The Wisdom of Mike Mentzer
Heavy Duty. Q & A
Q : A friend of mine has been training on Mike’s Consolidated Routine for two years now and has gained a lot of muscle—so much in fact that I and several others at my school switched to Mike’s program. Unfortunately, while I gained strength, I’m not getting any bigger at all, and I’ve been training with it for two months. My friends have gotten bigger, but not me. Do you think I need more volume, or do I need to change my training or diet in some way in order to get growing again?
A: It’s tough to answer your question, as many details that I need in order to make an informed assessment are missing. Moreover, you may not like my answer.
You didn’t say that you’ve read any of Mike’s books, such as High Intensity Training the Mike Mentzer Way or The Wisdom of Mike Mentzer, which outline both the Consolidation Routine and the principles underpinning it. If, for example, you’re merely performing a two- or three-set routine once a week but not taking each of the sets to positive failure, then you may not be stimulating any growth at all. Your friends, by contrast, might be training harder on the same program and thus stimulating growth.
You also didn’t mention how long you’re allocating for recovery. If you’re stimulating growth but not allowing the time necessary for recovery and growth to take place, then your body isn’t getting enough time to produce the growth you want. If you’re training intensely enough to stimulate growth and let sufficient time to pass for complete recovery and overcompensation, then you may not have the genetics for developing bigger muscles (more on that in a moment).
If you’ve been training for many years but your friends are newcomers, they might gain more quickly owing to the novelty of their physiolgical stimulus. A more intense stimulus—such as negatives, static holds, forced reps—may be what you need to get you growing again. Keep in mind, too, that muscle growth—at the best of times—is a slow process if it’s pure muscle that you’re after. While some of us grow faster than others, no one grows fast enough for his or her liking.
As for your training, be aware that the physiological principles that control the muscle-growth process apply to all human beings. Because the biochemical changes resulting in muscle growth are essentially the same in everyone, the basic training requirements for inducing growth are also essentially the same. Let’s say you’re fulfilling those requirements: Why is there such a wide disparity between individuals in response to the same stimuli?
It is fallacious to believe that anyone can reach the top if only he or she can find the right training program. As Mike long ago pointed out:
“Implicit in that belief is the notion that we all require different training programs and, contingent on our ability to discover the right program, everyone has the potential to become a bodybuilding champion. That belief has come under fire lately as genetic science has solved the mystery surrounding individual training requirements and bodybuilding potential. The key is DNA, the genetic material that determines a body’s inherited traits.
“While the physiological principles involved in muscle are common to everyone, genetic factors modify individual response to exercise and training. Two of the most commonly recognized differences are race and sex. Other, often less tangible factors play an even greater role in individual response to exercise. Individuals inherit characteristics peculiar to their parents—facial appearance, hair color, body type and blood type. As ‘fixed’ genetic traits, they’re not subject to progressive alteration. Other inherited traits or tendencies, such as intelligence and muscle size, are not fixed and can be altered.
“The genes (hereditary material within a cell) responsible for mature body size don’t kick in on individuals who are deprived of adequate nutrients during the early stages of growth. Deprived of early intellectual stimulation, intelligence will not mature. Environmental influences condition development of normal physical size and intelligence. To develop above-normal measures, a person must expose himself or herself to demands and tasks greater than those encountered in daily living.