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Ellington Darden, Ph.D.

Nothing Fails Like Success:
Arnold . . . Give HIT Another Try

Since Arnold Schwarzenegger was back in the national news
this week with his motorcycle accident, which required
15 stitches in his upper lip, I couldn't help but remember
the first time I met Arnold. I mentioned the scene
in one of my HIT Tips in 2004. The entire
story is worth reviewing.


"Nothing fails like success," I said to Arnold Schwarzenegger. "Because success only reinforces our myths and superstitions."

"Hum, I never thought of it that way," Arnold said. "Tell me more."

The date was in the late spring of 1977. Both Arnold and I were to speak that night at the grand opening of a Nautilus fitness center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Arnold had not yet made it big in the movies, but he had certainly reached the top in the bodybuilding world by winning consecutive Mr. Olympia titles from 1970-1975.

In a ten-minute conversation on the subject with Arnold, I tried to clue him in on what I meant.

"Just about the only thing we can learn from is failure," I continued. "But to do so, we must recognize what we are doing as a mistake. Then we must correct that mistake."

In the same vein, Arthur Jones once told me, "Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment."

It's unfortunate that we have to make mistakes to learn. But apparently we do. Success can often lead us on a path of self-destruction. We must constantly evaluate and reevaluate both our successes and failures.


Bodybuilding Success

Success in the bodybuilding world, I noted to Arnold, is usually related to genetics. Sure, you've got to train and you've got to eat correctly. But the best training and eating program still won't turn the local gym bum into Arnold Schwarzenegger. The only way to be Arnold is to have Arnold's parents – and even then there's a high probability that the person still won't grow up to look like Arnold.

Genetics dictate your height, bone structure, muscle cell numbers, and fat storage spots. Most important, however, genetics determine the length of your muscle bellies. A long muscle guarantees that you will have above-average size in that muscle. A short muscle means that that muscle will be below average in size. Both extremely long and extremely short muscles are rare, at least having one or the other exclusively throughout your body is seldom seen.

The Sergio Oliva physique from the early 1970s is the foremost example of someone who has very long muscle bellies all over his body. Arnold is similar to Sergio. Examples of men with very short muscle bellies might be Woody Allen and Paul "Pee-wee Herman" Reubens.

Most people, however, do not have long or short muscles. They have average-length to their muscle bellies. And average-length muscle bellies produce average-sized muscles – even after years of training.

So, what I was saying to Arnold was that 99 percent of the champion bodybuilders are born, not made. If a person, who wants to be a bodybuilder, does not have the genetics to be a champion, then no amount of training – or anything else, for that matter – will ever make him a champion.


HVT Versus HIT

Arnold did not have time to grasp what I was trying to explain to him. Later, in his speech that night, he challenged the young bodybuilders in the audience who wanted to look like him to apply his training advice. His training advice was the same then as it is now, and is well documented in his four books, which have been published by Simon & Schuster.

For best results in building your body, Arnold recommended the following:

My advice to the audience that night was quite different from Arnold's, and I might add, I delivered it before Arnold spoke. For best bodybuilding results, I noted that you should:

*FLASH* ANNOUNCEMENT

Arnold, and Other Bodybuilding Enthusiasts:
If, in fact, it does take 24 hours of training per week,
week after week, month after month, year after year, for a
minimum of five years to become a champion – then, guess what?

IT'S NOT WORTH IT!

Arnold was a believer in high-volume, four-hours-per-day, six-days-per-week, marathon training (HVT). My bodybuilding philosophy was dissimilar: brief, high-intensity, 30-minute routines that are repeated only two or three times per week (HIT).

Naturally, Arnold, with his impressive size, titles, and ability to work an audience, had the upper hand. "Who are you going to believe," Arnold said to the audience near the end of his speech, "him?" as he pointed my way and laughed, "or me?" as he flexed his Mr. Olympia arms in a double-biceps pose.


"Looks" Over "Words"

I was no match for Arnold that night and I knew it. Political researchers have known for years that most voters respond to how a candidate looks more than they do to what he says.

Arnold, with his massively developed physique and high-peaked biceps, would be able to sway almost any group of exercise enthusiasts his way. And he did.

