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The Mike Mentzer Evolution?

Can Dr darden and others here chime in on the evolution of mentzers workouts for the general public and his personal personal clients? Also what was the rep cadence that he advocated for the heavy duty training concept? Feel free to post some workout templates if you have some of personal favorite of his heavy duty routines?

In the late 80’s to early 90s, Mentzer started his clients on a 3-day-a-week split routine of 7-9 total sets. He saw right away it led to overtraining for the majority.
So he started a methodical reduction in volume and frequency while keeping records on his clients’ progress.
In February of 1995, he finally arrived at his ultimate routine. Train every 96 hours (4 days) with a total of 3-5 sets for the entire workout.
He claimed when he made the reduction to such low volume and frequency, his clients made progress that was “literally off the charts.”
He also stated that he was reluctant to go to such infrequent training because he believed like everyone else, that muscle atrophy started after 96 hours of no training.
He said that was the MAJOR flaw in Arthur Jones’ theory of training. Jones was correct on intensity, but he was well off the mark on volume and frequency (especially for natural lifters).
Mentzer also said that he was shocked himself when he saw the progress his clients made on such low volume and frequency.
Finally stating, that despite being the arch advocate of lesser training during his competitive years, he was still overtraining and would have trained differently and would have made far better progress.
Respectfully, Steve…

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One finally comment I’d like to add.
After all the lowlife and class-less attacks on Mentzer’s sanity, etc. etc…(including by many in the HIT community!!!)…How is it that now, some 20 years later, Ell Darden and the late Arthur Jones (towards the end of his life), are recommending training just twice a week (Arthur actually said once a week in the very end)…Could it be that Mike wasn’t as crazy as “they say” and was right after all?
Love him or hate him, the man still has a profound effect on BB nearly 20 years after his death!!!
Respectfully, Steve

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I was a client of Mentzer. This is not bash Mike. I learned some things from him.

Where he went wrong was with the consolidation (hardgainer) routines.
1 they are not bodybuilding routines.
2 Too many rest day between workout. Such as 10-14 days.
3 2 sets from 3 sets every 10-14 days

There was some talk about him realizing this at the end of his life.

His brother Ray told me he(Ray) thought the split routines for body building were better. He
added that manage the rest days but not to extremes.

He liked the HD2 splits.

I could talk about what Mike told me to do if anyone is interested later when I have time.

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I think one of the major flaws with Mentzer/Jones methods is they felt intensity ( always taking a set to the max) was the main simulator for size/strength gains.Since it can quickly lead to stagnation, they kept reducing the volume and frequency to compensate for it. In addition, it can potentially lead to injury ( hard on joints/ligaments/tendons), Many have found muscle de conditioning, a loss of size and strength due to such low volume/frequency. I believe this is why Dr Darden utilizes not to failure workouts and seems to generally favor twice per week routines with more than one set per muscle group. It appears that other factors besides failure ( possibly not the most important) are also responsible for muscle growth. i.e. weight progression, volume, tension and fatigue along with a high, but not necessarily max effort. .
Just my thoughts on what I have personally experienced along with many others I hav e read about.

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Dips rule, Yes, I would be interested in your talks with Mike. Also would be interested in what Ray told you…I agree conso. routines are extreme, but really meant for truly hard gainers…Splits with 4 days rest btwn are better for BB purposes…Respectfully, Steve…

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Steve puts across Mentzer’s reasoning for his later routines perfectly.
Unfortunately almost everyone, albeit with a few exceptions i know of had not only nothing like the results that Mentzer said was common with his clients (and never backed up with records like Dr Darden uses as proof of his results) , and many infact found that their physiques had regressed.
So the reality for many of us is that it was Mentzer in his later writings who had the major flaw with the extremities of very low volume and very infrequent training rather than Jones.
Personally I believe Mentzer started off on the right track but the linear fashion in which he advocated meant that most people ended up “progressing” to minimalist routines literally years before it was both necessary or optimal to do so.
I think his routines in his first “revised” Heavy Duty book in the early 90s were far more suitable for the majority of people.
But that is just my take on it.
Mark

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Thanks Mark, appreciate the acknowledgement and input…Did you find your physique regressed as a result of training with just 3-5 sets every 4 days or so?..What’s your training like now?
Respectfully, Steve

Hi Steve
i started off with something similar and eventually ended up training every 9 days doing 2/3 exercises per workout.
It took a while to notice, as my strength was going up and so was my weight (I eventually realised it was all fat and not muscle plus a bit of fat)
If using a split i think every other day , or every 3rd day of 5-7 total sets is a good base for the intermediate and advanced bodybuilder to work with.
For whole body routines I favour between 5 to 8 total sets starting at twice a week and moving eventually towards once a week.
I am currently training every 6th day utilising 7 sets per workout, with almost all being in a negative emphasised fashion.
Mark

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Thanks Mark, I’m 62 (former 220-lb competitive power lifter), I’ve recently started more BB style training, I’m currently training every Mon, Thurs. with a split of 3 to 4 total sets…Always train to failure with 4 to 8 reps and will add negatives to dips and pullups, occasionally…

I’m 5-7 and now weigh in the low 200s…My body fat visually appears pretty low as I have well defined abs but still have some stubborn fat around navel and lower abs…

Here’s my routine: Workout (A): Dead lifts, bench press, bent rows…
Workout (B) Squats, close-grip palms-up pullups, upright rows, calf raises…
Workout © Standing presses, dips, curls…

Week 1: I start with Workout (A) on Monday and then Workout (B) on Thursday.

Week 2: Monday is Workout C and then I go back Workout (B) (to hit legs again)…

Week 3: Workout (A), Workout (B) and so on…

Respectfully, Steve…

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Thanks for the responses in this thread as always very informative and insightful information!

