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Train To Gain: Harder, Longer, Bigger

Building larger muscles isn?t about piling on poundage.

You should make every movement harder in order to maximize the involvement of the muscle groups you’re targeting. That involves speed of movement and range of motion’and invariably less force and less resistance. That approach is also much safer than conventional training as long as the range of motion isn’t excessive, and it may require less recovery time because of less trauma to the skeletal system. Even so, the style of training is physically and psychologically harder than conventional training.

Any time under load’up to 120 seconds’will be effective, so it’s quite possible to use minimal force and resistance yet create a very high-intensity stimulus. Since we’ve all been accustomed to equating intense, hard training with using a lot of force and resistance, your first thought might be that the type of training I’m advocating isn’t macho. Just the opposite is true, however. It’s not for wimps. Be honest: How much physical and mental effort does it really take to rapidly move up and down on the dip bars with a lot of weight tied around you? When all is said and done, it’s about a 20-second set, with more focus on moving quickly than working the chest, shoulders and triceps. People who train in that manner don’t have to focus much or really expose themselves to a high-intensity stimulus.

That’s not just idle armchair speculation. I trained with high force and resistance for about 40 years and with much higher intensity and less force and resistance for the past several years. True higher-intensity training is much more demanding. Years ago, when I was 47 and weighed 145, I did 30 reps in the squat with 300 pounds, moving at a rapid pace. Recently, at age 55 and about the same weight, I’ve done seven eight/four reps with 300 in the squat, and I’m working toward eight reps. I can honestly say that the 300×30 was child’s play compared to the much slower seven reps done with an eight/four cadence.

You can gradually work toward using lower reps’four or five’with an eight/four or 10/five cadence so your sets last about 50 to 70 seconds. For example, consider doing dips with a four/two cadence and no resistance and taking many, many months to advance to a six/three, then eight/four and finally a 10/five cadence. You’ll understand what true high-intensity training is all about. IM

Editor’s note: If you’re interested in a special publication devoted to lifetime bodybuilding and masters athletes, send only $1 (check or money order) for a sample issue to Master Trainer, c/o Ageless Athletes, Suite 221, Memorial Building, 610 N. Main St., Blacksburg, VA 24060-3349. You can also check out the Master Trainer online at or, to find out more about personal consultation, send e-mail to [email protected].

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