Since then I've learned that trying to convince champion bodybuilders of their training failure is next to impossible. Remember: "Nothing fails like success." The champion bodybuilders are generally successful in spite of their training routines and dietary practices, not because of them. With their inherited advantages, almost any type of routine produces results.

On the other hand, the average bodybuilder with average genetic potential (and that pertains to 70 percent of the trainees), requires all the sound, scientific information he can get to make even small gains. The average bodybuilder must profit from his past training failures. He must learn from his mistakes.


Many High-Volume Trainees Are Failures

Of the thousands and thousands of young bodybuilders who follow Arnold's recommendations, few get satisfactory results. In fact, most fail miserably. Many of them also rationalize by thinking, "If I could have only stayed motivated a little longer, maybe I could have built a body like Arnold's." But it's hard to stay motivated with workouts that must be practiced for four hours a day, six days a week – isn't it?

No, Arnold doesn't tell you about the youngsters who fail dismally with his courses. And neither will you read about it in the popular muscle magazines. But thousands do on a regular basis.

Surprisingly, Schwarzenegger spent a week in late 1970 with Arthur Jones trying HIT. Contrary to what Jones said about the visit (see chapter 6 in The New HIT), Arnold came close to getting a handle on hard, brief exercise. If he would have stayed a bit longer, and avoided Joe Weider and his influence, perhaps he would have converted to HIT. Even now, it's not too late for him to reconsider.


New Respect for Schwarzenegger

Being one of the 100 members of the National Fitness Leaders Association, which was an arm of the President's Council of Physical Fitness and Sports, I was shocked in 1990 (as were most members) when the first President Bush appointed Arnold to be the Council's director. We were even more shocked when he united and motivated the entire group to move forward aggressively. Arnold not only talked a good game, but he led by example.

Arnold directed the President's Council for two years and accomplished more in those two years than all the other directors had achieved combined. As a result, I gained a new respect for him. I can now see why Schwarzenegger, in a special election held in 2003, was elected governor of California.

With his political power and his continued interest in physical fitness, bodybuilding, and strength training, I wish he would take the time to learn from both his successes and failures. Then, maybe then, he would fully appreciate and grasp the effectiveness and efficiency of HIT.


An Open Message to Arnold Schwarzenegger!

Twenty sets per body part and 24 hours of training time per week . . . are not realistic guidelines for bodybuilders to follow. Even one-fourth of those numbers are still too much.

Many people today would surely be more involved in strength training and bodybuilding . . . if Arnold Schwarzenegger took a more reasonable approach.

As the governor of California, with your extremely busy schedule, there's no way high-volume training could work in your day-to-day lifestyle. Come on Arnold, why don't you re-evaluate your training principles?

You owe it to yourself. You owe it to the people who look up to you. You owe it to all those youngsters who need to get involved in bodybuilding.

Discuss this article | Text Version

tylerg

And, by the same token, or conversely, "nothing succeeds like failure."

Having said that, I am coming to the conclusion that one rep shy of MMF also produces good gains.

My question, Dr. Darden, is this: In your experience, has not going to failure seen as good of results as has going to MMF? Does muscle fiber compositon have anything to do with that?

Tyler


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Ellington Darden

Tyler,

One of the key factors in strength training success is progression . . . weekly progression in your resistance and repetitions. If you're making such progress with not-to-failure training, then keep doing what you're doing.

It's been my experience, however, that most individuals require both going-to-failure and not-to-failure training.

Ellington
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markandspike

Can anyone name a current Pro bodybuilder who trains HIT. Do not want to argue with anyone. Please just name names.
Mark
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RUGGED_INTELLECT

Ha ha. You're in the wrong place for that sort of thing Mark or Spike. Get a life and find a volume and steroid board to post at.
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markandspike

RUGGED_INTELLECT wrote:
Ha ha. You're in the wrong place for that sort of thing Mark or Spike. Get a life and find a volume and steroid board to post at.