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This never made any sense to me when Mike wrote it in Heavy Duty 2. His routine in Heavy Duty 1 was everything got trained once a week, so he was already giving body parts a minimum of 7 days of rest. The baseline ideal routine still has everything trained every 8 days so it’s not like rest was that much different.

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Dbol, I think Mentzer was mainly concerned with systemic fatigue when he adopted that philosophy…Respectfully, Steve…

Did phone consultations with mike about 20 years ago. Super nice guy but the training once every 4-7 days was way to infrequent for me. Actually turned me off from HIT training for about 15 years. In my opinion the workout he actually used while training himself were much more effective.but recovery seems to be a very individual thing that needs to be worked out in ones own.

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Ray seemed more down to earth. A little more flexible for as exercises and rep ranges.

I talked to him for over an hour. We talked about HD2 like I mentioned. He listened to what I was doing as per Mike. I told him my concerns and issues. He helped with some adjustments.

One thing Ray ask me was what is the most important thing in my life? My answer had nothing to do with lifting weights.

He agreed with me. The point he was trying to make was there is more important things in life.

Meaning do your workout and follow that plan. Then don’t obsees about it. Don’t live for just lifting weights.

Have other goals in life as well.

I think he may have related to what I told him. So I thought he liked to talk about that as well. IT was a good talk

Back to training we talked about getting motivated for your workout. He mentioned some things he has tried.

Like I said he liked HD2 ideal routine. He thought that was better than the extreme consolidation routines.

I had a few ideas on how to taylor it a little better for me. For example dips. With body weight I always have a hard time getting more than 10 to 12. But I could add weight better if I stayed around 6 reps. Much better procress for me.

Ray understood and told me he had a hard time with pushups. Say what? He was so freaking strong but higher rep pushups not his thing.

I dropped deadlifts for weighted back extensions. We talked about low back issues.
A few other little things I probably forgot.

Note this talk was done after I was with Mike on and off for two years. Also a few years after
I stopped HD and got back in shape.

With Mike at the end he had me doing two sets every 10th day. Eating 5500 calories a day. At 5’10" I was 210 pounds. Over a 36" waiste. But a was strong and felt like shit. I flet like it too.

I started on the HD2 ideal routine and made progress. My lifts were going up but Mike thought I should have gained more weight so he kept dialing everything back. Then into the 7 day 3 sets to 10 days 2 sets.

This was over about 8 monthes. In the end we had some words the he did not like.

Looking back in the long run I would hvae done better on the ideal routine the whole time. I was make normal progress. For and average person that is.

Mike’s HD “Theory” is just that. A person has limits.

Anyone want to quess how I got back in shape?

Dr. Dardens book Living longer Stronger with slow reps about 8/8 ish. Also Dr.Darden put out Upside Down Bodybuilding.

Back then I would do the listed arm routine.

Long story short I got back down to 175 and looked and felt much better.

I learned a lot. I learned what works best for me. I learned a person can do things that
they thought they could not do.

I like fullbody routines. I like 2 times a week. Rest days vary.

If I had to split it would an upper and lower body. I would do that split. An upper body day and lower day each week.

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For bodybuilding his 4 day split from the 70s is the best. I also like his 3 day split done as an A/B/A format for extra recovery.

Tried the consolidation style many years ago- got a little stronger but no bigger and felt very detrained and out of shape.

Able to stay leaner and grow with the original splits mentioned above

One thing I’ve never understood is that for all those clients Mike had making allegedly “spectacular” progress he never once documented any of his clients progress with a simple picture- I know he trained Dorian - but where are the pictures of all the regular people he trained???

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I loved Mike Mentzer and I recall reading with great gusto the many articles Mike Mentzer was writing in various muscle magazines . When he quit writing In the magazines I cancelled my subscriptions . It was good stuff but I think that was because he was basically parroting stuff Arthur Jones said earlier in IronMan and like it or not he did go off the deep end in the end.

Brian Johnston, one of the founders of IART, had a business relationship with Mentzer for a period of years, and also followed Mentzer’s training advice for about 2 years. In an interview which can be found on line, he related that Mentzer’s ultra-brief and infrequent training methods did not produce great results for himself. Because of his own disappointing results, he kept pressing Mentzer for evidence of the great results being reported for other clients. None were forthcoming.

Toward the end of their business relationship, he visited Mike, and discovered that Mike maintained no files or records for any of his clients. Brian also observed that, even when Mike trained people in person, he didn’t log anything that happened in the workouts.

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DipsRule, very interesting posts. Thanks.

nice routine.[quote=“guru58, post:10, topic:270883, full:true”]
Thanks Mark, I’m 62 (former 220-lb competitive power lifter), I’ve recently started more BB style training, I’m currently training every Mon, Thurs. with a split of 3 to 4 total sets…Always train to failure with 4 to 8 reps and will add negatives to dips and pullups, occasionally…

I’m 5-7 and now weigh in the low 200s…My body fat visually appears pretty low as I have well defined abs but still have some stubborn fat around navel and lower abs…

Here’s my routine: Workout (A): Dead lifts, bench press, bent rows…
Workout (B) Squats, close-grip palms-up pullups, upright rows, calf raises…
Workout © Standing presses, dips, curls…

Week 1: I start with Workout (A) on Monday and then Workout (B) on Thursday.

Week 2: Monday is Workout C and then I go back Workout (B) (to hit legs again)…

Week 3: Workout (A), Workout (B) and so on…

Respectfully, Steve…
[/quote]

one “work” set per exercise?

Straight sets, no intensifiers?

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