Hello dear friends. Today I have the honor of interviewing a man that wrote history in bodybuilding, either as a competitor or as a trainer. I am talking, of course, about Mike Mentzer. He won the 1978 Mr.Universe with the first perfect score in history - 300 points. He did so using brief and infrequent high-intensity workouts, which he has popularized over the years through seminars, books, and his innumerable magazine articles. "Healthy mind in a healthy body". That's what the ancient Greeks used to say and Mike Mentzer was the first who applied this wise saying to bodybuilding. The interview he gave to me is very interesting since he talks more about HIT training, as well as about the 1980 Mr. Olympia. Read on...
1. Q. I have read many articles of yours and you always advise bodybuilders that they should train with high intensity, once every 5 - 7 days, and every training session should not last more than 20 minutes in order to achieve maximum muscle stimulation. My question to you is, if 20 years ago you had the knowledge that you have today, would you train with the same frequency and duration for a bodybuilding competition or might you change something?
M.M. Given the knowledge I have today, I certainly wouldn't train in the same fashion I did 20 years ago. In fact, I wrote in my book "Heavy Duty I, "Despite having been the arch-advocate of lesser training [20 years ago] I, too, was still overtaining." What I have learned over the last 11 years, since taking up personal training, is that weight resistance is much, much more stressful than the average bodybuilder might fathom.
Lifting weights places stresses on the body that might be best illustrated by the following. Imagine a flat, horizontal line drawn on a piece of paper from left to right,with the flat line representing zero effort. Now imagine a squiggly sine wave come off the zero effort flat line, the sine wave representing efforts of various sorts. You get out of bed each morning, shower, brush your teeth, walk to your car, drive to work and so forth.
These are small efforts causing the sine wave to barely move above the flat line.
Then, all of a sudden, you come to that point in the day where you do a heavy set of Squats to failure. All of a sudden the sine wave departs straight up off the paper and across the street! The distance from the flat line to the apex of that spike represents not only the greater intensity with the Squats but, also, the much greater inroad into recovery ability than our usual, daily little efforts.
I wrote in my book "Heavy Duty II: Mind and Body" that the idea is not "more is better" or "less is better" but "precise is best"; and as I learned from training close to 2,000 people myself that the precise amount of exercise required to induce optimal growth stimulation isn't nearly as much as you've been led to believe or would like to believe.
Remember, the idea is not to go into the gym to discover how many sets you can do or how long you can mindlessly endure. Instead, the idea is to go into the gym as an informed, rational individual and do only the precise amount of exercise required to stimulate growth and no more; then get the hell out of the gym, go home and GROW! A bodybuilding workout, by God, is not an endurance contest!
Last year I was in 80 percent of my shape, and my leg workouts lasted six minutes and upper body workouts 15 minutes, training once every four to seven days.
2. Q. After so many years of experience and your long time efforts to perfect the HIT system, do you think that you have reached a final point and it is impossible to make it even better, or do you believe that you might find some new theories in the future and you might revise some of your theories that you have already said?
M.M. I firmly believe that, in terms of practical necessity, I've "perfected" high-intensity training theory and application. I started out training my clients using Arthur Jones' application of 12-20 sets per bodypart with my clients. No one made progress, and many regressed. I knew the problem wasn't undertraining; it had to be overtraining. So I cut the sets back to seven to nine sets three days a week and some made minimal progress for while, but hit a plateau soon thereafter. At this point, I was in a quandary. Again, I knew the problem wasn't undertaining, but, how could it be that less training was required?
It actually kinda scared me for a brief time. How could it be that I was discovering a radically different application of high-intensity than Jones and everyone else? At one time I actually thought Jones was infallible, that he was so incredibly smart,he had to be right. He was basically correct with the theory: To be productive, exercise must be intense, brief and infrequent. Where he was wrong was on the application of the theory. I kept reducing the volume and frequency of my clients training until, finally, they were performing only two to four sets per workout once every four to seven, and in some cases every 10 - 14 days. The volume and frequency requirements of any given individual depend on his innate recovery ability, with individual recovery ability, like all genetic traits, being expressed across a very broad range.
To understand this better, I suggest the reader purchase my book "Heavy Duty II: Mind and Body" from my Web site at mikementzer.com. For those who would like personalized instruction might strongly consider a phone consult. For rates and info on consults, call 310-377-2615. My success with my phone clients has been remarkable. I must say that my ability to communicate ideas via the spoken word is outstanding. Consider a phone consult. I guarantee results!
3. Q. I would like to turn back 20 years and ask you about the most controversial Mr. Olympia in history. I am talking, of course, about the 1980 Mr. Olympia that took place in Sydney. Everybody thought at that time that the winner would prevail after a strong battle between you and Frank Zane, as it had happened exactly 1 year before in the 1979 Mr. Olympia. Surprisingly, you finished 5th and Mr.Zane finished 3rd. What do you believe really happened that day?
M.M. The 1980 Mr. Olympia was definitely fixed. The promoter of that contest was Paul Graham, a very, very close friend of Arnold's. As it turned out, while the rules stated that individuals had to officially enter their application to compete one month before the contest, the IFBB bent the rule and let Arnold enter the day before! He waited that long because by that point he knew who the judges were. CBS, who was there to film the event for future televising, was convinced it was fixed and discovered that a majority of the judges had either close personal or financial ties with Arnold. Well, so convinced - and pissed off - was CBS Sports that, despite the time, money and effort required to send a film crew half way around the world to Australia to film a sporting event, they refused to air that contest. As further evidence, I suggest you view the video of the 1980 Mr. Olympia, which can be purchased from my Web site.
4. Q. Everybody knows that you were Dorian Yates mentor and you helped him alot with HIT in order to reach his genetic potential and to become one of the best bodybuilders in history. Who of today's bodybuilders do you think has the right genetics and would be able to take the Mr.Olympia with your guidance?
M.M. Given the nightmarish quantity of drugs that the competitors are using today, anyone with decent genetics might win the contest. Keep in mind that steroids, growth hormone and many other drugs they're taking are extremely potent recovery ability enhancers, which explains why they can get away with what otherwise would constitute gross overtraining.
5. Q. This is my last question for you Mr. Mentzer. A good bodybuilder should train with HIT, should have plenty of recuperation, and should also eat right. But what about his supplementation part? What supplements do you currently trust and would advice athletes to use?
M.M. The most important thing regarding nutrition is that a bodybuilder obtain a well-balanced diet. This can be accomplished by getting the daily compliment from each of the Four Basic Food Groups:
1) fruits and vegetables
2) cereals and grains
3) meat, fish and poultry and
4) milk and daily products.
Doing so will give you the proper ratio of nutrients - 60 percent carbs, 25 percent protein and 15 percent fats.
Don't underestimate the value of a well-balanced diet. Think about it. What could possibly be better than a well-balanced diet, which covers all of your nutritional needs?
The only other possibility is an unbalanced diet. There are "nutritionals" that help enhance recovery ability.The two best ones are human growth hormone (HGH) and DHEA. Go to my Web site and read up on these substances. I strongly recommend you try them for at least three months in conjunction with a properly conducted Heavy Duty, high-intensity training program.
I would like to thank Mr. Mentzer very much for the time that he spent giving this interview. And for everyone that wants to learn more about HIT training, I would highly recommend reading his books. These books are not only going to make you a better bodybuilder, but a better person as well. I hope you enjoyed his interview, and I also hope some time in the near future I will again have the honor for another interview with him.
Till my next interview, take care all!