I don't train volume or take steroids. My training is more inline with Stuart McRoberts. I would just like an honest truthful answer to my question.
Mark
(Spike is my Dog)


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RUGGED_INTELLECT

Surely you know your asking a question you already know the answer to. There are none, and probably never has been of any consistency. Even Yates was a two working set guy. I guess it depends on your def of HIT.
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Yes

Mark,

I think there's a Heavy Duty guy who won(?) Mr. Universe, plus claims to be clean. However, I might not recall correctly. I've been trying to find his homepage again... Hopefully someone else here knows more about it.
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RUGGED_INTELLECT

You mean John Heart.

http://www.johnheart.net

Universe isn't pro, I don't think.
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markandspike

RUGGED_INTELLECT wrote:
Surely you know your asking a question you already know the answer to. There are none, and probably never has been of any consistency. Even Yates was a two working set guy. I guess it depends on your def of HIT.


Check out this link to dorian's web site i think you will find he's more than a two sets man.

http://dorianyates.net/.../reardelts.html

Mark


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Yes

RUGGED_INTELLECT wrote:
You mean John Heart.

http://www.johnheart.net

Universe isn't pro, I don't think.

Yes, thank you.

Okay, so he is just a really big guy, not a freak on steroids.

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Drew Baye

Florida, USA

markandspike wrote:
Can anyone name a current Pro bodybuilder who trains HIT. Do not want to argue with anyone. Please just name names.
Mark


The accomplishments of genetically average, drug-free individuals are far more relevant than that of pro bodybuilders. If we can forget about the drugged up freak show that is the NPC and IFBB, consider that Josh Trentine has competed successfully at the highest levels of drug-free competitive bodybuilding using HIT.
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RUGGED_INTELLECT

And therein lies the point. We're not interested in the genetic minority. 99.9999999etc% can never be like that, so why try to do anything with it. If you're looking at the freaks, as many people don't get there using volume training as do HIT, actually more because volume is more practiced.

If you're using those people as proof, volume training is therefore proven out to be less effective, although that's not the way to prove such a thing.
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markandspike

Drew Baye wrote:
markandspike wrote:
Can anyone name a current Pro bodybuilder who trains HIT. Do not want to argue with anyone. Please just name names.
Mark


The accomplishments of genetically average, drug-free individuals are far more relevant than that of pro bodybuilders. If we can forget about the drugged up freak show that is the NPC and IFBB, consider that Josh Trentine has competed successfully at the highest levels of drug-free competitive bodybuilding using HIT.


Hi Drew.
Thanks for the response. Don't get me wrong i train low volume but more like Stuart McRobert than Ellington Darden. And i'm not trying to discredit HIT or ellington's theories. Just think he should stop using easy gainers such as Arthur Jones, Boyer Coe, Ray Mentzer, Casey Viator, Keith Whitley and David Hudlow to promote is training theories, and use average and hard gainers.

Could you tell me abit more about josh. Can't find a photo. All i have is
Josh Trentine

2004
Natural Olympus - NGA, HeavyWeight, 1st

2005
Natural Olympus - NGA, Light-HeavyWeight, 1st

World Natural Championships - UIBBN, MiddleWeight, 7th

Why did he go down the weight divisions like that.

Mark




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NATUREBOY

Dorian's routines weren?t that voluminous. He included a lot of sub-maximal warm-up sets. Once you account for those, it puts things more in perspective.
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Drew Baye

Florida, USA

Not sure why Josh went down in weight divisions, unless he was going for increasingly lower levels of bodyfat.

I'm dieting at the moment myself, and hoping to end up very cut at between 175 and 180, but it's going to depend on how much muscle I can keep while losing fat.
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HeavyHitter32

Ellington,

I have your original book which had this article: 100 High-Intensity Ways to Improve Your Bodybuilding. I was always so taken by it as it was so true.

That book is an absolute classic - as are your others. However, this book is kind of special to me.

I'll never forget the day I was in the book store (early 1992) reading it as I had never heard of HIT or the concept of intense, brief, and infrequent training. I had been training six days a week and no longer making progress.

I followed the "Leg Emphasis Arm Routine" on page 66 and literally transformed my legs in three weeks time. My legs had always suffered compared to my upper body and I was finally able to bring them up to par in such a short period of time.

