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Training Like Professional Bodybuilders

March is here and you know what that means – the Pro’s are coming to town! Super Promoter Extraordinaire Tony Doherty and his team from Doherty’s Gym are bringing the biggest and badest bodies back to Melbourne (personally the Gold Coast was a much better venue though) for what promises to be another cracker of a show!

As Australia’s only pro show and our one chance of the year to see the IFBB Super-Freaks up close and personal, it draws us all in. Unfortunately a lot of the times our sport is segregated by our own personal views on performance enhancing agents and the way we chose to play the game, but it is good to see differences set aside to support the Aussie Grand Prix.

All too often though, people are quickly to assume the ‘drug’ route as to why these men are so beyond the normal realm of reasoning as to how BIG someone can get. Yes they play a part, as do genetics and very much so – training techniques and this is where I want to focus on now.

No doubt about it, when it came to genetics they were truly blessed, but that’s only part of it. Nutrition and ‘supplementation’ are only part of it, an inhumanly amount of dedication and focus is only a part of it, and then it brings us to the training!

For years we have been bombarded in the magazines and now on the net with the pro’s training routines, only to have your local gym ‘guru’ dispel them as hogwash. Following the latest routine of the pro’s will never work – or so they say…

Lets change direction for a second. Say you want to improve your golf swing, lets see how Tiger Woods does it because frankly, the guy is incredible. Analyse and apply – lets study the swing, see what he does, apply to our game and see if we get any better. I believe the same can be said too for developing our physiques. Look at the pro’s, analyse ‘why’ they are doing what they are doing, apply and then again – gauge any possible improvements.

The last 3 Mr Olympia’s (Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman and Jay Cutler) have all had varying style in training but have all delivered the desired result – being the best! To get where they have gotten has obviously taken many years, but also a lot of smarts. Did/do they train the way they did/do by accident, or is it because what they do works best for them? Of course it needed to be for the later, because it is and always will be about maximum gains.

So instead of neglecting their strategies, lets break them down and see – how important was their style of training or can it simply be related to outside influences?


Dorian Yates – Mr Blood and Guts

When it comes to hardcore, you had the hardcore guys and then you had Dorian Yates. In his dungeon domain of Temple Gym, every session was dedicated to going to hell and back with all out intensity!

A firm believer in Maximum Overload Training, he would get in, get the job done and call it a day. Most often after a few warm up sets, he would devote just one all-out set to an exercise going to complete failure and sometimes beyond. Once failure was reached and that was all he had for that exercise, the job was done and time to move on. He knew for him that if he gave that exercise everything he had, then what need would there be to do anymore?

At that time the more volume orientated training systems were still in vogue, and here was the current Mr Olympia for example, blasting his chest with only 4-5 work sets. Once under Mike Mentzers tutelage, he completed an entire chest session with 1 set (the intensity was that great).

This ferocious gym mindset made a lot of people take notice, starting to apply some of his training principles and experiencing great gains themselves.


Ronnie Coleman - The Unbelievable!

How could you move on from Dorian Yates – quite easy and the answer is Ronnie Coleman!

As Temple Gym was for Dorian Yates, Metroflex Gym in Arlington, Texas has provided the training ground for probably THE greatest bodybuilder ever in Ronnie Coleman. The same intensity matched with an unquestionable work ethic and a few ‘yeah buddies’ thrown in for good measure, Ronnie has taken the game to a whole new level.

High intensity, more volume and some unique ‘twists’ – it has all added up. Watching any of Ronnie’s DVD’s, you will see in a lot of instances that he does not use full ‘range of motion’ reps. What’s the go with that? These are one of the things that people are quick to question, but before you do you need to understand the mechanics of the body, the rep and the goal.

In his DVD titled ‘The Unbelievable’ he his shoulder pressing 315 (140kg for us folk) for a multitude of reps in what looks like ¾ reps from the bottom position with no lock-out. You might think that avoiding the ‘lock out’ will minimize muscle stimulation on the deltoids, but in fact quite the opposite happens. In the last couple of inches the main driving force will shift from the deltoids to the triceps, and when you lock out at the elbows, a lot of the stress is transferred from the muscles onto the joints, again taking the stress away from the delts. To stop the rep short a couple of inches from the top in fact keeps more stress on the targeted muscle (being the delts), which in turns leads to greater gains.

Training is ALL about the degree of muscular stimulation. Forget the notion ‘FULL’ range of motion for it is pointless. Instead, think ‘EFFECTIVE’ range of motion and I guarantee you will see some new growth. From the moment you un-rack the weight on any exercise, you want to feel that weight through the targeted muscle and absolutely no let up until the set is done. This is usually to failure, but again not always the case…


Jay Cutler – the NEW king on the block!

After the Dorian and Ronnie show, you would think the only way to train an Olympian wining physique would be with all out intensity, but not is always the case. Jay Cutler throws us a curve ball, with no offence to Jay but in the intensity department he does not compare to either previous men. But Jay doesn’t need too! He uses more moderate weights, focusing on greater training volume and hey, how big is he? So obviously it’s working!

Jay also seems quite instinctive in his approach and if you watch some of his training DVD’s you get the impression he will come to the gym with a plan, but if that plan isn’t working he won’t be afraid to change it. The one thing that never changes though is the belief in his own abilities that one day he would be number one.

Here raises another two unique points. One is self confidence and believing in your own abilities and two is greater volume. In one of his DVD’s they count 31 sets for back and many would say that’s over-training, but when he turns around that is quickly dispelled.

So if the all out intensity avenues are starting to run stale or if you want to try something new, why not try some more volume? What can it hurt, especially if your progress has come to a halt? Either you are going to stay the same or get better and sometimes a little variety could be all you need.


In summary

That’s just how I see it. If your training is starting to go stale and are looking for other avenues to boost your training (and results), why not look at the men who have sat on top of the bodybuilding thrown for the last 15 years. To get there surely they knew what was needed!

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