You are world-famous for training with ungodly heavy weights and repetitions that are quite high. Isn’t that contradictory, and if so, how do you keep getting bigger?
Bodybuilders seem to be brainwashed into thinking those two principles are opposites, so they train separately for what they think are contradictory goals. They’ll use heavy weight for low reps, willingly sacrificing shape for mass, or they will use lighter weight for high reps, willingly sacrificing mass for shape. The result is that both mass andBodybuilders seem to be brainwashed into thinking those two principles are opposites, so they train separately for what they think are contradictory goals. They’ll use heavy weight for low reps, willingly sacrificing shape for mass, or they will use lighter weight for high reps, willingly sacrificing mass for shape. The result is that both mass and shape ultimately suffer, because both are being alternately neglected.
I don’t think of either heavy weight or high reps when I train. My guiding principle is simply to swell the muscle to its max. With that, everything else falls into place. I’m able to apply the heaviest weight directly into the muscle, and I’m able to use however many reps are necessary to build the ideal pump. To put it another way, heavy weight and high reps are relative to the quality of pump they deliver into the muscle for that particular exercise, bodypart and/or set.
If I’m trying to build a smaller muscle such as biceps, I find that 12 strictly performed reps produce a better pump than four or six cheat reps with much heavier weight. I’m not using the heaviest weight that the muscle can lift; I’m using the heaviest weight that will give that muscle its best pump in whatever number of reps it takes.
For a larger bodypart, such as back, the story changes. I want to feel a maximum inflation in many muscles over a broader area. That will most likely come from very low reps with extremely heavy weight. Lighter weight and higher reps might create a good pump in a few muscles, but the weight won’t be sufficient to involve all muscles in the complex. When I do deadlifts, for example, I have to go down to two reps for my last set in order to build the best pump throughout my entire back complex, but that also means I need 805 pounds on the bar.
For pulley rows, on the other hand, my best pump is produced between reps 10 and 12, when I have 400 pounds on the stack. I could pull much more weight if I did only two reps, but I wouldn’t build nearly as good a pump in my lats, which means I wouldn’t build nearly as much mass, thickness or density throughout my back.
Here’s another example: when I do front squats for quads, my best pump comes at my sixth rep, with 585 pounds on the bar. I could use more weight and go down to two reps, but the swell wouldn’t be there. By the same token, I could do 10 or 12 reps with less weight, but the pump wouldn’t be nearly as deep or full.
When I do leg extensions in the same workout, I don’t reach my ideal quad pump until my 30th rep, at which point I have only 300 pounds on the stack. Again, I could move several hundred more pounds for a couple of reps, but that would fail to optimally load my quads with blood.
Ignore your ego, and concentrate on building the most muscle in the most efficient manner. I do that by letting my pump be my guide.