However, using that particular routine three days a week soon became TOO MUCH. After a month, I was burned out. Instead of intelligently reducing the volume and frequency, I dropped the routine and resumed a much higher volume routine with much less intensity. However, nothing ever amounted from it.

Eventually, I started following HIT principles again and started doing phone consultations with Mike Mentzer which brought me down the HIT route again.

I just want to say though, I really enjoyed those early 1990's and HIT was such a fun discovery...and that book....which I still have..even though it's in pretty bad shape...is kind of special for me.

I just want to say "thanks" and really enjoy your interaction on this board.
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Joshua Trentine

Ohio, USA



markandspike wrote:
Can anyone name a current Pro bodybuilder who trains HIT. Do not want to argue with anyone. Please just name names.
Mark

Drew Baye wrote:
The accomplishments of genetically average, drug-free individuals are far more relevant than that of pro bodybuilders. If we can forget about the drugged up freak show that is the NPC and IFBB, consider that Josh Trentine has competed successfully at the highest levels of drug-free competitive bodybuilding using HIT.

markandspike wrote:
Hi Drew.

Could you tell me abit more about josh. Can't find a photo. All i have is
Josh Trentine

2004
Natural Olympus - NGA, HeavyWeight, 1st

2005
Natural Olympus - NGA, Light-HeavyWeight, 1st

World Natural Championships - UIBBN, MiddleWeight, 7th

Why did he go down the weight divisions like that.

Mark


Mark,

Different organizations/promoters specify different weight classes than you may be familiar with.

I typically compete at 183, which is a Light Heavy in the NGA.

At the Olympus in 2004, there wasn't a good turnout for the heavyweights, so the promoter moved me up a class.


I've been training HIT since 95.
My training approach has been very similiar to Arthur Jones' original recommendations. Generally machine based training, using primarily Nautilus and MedX, with the exception of heavy barbell squats(can't seem to find a machine with enough weight for my legs).

Josh
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markandspike

Joshua Trentine wrote:


markandspike wrote:
Can anyone name a current Pro bodybuilder who trains HIT. Do not want to argue with anyone. Please just name names.
Mark

Drew Baye wrote:
The accomplishments of genetically average, drug-free individuals are far more relevant than that of pro bodybuilders. If we can forget about the drugged up freak show that is the NPC and IFBB, consider that Josh Trentine has competed successfully at the highest levels of drug-free competitive bodybuilding using HIT.

markandspike wrote:
Hi Drew.

Could you tell me abit more about josh. Can't find a photo. All i have is
Josh Trentine

2004
Natural Olympus - NGA, HeavyWeight, 1st

2005
Natural Olympus - NGA, Light-HeavyWeight, 1st

World Natural Championships - UIBBN, MiddleWeight, 7th

Why did he go down the weight divisions like that.

Mark


Mark,

Different organizations/promoters specify different weight classes than you may be familiar with.

I typically compete at 183, which is a Light Heavy in the NGA.

At the Olympus in 2004, there wasn't a good turnout for the heavyweights, so the promoter moved me up a class.


I've been training HIT since 95.
My training approach has been very similiar to Arthur Jones' original recommendations. Generally machine based training, using primarily Nautilus and MedX, with the exception of heavy barbell squats(can't seem to find a machine with enough weight for my legs).

Josh


Hi josh
Thanks for the reply. I have seen a video of you. You do HIT proud. Could you list your training routine please. Arthur Jones' original training recommendations were alot higher in volume.
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Joshua Trentine

Ohio, USA

Favorite Back Specialization Routine

Behind-the-neck Torso
Nautilus 2ST Pullover
Behind-the-neck Pulldown (parallel grip)
Rowing Torso
Negative-only Chin (ON OME)


Favorite Thigh Specialization

Vintage Nautilus Hip and Back
Vintage Nautilus Super Leg extension
Hi-repetition Squats (preferably with safety-squat bar)

NOTE: I have many specialization routines I could list , if anyone's interested.

