T Nation

Question for Mighty Stu

First of all while this is directed at Stu anyone else with experience can chime in (note experience not hypothetical advice)

I’ve noticed that several times you’ve stated that early on in your lifting career you simply chased weights whereas now you don’t particularly mind what you are lifting (pre-surgery i mean anyway). I was wondering if you feel as though those early years were beneficial in terms of building a basic level of strength and allowing linear progression? or if you could go back and change how you trained you would start with your most recent style which is more about feeling the muscle than moving weight?

sorry for such a long question! and i hope the shoulder is recovering well

FYI, Stu has his own thread. It’s stickied at the top.

i approve of this question!

let’s all pray for little or no shit-stormery.

[quote]george1011 wrote:
First of all while this is directed at Stu anyone else with experience can chime in (note experience not hypothetical advice)

I’ve noticed that several times you’ve stated that early on in your lifting career you simply chased weights whereas now you don’t particularly mind what you are lifting (pre-surgery i mean anyway). I was wondering if you feel as though those early years were beneficial in terms of building a basic level of strength and allowing linear progression? or if you could go back and change how you trained you would start with your most recent style which is more about feeling the muscle than moving weight?

sorry for such a long question! and i hope the shoulder is recovering well[/quote]

This is actually a very good question. One that while it will have a lot of differing opinions on a web forum such as this, will almost certainly have most (I have to say most lest someone start throwing quotes from Flex magazine) pros ,natural and assisted, in agreement.

With my own past experience, my body developed with huge strength increases fairly quicker once I began training. It took quite some time though before I learned the benefits of proper nutrition, or even better methods to use the weights to achieve my goals, not merely to lift them. As I progressed from the time I consider the start of my “intelligent training with a purpose”, through my various competitive achievements, the actual numerical weights that I would routinely hoist in the gym went down quite a bit. Not due to lagging strength levels, but to a proper understanding of the actual role the weights play in physical development.

I’ve said on countless threads over the years that your muscles do not know the number written on the weight being clutched in your calloused paws. All they know is “damn this is heavy, we better bust our asses to move it or else we’re gonna get crushed!” So it’s not truly the actual measure of resistance, but the PERCEIVED resistance that will cause any stimulation. Yes, people will argue that a heavier workload will result in more motor units being recruited, but it’s not the load itself, as a smaller muscle will obviously perceive a greater strain with 100 lbs than a naturally larger one would. Again, perceived strain - I’m smaller, I have to work harder.

Of course things get much more complicated than simply the size of the muscles being worked. Speed of movements, addressing strength differentials of eccentric and concentric portions, pausing and points in the ROM and de-loading the muscle being worked… these all factor in.

Shaun Ray once said that he was so adept at training that he could get a great workout with nothing but a pair of 35 pound dumbells.

Similarly, at a meeting just yesterday with various WNBF promoters and judges, a couple of very experienced Pros and I were chatting (Anthony Monetti and Richard Krol). Both have been around the game for many years, work as top trainers, coaches, judges, and have placed very well at some of the top pro shows in the world. In discussing my shoulder injury, Richard stated that he was shocked to see me on occasion out at Bev Francis’s gym inclining 225 lbs close to a contest. Now, to me, that was a step back weight wise. I had been incline pressing 275 lbs for reps, not simply for years, but even during the first couple of contest preps. 225-245, which was the weight range I settled on since about 2010, seemed just right for me to get enough stress where I needed it, but not so heavy that I neglected all of the tiny considerations that allowed me to get the most physique-wise from the movement. Rich said that he never went about 185 lbs, and as a Pro who’s in his early 40’s, and seems to still get better with every contest, who can argue?

The benefit of my shoulder injury, and my brother was quick to point this out, was that in having to relearn a lot of motions and movements, my muscles will respond to very light weights. Sure He expects me to pack some size on before next December, but he also tells me that it will be about a year’s time before my strength fully returns. So let’s see… complete hypertrophy from stupidly light weights. Why? because my muscles perceive the resistance as a serious stress.

In essence, despite the fact that I’ve always been a naturally strong guy, I’ve spent my better years finding ways to TRAIN AROUND MY STRENGTH, in order to grow. Sure it’s a great feeling to throw big weights around in the gym. Hell, I love it, and surely hope to get back to where I was at the top of my game. But, if I had to choose between regaining my strength levels, or regaining my size yet never being able to lift what I once could, it’d be no contest for me. I’m a bodybuilder. I couldn’t care less how much I can lift.

