Monday, April 2, 2007

What Really Makes Muscle?

Okay, class, please open to this web page and begin studying:

Okay, class, now what did Bobby Pandour refuse to train with?

That's right, he didn't train with heavy weights. He used only light dumbbell's and he was constantly tensing and flexing his muscles. By modern standards, this is an impossibility. A build like this isn't supposed to be possible without heavy weight training and, ah-HEM, supplementation. Still, Bobby Pandour did it. The pictures are there for anyone to see.

Still, the question is, HOW????

The answer can be found in the writings of the great strongman George Jowett. According to Jowett in his book, "Unrevealed Secrets of Man", the weight was never supposed to be the source of the tension upon the muscles. It is merely supposed to be a tool to focus your CONCENTRATION upon the muscle. If anything, the development of the muscle was coming from the mental concentration upon powerfully flexing the muscle.

That's where so many get it wrong when they're exercising. To exercise without complete mental concentration upon the movement that you're doing will not get the results that you would get if you were devoting all of your mental powers to your workout. Take the ubiquitous pushup: We've all met that guy who said he could do 100 pushups. Then, when he drops down, he's not putting any real effort into them. He's letting his weight drop on the down movement rather than controlling it on the way down. He lets his back go crooked or has his ass in the air. He's not putting any mental focus into his movements and as a result he gets no benefit from them.

That lack of mental concentration is where so many miss out on when they're exercising. Sandow mused about why the more thought he puts into his muscles, the bigger that they get? Modern Science is beginning to realize that when the mind is thinking about a muscle in particular, it sends extra nerve signals to it. These stimuli actually make the muscle grow quicker than if there was no thought of the muscle being worked.

So, when you're working out, be conscious of which muscles are being worked. Once you have realized which muscles are doing the work, focus all of your mental energy on them. Make them work harder. This will make the difference between an effective pushup and a blowhard dumb-ass moving his arms in a pointless waste of motion. You will be doing the impossible: Making muscle without heavy weights.


Mark Winchester Sr. said...

I have (0) zero doubts that ^ this is correct to an extent. It doesn't take 400lb squats, hell it doesn't even take 300lb squats. I am convinced that its entirely possible for a bodybuilder to become as large/strong as his individual genetics allow w/out using a barbell any heavier than 135lbs. Show me someone who can press or lunge 135lbs for at least a triple in perfect form & I'll show you a thickly muscled individual in excellent cardiovasular condition.

Anonymous said...

Deep concentration and a single minded commitment towards achieving your goals will be rewarded with success. Pandour and many of the old school physical culturalists understood the vital importance of the mind-muscle connection. They were not distracted by fancy machines, countless types of supplements or dangerous chemical enhancers.

It was a dedication to hard work, mind-muscle concentration and an expectant attitude. We would do well to re-learn such lessons today!

Bill Gibbons

Mark Winchester Sr. said...

Well....4 months later and I'm even more convinced that what 90% of trainees are doing is WRONG. Anonymous is absolutely correct on his "mind:muscle" observation. I'm larger/thicker than 4 months ago yet I am still using my 135lb barbell. Pumping some "serious" iron is very secondary...its the strength of the mind-muscle connection. The weight simply helps to increase the intensity of the nuerel stimulation.

Whether the result of training is muscle or strength gain is largely determined at conception by a person's genetics. This explains the proverbial 135 skeleton deadlifting 500lbs or the pr of 18in guns being unable to curl 135lbs.

Most people's genetics land somewhere in the middle of the ^ above example. My example simply lists polar opposites in the world of muscular genetics.

Mark Winchester Sr. said...

Another largely misunderstood point is recovery. I firmly beleive that 99+% of people, including myself, usually train too often - well before total recovery has occured. I should clarify that person's training schedule should most definitely not be fixed. Rather it should be in direct proportion to the intensity level of the last w/out. Frequent if the intensity is low like the beginning of a cycle, infrequent like toward the end of a training cycle.

Mark Winchester Sr. said...

