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RT_Nomad, How Do You Train?

@RT_Nomad we kind of started this in a back training thread, but I’d love to hear more about your training style!

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Through the years my style over training changed.
My training style in my 20’s and 30’s was body parts worked twice a week over 6 days and Sunday off.
In my 40’s I switched to 4 days a week (MWFS), where major muscles (Chest, Back, Thighs) were worked once a week.

I always strived to lift as much weight as possible. My strength was how I gauged progress in putting on muscle. The scales didn’t matter and I can be fooled by the mirror.

Please give me a while to add further. My wife just had foot surgery and I need to help her get back on her feet, no pun intended. She is being released from the hospital today.

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This is kinda my approach too. Although, the for me, I don’t necessarily trust the mirror, but do measure the waist at the navel and arms to gauge if weight gain is good or bad.

Obviously take your time. I certainly hope she recovers as easily as possible

Just wanted to chime in to say all the best to your wife as she recovers and that I’m also interested in hearing how you have trained over the years, especially as you’ve aged.

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Best Wishes.

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If id knew this 17 years ago, id be twice the size and strenght right now. I feel like i have lost 80% of my training life by doing some bullshit.

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I am also very interested in hearing all about your training RT!

I just got my wife home from the hospital and got her somewhat settled, at least for now…

Allow to give you an idea about how I view my genetic potential. Genetic potential is important to assist you in managing your expectations. I started out at 6’0" and 160lbs in my sophomore year (1968) in college. I was a late bloomer and never was confident that I was talented enough to play high school team sports, though I was on the track team as a high jumper, but not very good (best height was 5’6"). I was a fast runner, but not fast enough to run any of the sprints for our track team.

I have stated in other threads that I never lifted a weight until I was able to do 20 pullups and 20 parallel bar dips, and did those in the gymnastics area at college. I was okay at the high bar and able to do giant swings, and could do a few tricks on the still rings.

When I started lifting weight I noticed that I was making some progress and catching up to others who had been lifting much longer than me. I had some muscle magazines and started trying some of the routines, but those usually stagnated my progress because the routines were far more training than my body could recover from. They were primarily Weider magazines, as it had the most varied routines done by the likes of Larry Scott, Dave Draper, and Sergio Oliva. I got to about 165lbs and noticeably improved my body composition. Then is when I set the goal to have the best physique at my college. I’m not saying I actually achieved that level, but I felt like was very close.

So where to next? I needed a method to measure how good my physique actually was. In November 1970 there was the AAU Mr. All South coming to Durham, NC. I knew absolutely no on who have ever competed in a bodybuilding contest. But I trained hard as I knew how. I entered as one of 15 competitors, and was lucky that they placed all 15 of first through 15th. I came in dead last. (BTW Kent Kuehn won and Jim Handley was second)

But that contest came with a valuable lesson. Before the contest we had a “sit down” with the judges, which was known as the interview portion of the contest that was weighted 5 points out of a possible 80 points: Symmetry-25 points, Muscularity-25 points, and Presentation-25 points. The head judge told us all, and I can remember it this very day, “You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t have chest, shoulders and arms. We will be looking for legs, abs, and back.” I was a long legged 6’0" kid who never did a squat or a leg press.

Where does genetic potential come into play in all that? I never thought I had the genetics to be anywhere near the best, but I thought I had plenty of room to improve, so I never had unrealistic expectations, thus I was not easily mentally defeated. I just went back to the gym to bring up the weak points. which was everywhere, but also to focus on the lagging points.

As I look back through my competitive days to try to assess my relative genetic potential compared to the population, I say compared to a 5 card dealt poker hand, I was dealt 3 Jacks. I had get better genetics than a vast percentage of people, but there were plenty out there better, and much better than the hand I was dealt.

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I have no idea when most of you started training. But the methods considered optimal have changed through the decades. For instance, I really don’t believe anyone who competed in bodybuilding contests in the '70’s and up to the mid '80’s did cardio. We dieted to lose fat, and we might increase the volume of the workouts by higher reps, like from 6 to 8 reps, up to 10 to 12 reps. Body image had yet to catch on with the general public.

Training to failure didn’t seem to get any traction until Arthur Jones and the Mentzer brothers. Very few of the people I trained with went to failure often. Occasionally, a few guys would do some forced reps, usually on bench press, or curls. As I understood and attempted to do an Arthur Jones routine, I felt my progress regressed. I went back to the traditional sets and progressive weight increases when possible.

Another aspect that I find odd is the idea of “bulking” or “cutting”, and when to decide to do which. Now my case was different that I bulked after a contest and cut for the contest, so my case doesn’t pertain here. What was commonly done in my southern coastal town was as fall started and the temperatures cooled it was time to add some calories to get an edge to gain some muscle. As the winter faded it was time to prepare for the beach! Absolutely no one wondered when to cut or to bulk.