Full-Body Routine

Rowing Torso (Nautilus Retrofit)
Ten-degree Fly (Nautilus Retrofit)
Pullover (Nautilus Retrofit)
Chest Press (MedX)
MedX Biceps
Triceps (MedX or Nautilus)
MedX Dip
Lateral Raise (MedX, 2ST or Nitro)
Nautilus Duo Squat

NOTE: I use many different full-body routines, this is just one example.


I'm fortunate to have full lines of MedX, vintage Nautilus, Nitro, SuperSlow, and some 2ST, as well as MedX medical machines. This allows for endless variety. If anyone's ever in the Cleveland area, stop on by, it's the finest facility in the world!!
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Growl

I love this thread Dr. Darden. When reading AJ, I always knew I was going to get a boat load of philosophy and hard hitting reasoning as well as some practical training advice and a great story or two or three or.... This thread does those things as well.

You seem to have a high tolerance for people, even those who disagree. It was a great act of diplomacy to say some of the kind things you did about Arnold, considering what Jones seemed to think of him. I hope Jones was mistaken about some of the things he wrote about Arnold.

Do you think Arnold would have been a bit more willing to embrace HIT if Jones wasn't so tough on him?

Jeff
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Ellington Darden

Jeff,

Yes, I believe you are right. A little kindness goes a long way.

Ellington
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jx_alain

I haven't read all of Stuart McRoberts' or Dr. Darden's books, but the ones I have read seem to offer similar advice. I have used HIT for almost exclusively for the past 5 years.

McRoberts, in his book "Brawn", states something to the effect of "if you are truly working really really hard (eg: to true failure) there is no possible way to do more than one working set per exercise". I couldn't agree more.

All the "hardcore" guys at my gym try to give me helpful "advice", but infrequent intense, full body training is the only thing that delivers consistent results. No one can give me a logical answer when I ask "why train more" they just spout out whatever they read in the latest issue of Flex, sad really...
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entsminger

Virginia, USA

Mark wrote==And i'm not trying to discredit HIT or ellington's theories. Just think he should stop using easy gainers such as Arthur Jones, Boyer Coe, Ray Mentzer, Casey Viator, Keith Whitley and David Hudlow to promote is training theories, and use average and hard gainers.

Scott== I couldn't agree you more Mark. I've followed bodybuilding for 35 or more years and regardless of the trainer or writer or coach the easy gainers like Casey Viator, Mentzer and Oliva, Yates were and are still used as examples of what can result from using a certain system. Those guys can gain well pretty much no matter what they do, over train or not, high or low reps, every day vrs 2 a week workouts, to failure or not they will gain huge muscle. Most likely they could be even better and bigger should they take a more scientific approach to working out like High Intensity training but none the less they get big doing just about anything so long as they work hard. Most of us do not fall into that catagory or even close to it.At best we may have a potential for only a 16, 17 or 18 inch arm if that, but on a small well defined frame that can look pretty dang big. So yes, they should direct some of the training programs and thinking to the vast majority of us who are hard gainers and ain't ever gonna ever see a 19 inch arm hanging at our sides no matter what we do. Of course that won't sell magazines or training courses as well. People want to believe they can get huge.

Don't get me wrong, I love Arthur Jones and believe he knew more than just about anyone on muscle building but I followed Arthur Jones grand Colorado experiment with a smile and have seen it refered to time and time again as proof of certain training techniques validity. Viator was big before Jones ever saw him. He went to work for Jones and cut his finger off while working there and had to stop training and lost alot of weight and size. Then Jones put him on a certain workout and boasted how much he gained using certain techniques. Viator would have gained back his origional strength/size regardless of what he did in the way of workouts so long as he worked out hard. Once you've gained a certain muscle size gaining that muscle back is no big deal. Sure he might have got a little bigger on the new routine Jones then had him on later but with his genetics he could have probably gotten bigger on just about any routine where he pushed himself.

Point being here is lets see the results of these great training ideas on us average and hard gainer type as well as the genetically gifted. Lets see the results and gains had by the average bodybuilder using HIT or whatever, not always just the results had by these one in a million genetic giants like Viator or Mentzer or Yates who with their long muscle fibers can gain giant size no matter what they do.

Scott
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