Mike Mentzer Speaking to John Little about Conversation With Yates
I had to talk with Dorian about this the other day. We’ve been staying in closer contact. I got him real psyched up. I said, look Dorian, there has never been a single bodybuilder, including myself, that has ever reached the absolute upper limit dictated by his genetic potential. Why can I say that with absolute certainty? Because, in order to do so, you literally have to train [ F….’n ] perfectly. You get my point, and no one has ever done that, including me.
Even though I understood that the general theory advanced by Jones, and it is valid, what I didn’t understand when I was training for competition was the practical application. I took that thing as an arbitrary prescription and just plugged it in and stayed with it, not not striving to regulate the volume and frequency over a period of time. I said, look Dorian, you pride yourself on being radical. Why don’t you become the first already super advanced bodybuilder to take the Mr Olympia physique and take it to the absolute zenith. He started getting really excited. You know how these guys are. “You’re like you’re right. I am radical.” All right, you’re my kind of guy. I had no doubt when I said that… I thought that would wet his appetite. He’s even more receptive now.
It’s curious because he is kind of a low-key guy he never said much about. All that… even when he left here that many months ago… yeah I talked to him till I was blue in the face but he’s the kind of guy who doesn’t respond much. You don’t really know if it’s clicking or not. Then, the next thing I hear, the guy wins Mr Olympia and he’s telling all the interviewers that he did take my advice and he cut back to one set for exactly. It really did work. So, I was delighted.
I honestly did not think that he would win the contest. I just didn’t think he had the kind of physique and just some of the political stuff going on. Although, I didn’t take into account, perhaps, the fact that it was in Europe that I know how they are over there. He looked good. Actually, the truth of the matter is I thought he looked better two weeks before. They had pictures. You saw the picture of that lat spread? Well, he just sent me about 30 of those from that same photo session. He looked better at the bigger body weight. I know I said to him “Dorian, why didn’t the hell did he compete at 260?” And he confessed that the last two weeks he started losing weight and he couldn’t control it. He didn’t know what the hell. I guess he got so angry. I’ve seen other bodybuilders… my brother used to do that. He would look great up until the last many days and, for some reason, he couldn’t control the weight loss of weight at that point he would shrivel up, although Dorian didn’t shrivel up. He still looks phenomenal.
I just finished chapter four that is chapter three actually in which I talk about my advice to Dorian. One month after the 1992 Mr Olympia which according to all reports he won easily Dorian was back in Gold’s Gym during a stop on an exhibition tour. Convinced that the abbreviated system had helped him gain more muscle and win to Mr Olympia, he asked me for further advice on how he could continue with even greater progress for the 1993 Mr Olympia.
My advice to Dorian was delivered in the form of a challenge and I quote myself. “I don’t believe, Dorian, that there has ever been a top bodybuilder that developed to the absolute upper limit allowed by his genetic potential. Why, Dorian? Because none, including myself, had ever fully understood or properly applied the general theory of scientific bodybuilding exercise.
If I had made one major mistake years ago while training for competition, it was that despite having been the arch advocate of lesser training, I was still over training i.e training too long and too frequently. While Arthur Jones contributed enormously to our knowledge with his general theory that exercise must be intense brief and infrequent, it is apparent to me now that he wasn’t clear in practical application. He had issued what, in essence, was intended as a surefire prescription for everyone at all times, train the entire body three times a week.
What I have come to understand much better over the last two years as a result of training and keeping records on over 200 individuals, is just how demanding high-intensity training really is. I have come to understand that when an individual is training properly. i.e training intensely enough to stimulate growth and is neither training too long nor too frequently to prevent growth, that he should be witnessing progress if not every single workout but at least on a very regular basis.
The question, Dorian, is how brief and infrequent should exercise be. I understand you pride yourself on being radical. Well, Dorian, be radical. Break away entirely from tradition and find out for yourself how little training is really required. Arthur Jones said years ago that we’ve been asking the wrong question all these years. The question should not have been how much exercise do we need but how little do we require. So what if you find yourself, Dorian, spending only 12 to 15 minutes in the gym every five days? To hell with what others have thought or done. More muscle is what you’re after.
Set a new and higher standard of bodybuilding excellence. Become the first Mr Olympia to improve dramatically on an already heavily muscled physique. Be the first to reach the upper limit allowed by his genetic potential.
I finished up saying many bodybuilders sell themselves short, erroneously attributing their lack of progress to a poverty of the requisite genetic traits instead of to their counter productive training practices. They give up training entirely. Don’t make the same mistake. Don’t believe that all training theories have some validity and then waste precious years of your life frantically trying one after the other. Just as there is and can be only one set of valid principles explaining the physiology of the human body, so there can be and is only one valid theory, i.e one set of principles of productive bodybuilding exercise. In the next chapter I will outline a training program in a course that incorporates these principles.