"Mike Mentzer Routines - Heavy Duty Bodybuilding Heresy"

Hero or heretic?

Discover how Mike Mentzer routines fired a HEAVY DUTY howitzer at bodybuilding skeptics.

Heavy Duty Heretic

Mike Mentzer was a proponent of High Intensity Training as endorsed and developed by the Nautilus creator Arthur Jones. Blessed with a free-thinking analytical mind, he would explore the muscle building methods used by his peers - an exploration that resulted in his own muscle building HEAVY DUTY SYSTEM that is successfully used today.

For a while, many in the bodybuilding world considered Mike Mentzer's works bodybuilding heresy. Yet in time, his routines - and the science of muscle building that informed them - were to find a dedicated and committed following, including amongst them, the 6 times Mr Olympia Dorian Yates.

Consider how a typical muscle building workout consisted of many exercises for multiple sets and with workout times that often lasted HOURS, and you can see how Mentzer's HEAVY DUTY methods were viewed with suspicion.

However, such skepticism could not last. Soon these SCIENTIFIC PRINCIPLES were embraced by the wider populace resulting in a legacy befitting this remarkable man.

Mike Mentzer Routines

HEAVY DUTY training works on the premise that for a muscle to grow it must first be significantly stressed.

Following this stress, the fatigued muscle must then enjoy a period of RECOVERY which in due course leads to muscle growth.

However, perhaps the most startling aspect of HEAVY DUTY in its most stripped-down form is the method's frequency.

Consider your typical High Intensity muscle building routine:

  • one set
  • one exercise per body-part
  • 3-5 days recovery.

Can so little exercise cause such big gains?

Bodybuilding heresy for sure, yet these methods work!

Bodybuilding Heresy

Writing in HEAVY DUTY II, Mike Mentzer stresses the importance of dynamic physiology and how the body is in a continual process of change. So just as an individual's body progresses, or grows stronger, his training requirements also change.

Mentzer writes:

    "Once the fundamentals of intensity, volume and frequency are understood, this issue of changing training requirements follows as the most crucially important issue in exercise science."

This point is key.

As you build muscle and lift heavier weights, the stresses grow ever greater and must be compensated for.

Indeed, over-training is often the biggest mistake you can make - and will quite literally prevent you from realizing increases in strength and muscle size. Slowdowns, or halts in progress, are therefore rarely the result of under-training - instead, over-training is commonly to blame.

Mentzer therefore advised, as you grow stronger over time, inserting an extra rest day or two at random to fully compensate the recovery process until the trainee is exercising but once every six to seven days or less.

Mike Mentzer Routines - The Exercises

The importance of rest time between workouts led Mentzer to create the following program.

Consisting of workouts, A) and B), the program is comprised of two exercises per routine to be trained just once per week. This means if you train workout A) on Monday, you train workout B) the following Monday and so forth. All exercises are to be trained for one set only and to failure.

    Workout A)
  • Smith Machine Squats 8-15 reps
  • Chin Ups 6-10

    Workout B)

  • Regular Barbell Deadlift 5-8 reps
  • Parallel Bar Dip 6-10 reps

The brevity of the program is important for the following reasons: when you grow stronger as a result of your workouts, the stresses on your body grow too. This means you must compensate an adaptive muscle building response by allowing for adequate rest and recovery.

Train BEFORE you have sufficiently recovered and you will short-circuit the muscle building process. 

Simply, you must train less as you grow bigger and stronger.


For more about Mike Mentzer, including the article 'Actualize Your Muscular Potential In One Year', go to BB Hall of Fame at Muscle-Build.com - the premier resource for building muscle, losing body fat, bodybuilding, weight training, diets, and nutrition.



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Best Anabolic Effect and Result 
Why are 20 rep squats and deadlifts considered by some to have the greatest anabolic results? While I don't begrudge anyone who has gained size and strength …

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Every time I try the abbreviated routine I always lose size. Why is that?

Routine for Gaining Muscle Mass Not rated yet
It ALWAYS amazes me when people tote Mike Mentzer as the high intensity routine specialist but they always neglect to mention that when he first started …

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The human body is tremendously resilient, and capable of extraordinary feats of endurance and strength - but most people are using endurance training …

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