Allow me to add a comment about my genetics here. I have been blessed with a propensity to maintain a nice body composition. I never got love handles or belly pooch. I put on fat fairly evenly as I gained weight. So much of my experience never had the need to be concerned about needing to “cut”. My sleep apnea prevented me from weighing over 255lbs, so I had to restrict calories if I got that heavy. I’ll talk more about diet later, but I ate high protein always.

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This is awesome. Thanks for writing this all out. I hope your wife is well.

Are you from NC? I grew up there.

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No, I’m from Jacksonville, FL and have lived here since 1951 when my parents moved here when I was 3 years old.

I went to NC State University (in Raleigh) to study nuclear engineering, which I never worked anything pertaining to that field. I played rugby there my last two years. I loved that game.

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Good to see this going!

I’m sure I read you mention before about alternating training in strength and Hypertrophy focused blocks. This is something I used to do years ago and have certainly neglected the strength aspect the past few years (in the lower rep ranges)

When you have time could you maybe lay out what a weeks strength focused training looked like?

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Most all of my strength training priority was a paradigm shift that the guys in the gym transitioned to. When I got back home from college I needed a gym to train. There were two options. One was Sparta Gym, which was on Main Street. Even in 1971 it was a hole-in-the-wall attended by who knows who, but it just was too much of a shock for me to venture there. I never even looked inside. The other location was the YMCA downtown. That is where I decided to go.

The YMCA had some history there, in that is the gym that Joe Dube trained. He was no longer lifting there, but left behind a number of bent Olympic bars. So a lot of weight was thrown around in there by one superheavyweight Olympic world champion (1969). This is in the back of my mind throughout the rest of my life.

But in 1971 I was in search of the muscle “pump.” This stemmed from reading Weider’s magazine and idolizing the amazing physiques and following their routines that recommended following Weider Principles, which included high volume and getting the “pump”. I was making progress, though not at a very fast pace. But one exercise I always went heavy was the all important Bench Press. Usually I tried a max single every week. We would warmup with a few reps going up in weight, until we got to our max. Then give it one or two tries. We would back down and do a couple sets of 10 reps with a weight we could do. and then it was onto the quest for a “pump”.

Around 1973 a couple of guys opened a gym in a very rich neighborhood that had a couple Nautilus machines: the Pullover Machine and the Bicep/Tricep Machine, a little later he got a Hip and Back Machine. It was a very well equipped gym. Dumbbells went up to 90lbs. And they had a vertical leg press machine. My squat technique was very poor at the time. We tried some of the Arthur Jones training philosophy for a while. That is really not heavy weight training IMO. We did the pre-exhaustion with flies followed by presses. My bench press strength took a step back. This disappointed me greatly!

A little social history of the public’s awareness of weightlifting: Questions I heard when someone realized I must have lifted weights

  • Until about 1975: “How much can you lift?” Try answering that to someone who has no idea what they were asking.
  • From then until about 2000: “What can you bench?” And it seemed nothing else mattered.
  • From 2000 onward it seems the public is a little more sophisticated and more people are lifting weights, so there is usually no comment one way or the other

I say that because the public was impressed with how much a person could bench press. I feel in that trap to for awhile. I worked to increase my weight in the bench press, but the remainder of my workout centered more for getting a pump.

I’ll continue with some specific routines a little later, as I became aware of Peary Rader.
(Please keep in mind we had no internet.)

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RT NOMAD…is there any reason why you regressed when you applied Arthur Jones philosophies…

don’t want to start anti Jones derail of this thread, just curious of what it was about his philosophies that failed you

I’ll get into how I felt the Arthur Jones principles had an impact on my training as we go. I don’t care if anyone disagrees with me, because I am 72 and nothing I can do now to alter the course of how they could positively added to muscle growth in my youth. That is all history now. Accept my assessment or not. I say what I believe worked for me, and what I believe didn’t. I am not saying I am right or wrong, just what I believe.

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The following is the background to my interest in Nautilus:

In the 1970 Mr All South contest I competed in, the guest poser was Casey Viator. He was the absolute most amazing physique I had ever seen, and by a long way. We talked with him briefly and he mentioned the Nautilus Equipment. That was all I needed to know (at the time). This was the holy grail that I was searching! The answer to spectacular muscle building secret was at hand!

Thus starts my search for getting to access some of this “magic” equipment. Lucky for me Arthur Jones lived in Deland (or Lake Helen to be exact) and that was about an hour and a half drive from where I lived. I meandered around and eventually found his house. Lucky for me (or not, depending how you look at it, considering those who have met Arthur Jones) he was a home. We talked awhile with my primary goal to find some way to access the use of his machines, though the only one he had at that time was the pullover machine. It must have been an original as the cam was huge.

Now fast forward to around 1973. The new gym had the Pullover, Bicep/Tricep, and Hip and Back machines. Now I was about to make some phenomenal improvement.

My “wanter” was so intense, that I had reached a high level of naivete.