I think I should expand on my initial comment (31July10). I firmly beleive 135lbs is plenty of weight for the AVERAGE (me) individual, while the advised # of reps is a bare minimum. To reach the upper limits of they're genetics a person should incrementally increase the # of reps as they're powers of endurance simultaneously increase. I beleive there exists a limit there also, w/ that limit being around 50. There hurculean effort required complete 50 non-stop (no lock-out rests, no re-racks) 1-legged squats or lunges will w/no doubt whatsoever in mind produce at the very least regardless of genetics or starting condition a physique which in everyday life standout as being literally incredible.

The above also applies to the standard press except that rep limit being 25 performed in the same manner as described w/ the 1-legged squat.

Most beginners go into the gym and are intimdated to the point they leave the gym thinking "I'll never be as large/strong as the screaming, juiced-up, steroid-induced balding, loser who w/in 10-15 yrs most likely either be dead or lifelong dialysis/cardiac patient. When in reality the avg 5'7 - 155lb guy has everything required to eventually build to an impressive 205lb (@ 10% bf) physique which will impress any chick w/ enough strength to take pretty much anything life throws at them all while being 100% natural and in the best shape of they're lives. Its up the person how long they maintain it which Jack Lalane is living proof of can be done for a VERY, VERY long time.

Mark Winchester Sr. said...

^I forgot to add this to the above comment.
None other than one of the hardest training bodybuilder in the last 30 yrs reported in b & w print the following. He said THE best, most intense/productive squat w/out he EVER had was his heaviest which was 635lbsx10 but a w/out in which he nonstop for 10 minutes squatted 225lbs. After which he said his legs were so pumped he couldn't walk and his quads were literally spasming continue to contract despite his laying flat on his back on the floor. Now for comparison's sake take my suggested 1 leg squat weight limit of 135lbs and double since he used both legs and you get 270lbs. Notice the similarity???

I have no idea as to how many reps Platz did w/ his 225lbs but it would have to have been at least a hundred doubling my own advised rep limit which btw stands at least a 50% chance of being too few but the larger point here is as the original thread idea was is it does NOT take the ingnorant use of connective-tissue muscle damaging relatively immense poundages as commonly seen being used which ultimately is a low TUL (time under load) and thereby delivering a low nueral response & ultimately inferior exercise results.

As the literal genius Arthur Jones postulated in My First Half-Century re: exercise equipment all thats required is basically a barbell & a few heavy plates and secondarily a chin/dip stand (which can be made very cheaply from threaded metal pipe). Even a genius can be wrong on a few points as he certainly was re: rep ranges since a high % of his followers have experienced muscle tears, tendonitis, and other injuries as result of using too heavy of weights. He was also wrong re: diet IMO. I beleive no one needs more than 100gr carbs per day and most function better on less than 50. Animal fat is far superior energy source than carbs. He was, however, absolutely correct on anabolic steroid use though. I've used and it was singularly the worst mistake I've ever made. Steroids NEVER delivered they're revered results. Everyone I know from 25 yrs ago who used, ever recreationally for any long period of time now has health problems as I do. I have, and have had for 3 yrs now, 2 large blood clots in right leg for which I daily take warfarin (blood thinner) and probably have a fair degree of atherosclerosis. The largest muscle mass increases I've experienced have been the results of high volume, medium weight (less than 275lbs) squats, deadlifts and presses/rows. I was, as I am now, 100% clean/natural during these size/strenght increases.

I beleive regular hard, high rep very painful (muscular AND cardio wise) resistance exercise combined w/ a low carb high animal fat & extensive anti-oxidant supplementation (green tea, CoQ10, etc.) are some of the most key parts of a heathly lifestyle through which is the most efficient path to maximum lbm results from barbell training.

^ All this does NOT require thousands or even hundreds of dollars. A 300 chinese knock-off Olympic barbell set costs less than $150, the chin/dip rack less than $25. These should last the user his entire life and the potential benefits are nearly limitless.

Mark Winchester Sr. said...

Here's a clinical study proving you don't need heavy weights to grow muscle.


Even the revered Paul Anderson inadvertantly proved squatting rediculous poundages is totally unnecessary. Look at pics of Anderson when he was "discoverd". He was "only" squatting 450lbsx10, then later he worked up to 900+lbs x3 yet he wasn't larger. In fact his neck/traps shrank.

