I recently got an e-mail from a 40-plus-year-old competitive bodybuilder that got me excited--and not in a good way. His physique is very Zane-like, obviously an ectomorph who has a hard time packing on mass--but with very good lines. Here's what he said:
"[After this last contest] I am re-evaluating a lot of things, including my workouts and the longevity of my joints...."
I had to write him back and address his apparent frustration. It sounded to me like he was ready to throw in the towel--but I know from experience that his joint concerns are not necessary...
If you've been reading my blogs, you know that when I got close to 50 years old, I was thinking the exact same thing. I thought I was going to have to quit lifting weights, or at least go to circuit training with the pink dumbbells.
But after some research, talking to various people who had trained with top competitors of yesteryear, as well as "revisiting" in my mind my talks with Vince Gironda when he used to visit the IRON MAN offices, I came up with the 4X mass method.
I told the frustrated competitor that Mr. America winner Doug Brignole, now over 50, began using a version of 4X and was amazed at being able to pack on muscle quickly using only moderate weights. He recently made a comeback to competition thanks to that moderate-weight, high-muscle fatigue, growth-threshold style.
For the uninitiated, here's the gist of it: For any exercise you take a weight with which you can get 15 reps, but you only do 10; rest 35 seconds, then do 10 more. Continue for four sets. On the fourth, you go all out--to failure. If you get 10, add a bit of weight to the exercise at your next workout.
That standard 4X method is based on Gironda's density training--condensing the workload (doing more work in less time). NO heavy weights required. I've been using it for about two years now, and my joints feel fantastic, and I'm leaner and more muscular than I've been since my 20s. Not kidding!
I hate to see anyone give up on bodybuilding because they can no longer use heavy weights. Smashing your joints to dust is simply not necessary for muscle size. Unfortunately, it took me 20 years to finally figure that out--and I hope others, including this frustrated competitor, give 4X a go for more muscle growth--no joint obliteration necessary!
Stay tuned, train smart and be Built for Life.