S

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:

[quote]george1011 wrote:
First of all while this is directed at Stu anyone else with experience can chime in (note experience not hypothetical advice)

I’ve noticed that several times you’ve stated that early on in your lifting career you simply chased weights whereas now you don’t particularly mind what you are lifting (pre-surgery i mean anyway). I was wondering if you feel as though those early years were beneficial in terms of building a basic level of strength and allowing linear progression? or if you could go back and change how you trained you would start with your most recent style which is more about feeling the muscle than moving weight?

sorry for such a long question! and i hope the shoulder is recovering well[/quote]

This is actually a very good question. One that while it will have a lot of differing opinions on a web forum such as this, will almost certainly have most (I have to say most lest someone start throwing quotes from Flex magazine) pros ,natural and assisted, in agreement.

With my own past experience, my body developed with huge strength increases fairly quicker once I began training. It took quite some time though before I learned the benefits of proper nutrition, or even better methods to use the weights to achieve my goals, not merely to lift them. As I progressed from the time I consider the start of my “intelligent training with a purpose”, through my various competitive achievements, the actual numerical weights that I would routinely hoist in the gym went down quite a bit. Not due to lagging strength levels, but to a proper understanding of the actual role the weights play in physical development.

I’ve said on countless threads over the years that your muscles do not know the number written on the weight being clutched in your calloused paws. All they know is “damn this is heavy, we better bust our asses to move it or else we’re gonna get crushed!” So it’s not truly the actual measure of resistance, but the PERCEIVED resistance that will cause any stimulation. Yes, people will argue that a heavier workload will result in more motor units being recruited, but it’s not the load itself, as a smaller muscle will obviously perceive a greater strain with 100 lbs than a naturally larger one would. Again, perceived strain - I’m smaller, I have to work harder.

Of course things get much more complicated than simply the size of the muscles being worked. Speed of movements, addressing strength differentials of eccentric and concentric portions, pausing and points in the ROM and de-loading the muscle being worked… these all factor in.

Shaun Ray once said that he was so adept at training that he could get a great workout with nothing but a pair of 35 pound dumbells.

Similarly, at a meeting just yesterday with various WNBF promoters and judges, a couple of very experienced Pros and I were chatting (Anthony Monetti and Richard Krol). Both have been around the game for many years, work as top trainers, coaches, judges, and have placed very well at some of the top pro shows in the world. In discussing my shoulder injury, Richard stated that he was shocked to see me on occasion out at Bev Francis’s gym inclining 225 lbs close to a contest. Now, to me, that was a step back weight wise. I had been incline pressing 275 lbs for reps, not simply for years, but even during the first couple of contest preps. 225-245, which was the weight range I settled on since about 2010, seemed just right for me to get enough stress where I needed it, but not so heavy that I neglected all of the tiny considerations that allowed me to get the most physique-wise from the movement. Rich said that he never went about 185 lbs, and as a Pro who’s in his early 40’s, and seems to still get better with every contest, who can argue?

The benefit of my shoulder injury, and my brother was quick to point this out, was that in having to relearn a lot of motions and movements, my muscles will respond to very light weights. Sure He expects me to pack some size on before next December, but he also tells me that it will be about a year’s time before my strength fully returns. So let’s see… complete hypertrophy from stupidly light weights. Why? because my muscles perceive the resistance as a serious stress.

In essence, despite the fact that I’ve always been a naturally strong guy, I’ve spent my better years finding ways to TRAIN AROUND MY STRENGTH, in order to grow. Sure it’s a great feeling to throw big weights around in the gym. Hell, I love it, and surely hope to get back to where I was at the top of my game. But, if I had to choose between regaining my strength levels, or regaining my size yet never being able to lift what I once could, it’d be no contest for me. I’m a bodybuilder. I couldn’t care less how much I can lift.

S[/quote]

Such a good post, something I’ve slowly been learning and applying over these past few months. It’s no question that I quickly added some size, lowering the weight, focusing on the pump and working the actual muscle, upping my reps and lowering my rest periods.

Idc what anyone says TUT, squeezing muscles being worked, rest periods, the pump are all so important for maximizing size potential. A lot more important than hoisting a heavy triple.

I do have to say as well, that I am glad I got really strong and do usually do one movement per workout where I focus on weight and strength progression. It has allowed me to still use respectable weight on all exercises, even though it’s a lot less than before. However it’s not like you are weaker, you are just tailoring form and making exercises essentially harder to work the muscle instead of the movement.