Here's another story proving the same thing using weights which were only 30% of the same weight used to induce fatigue between 5-10 reps which usually equated to 25 reps.


I predict w/in the next decade we'll all look back after a high volume - light weight w/out and wonder why "idiots" were injuring themselves just to knock out a 10 rep set w/ a heavy weight.

Mark Winchester Sr. said...

W/ this post I need to do a couple of things.

#1. I made an error in an earlier post what I meant to have said was Tom Platz said his most productive/effective w/out was NOT his 635lbsx10 reps but his 225lbs x 10 minutes squat w/out.

#2 I have to totally honest in that I have serious reservations that Bobby Pandour/Wladyslaw Kurcharczyk obtained his very thick triceps using a pr of 10lb dumbells, although it is possible because one of my most basic convictions re: strength training is no lifting regardless of weight used or volume can alter a person's genes. Pandour/Kurcharczyk was born w/ an usually high # of muscle fibers in his triceps & no amount of hypertrophy/hyperplasia can equal that. Compare photos of Pandour & Cadine and you'll understand what I mean. Cadine despite pressing 300+lbs never had Pandour's tricep thickness who never to my knowledge pressed anymore than at the most 135lbs.

#3 As I live & learn I become more & more convinced that for muscular size the most effective method is using around 80% of 1RM for many, many reps. This is usually best implemented through many, many sets of no more than 5-7 reps per set. A person's training frequency for size is normally no more than 1x per wk w/ some (me) needing as much as 3 wks between high volume w/outs. In fact there's a medical/clinical study which proved through MRI's tests a single eccentric w/out can take as long as 6 wks to begin to recover from. < This admittedly is an extreme example but factual nonetheless.

#4 I continue to stand by my initial claim that the use of rediculously heavy poundages is not only dangerous it, despite gym logic, is counterproductive. For most I really don't think the use of much more than 135lbs is needed for excellent results & I am convinced that no one, not even Ronnie Coleman needs to use more than 225lbs in the two most productive exercises (the lunge and the press). At the most (even Big Ron) anyone who can lunge w/ 225lbs for 20-30 sets of 5 and press the same weight for the same sets/reps will undoubtedly be larger than 90+% of men in the world. Thats only 90lbs heavier than the avg guy needs to use. I honestly doubt Ronnie Coleman himself could legitmately lunge 225lbs for 100reps in 1 w/out. Remember there's a helluva lotta differene between accomplishing my recommended max weight/reps w/ no more than minimal rest between sets and taking ALL day to do it. TUL is equally important as every other factor.

Mark Winchester Sr. said...

I made another slight mistake. I said Magnetic Resonance Imaging machines were used in the muscle recovery study which was wrong. Ultrasound equipment was used to measure the swelling of the tissues execised which in this case is more accurate.

Here's the study:


This is the most extensive study I'm aware of proving muscle recovery following intense exercise takes much longer than just the subsiding of soreness.

MW Sr. said...

In another of my campaign against I'd like to w/ this post refer to the fact in Bulletin #1, Chpt 8 Full Squats - Arthur Jones listed for most people the use of no more than 300lbs was all thats required to get all your going to get out of squats w/ a significantly less poundage for some people delivering the same degree of results. I think this also applies to the Deadlift as well. In most gyms if your using less than 405lbs your "kidding yourself" which in reality usually results in very shallow squats done in poor form.

Jones was truly a genius exercise visionary.

Mark Winchester Sr. said...

I think I've finally found some relatively modern irrefuteable proof that the use of lighter weights ( at least compared to the total bullshit you read of today) is largely more effective and healthier.

Since 1958 Serge Nubret has been using no more than 205lbs in his bench press and 300lbs in this squats and was still using them at 70yrs old last I checked. Its interesting how there isn't a single, not a SINGLE person who competed against him in his Mr Universe or Mr World wins who today even remotely resembles his former appearance except for Serge Nubret. Besides not using steroids the only difference between Nubret & his competitors is his advocation of light weights and high sets. Hmmmm...since I had no knowledge of this prior to 3 days ago and my previous post re: using 135lbs was July of last year maybe, just maybe Pandour, Nubret, and I are on to something.