This gives you an idea of my expectations for Nautilus, regardless if it was unrealistic, or not.

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We’re truly lucky to have a man of your experience on this site.

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As I get more into the specifics of my training, IMO, it is just as important to know why we changed our training strategy as is the makeup of the specific training routines.

This style routine started in 1971 at the YMCA. I was about 185lbs and could bench press a little over 225lbs. I was competing in usually two contests per year, and yet to place in the top 5. As I had said, I was picking training routines for different body parts from the Weider magazines and applying them to complement my quest for big bench press numbers. Those body part routines usually had 4 to 6 exercises, most of which were isolation movements of 6 sets of 8 reps. I should add that the bench press was more like a social event, if any one else was there. Usually there were at least 3 of us on the bench at a time. It was trained like a competition to see who could best their old PR. There was some effort made to all meet at the gym on the same time, which was usually around 5:00pm to 6:00pm as we all had day jobs.

My calves were better developed than my thighs, but neither were exceptional by any means. I suppose I could say my calves were okay and my thighs were large for bird legs. I had started trying to squat after my first contest in November 1970. I was trying to develop my thighs and not my hips and waist, so I did rather narrow squats. I didn’t know it at the time, but I made a bad miscalculation. I thought wide squats would widen my hips and waist. Also I am long legged and short waisted. This incorrect mindset lasted until I turned 40 years old.

The YMCA had an inverted leg press, squat rack, and an old combo leg extension/leg curls machine. I cannot recall the weight I was doing then, but I think I got my squat up to 225lbs for 10 reps. My form was terrible. It seemed my hips raised and I good morning-ed the lockout. Yuck. The inverted leg press was a much better feel throughout the movement. (Too bad I could not get the hint that a wider squat stance would have provided a better feel throughout the movement.) I did 6 sets of 10 reps on both the leg extensions and leg curls. Note that I only did max singles on the bench press.

By the end of this training method I weighed about 195lbs, and was bench pressing about 315lbs.

I should add what role AAS played throughout these years.
1971 thru 1976: I was only taking 10 to 15mg of Dianabol, typically 6 week cycles with 4 weeks off.
1977: I added 100mg Deca per week (It only came in 100mg/cc at that time) and 10mg Anavar, usually instead of Dianabol
1978 thru 1997: I added 200mg testosterone per week and various other injectables and orals, totaling between 300 to 500mg per week. Cycles extended to 8 or 10 weeks. Off season was 8 week cycles and contest 10 week cycle, but I usually did 2 or 3 contests during that 10 week cycle. The most important contest was at the end of the ten week cycle.

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It is now around1973 and a new gym is opening in Avondale, a rather wealthy location in town. It was called the Body Shoppe. They had two Nautilus machines, both cable and plate loaded and blue in color. One was the Pullover Machine and the other was the Bicep/Tricep Machine. I was excited. I was about to put on some real muscle. The main things I can remember about the training philosophy is that the pressing movements were pre-exhausted with dumbbell raises or flies, and the insane leg routine.

The leg routine was brutal. My squat had been going up in weight and my leg press was getting impressive (though I cannot recall the weight). The routine (supposedly from Arthur Jones) consisted of 4 exercises done for 20 reps with no rest between exercises. The gym owners had all the exercises in the same location of the gym:

  1. Inverted Leg Press
  2. Leg Extension
  3. Squats
  4. Leg Curls (Extensions and Curls on the same machine)

Put on the leg press the amount of weight you thought you could do 20 reps, and the same with the other 3 exercises. The 20 rep leg presses were hard enough as I had only been training with 10 reps. Then the leg extensions the burn in my quads got intense. Followed by a pitiful 135lb squats where my breath was nearly gone and form was comical. I usually couldn’t complete all 20 reps. Then finally the leg curls which weren’t so hard except I was totally out of breath. At the end I collapsed to the floor and laid there at least 10 minutes. The rest of my workout suffered greatly.

It should noted that we did not abandon our 6 day a week training and that could be responsible for the results we obtained. As best I can remember we trained each body part 2 times a week. We had not totally dropped some of the Weider training philosophy. But we did drop the “King of Exercises”, the bench press, as a strength gauge. We were bench pressing after dumbbell flies. I got to where I could dumbbell fly a lot of weight. At least I thought it was, with the 90lb dumbbells. Instead of multiple sets we did 3 pre-exhaustion supersets.

Every once in awhile someone would ask, “What can you bench?” So we would usually go back to our old bench press social for a workout. I found that I had lost some poundage on my 1 rep max. You need to know that a person’s power on the bench press was pretty much the pecking order of the alpha males. There was huge peer pressure to have a good bench.

My personal opinion of the above. I do not believe maximum benefit is attainable using only pre-exhaustion strategy. IMO, big compound movements should be the priority of any body part training. That should be done when you have the most to give.

Next: A young powerlifter joins the gym…

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