Today marks the 10 year anniversary of the death of arguably one of the most influential bodybuilders ever… Mike Mentzer. After spending many hours reading Mike’s training philosophies, I finally met Mike and his brother Ray during the summer of 1980 and had the opportunity to train with Mike and Ray on three occasions at Gold’s Gym in Venice, CA. Then, in 1983 I trained at Ray’s Gym in Redondo Beach––Muscle Mill––where he and Mike ‘held court’. A large group of us would train together then go to dinner and ‘discuss’ training. A better terminology might be… we’d go out to attend a seminar.
The training sessions were always brutal. As most people know, Mike and Ray were friends with Casey Viator and all of them were protégé’s of the late Arthur Jones, the father of HIT (High Intensity Training). Mike would always offer his three rules of training. Exercise must be intense. Exercise must be brief. Exercise must be infrequent.
Mike was strongly outspoken and dogmatic in his adherence to those rules and anyone who failed to follow them would quickly receive a tongue-lashing. However, Mike had a great level of tolerance for other IFBB Pro bodybuilders who didn’t follow his training philosophy as Mike likened them to “Genetic Muscle Building Geniuses” meaning that these elite bodybuilders had superior genetics so they could “get away with over-training”.
He also believed that most people fall far short on genetics for building muscle and cannot get away with what he and Ray always called “gross over-training”. While many of us don’t share Mike and Ray’s philosophies to the letter, many of us have been influenced by their trained methods ever since.
Of course, in a very strange and sad turn of events, Ray passed two days after his brother Mike. I’ll get into their training philosophies in a future post. Today I’d just like to remember two good people whose path crossed mine and who’s influence and contribution lives on.
RIP Mike Mentzer June 10, 2001. RIP Ray Mentzer June 12, 2001.