exercise the true king of all exercises.
Go find your Casey Viator.. What did Arthur Jones get 25lbs of muscle in 28 days? 1973 or 4 I can’t remember. . Let’s see some dated before and afters. More power to you, God bless, I hope you do have something because it is about time. -CD
Watching the ap, the very positive thing I see is the record keeping is done for you and all you have to do
is the lifting. I know these things are not easy or inexpensive to produce. I think it should have a flat fee and then maybe and update fee for any large updates but not software/firmware repairs. The price is absolutely not appealing to the common man as it has a relatively high monthly fee.
Thanks for taking the time to check out the app and comment.
I understand you think it’s too expensive. I agree it’s expensive. But it’s still much less expensive than getting as trainer to periodize your program for you.
I don’t think we’ll ever charge a flat (1-time) fee. Like you said, building an app is expensive. A lot of work (and money) has went into this. It’s a new technology. We have to have a server and coding the algorithm is hard.
You’ll find many workout apps that sell for a 1-time fee, if that’s all you can spend. But they’re mostly workout logs. They don’t tell you what to do when you work out, and they don’t apply the latest science-based strategies automatically to help you build muscle faster.
I’m sorry I can’t be of more help.
Best of luck,
Hi Will, entertaining read!
Bodybuilders are generally the most mocked minority in the strength field, perhaps because they are among the obviously superficial in their training purpose. Bodybuilders do however trump all other strength athletes when it comes to brawn and generally they do much better in power sports other than bodybuilding, than weight or powerlifters do in bodybuilding. I’m not a competitive bodybuilder myself and only know a few competitive ones. Those who compete in classic and physique shows differ a bit compared to those who compete in “open” bodybuilding. Whit the former being more interested in modern training knowledge than the latter. My guess would be that the more extreme musculature demand a very high input of drugs and that they must have a rather large training volume. So they tend to focus on lots of sets/reps end exercises for specific body parts. Which perhaps enables them to gain more relevant and more total muscle, than if they were to focus more on increasing strength.
Thanks for your comment! Will and the good Dr. have a product that you pay monthly for.
What this product does is monitor your training, productivity and ability to advance to heavier weights, thus larger muscles. As you do the work and input to the program, the program adjusts your training. For those who can afford, this will help in some manner. It will at least teach the lifter about the program they are using and how they are responding to it.
My point is, even in the 70’s they were doing the same thing, now it’s an app on your phone.
My point is, without drugs we are only going to get so big, and we must realize this, accept this. If the lifter wants to enhance beyond their size limit, they can read Clarence Bass’s “Ripped” and stay smaller but ripped. This takes great discipline; or they will go to PEDs. Folk’s, don’t go to PEDs. This will become your life, funneling your money and thoughts into “your cycle”. You become a druggie. All so you can carry extra muscle on your frame; only while you are on those drugs and for a short time afterward. May God bless your endeavors! -CD
Thanks for mentioning us Christian.
Andreas, that’s correct. Our app is like a personal trainer in your pocket. It tells you exactly what to do when you lift weights to build muscle faster. If you’re a man and you’re just starting out, you can expect to gain 20-25 lbs of muscle in 1 year.
It’s 100% automated. It uses AI to learn from your last workouts and apply the best science-based training methods automatically, so you can focus on lifting heavy and getting jacked.
You get a workout plan that grows with you, so you build muscle as fast as possible. Your plan updates every workout and you always train with the optimal reps and sets to build muscle fast. Your plan levels up automatically with new exercises as you progress, so you hit your muscles from more angles and hypertrophy them in full. And you deload automatically when you accumulate fatigue, so you can break your plateaus and start building muscle again. To get more info or try it out, visit https://brink–muscle.thrivecart.com/dr-muscle-code-m0u/.
Drop me an email or a comment here if you ever need help.
Carl Juneau, PhD
Great post. Thanks.
Many physicians are stuck in the 70’s when it comes to treating chronic disorders. For example, many think cardio vascular disease risk factors are elevated blood lipids rather than oxidative stress, inflammation and autoimmune disorders.
Professional soccer players haven’t even made it to the 70’s. They still haven’t accepted the obvious fact that strength training benefits the player and increases on-field performance.
I do agree that the typical strength training athlete has no idea what they are doing. Strenght training 6 days per week, no problem. Using the same program for years, no problem. Believes your gain strength via the concentric movement, no problem. Completes a set of bent over rows (6 reps) using a 100 lb dumbbell with 1/4 range of motion and a total set time of 3 seconds, no problem.
Even more interesting is that the trainers don’t either. I though the 2 ladies in the gym this morning were new and just doing things they could remember or had read about. It turns out one of them was a facility trainer. I hope this doesn’t sound arrogant or condescending – the information is readily available if the athlete would simply look.
Excellent information.Thanks for the article!