John LittleHeavy Duty Seminar, Part 3
Here are more excerpts from Mike Mentzer’s electrifying Canadian seminar, given in November 1981, a year after the infamous ’80 Mr. Olympia contest in Sydney, Australia.
Mike Mentzer: [Writes on chalkboard] We talked about calories; a lot of bodybuilders are preoccupied with protein. “How much extra protein will we need to grow 10 pounds of muscle per year?” Earlier, we said we needed approximately 16 extra calories a day to grow 10 pounds of muscle a year. And that muscle tissue is composed of approximately 25 percent protein—actually 22 percent, but for the sake of argument let’s say 25 percent. So out of those 16 calories, about four should be protein.
Now, it just so happens that one gram of protein contains four calories. So to grow 10 pounds of muscle a year, we need to consume one gram of protein beyond maintenance need every day. And yet how many of us eat hundreds and hundreds of grams of protein a day, thinking we need all that protein to grow muscle at a faster rate? We’ve been so brainwashed into believing it. I know a man, a reasonably intelligent man, who, if he doesn’t have his hourly protein drink, believes his bench press will go down 50 pounds. And it does—because he believes it. It’s the placebo effect—the power of suggestion. Or the power of deception.
Audience member: Aren’t certain foods more growth-promoting than others?
Mike Mentzer: No. They’re all broken down into the same essential elements: amino acids, glucose, fatty acids, etc. It doesn’t matter. In order to be used by the human body, they’re all broken down into exactly the same thing.
Audience member: I recently bought a box of unflavored gelatin, and it said it was 85 percent protein. Would that be a viable source of protein?
Mike Mentzer: I think that gelatin is considered an incomplete protein, in that it doesn’t contain all eight essential amino acids. If you’re eating a normal diet otherwise, you could probably get the rest of the amino acids to complement those and make it a complete protein, But I wouldn’t eat just gelatin for protein.
Audience member: What’s your own maintenance level? What happens when you do your high-intensity-workout thing—how much more do you have to take in?
Mike Mentzer: Well, high-intensity training—or any kind of weight training—actually doesn’t burn that many calories. And the calories that it does burn are sugar calories. The worst way to train for definition—which is a misnomer in itself—is to lift weights because weight training has to use sugar as fuel. It doesn’t matter how you train—Mike Mentzer’s way or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s way or Larry Scott’s way or Robert Kennedy’s way. Any kind of weight training is considered a high-intensity activity, and all high-intensity activities depend entirely on glucose as fuel. I think weight training is fueled 90 percent by glucose, whereas aerobic activities use up to 90 percent fat as fuel. So, if you’re trying to lose weight—or lose fat to get cut up—weight training is the worst way to do it.
If you’re looking to get cut up, use high-intensity weight training—very brief periods of weight training—to maintain your muscle mass and spend as much of the rest of the time as you have doing aerobic activities to burn fat. That’s not an opinion; it’s a fact. It could be backed up by any exercise physiologist, medical doctor, Mike Mentzer.
Audience member: Do you include aerobic activity when you’re training for mass?
Mike Mentzer: No. I use aerobics occasionally, just to maintain cardiovascular fitness. But before a contest I use a lot of aerobics.
Audience member: Do you find you get a cardiovascular effect from your high-intensity training?
Mike Mentzer: Not really. When you’re doing high-intensity training, you’re training specifically for muscular mass. You can train specifically for muscular mass or train specifically for cardiovascular increases—this is where the phrase “specificity of training” comes in. If you want to train specifically for cardiovascular fitness, then you’ve got to do highly repetitive, low-intensity exercise. High-intensity training does not build the kind of cardiovascular fitness that low-intensity training does. You’ve got to train with low intensity, doing highly repetitive activities like jogging, bicycling and so forth. So, when you do high-intensity training, you develop a certain amount—as opposed to not doing any kind of activity—but it’s not on the order of real aerobic training.