While Nubret suggests a 2x a wk training frequency he also uses a different compound exercise each w/out so essentially each exercise is only done 1x wk. Which definitely contradicts the 2x day 5 days a wk BS the ghost writer lies about in every training article supposedly writtten by the current 300+lb Mr Whatever. Which in iteself is yet another IFBB pro lie...none of them even big Ron at contest time weigh more than 250lbs which is probably stretching the truth a helluva lot.

So there you have it. Stick to lighter weights, do 20-30 sets of 5-10 reps, don't follow a 100% protein diet, don't listen to aome 1 set joint/connective tissue destroying HIT idiot, don't train more than 2x wk (more like 1x wk), consume 25gr fiber per day, drink diet green tea and you stand a pretty good chance of looking alot like a seventy (70) yr old Serge Nubret.

Mark Winchester Sr. said...

I continue increase my comprehension that men such Pandour & Saldo despite training over a hundred years had a deeper understanding of what real bodybuilding is than ANYONE since them. Not even the literal genious Arthur Jones understood that it is NOT the weight being used its the mind/muscle connection which determines the level of intensity of contraction of the muscle(s) being exercised.

I am going to learn as much as I possibly can as fast as I can re: the mind/muscle connection the author ^ related to earlier here when I know enough to make a concise, logical, informative post I'll make it.

Mark Winchester Sr. said...

I still beleive Pandour did not use heavy weights to acquire his incredble physique. His physique is basically the same as a competitive gymnist (90% upper body) the main difference between he simply was much more hypertrophically responsive most gymnists (probably all of them in his time) and he & others recongnized this responsiveness and publicized it.
^ This would explain his relative light bodyweight whereas if he had equal lower body development he would been at least 30lbs heaver IMO.
I guessing Kurcharczyk used gymnists movements (dip/chins, etc.) and used his brother (who probably was similair in bodyweight)in them just as he said he trained his lower body carrying his brother up & down flights of stairs.
You show me someone as responsive as Kurcharczyk as whose capable of doing dips/chins w/ 160lbs strapped to his body & I'll show you someone who most likely will strongly resemble him physique wise.
Personally I am much more responsive and more interested in lower body development. The acquisition of a Wladyslaw Kurcharczyk - like lower body is basically the byproduct of also developing incredible physical health. A much more efficient and effective method than mindless/boring hours on a stationary bike or treadmill IMO.

Mark Winchester Sr. said...

I neglected to add the following to my last post. I have since changed my opinion on THE most effective exercise. I now beleive the Front Squat is a much superior exercise even to the lunge. It is superior because it eleminates a much higher percentage of gluteal involvment than the any other form of the squat thereby making the exercise much harder and ultimately more productive. This done primarily by the fact you must maintain a much more upright posture in the Front Squat or otherwise you'll drop the bar. This also dramatically reduces the required poundage used in the exercise but its still much heavier than my July 31 assertion of 135lbs. That < being said I still beleive no needs to use much more than if anymore than 300lbs. The person who can do a legitimate set of 5-10 Front Squats w/ 315lbs will undoubtedly have massive thighs and significant ab, delt & trap development. This ^ is in addition to the Front Squat delivering superb physical health by way of heart:lung & digestive system dramatically increased function. All being accomplished w/out the idiotic use of rediculously heavy poundage which always takes the form of very sloppy form resulting in needless bodybuilding related lifetime injuries (rotater cuffs, patella tendon, lumbar disc injuries) which will easily prevent the superior health benefits of heavy physical exercise, more than any other activity I'm aware of even diet modification.

Mark Winchester Sr. said...

IMO the avg man (5'8", 155-185lbs) doesn't need more than 225lbs w/ the majority probably needing no more than bodyweight on the bar to get all they're going to get out of the Front Squat.

Justin_PS said...

Okay, Mark, we get the idea. It's time for you to get your own blog and start writing your experiences down and not using my blog to spout off!

Justin_PS said...

I wish you luck in your future endevours.