Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Heavy Duty Bodybuilding - The Thinking Person's Guide to Physical Training - PART 1

"To a worm in horseradish, the world is horseradish." - Yiddish Proverb

As I was reading a blog earlier today,Kelly Diels' CLEAVAGE (not what you think), Ms. Diels was excited about an upcoming presentation being given by author, intellectual, and generally all around interesting dude, Malcolm Gladwell. So excited was she about his upcoming visit to her fair city, that she posted the following YouTube video on her site (I have done the same here for you, in case you have yet to experience Mr. Gladwell's wit and charm).

I had seen this video before, and since I too am a fan, I watched the video again, and it struck me as to the parallels between this subject matter and Heavy Duty Bodybuilding training.

In a nutshell, Gladwell talks about his hero, and from the sounds of it, good friend Howard Moscowitz who is a famous (infamous?) market researcher, responsible for revolutionizing the spaghetti sauce business (the stuff in jars sold in grocery stores), amongst other accomplishments.


In a nutshell, before Moscowitz' research, essentially all of the spaghetti sauce at retail patterned itself after what Gladwell refers to as "culturally authentic." That is to say, the overriding belief was that all Americans wanted a tomato sauce patterned after a more traditional Italian sauce, which was by its nature thinner, was not meant to sit on top of or "adhere" to pasta, but rather to lightly flavour the past as it sank to the bottom. As the video explores, Moscowitz determined that fully 1/3 of all Americans preferred a "chunky" version of tomato sauce; one that was was able to sit on top of the pasta and become a more integral part of the meal. 1/3 is a large number - and over 10 years Prego (whom Moscowitz was consulting for) made over $600 million based on this revelation alone and changed the way the food industry thought about what they offered to their customers.

So how does this apply to fitness training, especially bodybuilding? Stay tuned.

AG Spinelli

Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Among our stories, some are of famous businesspeople such as Walt Disney, John D. Rockefeller and Sam Walton, and others are of renowned thinkers such as Aristotle, Einstein and Gandhi. Still others are of people you may never have heard of but whose accomplishments are also quite impressive. Each triumphed over their own skepticism and that of others. After all, who did these people think they were to have such bold dreams and tackle such visionary ideas? The answer is they were people with human frailties just like you and me."
-Dick Kazan of Kazan Today

The above is from the mission statement page of Dick Kazan's terrific website, Kazan Today, located at Mr. Kazan is a true renaissance man, who has developed a website that truly helps people.By giving his readers factual information about others who have succeeded, Mr. Kazan allows them to find a story that resonates with them in some way, giving them one more tool that helps spur them on, even when they are frozen with fear, doubt, fatigue, or whatever. Remember that action is either the antidote or the main component of the antidote to many obstacles. Check out his website, I highly recommend it!!!!
Till next time -

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Hello to everyone and welcome to FITTLIVES - where our goal is to make a meaningful contribution to individuals' lives as a fitness and wellness resource for all. We will strive to enrich peoples' lives and empower individuals with tools that in making their physical lives better create the "spill over effect" and make other parts of their lives better as well. There is real power in this, if you only know to look for and acknowledge it.

We welcome your comments and suggestion and wish you every success in all your pursuits.

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Monday, March 8, 2010



“Ours has been called an “Age of Complexity” with intellectual confusion as its primary characteristic. This is the result of people not learning to think in terms of fundamentals and principles. A system of thought based on fundamental principles serves as an intellectual blueprint that enables one to answer specific, concrete questions. Without such a fundamental base, questions continue to arise with no method for answering them, whether the subject is ethics, politics, training – or nutrition.”

- Mike Mentzer

When I first read the above passage, I immediately returned in my mind to a time when Mike and I were just beginning our friendship and he spoke to me, with a passion that I suspect few have ever experienced, about the relationship between Volume and High Intensity Training.

To Mike, the importance of this subject was paramount above all things when it came to training, since it was really the cornerstone of HIT (High Intensity Training). This was the umbrella concept, the main concept, under which all the other concepts existed. Without truly understanding this premise, and applying it, it really didn’t matter how well his students understood the more minor (relatively speaking) principles of HIT; they would be doomed to struggle for progress in the quagmire that is today bodybuilding world.

Mike told me many times, with the same passion, that bodybuilding was a science; in fact he viewed it as a subset of the larger body of medical science, much like the study of anatomy, biochemistry, genetics or pharmacology, to name only a few. Therefore, it almost infuriated him that the current crop of bodybuilding gurus, as did the crop that preceded them, were still regurgitating the same old doctrine, “Everyone is different, so everyone needs to train differently.”

Therefore, Mike very much approached bodybuilding as any scientist would any experiment. That is to say, as in any properly conducted experiment, the elimination of multiple variables is the goal, so as to leave us with one variable, which can then be studied and proved or disproved. Said another way, there is a PRECISE amount of exercise required to bring about the desired change and improvement; less would be ineffectual (to varying degrees) and more would be overtraining, which would be detrimental to progress and will even retard one’s current physical state.

Consequently, let us begin with the repetition, or rather the confusion about repetitions, and their logical, proper application. We have all heard one current bodybuilding flavour of the month or another espouse their preference of how many repetitions they use, but with no real science as to why that number was chosen. Mike was very clear on this point; a set (made up of a number of repetitions) should be terminated at the point of momentary muscular failure; this is the point at which the individual cannot do another repetition in the same form as the previous repetitions, without calling other muscles or outside assistance in to play. This indeed is the trigger or the switch that sends a signal to one’s physiology, spurring on muscular growth and progress. Doing more than this is like continuing to press a light switch once the light is already on; applying more force will not make the light brighter and if continued, will eventually break the mechanism.

Moreover, once we have understood this concept, then the next logical question would be, how many sets? Mike wrote about this many times, and the logic was so simple that it was brilliant. Since most bodybuilders never really explained how they came to choose the number of sets that they were performing, how could they really know what was working and what wasn’t working. For example, if one was performing 5 sets of a given exercise, how could they be sure that 5 was either enough or too many – was 3 correct, perhaps 2 more would be needed? Remember what we said earlier about eliminating multiple variables so that only one remained that could then be evaluated. This is the basis of all scientific experimentation and reasoning, regardless of the discipline.

Therefore, if we were to begin to decide how many sets to do, and determine if this number was effective, we should begin at the beginning, as Mike told me. Obviously, choosing “0” sets would be ludicrous, since doing nothing will produce nothing. If we chose two sets however, we would be making the same error of multiple variables that we just spoke of – so the only logical place to start would be doing one set to momentary muscular failure. Yes dear reader, one set to initiate that trigger or switch that we spoke of earlier, and no more; the PRECISE amount of exercise to product the desired result, which can then be measured for its efficacy.

Always remember what Mike said in his first book HEAVY DUTY, “The fact that the principles of anatomy and physiology are universal, and not subject to arbitrary change, is what makes it possible for medical science to exist as a viable discipline. In other words, if every individual’s cells, organs and muscles were constituted and functioned differently, doctors couldn’t make diagnoses, perform surgeries, or dispense medicines.”

Dear reader, Mike Mentzer led his life with a main purpose: to shed light on the ill conceived bodybuilding doctrine that has existed for decades that literally keeps people frustrated and spinning their wheels. THERE IS A CORRECT WAY to train for maximum results and measure those results precisely, allowing one to cut through the fog of misinformation that is today’s bodybuilding world.

Mike Mentzer was my friend and teacher and I plan to carry on the work he started – Stay Tuned!
AG Spinelli