Of all the champions I’ve known and trained with I probably get the most questions about Mike Mentzer and his brother Ray. Since they were a few of the forerunners of High Intensity Training, one question I get about them is: How intense was their training?
Answer: Mike trained very, very intensely as did Ray. They favored lower reps so it was different than the way someone like Platz and Casey generated intensity. Platz sets seemed to last forever and be more painful whereas Mike and Rays sets were shorter with lower reps. Ray really liked stutter reps where as Mike liked rest pause reps. Much of it depended on where they were training, who they were training with and what equipment was available to them.
If they had two or three guys they would do negatives and incorporate stutter reps. Rest pause can be incorporated without too much outside assistance or energy expended for training partners if you have the right machines and even with free weights on some exercises like barbell curls, laterals, etc.
When Ray had the Muscle Mill in Redondo Beach, there was a guy named Ross who worked for Universal Studio as a stage man–an experienced machinist. He built a super, heavy duty hydraulic with a control that a training partner could operate. It was portable so they used it from station to station on a Marcy Multi-unit (similar to a Universal Machine). Shoulder presses, declines, inclines, pull-downs, curls, etc.
They’d lift the weight under control and then pump up the hydraulic for a much “heavier” negative. Then release it for another positive.
Then again on things like squats they trained more traditional (but of course very heavy). Multiple sets, warm ups working up to heavy all out sets but there were no negatives or forced reps. In fact, Ray would regularly host “Saturday night squat parties”. I never attended because I worked at a club. Benny Podda told me they would have five and six guys and squat for hours (how many hours was never defined), multiple sets, long rest periods, etc. I remember coming in on a Monday and Benny informed me that Ray had squatted 900 that past Saturday.
So were all the negative reps, extended sets, stutter reps, rest pause and hydraulic assisted reps any more productive than the traditional set training? That question will go down in history with… Who really killed JFK? Who framed Roger Rabbit? Who took a cookie from the cookie jar? And … How tall is Arnold?